University of the Philippines Los Baños
Friday, 11 August 2017 13:52

UPLB honors Dr. Gelia Castillo (1929-2017)

GTCNecro2 Copy

The UPLB community paid its last respects to one of the gems in the social sciences - Dr. Gelia Tagumpay Castillo, National Scientist and Professor Emeritus - through a necrological service on Aug. 9 at the Diocesan Shrine of St. Therese of the Child Jesus Parish UPLB. Dr. Castillo, a renowned rural sociologist, passed away on Aug, 5, 2017. She was 89.

University officials, faculty, and staff took part in the intimate ceremony. Dr. Portia G. Lapitan, vice chancellor for academic affairs, delivered a message honoring the late Dr. Castillo on behalf of Chancellor Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr.

Dr. Lapitan spoke of Dr. Castillo’s research contributions to inclusive growth and rural development. She underscored Dr. Castillo’s role in mentoring students who have become leaders in rural development scholarship and administration. Dr. Lapitan also praised Dr. Castillo for her guiding principle that “science must always serve a human purpose,” a reminder that research must always serve a higher purpose for the betterment of the Filipinos. She called Dr. Castillo “a national treasure” and an inspiration for UPLB.

On the other hand, Dr. Serlie Barroga-Jamias, vice chancellor for community affairs, recalled Dr. Castillo’s humble nature in her message. She said that Dr. Castillo’s influence will go beyond her lifetime as she planted the seeds of research curiosity in many aspiring researchers and imbued a sense of responsibility in policy makers to focus on the human element of development.

Among those who gave their testimonials were couple Dr. Mimosa Ocampo, retired UPLB professor, and Dr. Pedro Ocampo, who consider Dr. Castillo as a mentor, friend, and a mother; and Dr. Romulo G. Davide, also a professor emeritus of UPLB. Dr. Davide shared how Dr. Castillo encouraged him to help farmers, which have resulted to him leading the training of farmer-scientists all over the country.              

Dr. Castillo’s grandson Anthony spoke on behalf of the Castillo Family. He related his grandmother’s passion for empowering farmers. He also remembered how the family’s matriarch would tell them that each grain of rice is imbued with someone’s passion, ingenuity, and dignity. Dr. Castillo’s groundbreaking book is entitled “All in a Grain of Rice,” which talks about the Filipino’s reaction to a new rice technology. She also wrote other books, namely, Beyond Manila; How Participatory is Participatory Development; and Rice in our Life.

Dr. Castillo taught rural sociology in UPLB from 1953 to 1993 and was one of the first to be conferred the rank of University Professor by UP. She is credited for her research on the Filipino family, women and development, agriculture, and health. She was conferred with the rank and title of National Scientist in 1999 and won the Outstanding Filipino Award in 2004. In her latter years, she served as a consultant to the International Rice Research Institute. (Jessa Jael S. Arana)