[Delivered by former UP President Emerlinda R. Roman on 10 November 2017 during a memorial at the Santa Maria della Strada Church, Quezon City. Professor Alonzo passed away on 7 November 2017.]


I would like to begin by extending my condolences to Ruping’s family – to Mel especially, to Lara and Carlo and their children, and their relatives – on his passing. Many of us knew Ruping as a devoted husband and father, a doting grandfather, a respected and trusted colleague, a quiet, serious and, as one of his staff has described him and with whom I share the same observation, a “brilliant worker”. Ruping was one of my Vice-Presidents when I was still in Quezon Hall. I am thankful that he agreed to take over from Ralph Rodriguez who served as Vice –President for Development for about a year when I started my term. Ruping was an excellent choice, I really wanted him there and that’s what I told Ralph. I said to Ralph, “there’s one problem though- you have to help me convince Ruping to serve”. I thought it would be difficult to convince Ruping. In my recollection, in the last three decades, there have been only two professors from the School of Economics who had the patience and courage to serve in the UP Administration – Philip Medalla was one of them, and then Ruping. It was such a relief that Ruping agreed to serve with us.

For those of us who served with Ruping – the other Vice-Presidents including Amy Guevara, Jing Hidalgo, Marvic Leonen, Ned Echanis, Ralph Rodriguez and Lou Abadingo – Ruping was one of the easiest to work with. His calm demeanor when things were getting rough, his being firm in what he believed in, his brilliance – all these contributed to what we have collectively accomplished. In the case of Ruping who was Vice – President for Development for over two years during my time, he closed the deal for the UP Technohub – a project which had been in the making for several years, actually starting from the time when Dodong Nemenzo was President. He was most patient in dealing with several government agencies – NEDA, DENR, COA, the Quezon City government and even with our own Board of Regents – I recall he had so patiently but firmly dealt with Regent Abraham Sarmiento who was breathing down his neck all the time while the deal on the UP Technohub was being finalized. Let me share with you a short but true story. Shortly after Ruping agreed to be Vice President, he approached Regent Sarmiento and told him, “Regent, I am Ruping Alonzo and I am here to help you with the Technohub project”. Regent Sarmiento stared at him and said, “I don’t need your help.” After that brief encounter with the Regent, Ruping asked us, “Am I in the doghouse now?” Well, in the end the Board finally approved the project after Regent Sarmiento cleared it. Ruping was not just the closer of that project. He also became a drinking buddy of Regent Sarmiento.

The concept of the UP Town Center was first explored when Ruping was still the Vice President. That project was finalized after Ruping left but we do recognize his contribution to the fruition of the project. As you are probably aware, the job of the Vice President for Development is not quite the same as the other VPs whose portfolios are very specific and clear cut. The VPAA takes care of academic matters, the Finance VP takes care of finance, etc. But the job of the VP for Development can be rather vague – the position requires one to be creative, to think out of the box, to be more adventurous, to even consider crazy ideas. The job fitted Ruping to a T.

Let me quote what his staff said – “I admire most his brilliance – napagaling hong mag-isip, pati na nga ho yung COA na napaka mabusisi, kayang kaya ho ni VP Ruping. Me mga tanong ang COA – impromptu sumagot si Sir pero lusot lahat sa COA”. I think COA realized they were dealing with a no-nonsense guy and so they deferred to him most of the time. This staff member – Edmund – was crying when I called him up this morning – he said, “talaga pong na mi miss ko siya. Siya po yung taong ang nasa isip parati ay kung papaano papasok ang pera sa UP at para masuportahan ang academic programs. At saka po Ma’am, kahit Director siya ng ISSI, concurrent with the VP position, kayang kaya po niya”. As you can see, Ruping has created an impression not only on his colleagues in the faculty but also on his staff with whom he worked.

Ruping was not exactly “all work and no play”. He was present in many of our socials. One time we even spent a day with him and Mel at their house in Tagaytay after visiting with Gari Tiongco, a Regent and his wife Gladys in their vacation house also in Tagaytay. Ruping was always present in our socials in BA even during the time of Pepe Encarnacion when Pepe was still around. But even then we saw him as quiet, soft spoken, serious and one who would speak only when he had something substantial to say. Again another story, in one of their drinking sprees, Ruping who was already tipsy bravely asked Pepe, “Why don’t you promote me?”. Pepe intercepted him and said – “You do not publish – that’s why. Besides, everybody pays for my drinks.” Conversation completed, they continued to drink. To us who knew both of them, that’s how they showed their affection for each other. I think they have remained very close drinking buddies.

By the way, Ruping was not the only one who has helped UP. Mel, when she was with Pag-Ibig was also instrumental in helping provide funding for the construction of housing – now the Hardin ng Rosas during Dr. Abueva’s time. The housing project has tremendously helped ease the problem of lack of housing for UP faculty and staff. So we are grateful not only for Ruping’s service but also for Mel’s support.

When I heard of Ruping’s hospitalization months ago, I sent messages to our UP team – the former VPs, University Secretary, Chancellors and Regents – requesting them to say a prayer for Ruping – they all quickly responded positively. When I told them about his passing, first thing they asked was where they may visit Ruping. I know some of my colleagues have come to pay their final respects to Ruping.

Ruping, we celebrate all that you have given us for so many years – as member of the faculty and as co-worker in the UP Administration. We toast your friendship, and your presence among us. You will be sadly missed. Mel, thank you for sharing Ruping with us.


See also tribute by Prof. Dante Canlas.