[Delivered at the final memorial service for National Scientist Gelia T. Castillo held on 12 August 2017, Department of Science and Technology, Taguig. Dr. Castillo passed away 5 August 2017.]


On behalf of the Social Science Division of the National Academy of Science and Technology, and in behalf as well of NS Mercedes “Ditas” Conception, Gelia’s intellectual soulmate in the Division, I humbly convey our deepest condolences to Members of the Castillo Family,

That we have lost an eminent scholar, friend and colleague goes without saying. She has passed on but we know that in the voluminous significant work and insights she left-behind, and in the minds she directly or indirectly molded, her legacy lives on.

Dr. Gelia’s contributions are nothing if not stellar. She has produced four landmark books that serve as definitive work and set the standard in research in Philippine Agriculture and Rural Development. Her books include, All in a Grain of Rice, known to be the first book written by a Filipina about the Filipino farmer’s response to new technology, and Beyond Manila, cited as an in-depth and analytical study of the actual problems and needs of the rural areas in relation to countryside development. These works gave Filipinos insight in their own rural development efforts and their attempt to reach the farmer and the rural poor. With collaborators and students, she studied social and political factors involved in rural development. Her reports revealed that the Filipino farmer was far from being a dolt, a view that was current at that time was instead receptive to technology and interested not only in yield per hectare but in the cost of labor and inputs; in other words, the Filipino farmer is as much concerned with economic efficiency as any in the world. Instead, he was   hemmed in by many more constraint which we must struggle to lift.

And for these she was recognized here and abroad.

But beyond the fruits of her mind, NS Gelia also wore her heart in her numerous advocacies: first, as exciting as our individual pursuits of knowledge may be, she never allowed NAST members to forget that we have to translate discoveries into effective programs for the good of the nation, of the poor, of the future. (She would have played a pivotal role in the upcoming AAASA Translation Conference “From the bench to community”); secondly, as much as she tirelessly championed the cause of the farmers, she championed the cause of younger struggling scientists in our midst and finally did she champion the cause of scientists in the regions always on the lookout for talents and achievement outside of Manila. Let me add that long before Health Economics was a byword, NS Gelia was bugging the international community for funds to help the fledgling local community of motivated economists largely based in the UP School of Economics. This has clearly flowered.

Your attendance here speaks volumes of the impact that this wonderful student of science had on all of us. Those who were fortunate enough to have been touched by NS Gelia know, she has left a vacuum.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh once wrote: “Life is understood only in its peak moments.” NS Gelia’s life embraced the peak moments of many lives and many lifetimes. She never stopped asking but she understood more than most.

We will miss you, NS Gelia Castillo: icon, exemplar, friend but most of all a splendid human being. You’ve earned the exceeding peace and understanding that eludes us in this vale of longing but runneth over where you are headed, in the bosom of our Abraham.


[Raul V. Fabella is National Scientist and chair of the social sciences division of the National Academy of Science and Technology.]