[Tribute to Professor Ruperto P. Alonzo delivered on 10 November 2017 at the Santa Maria della Strada Church, Quezon City. Professor Alonzo passed away on 7 November 2017.]


Mel and the family, Colleagues, and Friends:

We are gathered here today to pay our final respects to a dear and departed colleague, Prof. Ruperto Alonzo. Ruping, as we affectionately call him, passed away on Nov. 7, after a long and courageous battle against the Big C.

He was a member of the UP School of Economics (UPSE) faculty for nearly five decades. In that capacity, he distinguished himself as a teacher and adviser, beloved by several generations of economics students, many of whom won outstanding undergraduate thesis awards under his mentorship.

Ruping was a pillar of our graduate program in development economics, the program that produced many trainees and graduates engaged in government policy and planning. Ruping was our main man in that course elective called cost-benefit analysis and project evaluation.

As a faculty member, he also paid his dues, to use a phrase of our late Dean José Encarnación, Jr. He willingly took on administrative jobs, such as, serving as chairman of the economics department and public affairs director. Unbeknownst to many outside the School, there is this popular buzz among many of its faculty members, that there is no real academic freedom unless one is freed from administrative work.

Ruping was an exception: he dedicated himself to whatever administrative job was given to him. At one point, he even served as a vice president in the UP system. In addition, he had brief stops in government, seconded as a deputy director general at the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA). He also did some consultancy services for some implementing agencies of government.

Ruping retired in 2013 from the School, having reached mandatory retirement age in government. But by that time he had accumulated enough human capital that could deliver still years of remunerative consulting work.

But lest anybody starts to think that Ruping was just a plain nerd toiling endlessly in his faculty office, think again.

I joined the School faculty in 1975; Ruping was recruited some five years ahead of me, sent to the University of Chicago for graduate training. Demographically, we belonged to the same age cohort at the School. At that time, the School of Economics building wasn’t constructed yet. Ruping was holding office in what was then called the research house, one of the Rockefeller Foundation- built houses at Purok Aguinaldo in the Diliman campus. At the end of business hours of Friday, normally, we would visit him in his office.

It was in one of those Friday drop-bys that I first met Ruping. There was a ping-pong table in the research house, presumably for stress management. By five o’clock, in keeping with a fine tradition among the men in the School, Ruping invited us to have beers with him. I remember Ruping vividly with a beer on the right hand and a stick of cigarette on the other.

It was a lovely and beautiful sight, my first encounter with a two-handed economist.

Some Fridays, we would move on to a Phase 2 kind of activity, where we would further shoot the breeze. We would have dinner of fried and grilled squid in one of those restaurants on Quezon Boulevard, and do a bit of night clubbing after. I wish I could tell you more about that part of the evening, but we were a band of brothers with a covenant: whatever happens in Quezon Blvd., stays in Quezon Blvd.

Adding together all those vignettes of academic life with Ruping, the man, I’d say, was a cool nerd, to borrow a millennial phrase.

Long before psychologists and other social scientists coined the phrase work-life balance, Ruping was well into it already. So he was teaching, advising, doing consultancies, and some after-hours bantering with friends.

But that did not diminish his commitment to family. With wife, Mel, they raised a family with two children, Lara and Carlo, who will do any parents proud. The children are both accomplished, definitely a credit to both Philippine and American societies.

Ruping and Mel built a lovely house nearby, at the Loyola Grand Villa and a weekend house in Tagaytay. I’m sure some of us here have benefited immensely from their two tasteful though inexpensive housing projects.

In closing, let me say that Ruping was a friend, colleague, and brother rolled into one. That will always be etched in my mind… till they take my breath away.

God bless Ruping. May his family find comfort in his solid contributions to this nation, intellectually and materially.


See also tribute by former UP President Emerlinda R. Roman.