Alvyn Mana-ay, Silliman University

A Treasure Trove of Knowledge and Ideas

“Food is an essential aspect of human survival,” Alvyn Mana-ay points out, and “food safety is an important feature in human development.” Mr. Mana-ay deepened his knowledge of food safety when he enrolled in the master of science program in food safety and toxicology at the University of Hong Kong (HKU), with support from the United Board’s Faculty Scholarship Program. A faculty member of Silliman University’s Nutrition and Dietetics Department, he was the first Filipino to enroll in this HKU master’s program, earning his degree in 2018.

Mr. Mana-ay was impressed by the program, especially the quality of teaching. Each module was taught by at least three highly distinguished lecturers. “These visiting lecturers came from all over the world,” he said, “and are either award-winning professors from other renowned universities or professionals who hold prominent positions in government and NGOs around the world.” It was an environment for deep learning. “The lecturers brought with them a treasure trove of knowledge and ideas,” he said. “Every single time the program team introduced a new lecturer, I got star-struck.”

As Mr. Mana-ay studied at HKU, he thought about ways to integrate his learning into programs at Silliman University, his home institution. “I was inspired to do more and share the new things I’d learned upon my return home,” he recalled. He was able to turn that goal into a reality. “The learning activities for the newly created course on food safety of the master in public health degree program at Silliman were designed based on my learning experience at HKU,” he said.

Mr. Mana-ay and his HKU lab partner, Johnson Lok, received a prize for outstanding oral presentation.

Laboratory activities at HKU gave Mr. Mana-ay a greater appreciation for the value of research and the ways in which it can strengthen law, policy, and ultimately, the safety of a community’s food supply. “The academe can play an important role, especially in risk assessment, which is a science-based process of evaluating the likelihood and severity of potential hazards in food,” he said, “and risk assessment studies can help policymakers in risk management and risk communication.” Mr. Mana-ay sees service-learning as a way to build faculty interest in this type of research – and to demonstrate its relevance to students.

The time Mr. Mana-ay spent at HKU was only his second trip outside the Philippines. Yet he embraced the experience and the collegial support offered him by HKU faculty; his project supervisors, lab-mates, and project partner; and other students. “I was incredibly blessed to have people and organizations who were exceedingly thoughtful when I needed help and who were instrumental to the successful completion of my academic journey at HKU.”

Mr. Mana-ay’s participation in the United Board Faculty Scholarship Program was supported by the Philippines Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and by Florante and Nora Quiocho.