Dr. Gelia Tagumpay Castillo
(March 3, 1928- present)
Aplasca, Ana Patricia
Manliclic, Anne Lisette
Marcelo, Lady Princess
Pagulayan, Paul Simoune
Perote, Marian Veronica
Rizabal, Karl Derrick
Villaverde, Anissa Sandra
Dr. Gelia T. Castillo is an internationally recognized social scientist and a notable alumna of the University of the Philippines. This paper aims to present details of her personal, academic, and professional life, as well as her significant contributions to Philippine agricultural and rural development and the awards and recognition she has received from these.
Tags: Gelia T. Castillo, professor, social scientist, research consultant, board member, rural development, agricultural development, poverty solutions, Filipino rice farmers, national scientist, Distinguished Alumnus Award of the UP Alumni Association, Distinguished Alumnus Award of the UP College of Agriculture, TOFIL Outstanding Filipino Award, Pi Gamma Mu, International Award, Rizal Pro Patria Award, Centennial Honors
Gelia Tagumpay Castillo was born on March 13, 1928 in Pagsanjan, Laguna. Her father is Antonio Tagumpay and her mother is Consorcia Tagumpay. She has three children to Dr. Leopoldo Castillo who is currently a professor at UP Los Banos in the Institute of Animal Science in UPLB.
She was born into a poor family. Her mother was an elementary graduate while her father was a high school graduate. Her father’s dream was to have all his children go to college. She and her siblings were always told by their father, "You must do well, but not just well-- Very well. Even though you could do just as well as the rest, you still can't make it, because we are poor. You must go above the next person.” This became Gelia’s motivation to excel in her studies, and true enough, she became valedictorian from elementary to high school, a consistent University Scholar in college, and a Magna Cum Laude graduate. In fact, the grades she got in her final semester of college were straight unos. (An Interview with Gelia Castillo, 2013)
After graduating college, she was given the chance to study in Pennsylvania State University for her graduate studies, and then to Cornell University for her doctoral studies. During her stay in Cornell, she recalls being “treated like royalty” at the time for she was the only female graduate in her batch. (An Interview with Gelia Castillo, 2013)
From a small town in Laguna, she has gone all around the world. Her breakthroughs have taken her to 56 different countries. There was a time when she was travelling 11 to 15 times a year because of her board memberships. Up to 2013, she went out of the country at least twice a year for her international involvements. (An Interview with Gelia Castillo, 2013)
Academic and Professional Career
Gelia T. Castillo has always managed to excel, graduating valedictorian at Pagsanjan Elementary School and Laguna High School. In 1948, Castillo studied and obtained Magna Cum Laude A.B. Psychology, College of Liberal Arts in the University of the Philippines. She held an M.S. from Rural Sociology from Pennsylvania State University in 1958 and a Ph.D. also in Rural Sociology from Cornell University in 1960. She also holds two honorary doctorate (honoris causa) degrees in Science from Wageningen Agricultural University in the Netherlands and the Ateneo de Manila University.
She became professor in University of the Philippines, Los Banos and earned the distinction of being conferred to the rank of University Professor. In 2008, she completed the course on Corporate Governance for Philippine Banks offered by the Bankers’ Institute of the Philippines. She became a member in the Board of Trustees of CARD Mutually Reinforcing Institutions (CARD MRI).
She was appointed to several Boards and Committees of national and international research and development institutions concerned with agriculture, health and socio-economic development and received invitations to numerous conferences taking her to fifty-five countries around the world. Dr. Castillo has also served an extensive time in the Board of Directors of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, the think tank of the National Economic and Development Authority.
Dr. Castillo served as leader or member of around 40 teams to assess the performance of Research and Development Programs aimed to develop the lower hierarchy. Particularly, she was among the advisers of the Economic and Social Impact Analysis/Women in Development (ESIA/WID) called as the largest Social Science venture in the ‘70s.
She is currently a consultant at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and also a Senior Research Adviser to UPWARD (Users’ Perspectives with Agricultural Research and Development), a network of Asian researchers engaged in participatory research and development.
SCIENCE MUST SERVE A HUMAN PURPOSE. This is the maxim that guided GeliaT. Castillo through her life as a social scientist. She focused on agricultural and rural development, including health, gender, environment, poverty, inequality, capacity development; and participatory approaches to research(http://it.cardbankph.com/).“I have always believed that when the best science and scientists are devoted to the problems of those who have less in life, that is equity and ethics at its best. If science is to serve a human purpose, what better human purpose is there?” she stated (http://www.tofil.ph/awardee_profile.php?id=79). This was her belief so she had a lot of projects which are concerned in solving poverty.In her career she has already published a number of books including: “Toward Understanding the Filipino Farmer,” “All in a Grain of Rice”, “Beyond Manila”, “How Participatory is Participatory Development?”, and “Rice in our Life”.
“Toward Understanding the Filipino Farmer” is her first published work. It was published in the United States which proves that she is active internationally in the issues about rural sociology. She is also active in some international organizations which help in addressing agricultural problems encountered specifically in rural areas. | (http://www.tofil.ph/awardee_profile.php?id=79)
“All in a Grain of Rice” (1975) is the first known book to be written by a Filipino about the Filipino farmer’s response to the social and economic implications brought about by the new rice technology of the Green Revolution (www.tofil.ph).This book basically talks about the Philippine rice situation and the changing Filipino rice farmer throughout the years. Aside from the topics of introduction, diffusion and adoption of the new rice technology, “All in a Grain of Rice” also tackles the agricultural extension services, employment, income distribution, credits and cooperatives of farmers; and also the Philippine land reform program (books.google.com.ph/All_in_a_Grain_of_Rice).
