October 19 - 22, 2023



Hyatt Regency Hotel, New Brunswick, New Jersey

* * * * *

About the UPAAA Grand Reunion and Convention

The UPAAA Grand Reunion & Convention (GRC) is a biennial gathering of UP alumni and non- alumni for the purposes of fellowship, knowledge exchange and fundraising for UPAAA's flagship initiative, the Scholarship Program.

On its 22nd year, GRC 2023 returned to an in-person format from October 19-22, 2023 in New Brunswick, New Jersey.  We hosted between 200-300 attendees from the US, Canada and beyond.

GRC 2021, held virtually, with VFairs as the digital platform, won the following awards: *vFairs "Best Use of Gamification" (winner) and "Best Virtual Conference" (runner up).

New Brunswick, New Jersey

Downtown New Brunswick is along the banks of the Raritan River.  It is best known as the home of Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.  


Welcoming guests from the Philippines:  Former Philippine Vice President Ma. Leonor (Leni) Gerona Robredo and University of the Philippines President Angelo Azura Jimenez.  The hardworking Registration Committee had them both to themselves, without the hordes of admirers who crowded them all throughout the GRC.

The Registration Team

Letty Umali, Janet Castillo, Luthgard Sapal, Pearl Ontalan, Linda Mangaoang, Guia Palma, Joy Celo assisted by go-phers

Winston Umali, Ed Celo, Dot Tome, Mark Umali.  Also in photo are Romy Aquino and Rod Macadaeg

(Photo courtesy of Daisy Macadaeg)

The WELCOME RECEPTION on Thursday, October 19

This intimate gathering set the tone for the entire GRC - fellowship, informality, fun!  UP President Jimenez and  well-known UP alumna Atty. Loida Nicolas Lewis even showed us they can carry a tune:  the Godfather theme "Speak Softly Love" - in Italian no less -  and the Beatles' "Yesterday", respectively. And  who can top Broadway star Lora Nicolas Olaes' rendition of

"Don't Rain on My Parade" (from Funny Girl).

Program hosted by Winston Umali, Noel Gamboa with singers Janet Castillo and Ronald Seludo


DAY 2:  Friday, October 20

The ISKOlympics Fun Run

Intrepid people braving the cold and the rain and still loving it!  Watch this short video, courtesy of Dustin Dalisay.

Day 2:  Friday, October 20, 2023

Keynote Address followed by Convention Sessions

Atty. Loida Nicolas-Lewis introducing the Keynote Speaker.

Filipinos Changing the World:

Carmencita David Padilla, MD:  National Scientist of the Philippines, Medical Geneticist and mover of health care policies in the Philippines

Keynote Speaker, Former Philippine Vice President Atty. Ma. Leonor (Leni) Gerona Robredo

Filipinos Changing the World::

Clarina R. dela Cruz, PhD:  Breaking the "glass ceiling" in Physics; Group Leader, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tennessee

Filipinos Changing the World:

Benildo G. delos Reyes, PhD

Plant geneticist, Leading research against world hunger

Filipinos Changing the World:

Marilou C. Areno, DComm

Educator, championing Pride in the Profession

DAY 2:  October 20, 2023


"Sayawan Na" - enjoying the line dancing

Jubilarians showing off their medallions

Dr. Joy Celo, Board Secretary and Vice Chair of the GRC Committee, receiving the UPAAA Presidential Award for Service, flanked by Dr. Carmencita Padilla, Atty. Leni Robredo, UP President Angelo Jimenez,  UPAAA Past President Nelsie Parrado and UPAAA President Dr.Jose David (from left to right)

Atty. Jose P. Santos, the first UP-educated Filipino lawyer to pass the Pennsylvania Bar without a degree from the USA, receiving his Diamond Jubilarian medallion

The UP Alumni and Friends Rondalla providing musical entertainment and serenading

UP President Angelo A. Jimenez with us.

And we honor fellow alumni In Memoriam

(Prepared by Joe Santos and Duno Dantis)

Ang Dalagang Pilipina

Click here and be in for a surprise!

DAY 3:  Saturday, October 21

Convention Sessions

Food Insecurity:   The Philippine Experience

Robert H. Lo, DVM : To attain food security, government and the private sector have to ensure the quality and maintain the safety of our food supply.  We have to invest in the education of our youth in food production and farming.  These are goals of his company in the Philippines, RDF Feed, Livestock & Foods, Inc.

Shelter Insecurity:  The Philippine Experience

Francis L. Delos Reyes III, PhD:  At Gawad Kalinga, people are empowered to lift themselves from poverty by making them the builders of their own communities - sweat equity and values formation.  Both government and private organizations are involved in making these communities work.  Teach Filipinos to become entrepreneurs and empower them with education, along with shelter security, to give them dignity and help alleviate poverty.

