At the age of 71 years, Dr. Efren Eduardo Flores succumbed to pneumonia on 8 December 2013. Dr. Flores was the fifth Chief of AQD, leading it from April 1992 to April 1996. He was also a former Dean of UPV (University of the Philippine Visayas) – College of Fisheries & Ocean Sciences from 1987 to 1992. Below is the tribute delivered by AQD scientist Dr. Relicardo Coloso (who was the head of research in Dr. Flores’ four-year term) on 29 January 2014 at UPV:
“Dr. Flores, being a dynamic administrator and manager, led the shifting of AQD research programs to generate technologies that are environment-friendly, sustainable, and generate equitable benefits to society. He was keen on instituting a multidisciplinary approach to research at AQD with natural scientists working hand-in-hand with social scientists and stakeholders, especially fisherfolk, in developing aquaculture technologies. He once wrote in AQD’s 20th anniversary souvenir volume that ‘participation of the fisherfolk, in particular, allows them access and understanding of the technologies developed, they who are the traditional users of the aquatic resources and who are the most affected when the environment is sacrificed for the sake of progress.’ He was one of the first to espouse to make aquaculture sustainable for the benefit of society at large. It was also during his time that the socioeconomics section of AQD’s research division was formed to support this mission.
Moreover, in 1993, the ‘adopt-a-milkfish broodstock’ scheme was implemented to extend the milkfish broodstock and hatchery technology generated at AQD to the private sector. The cooperator shouldered all the expenses in maintaining the adopted breeders and gets all the spawned eggs to be raised in the hatchery. AQD provided the milkfish breeders, a cage, an egg collector, and technical assistance. AQD researchers monitored the broodstock, hatchery, and performance of the adopted milkfish. Three cooperators participated in this scheme, which planted the seeds in the proliferation of the milkfish broodstock and hatchery technology widely available in the country today.
It was also under Dr. Flores’ leadership where a seminar series was initiated as one of the activities during the anniversary celebration to honor the memory of AQD’s first Chief, Dean Domiciano K. Villaluz. The seminar, dubbed as ‘Dean Domiciano K. Villaluz Memorial Lecture’ since it started until now, has already featured the most distinguished and respected scientists in aquaculture, fisheries, marine sciences and related fields in the country.
Facilities were also upgraded including the laboratories and training facilities, fencing of the perimeter of AQD, as well as improving the research stations. These improvements paved the way in attracting more young researchers, international and local trainees, and expatriate researchers to AQD than the previous years. Not only that, benefits of employees were also improved through the tireless negotiations made by Dr. Flores to increase AQD’s budget which came close to PhP 200 million at the end of his term. As a result, AQD produced a record number of publications (close to 200) in international and local scientific journals when he was the Chief.
Dr. Flores was also the first to support the Environment Action Group at AQD, which became a member of the Environment Liaison Center International (ELCI) based in Nairobi, Kenya. The ELCI acts as a liaison between the UN Environment Programme and various grassroots organizations worldwide concerned with environmental problems and issues. He also inaugurated the AQD Museum and Biodiversity Place on 9 July 1993. Personally, he took charge of greening the AQD campus (now Kinaadman Elementary School Inc) by planting the lush mahogany and narra trees. He delighted in walking through the AQD mini-forest for relaxation and to smell the sweet, unpolluted air of Tigbauan. He also took many late afternoon walks while speaking with those in the community surrounding AQD. He even appointed the Chief as the Community Relations Officer indicating that this was so close to his heart.