Who is Dr. Jesse Ronquillo
This low-profile scientist is a native of Cagay, Camarines Sur. His mother was from Quezon Province while his father was from Caloocan. At an early age, Dr. Jesse wanted to be an Engineer, while his mother wanted him to become a medical doctor. However, after high school, on his cousins’ persuasions and his grandparents’ plan to have him look after their 100 hectare fishpond property in Bicol, he enrolled at the College of Fisheries, University of the Philippines – Diliman . He was given a scholarship by PCARD (Philippine Council for Agriculture Resources and Development) and graduated cum laude in 1980.
Thereafter he was hired as a Professor at the University of the Philippines – Visayas. After 2 years, although he was offered scholarship at University of California, USA, he opted to take the scholarship on aqua culture offered by the Japanese government for he believed then that Japan was more advance in the field of aquaculture. There, he obtained his Masters Degree.
During his studies in Japan at Kagoshima University, he met his wife, of Japanese parentage but was born in Argentina. She was a medical student who was specializing in neurology. Their marriage was a newsmaker and was featured in print and broadcast media. It was the first time that two foreign students were married in that city so Kagoshima celebrated with the elite in attendance and all foreign students performed cultural dances.
Back in the Philippines at the UP – Visayas, Dr. Jesse did a lot of research. He was hired as Consultant by the Department of Science and Technology. He developed a lot of technology for aqua culture and got a lot of awards from national and international award giving bodies. Their stay in the Philippines was cut short as his wife who was not able to get accustomed to hot weather and dust, got sickly. He was offered a job in Maryland, USA but he fore go the opportunity and decided to migrate to Canada instead.
The Ronquillos are now well settled in Richmond, British Columbia.
Challenges in Canada
Admittedly despite the honors, awards and qualifications that Dr. Jesse has, he found it very hard to find a job. He was told he is overqualified, or he does not have the Canadian experience.
He joined UBC as researcher in 2004, got his citizenship and at the same time got an offer as Assistant Associate Professor in Nova Scotia from 2007 until 2008 as a replacement for a professor who was on long term disability. After his temporary stint in Nova Scotia, he went back to UBC. Fortunately, Viva Aquaculture and Seafood Distribution Ltd needed an expert and consultant to help the company to set up an aquaculture facility in Langley to produce shrimp and fish. He was sent by UBC to help as part of an industrial research project.
A few weeks ago, Dr. Jesse went to Japan to set up collaboration between Japan and UBC. In the planning now is a project on aquaculture international seminars to be held at UBC.
What do you like best in Canada?
Although, tax rates are too high, the social safety net is best in Canada.
What do you miss about the Philippines?
“I feel nostalgic sometimes. When I visit, I always get invitations from different universities as a “balik scientist awardee”. I am recognized in my field as an international expert. But I do not dwell on this recognition. I believe that the technologies I developed can help the aquaculture industry in the Philippines. That is what I want – to help because I love my country so much.”
Advise to the Filipinos in Canada
“It may be hard to look for the job you want. But be patient. Do not lose hope. As much as possible, keep on getting educated, keep on up grading. Keep on volunteering and networking to meet people and prospective employers. You never know if the job you will find will be much better than the job you want.”
Information on the technologies, studies, papers, and researches done by Dr. Jesse Ronquillo are found in the Canadian Aquaculture R & D Review 2015.