By Samantha L. Colinco
National scientist and former president of Silliman University, Dr. Angel Alcala, advised honor students last Feb. 10 to accompany their academic excellence with a desire to contribute to the community.
“We congratulate [students] on their academic success, but we also urge them to reflect on the implication of their awards on their professional careers and on the country’s progress and development,” he said.
Held at the Luce Auditorium, the 56th Annual Honors Convocation awarded 579 students or 9.5 percent of the student population for their academic and co-curricular achievements.
Alcala cited the book, Filipino Trailblazers in Science, published in 2013 by the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST), which took into account the “contribution and impact to society of older, top scientists in the Philippines.”
The book was written by Dr. Crispin Maslog, the first and longest serving director (15 years) of Silliman’s then School of Journalism now College of Mass Communication.
“Mainly because of their academic excellence in their fields of expertise, they were able to . . . contribute to the development of the country and a better quality of life for us, Filipinos.
One can only imagine the benefits that we are presently enjoying because of the achievements of the first 20 academicians,” Alcala said. Quoting a well-respected scientist who said, “Rigor makes science scientific, but relevance is what gives it a human purpose,” Alcala added that “research must, as much as possible, benefit humanity.” He also said students must be consistent in their efforts to attain success as it takes decades to obtain high competence in any field of study but at the same time they must “keep things in balance, paying close attention to family and social relationships that enrich life.” Acknowledging the “prevailing problem of corruption in our society,” Alcala also stressed the importance of maintaining one’s integrity.
“Students must remain firm and steadfast in upholding only ethical and moral values. This is possible by God’s grace and guidance,” he added.
Last year, the NAST named Alcala as National Scientist, the highest award conferred on a Filipino scientist by the Philippine government. Among his pioneering works in the Philippines are the use of artificial reefs and the concept of community based coastal resource management.
Alcala was SU president from 1991 to 1992 and is currently a member of its Board of Trustees.
He earned his biology degree, magna cum laude, from SU in 1951 and obtained his master’s and doctorate degrees in biological sciences from Stanford University in 1960 and 1966 respectively.