The 22nd President of the University of the

Philippines, Angelo Azura Jimenez

What can the University do

for you?"

"U.P. must be a hub for transformational change and that engaging communities and helping solve real-world problems should be a part of the UP academic experience. Ultimately, the goal is for UP to become a global university that asks the consequential questions of our time and, acting locally, strives to address the serious issues confronting the country and the world."

One of the last two Convention sessions on Day 3:  The UP Alumni Network

How UPMASA, UPAA Arizona and UPAAA College of Public Health Global Chapter work

From left to right:  Romulo Aquino, PhD - President, UPAAA College of Public Health Global Chapter; Guia Palma, MD, moderator; Marilou Areno, DComm - President, UPAA Arizona; Henry Echiverri, MD- President, UPMASA

Our IMPACT:  UPAAA Scholarships, other forms of financial assistance and

the UPAAA Permanent Endowment Fund

and why UP alumni and other friends of UP pay it forward

Panelists:  Joy S. Celo, MD - UPAAA Chair of Scholarship Committee; Ma Cristina and Amador Colmenar - PEF and scholarship grant donors; Francis Sy, MD, DrPH - PEF and scholarship grant donor

DAY 3:  Saturday, October 21

Gala and Awards Night

The Oblation statuettes for the 2023-2024 UPAAA Distinguished UP Alumni Awards

(UPAAA Awards Committee: Joy S. Celo, Nina I. Lojo and Luz Micabalo, with six guest judges)

(Photos courtesy of Vivian Balagtas)

Recipients of the 2023-2024 UPAAA Distinguished UP Alumni Awards, the Lifetime Achievement Award and the 

Service Award for a UP alumni organization

The Jubilarians celebrating again during Gala night, with UP President Angelo Jimenez, Atty. Leni Robredo and UPAAA President Jose M. David, MD in the center (foreground)

And so it ends on Sunday, October 22, 2023....

Until 2025 for the 23rd Biennial UPAAA Grand Reunion and Convention

Sunday Mass celebrated by Fr. Gregory Gaston, a farewell buffet breakfast and a short meeting of the incoming UPAAA Board.

A fitting end to a truly memorable Reunion!


UP Alumni Noel and Dori Gamboa:  They kept the party hopping

The Audio-Visual Team:


Noel Gamboa and Sam Santiago

AND Our Thanks to Ms. Annie Nepomuceno, Dr. Suzanne Sabangan and Kenneth Cataylo for their music!

Thank you to everyone who contributed photos and videos featured here and on social media:  Zenaida E. Ply, Vivian C. Balagtas, Aida M. Sarmiento, Winston C. Umali, Daisy B. Macadaeg, Cheche Torres, Francis Sy, and countless others who celebrated the 22nd UPAAA Biennial Grand Reunion and Convention, October 19 to 22, 2023, in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Atty. Ma. Leonor (Leni) G. Robredo, most Distinguished Alumna for 2023 awarded by the University of the Philippines Alumni Association (UPAA) for her work to uplift Filipinos as a lawyer, development worker and government official

Hear her Keynote Address on Friday, October 20, at 1 to 2 pm during GRC 2023.  Register for Day 2 ($50, which includes an afternoon coffee break. 

She is Founder of Angat Buhay, now Angat Pinas, the largest volunteer network in the Philippines Maging Isang Daan

Atty. Angelo A. Jimenez taking the helm as the President of the University of the Philippines (UP) after former UP President Danilo L. Concepcion turned over the leadership during a ceremony held at the Quezon Hall Lobby in UP Diliman on February 10, 2023

Hear his "State of the University" address on Saturday, October 21, at 10:30-11:30 am during GRC 2023.  Register for Day 3 ($200, which includes buffet breakfast and lunch and two coffee breaks).

Carmencita David Padilla, MD,

Chancellor of UP Manila,

was conferred the Order of National Scientist (Orden ng Gawad ng Pambansang Alagad ng Agham) during a ceremony held on August 31, 2023.  This is the highest national recognition given to a man or woman of science in the Philippines, administered by the Philippine National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST).

Dr. Padilla is recognized for her significant contribution to the field of clinical genetics in the Philippines.  She set up the Philippine Genome Center (PGC), located in the National Science Complex of the UP Diliman Campus, a multidisciplinary institution that will combine basic and applied research for the development of health diagnostics, therapeutics, DNA forensics, preventive products, and the improvement of crop varieties in the country.

Hear her speak at GRC 2023 during the session "Filipinos Changing the World" at 2 to 3 o'clock pm on Friday, October 20.

The Recipients of the 2023 UPAAA Distinguished Alumni Awards

were introduced in a series of free online events titled "In Conversation". 

