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The Cartographic Operations Division (COD)

By – March 04, 2013

The Cartographic Operations Division, in general, provides guidance in policy and procedure in the standardization; production and publication of all cartographic activities of the Department and the Bureau; organize and implement policy of the division in standardizing operations on soil cartography; classify and correlates map reproduction to international standard; and coordinates with the government and private agencies in the utilization and publication from all soil based thematic maps being undertaken by the technical divisions of the Bureau.

The Cartographic Operations Division (COD) was originally a section of the Soil Survey Division. Its status as a division was realized in 1978 through the FAO/UNDP Land Resources Appraisal and Training Project (AGO: PHI/74/003). It is mandated primarily to prepare, finalize and reproduce soil-based thematic maps and other Information and education campaign materials.

In retrospect, there are numerous personalities and events that contributed to the development of the COD.

I joined the bureau with its office still at Maria Orosa Street. in Manila on June 21, 1971 and was assigned to the then Cartography Section. During those times it was branded as the “worst section” because of its all-male staff who are disgustingly notorious in countless ways. This section was then headed by Francisco E. Camba in an OIC capacity. Mr. Camba hails from Pateros and loves to distribute “balot” to his subordinates. In 1972, Teofisto Arbuis, Supervising Cartographer who was detailed in Naga City was recalled to head the Cartography Section.

In an effort to strengthen its capabilities, former Director Godofredo N. Alcasid Jr., Assistant Director Rufino L. Santos, and Mr. Cresencio O. Solano eyed the expertise of Engr. Reynaldo P. Bajar. Engr. Bajar, an Engineering Cartography Graduate was officially installed as the chief of the cartography section in august 23, 1973.

The COD gained its status as a division in 1978 through the FAO/UNDP grant aid to the Bureau of Soils (PHI/74/003). The FAO/UNDP grant developed the photogrammetric and production facilities and technology providing extensive support services to the technical divisions of the bureau as well as other agencies of the Department of Agriculture (DA) including the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) in its replanting program in 1978; the Bicol River Basin Development Project (BRBDP) and Cotabato/Agusan River Basin Development Project (CARBDP).

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The Cartographic Operations Division (COD)

Fairly equipped in 1990 through the FAO/UNDP grant, the COD further bolstered and strengthened its reproduction and laboratory facilities from the Soils Research and Development Center (SRDC), an RP-JAPAN grant aid project through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). From this, the COD received the photo laboratory and reproduction facilities (process camera, flatbed offset press, contact printer, whirler and dark room facilities) to totally complement the existing components in the sequence of mapping operations.

The role of the division as a support service and provided to the different technical divisions of the bureau in numerous survey activities was out for more than three decades under the successfully and efficiently carried stewardship of Engr. Bajar until his exit from the government service in July, 2004.

Following the retirement of Engr. Bajar, there was a scheme formulated or devised by then Director Rogelio N. Concepcion that the three (3) most senior staff of the division namely; the late Marcelino P. De Leon (Engineer IV), Felix N. Albano (Engineer III) and Andres B. Calimutan (Engineer II) will serve as Officer-In-Charge (OIC) on a rotation basis from July until December. However in August of 2004, Mr. Elmer B. Borre, Supervising Agriculturist of ALMED assumed as OIC. During his stint, the division was still in analog mapping and he initiated an effort to capacitate the COD staff to cope up with the trends nowadays specially in digital mapping. The quartet of Bonifacio Jogno, Jr., Teodorico M. Fajardo, Dino A. Velasquez and Jose Ariel G. Almeda have undertaken in-house training at ISRIS. This triggered the COD gaining momentum in shifting from analog to digital format in its mapping activities.

The term of Mr. Borre as COD Chief lasted until February 2, 2009 after Executive Director Silvino Q. Tejada implemented the cross-posting of division chiefs. Mr. Borre was sent to San Ildefonso, Bulacan to serve as Soil and Water Research Station Chief while Dr. Lauro G. Hernandez from the Laboratory Services Division assumed as the new COD Chief. The tenure of Dr. Lauro G. Hernandez as head of the division lasted until his retirement on his 65th birthday on November 30, 2012. During his stewardship, the COD strengthened its digitizing capabilities and before his departure, he was able to procure six (6) units of computer bringing the number of working stations to eleven [11].

On the occasion of the retirement program tendered to Dr. Hernandez, Director Tejada mentioned in his speech that the next OIC of the COD will emanate from its own ranks. On December 3, 2012, Felix N. Albano, Engineer III assumed his post as OIC of the division which will last until March 31, 2013; Andres Calimutan, Engineer II assumed until the end of the second quarter; while Pablo M. Montalla, Engineer IV will cover the third quarter.

The entire COD staff feel more than optimistic and confident enough that the division will be able to cope up with the demands and challenges in their digitization activities through incessant efforts to attain computer proficiency aside from sending qualified staff to undertake pertinent training (locally or abroad provided by government and private entities). Additionally, staff who have advanced computer knowledge like Mr. Calimutan who took up “Course A-Geomatics” at the Training Center for Applied Geodesy and Photogrammetry [TCAGP] strives hard to tutor “starters’ of the trade. Presently, COD staff is undergoing hands-on training on ‘screen digitization’ using program ARCVIEW from the image files rectified with program ENVI. This technique will revolutionize and reverse the common practice of digitizing maps from finalized analog maps which oftentimes such process is impeded by the scarcity/lack of sepia film, a medium to reproduce base map being utilized to produce various thematic maps. With this new and innovative technique, analog map [reproducible] will be produced [printed] from digitized map. It is important to note that mapping in the country could not do away with analog mapping because majority of map users could not afford digital maps which demand higher production.

In conclusion, the COD hopes to cope with the challenges in the digital era but still maintains usability of the existing map print outs.

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