Gwendolyn R. Tecson (1946-2020)


Gwendolyn R. Tecson, a lifelong academic who devoted her life to teaching and research as faculty member of the U.P. School of Economics, passed on Sunday, 6 December 2020. She joined the School as instructor in 1971 and retired as full professor in 2011, subsequently being appointed professor emeritus. She served the School in various administrative capacities, including director for public affairs, chair of the undergraduate committee, and later department chair. Her students remember Professor Tecson for her lucid teaching and her empathy for students, though these never diluted her insistence on excellence and academic integrity.

Gwen Tecson was an early product of the School’s master’s program, part of a class that included many who would make their own mark in academe, government service, or the private sector. Among her classmates were Ruperto Alonzo, Armando Armas, Amelia Capistrano, Federico Macaranas, and Victor Valdepeñas. Gwen took her undergraduate degree from Saint Theresa’s College, which honored her with its Teresa’s Light Award for Education in 2019. After her M.A. from U.P. she completed her PhD at Hitotsubashi University under the renowned Ippei Yamazawa, becoming the first Filipino to complete an economics doctorate from Japan. She was fluent in Japanese and French.

Professor Tecson’s main line of research was international trade and industrial economics. She was an important member of the group that published two highly influential works that at the time were the most extensive and authoritative studies of the country’s system of industrial incentives. The first [Bautista, Power, Tecson, et al. 1979] covered the 1970s and showed how the structure of protection in the 1970s had not significantly changed since the 1960s. The second [Medalla, Tecson, et al.2 vols. 1995] documented improvements following the liberalization of the 1980s and, at the same time, warned of their partial reversal. Apart from trade, Professor Tecson studied the development role of small and medium scale industries and was interested in the peculiar trends of Japanese foreign direct investment in the Philippines.

Gwen was a meticulous and thorough researcher with an eye for detail. She was one of the few practitioners doing industry- and firm-level studies to regularly include interviews of firm-owners and practitioners aside from simply relying on statistics and desk research. She conducted research focused particularly on the automotive and electronics industries. Together with a Japanese sociologist professor and friend, she made many trips to Sta. Rosa, Laguna, for example, to interview workers in car assembly plants.

Gwen never wore her faith on her sleeve but lived it fully. She was a devoted member of Notre Dame de Vie, a Catholic secular institute, originally founded in France, whose main formation center in the Philippines is at Encanto, Angat in Bulacan. It was there that Gwen spent her last few years.

She will be deeply missed by colleagues, friends, and students alike.

Bautista, R., J. Power, G. Tecson et al. [1979] Industrial promotion policies in the Philippines. Makati: Philippine Institute for Development Studies.
Medalla, E., G. Tecson et al. [1995] Catching up with Asia’s tigers. 2 vols. Makati: Philippine Institute for Development Studies.