Our 5th and last event was on Friday, October 6 at 9 pm Eastern.  

During each event, we heard about their journeys through life, their interests, advocacies, their

plans for the future.  They face struggles and thrive, with their U.P. education helping them 

along the way.  They dream and pursue their dreams.  They help their communities and

the University in different ways, but there is always the spirit of giving back.


Susan A. de los Santos

Owner, The Filipino Press

Sonia T. Delen

Senior Vice President, Bank of America-Global Leasing

Trustee & Board Secretary, Friends of the UP Foundation in America

President, Filipino Food Movement

Former Member, Board of Trustees, State Bar of California 

Director, Apl.de.ap Foundation International

Macario S. Fojas

Founder & CEO at Seven Seven Global Services

Awardee featured in "In Conversation part 4"


graduated from U.P. with the degrees of BS Premed,1970, and Doctor of Medicine,1975. He earned a Masters degree, Tropical Public Health, and Doctor of Public Health, Immunology and Infectious Disease in the US.

He has been very generous in helping students in need of mentoring and financial help. He has most recently supported an undergraduate in the College of Public Health on her final year, and has donated to the UPAAA International Student Assistance Fund (ISAG), a one-time grant to a UP alumnus in the US for graduate or postgraduate work. He is one of the early donors to the UPAAA Permanent Endowment Fund, invested in the US, the interest generated to be donated to UP for a stipend scholarship. He has assisted a UP alumnus completing his Doctorate in Music in the US, enlisting also the assistance of his medical classmates who are as interested in music as he is.

He has been donating to scholarships in the US, as well.The UNLV College of Nursing is one of the recipients of his generosity.

His contributions are making an impact on many lives, not just the direct recipients, but their families and communities as well.

Awardees featured in "In Conversation" part 3

ANNIE NEPOMUCENO (Roxanne Norma Roque Nepomuceno)

Obtained her Bachelor of Music in Musicology from U.P., and is a graduate of the UP Integrated School in Diliman.  She holds a Certificate in Music Business, with distinction, from UCLA.  Multi-awarded, a community leader, a performing artist, a vocal and choral arranger, she is dedicated to the performing arts as an event producer, specializing in presenting Filipino American Artists.  She emphasizes creative and innovative marketing, motivating artists, volunteers and staff to be creative and adhere to a high standard.  She was one of the youngest instructors in The Music School of Ryan Cayabyab, Philippine National Artist for Music.

Ryan Cayabyab and Annie


Graduated from UP Los Banos with the degrees of BS in Agricultural Chemistry and MS in Agricultural Chemistry (Minor in Food Science).  He obtained a PhD in Chemistry (Analytical and Environmental Chemistry) from the University of Buffalo, the State University of New York, Buffalo.  Multi-awarded in education and research, and a well-loved educator at Pace University, New York, Department of Chemistry and Physical Sciences in Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, he continues to pay it forward to UP by holding online courses at UPLB.


Is a non-profit, formed in 1982, committed to reaching out to UP alumni in Texas to help preserve UP’s reputation as a center of academic excellence. The organization has a permanent endowment fund for an undergraduate scholarship administered by the UP Foundation Inc., and established an endowment invested in the US in 2018 to support two undergraduate UP students.  It assisted students from the war-torn city of Marawi and UP students who needed laptops and internet connectivity during the height of the COVID pandemic.  They have been active in responding to community needs following natural disasters and the COVID pandemic, both locally and in the Philippines.  They continue to reach out to their Texas communities, both Filipino and non-Filipino.

Awardees featured in "In Conversation", part 2

DINA BARROS ELLORIN     Graduated from UP with the degree of Bachelor of Science in Food Technology, and from the UP High School in Diliman.  She has been an active member of UPAAA, serving in various capacities - Secretary, PRO, Assistant Treasurer.  She set-up and managed the UPAAA’s first website, UPAAinAmerica.org, and was Editor of the Souvenir Journals of four GRCs. Retired from her work as a Registered Environmental Health Specialist, she is the Executive Director, probono, of the SAMAHAN Filipino American Performing Arts and Education Center, Inc, since 2016.

About SAMAHAN: This is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit which, for more than four decades, has advanced Filipino culture, reaching out to the youth and the rest of the San Diego, CA community through dance, music and living traditions.

BENILDO DELOS REYES, PhD graduated from UP Los Banos with the degree of BS in Biology/Genetics, and MS in Genetics and Biochemistry from UP and the International Rice Research Institute. He holds a postdoctoral degree in Plant Genomics from Michigan State University. a PhD (Plant Science, Cell and Molecular Biology) from Oklahoma State University, and a Certificate on Leadership in Science and Academia from Cornell University.

He is Professor of Genetics and holds the Bayer CropScience Professorial Chair in Plant Genomics at Texas Tech University, in addition to myriads of professional leadership positions.  He is well known in the USA as well as internationally,  a prolific researcher and writer, with extensive contributions to plant science. 

Most recently, he has been involved with the Moonshot Project of Japan for Food Security, and is trying to establish a big and ambitious project with the Philippine Department of Science and Technology, incorporating genetics and genomics with anthropological history.

MARLENE CATAYLO CHANCE, PhD graduated from UP with the degree of Graduate in Nursing, she then went on to gather multiple degrees from various universities in the US:  BS in Nursing, summa cum laude; MS in Nursing, Primary Care Nurse Practitioner; Doctor of Philosophy, Health Administration; Executive Juris Doctor.  She is a Fellow of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners and has a long string of awards for her outstanding service to her patients and their communities, her leadership, and her contributions to the nursing profession.

She is involved in many charitable endeavors and has served as board member in several UP alumni organizations and non-alumni organizations, including being a Founding Member of the International Nurses Association of America, its mission to unite nurses of multiple ethnic backgrounds..  She is a devoted advocate of the UP College of Nursing’s Balik Turo program.

Awardees featured in "In Conversation" part 1

JOEL GAMO, MD is an alumnus of UP with degrees in BS Zoology, cum laude, and Doctor of Medicine. He is the recipient of the 2023 UPAAA Distinguished UP Alumnus in Medical Education and Community Service Award. His main advocacy is the promotion of mental health after his son Miguel's suicide. In 2021, he established the Miguel Antonio Gamo Mental Health Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity organization whose main objective is to educate people on depression and suicide prevention, offering BLUE THERAPY (blue sky, ocean and sea creatures provide happiness) in the form of free sailing experiences on a sailboat moored at Marina Del Rey. He remains active in feeding the homeless, in partnership with the Siliman University Alumni Association of Southern California.

He opens up about his son's suicide in this interview posted on YouTubehttps://youtu.be/lm9wioXQVuk

DR. ERWIN VALENCIA graduated from UP with the degree of BS Physical Therapy, then earned a string of degrees from various educational institutions. He is the recipient of the 2023 UPAAA Distinguished UP Alumnus in Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine Award. The Team Physical Therapist and Wellness Lead for the New York Knicks till mid-2023, he is "the embodiment of a UP Alumnus - global ambition but with the heart of giving back to the Philippines and UP in particular". He is working with UP Manila to help the College of Allied Medical Professions (CAMP) expand its course offerings, involving professionals from different countries. He is likewise assisting CAMP's involvement in the College of Human Kinetics in UP Diliman.

Watch this interview on YouTube and appreciate his generous personality.  https://youtu.be/RC9tQWAhPfc

Benildo G. de los Reyes, PhD, UPAAA 2023 Distinguished Alumnus Awardee for Genetics and Food Security, is also receiving an Outstanding UP Los Banos Alumni Award, to be conferred during UPLB's 105th Loyalty Day and Alumni Homecoming on October 8.

Dr. de los Reyes graduated from UPLB  with the degrees of BS Biology/Genetics and MS Genetics/Biochemistry.  He is a Founding Member of the UPLB Genetics Society.  He obtained a PhD in Plant Science, Cell and Molecular Biology from the Oklahoma State University and postdoctoral studies in Plant Genomics at Michigan State University.  

He is Professor of Genetics and holder of the prestigious Bayer Crop Science Professorial Chair in Plant Genomics at Texas Tech University.

Hear him speak during the GRC 2023 on Friday, October 20, and how he is changing the world.  He will be honored during Gala Night on October 21 as a Distinguished UP Alumnus.

About UPLB Loyalty Day

The day celebrates the spirit of volunteerism of students and faculty in UPLB.  In 2018, during World War I, the Allies - which included the United States - needed more manpower.  Sixty percent of the student body and 27 faculty members enlisted in the Philippine National Guard.  This spirit of volunteerism continues such as, the UPLB Pahinungod Program.

"Loyalty Day has become a venue for UPLB administration, faculty, staff, and students to reconnect with the alumni. Altogether, the UPLB community looks back to the University’s rich past with the fervent hope that the volunteerism expressed by the UPCA staff and students in 1918 lives on into the future as encapsulated in the time honored battle cry “Serve the People.” (https://oar.uplb.edu.ph/news/loyalty-day-history-and-essence-revisited/)

The University traces its roots to the UP College of Agriculture (UPCA), which was founded in 1909 by the American colonial government to promote agricultural education and research in the Philippines. (https://apru-scl.uoregon.edu/university-of-philippines/)

(This list is updated when there is a new donor.  The update may be delayed.)

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