“Beyond Manila: Philippine Rural Problems in Perspective” (1977) was cited as an in-depth and analytical study of the actual problems and needs of the rural areas in relation to countryside development (en.wikipilipinas.org/GeliaCastillo). This study may be used in educating the youth, and influencing the country’s technocrats, policy makers, and political leaders into acting towards rural development (www.tofil.ph).
On the other hand, in “How Participatory is Participatory Development?” (1983), Gelia Castillo inquires about who is really involved in the development of a country (www.tofil.ph). This is a timely book that deals with the temporary and the controversial issues about the Philippine rural development. It discusses about the two important aspects of rural development which are rural institutions and people’s participation (www.pids.gov.ph). Since there is about two-thirds of the Philippine population who resides in the rural areas, earning an average family income, a lot of experts have focused their studies on the progress of rural development strategies, the impact they have had on rural communities, the means by which they can be made more effective and the various alternatives that exist. This book helps us understand the issues faced by the majority of the Philippine residents.
Gelia Castillo’s more recent book titled “Rice in our Life” (2006)critically analyzes the importance and influence of rice in Philippine culture, economy, society, and policy and the changing landscape of rice farming and rice farmer households during the last three decades. According to Dr. Ponciano S. Intal Jr., this book is a good reference not only for social scientists and development specialists, but also for policy makers, and civic and business leaders. It raises our awareness and formulates policies that will promote the interests of farmers and the entire nation towards its staple commodity that is rice (www.bar.gov.ph).
Aside from those mentioned above, she also has several other books and scientific papers which are still about agricultural and rural development. All of these publications gave Filipinos insight on their own rural development efforts and their attempt to reach the farmer and the rural poor. She published an estimate of 67 scientific papers all tackling agricultural and rural development (e.wikipilipinas.org/GeliaCastillo).
Dr. Castillo also has a lot of contributions in the field of research. She headed a collaborative research entitled “Changes in Rice Farming in Seven Asian Countries.” As the name implies, this is an international project and this came to be the first research network of the International Rice Research Institute. She also helped the foundation of the Department of Sociology in the University of the Philippines, Diliman. Other International participations by Gelia include being the chair for Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and serving in the board of International Plant Genetic Resources Institute in Rome and Governors of the International Development Research Centre of Canada (http://www.tofil.ph/awardee_profile.php?id=79).
But perhaps, Gelia Castillo’s greatest contribution lies in her humanizing science, because for her, science must serve a human purpose. Her writings make her readers empathize with the burdens of the farmer, the plight of rural women, and the frustrations of community organizer (www.tofil.ph). She is not only recognized for her pioneering works in collaborative research that aimed at improving the lives of Filipino farmers but also for being exceptionally concerned with “furthering human development and narrowing inequalities in society.” (thepioneersproject.org)
Recognition and Awards Received
1976- Rizal Pro Patria Award
1975- Distinguished Alumnus Award of the UP Alumni Association
1979- Distinguished Alumnus Award of the UP College of Agriculture
1999- National Scientist
2004- TOFIL Outstanding Filipino Award
2007- Most Distinguished Alumna Award of the UP Alumni Association
2007-Pi Gamma Mu (Philippine Alpha Chapter) International Award
2008- Ramon Magsaysay Awardee for Public Service
2008- Centennial Honors
Interview with Dr. Gelia T. Castillo about her interest in rice:
(with permission from IRRI Video, https://www.youtube.com/user/irrivideo)
TOFIL 2004 Awardees; Dr. Gelia T. Castillo(Woman in Black)
(Photo retrieved from http://www.tofil.ph/images/awardees/2004awardees.jpg)
- Profile Information: Dr. Gelia Castillo; http://it.cardbankph.com/CARDInstitute/?page_id=954; May 16, 2014
- TOFIL Awardee: Dr. Gelia T. Castillo, Ph. D; http://www.tofil.ph/awardee_profile.php?id=79; May 16, 2014
- All in a Grain of Rice; http://books.google.com.ph/books/about/All_in_a_Grain_of_Rice.html?id=0xc0AAAAMAAJ&redir_esc=y; May 16, 2014
- Gelia Castillo; http://en.wikipilipinas.org/index.php/Gelia_T._Castillo; May 16, 2014
- PIDS (Philippine Institute for Development Studies) Book: How Participatory is Participatory Development; http://www.pids.gov.ph/books.php?id=689&pubyear=2012; May 16, 2014
- Mojica, MikoJazmine; National Scientist Launches Book on Rice; http://www.bar.gov.ph/
- chronicle-home/archives-list/183-june-2006-issue/2515-national-scientist-launches-book-on-rice; May 16, 2014
- Philippine Social Science Pioneers: Gelia T. Castillo; http://thepioneersproject.org/pioneers/ gelia-t-castillo/; May 16, 2014
- Human Development Network: Gelia Castillo; http://hdn.org.ph/gelia-t-castillo/; 2008.
- International Rice Research Institute; http://irri.org/; May 24, 2014
- Gelia Castillos’s Blog; http://irri.org/blogs/category/gelia-castillos-blog/; May 24, 2014
- Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS); http://dirp3.pids.gov.ph/ris/pjd/about%20the%20honoree.pdf; May 24, 2014
- An Interview with Dr. Gelia Castillo; 2013; http://ecommons.library.cornell.edu/bitstream/1813/33697/4/streaming_33697.html; May 23, 2014