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Doc 'Angel': Vanguard of the sea

Tribute to National Scientist Dr. Angel C. Alcala

National Scientist Dr. Angel C. Alcala was known for being the father of marine protected areas (MPAs) having introduced the concept in the country with more than 1,000 of them established across the country.

One of his notable contributions was his research and advocacy for marine no-take zones led to a national policy and program that established no-take marine protected areas all over the country and became a model of coastal resource management and conservation that many countries have adopted.  

Dr. Alcala also became an Instructor in Biology at Silliman University and eventually became the President of the University from the year 1991-1992 where he founded the Silliman Marine Laboratory, which has been active in research on marine protected areas, fisheries, and marine biodiversity, mariculture, and conservation of Philippine plant and animal species.

He also served the nation in various sectors. Two of these were when he became the Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in 1992 and initiated DENR’s program on marine conservation, and the other was when he became the first Chairman of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) from 1995 to 1999. He served on the Commission with probity, integrity, and transparency. In addition, he promoted faculty capacity building and research projects to encourage research programs in colleges and universities.

With his remarkable service and contribution to the academe, in public service and the science industry, it is no doubt that Dr. Angel Chua Alcala was elected to the National Academy of Science and Technology, Philippines (NAST PHL) as an Academician and was conferred the Order of National Scientist by virtue of Malacañang Proclamation No. 783 signed by President Benigno S. Aquino III on June 6, 2014. The Order of National Scientist is the highest recognition given to a Filipino man or woman of science in the Philippines who has made outstanding contributions in one of the different fields of science and technology.

 He obtained his Bachelor of Science in Biology (magna cum laude) from Silliman University in 1951, his Master of Arts, and his Doctor of Philosophy in Biological Sciences from Stanford University in 1960 and 1966, respectively. He also received honorary doctorates from Xavier University and the University of Southeastern Philippines.

Dr. Alcala’s legacy will surely be remembered and will live on not just in the laboratories, projects, and programs he had established but most importantly in the actions of the people he has taught and continuously inspired. Dr. Alcala’s major contribution to the country’s marine development and ecology paved the way for younger generations to have a greater awareness of protective environmental practices, marine conservation, and the discovery of new species. It resulted in the heightened consciousness of sea protection” which resulted in livelihood and tourism opportunities along coastal communities. (PIA-CPSD/MGCR)

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