It’s a MMM World!

In order to survive, man has to discover and produce everything he needs, which means that he has to alter his background and adapt it to his needs. Nature has not equipped him for adapting himself to his background in the manner of animals. From the most primitive cultures to the most advanced civilizations, man has had to manufacture things; his well-being depends on his success at production. The lowest human tribe cannot survive without that alleged source of pollution: fire.— Ayn Rand

Students from the University of the Philippines Department of Mining, Metallurgical and Materials Engineering (UP-DMMME) were in Mindanao on 17-25 October, on a roadshow to introduce their respective courses to junior and senior high school students. They visited a number of public and private high schools in Davao, General Santos and Koronadal to encourage every high school student they meet to invest in a career either as a Mining Engineer, Metallurgical Engineer or Materials Engineer – by taking the next UP College Admission Test (UPCAT) which is set every year in August, and ticking any of the three mentioned courses as the preferred academic program.

A few members of the Soccsksargen Bloggers fortunately had the chance to meet with them over dinner as they made their pitch to us bloggers.  Listening to them would make one realize that indeed, we owe many of the comforts of modern lifestyle to MMM (triple M as they are called in UP). Every little thing we have – from kitchen utensils to electronic gadgets, toilet fixtures to transportation, food processing to medicine to green energy- are all products of, or influenced by an engineering that unfortunately not everyone is familiar with. The MMM roadshow did well in introducing their courses and at the same time, in conveying that what cannot be grown must have been mined (Lesson #1).

In a nutshell, mining engineers plan and design the safe and efficient extraction and processing of minerals, and process it for additional value. Metallurgical engineers would be involved in the processing of ores and refining or fabrication of metals. Materials engineers on the other hand, develops new materials by combining metals with other materials.

It is timely that college students reach out to their high school peers to quell some negative image of mining as often portrayed in and quite lopsidedly by mass media. Lesson #2: not everything you see, read or hear is entirely true.

By talking to high school students, they have presented an interesting perspective on one of the hottest topics today- mining. What better way to understand the industry and the profession than hearing it firsthand from these young apprentices. Lesson #3: in searching for the truth, it wouldn’t hurt to ask first the opinion of specialists.

It was important that the roadshow was held in Mindanao. As a US Intelligence Report was quoted in this news item, Mindanao’s mineral endowment can be as much as one trillion USD. By inviting young people from Mindanao to take up MMM engineering courses, it suggests that locals would not only benefit from a mining boom, but more importantly, it is an invitation for them to become responsible for the future of mining activities in their own land. Mining is as much about unlocking a potential and unleashing opportunities as building partnerships and committing to shared responsibilities. We often hear the saying ‘it takes a community to raise a child’. Similarly, it takes a community to build, operate and close a mine (Lesson #4).

The roadshow ends with a challenge to the high school audience. Mineral wealth is like a person’s talent. It should be developed and utilized; otherwise it will remain as unused potential and it would then become a total waste. As they say, we have to cash in on what we have and use the money to improve our lot, and that of the generation after us.

Whatever career path those high school students will eventually choose, or course that they take up in college, it is important that they start investing in themselves. Not only by studying hard or passing college admission exams but also by involving themselves in discussions that will affect and shape their future.  Lesson #5: the real gold mine is in each of us.

Cast of characters: John Carlo Dela Cruz (Mining), Patricia Aina Louise Tan (Mining), Ariane Barranco (Metallurgical) and Kiboy Tabada (Materials). Students from UP National Institute of Geological Sciences (UP-NIGS) Jolly Joyce Sulapas and Nichole Pada also formed part of the team to provide context of the Philippines’ geological landscape and natural wealth. The team was accompanied by Mining Engineer and faculty adviser Juan Fidel Calaywan.


Sidetrip: Mang Jimmy’s, UP Diliman and Cubao Expo

Another perk of being away from work is a chance to visit places that are unreacheable on regular working days.  Because I was in Marikina last week, I had a chance to drive by Quezon City,  a second home (I have many) that is closest to my heart.

UP Sunken Garden

First on the list is my dear UP Campus in Diliman.  My purpose in going there is to claim my transcript of records before it reaches the shredding machine.  Some six months ago, Ghian was then preparing his school credentials for law school  and I asked him if he’d be kind enough to apply a transcript on my behalf, which he gladly did.  Unlike other private universities where one can just request for school records from the comforts of his or her own personal computer, UP unfortunately has not yet embraced the same e-commerce technology.

New Reg Office

I was surprised to find the new Admissions Building/ Office of the University Registrar.  Where before it was only squatting on a nearly dilapidated facility, the new Registrar’s Office is brand new, it still smells of cement powder!  I like its high ceiling, giving enough natural ventillation to an expectedly crowded and most-frequented office, especially on yes, Admissions Day.  It also has a wide paved parking area that not much of UP buildings are known for.  I must now believe that parking space is beginning  to be a problem for the UP administration.  I have mixed feelings on this.  One, I’m glad that the UP admin has recognized this and has included parking space in its faci;ity planning.  On the other side, I feel sad that the state university has become the choice school of the rich and parsimonious (low tuition= more shopping= more vacations abroad).  Access to UP Diliman  education has increasingly become limited if not impossible to most promdis and anakpawis.

More about UP on my next post.  I’ve been planning to write my thoughts about UP- then and now, in deference to a request made by my friend Matibay and in time with the opening of classes on June 9.

I also dropped by at Mang Jimmy’s for a hearty meaty meal of sizzling tapa and tilapia.    Needing for a company, I deliberately awaken Onat’s deep slumber and off we went to the students’ favorite hangout near campus although admittedly, I was never a Mang Jimmy’s habitue back then.  Gladly, the quick meal turned out to be a pleasurable interruption to my friend’s otherwise routinary day.

Mang Jimmy's

Last destination was the Cubao Expo at the Araneta Center, which is fast becoming a favorite chilling place of mine especially because of its ragged yet colorful Bohemian character.  Luis has mounted an art exhibit at the White Box Studio together with his other artist friends, simply titled, “If I Were a Monster” but profoundly executed, as always.

Cubao Expo

Mogwai Cubao Expo





Monsters on the Wall





Hanging Monstrosity






That was a busy week for me.  I can never be left idle when I am in QC, there are just so many interesting things you can do there.  And there are so much more colorful people around that place.