Filipino scientists

National scientist, ex-CHED chair Angel Alcala dies

Bonz Magsambol

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National scientist, ex-CHED chair Angel Alcala dies

NATIONAL SCIENTIST. File photo of the late Dr. Angel Alcala.


In his decades-long experience as a biologist, Alcala made major contributions to marine biology research in the Philippines

MANILA, Philippines – National scientist and the first chairman of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Dr. Angel Alcala has died, the commission announced on its Facebook page on Wednesday, February 1. He was 93.

“The Commission on Higher Education is deeply saddened by the loss of a great leader, researcher, and scientist. He leaves behind a colorful legacy in the history of higher education as a former CHED chairperson who played a pivotal role in building sanctuaries and promoting biodiversity in aquatic ecosystems,” CHED said in a statement.

Alcala served as CHED chairman and, before that, environment secretary during the Ramos administration.

In his decades-long experience as a biologist, he made major contributions to marine biology research in the Philippines. He conducted extensive research on Philippine reptiles and amphibians, and founded the Silliman Marine Laboratory – the venue for his research on marine protected areas.

In 1992, Alcala received the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service for “pioneering scientific leadership in rehabilitating the coral reefs of the Philippines and in sustaining for Filipinos the natural abundance of their country’s marine life.”

Later in 2014, he was conferred the title of National Scientist by then president Benigno Aquino III.

“Work on the conservation and management of the unique biodiversity, for which the Philippines is known, has given me a feeling of satisfaction that my academic degrees have been useful not only to me and my family but also to the country,” Alcala had said in a Rappler story published after his conferment as national scientist.

“My pursuit of excellence in research was motivated by my desire to help in the conservation of our natural resources by putting to work my academic education and training.”

Alcala finished his bachelor’s degree in biology at the Silliman University in Dumaguete City in 1951, then started as a biology teacher for students preparing to enter the nursing profession and medical school. He would later serve as university president for two years. –

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Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler.