In a historic, first-ever event, more than 150 individuals from more than a hundred institutions across the country gathered at the University of the Philippines for the Culture+Learning, Art+Design, Environment+Science (CLADES) Summit last 27-28 September 2017.

The CLADES Summit tackled concerns on culture, learning, art, design, environment and science in relation to natural history museums and collections in the Philippines. It was organized by the UPLB Museum of Natural History in celebration of its 41st anniversary which falls on 30 September.

Distinguised guests and speakers attended and participated during the summit, including 8 speakers, 16 oral paper presentors and 23 poster paper presentors. Noted speakers were Marivene M. Santos of the National Museum of the Philippines (on behalf of Director Jeremy Robert Barns), Amado R. Alvarez of the National Committee on Museums, Director Theresa Mundita S. Lim of DENR-Biodiversity Management Bureau, Dr. George Graham Charles Argent of the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh, Dr. Filiberto A. Pollisco, Jr. of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity, Dr. Arvin C. Diesmos of the National Museum of the Philippines, Dr. Juan Carlos T. Gonzalez of the UPLB Museum of Natural History, and Dr. Lawrence M. Liao of Hiroshima University, Japan.

The opening program was graced by UPLB Chancellor Dr. Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr. SEAMEO-SEARCA Director Gil C. Saguiguit, Jr., and UPLB Vice Chancellor for Research and Extension Dr. Rex B. Demafelis.

In an interview at the sidelines during the opening program, Dr. Juan Carlos T. Gonzalez, Director of the UPLB Museum of Natural History said that "the summit is a manifestation of the collective aspirations of natural history museum workers to have both body and voice."

Because people are more appreciative of other kinds of mmuseums such as those focusing on art, architecture and science, there is a growing consensus among museum workers that despite the important relationship of natural history and the environment, not much attention has been given by the public to the study of natural history, taxonomy and systematics.

"For decades now, our country's (smaller) natural history museums and collections have been relegated to the backburner because of hardships in funding and attention," Gonzalez added.

The CLADES Summit has now provided a glimpse on the state of the art of natural history collections and museums in the country both in the national and local levels.

"We really hope the CLADES will be a springboard for more collaboration and awareness among and between the natural history museums and collections in the Philippines," said the Director.

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