On her 81st birthday, Education Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones received a very special gift — a flowering plant named after her.
In recognition of her passion for education and governance, the University of the Philippines – Los Baños (UPLB) named a new gumamela hybrid after the incumbent Secretary of the Department of Education (DepEd) who is celebrating her 81st birthday on Saturday, Oct. 16.
“I am humbled and deeply honored to have a wonderful variant of Gumamela named after me,” Briones said.
The newest Hibiscus rosa-sinensis “Leonor Magtolis Briones” was named after the Education Chief for her outstanding contributions to society by setting professional standards for public servants and introducing basic education reform initiatives.
As described, the plant is a “shrub, semi-prostrate, average height, upright and thin.” It is also “proliferous, flowering all-year round even on hot months.”
Now in its 21st year, the Women in Public Service series names Gumamela or “Hibiscus rosa-sinensis” hybrids after women who have dedicated their time and effort to public service.
“As a nature lover and educator, I appreciate UPLB’s Women in Public Service series that recognizes outstanding Filipino women in government,” Briones added.
Briones was nominated by Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio, Director of Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture, and duly endorsed by the UPLB Screening Committee on naming Hibiscus, Mussaenda, and other Ornamental Plants.
Developed by the Institute of Plant Breeding (IPB), the new hybrid dedicated to Briones is formally presented and awarded to Briones on Oct. 16.
The presentation is led Agripina Rasco, Plant Breeder from IPB, Dr. Jose V. Camacho, Jr., UPLB Chancellor, Dr. Merdelyn Lit, Chair of the Committee on Naming Hibiscus, Mussaenda and Other Ornamentals and Vice-Chancellor for Research and Extension, Dr. Elpidio M. Agbisit Jr., Dean of the College of Agriculture and Food Science, and Dr. Fe de la Cueva, IPB Director.
A teacher for most of her life, Briones has taught young children in church schools and students in undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral studies.
She was conferred as Professor Emeritus of the University of the Philippines – National College of Public Administration and Governance (UP-NCPAG).
In her term as the DepEd Secretary, Briones spearheaded the “Sulong EduKalidad” which is the department’s aggressive campaign to improve the quality of basic education in the Philippines.
Briones also also led the establishment of the Education Futures Programme in the department to study global trends and innovations in the basic education system.
Under her leadership, DepEd also developed the Basic Education-Learning Continuity Plan (BE-LCP) at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This initiative has ensured learning continuity while safeguarding the health and well-being of learners, teachers, and personnel.
Recently, Briones pushed for the prioritization of teachers in the vaccination program of the national government and the pilot implementation of face-to-face classes in low-risk areas.
On Oct. 12, Briones also received the Lifetime Contributor Award for the public sector at the 12th Asia CEO Awards for her exemplary contributions to nation-building and response to the challenges in basic education in the country.