This year, the UPLB Museum of Natural History (MNH) celebrates 40years of preserving Philippine natural heritage. In its opening celebration on Sept. 26 at the CAS Auditorium, the MNH looked back on its origins and history with some of its founding members and important personalities.

In his opening remarks, Dr. Juan Carlos T. Gonzalez, director of MNH, said that the MNH has come a long way from its humble beginnings. He also said that the Museum is continually undergoing changes to make the exhibits savvier.

Chancellor Fernando C. Sanchez, in his welcome remarks delivered by Dr. Portia G. Lapitan, vice chancellor for academic affairs, commended the MNH for becoming a prime destination for educational field trips and bio-conservation studies. He also emphasized the importance of MNH in the study and protection of the biodiversity of Mt. Makiling. He added that the celebration should not only be about the Museum’s legacy but should also be a contemplation of how the University can safeguard and conserve natural resources.

Dr. Venus Christina Calilung, one of the Museum’s original founders and its director from 1985-1992, presented the story of how the MNH came to be in 1976 under its first director, the late Prof. Juan V. Pancho. She shared the Museum’s early challenges and looked back at how the Museum was formed out of an initiative to document the broad diversity of Mt. Makiling and the Philippines.

“Dito ako nagsimula,” said Danilo Balete, a research associate and field mammalogist at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago in the United States, as he gave the keynote speech for the celebration. Balete shared his experience as a young zoology major student at UPLB and how he was inspired to pursue his career during his exposure to the wonders of nature and biodiversity during his stint at the MNH.

Balete also informed the audience that his team in the United States had recently released the results of their decades-long research on Philippine mammals in the book “Mammals of Luzon.” Balete attributed the first spark of interest that produced this project to the MNH.

The MNH also hosted, aside from the anniversary program, a series of lectures by its curators on Sept 26 to 29: Dr. Edwino S. Fernando of the College of Forestry and Natural Resources, Dr. Milagrosa R. Martinez-Goss and Dr. Aimee Lynn B. Dupo of the Institute of Biological Sciences and Dr. Joseph S. Masangkay of the College of Veterinary Medicine.

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