Pinay National Scientists who are also trailblazers in Philippine agriculture

Throughout the country’s history, women have taken active roles not just in farming, but also in the development of agricultural science in the Philippines. Numerous women scientists and researchers dedicated their lives to understanding and providing much-needed information to help propagate local agriculture. 

This National Women’s Month, it is important to remember the female national scientists who made significant contributions to agriculture in the Philippines. These Pinay scientists are considered powerhouses in Science and Technology since they are recipients of the Order of the National Scientists of the Philippines, the highest award given by the government to Filipino scientists. 

Dr. Clare R. Baltazar (1927-)

Ph. D. Systematic Entomology

Dr. Clare R. Baltazar

Dr. Baltazar’s numerous research on Philippines insects lay the groundwork for future biological control in the country, especially in agriculture. Her study on systematic entomology (insects), particularly on Philippine parasitic Hymenoptera (wasps), helped in the development of ways in controlling insects in farms and forests. 

Dr. Gelia T. Castillo (1928-2017) 

Ph. D. Rural Sociology

Dr. Gelia T. Castillo

Dr. Castillo’s works highlighted the significant contribution of Filipino farmers to the country’s development and in-depth analysis of the actual problems and needs of the rural areas. Her book, All in Grain of Rice, is considered the first locally-written book about the relationship of Filipino farmers to new technology. Her intensive background in sociology and psychology applied to agriculture helped provide insights into the much-needed background about the life of Filipino farmers.

Dr. Lourdes J. Cruz (1942-)

Ph. D. Biochemistry

Dr. Lourdes J. Cruz

Before engaging in the research on marine toxins, Dr. Cruz started her career after earning a license as a registered chemist at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). She became a co-author on the physicochemical properties of rice proteins and conducted pioneering studies on the biochemistry of protein in rice. 

Dr. Clara Y. Lim-Sylianco (1925-2013)

Ph. D. Biochemistry and Organic Chemistry

Dr. Clara Y. Lim-Sylianco

Dr. Sylianco is known for her extensive research on mutagens and bio-organic mechanisms which became the reference for many chemistry and agricultural research. She wrote many chemistry textbooks and published numerous papers on organic chemistry and biochemistry, including Philippine medicinal plants.

Dr. Luz Oliveros-Belardo (1906-1999)

Ph.D. Pharmaceutical Chemistry

Dr. Luz Oliveros-Belardo

Dr. Belardo’s extensive five decade-work focused on the chemistry of natural products and essential oils from local plants. She extracted and studied 33 new Philippine essential oils, which paved the way for numerous herbal, flavoring, and supplement products in the following years. Her research served as the groundwork for many agricultural processes, especially in plant-based products which were still being used today.

Dr. Dolores A. Ramirez (1931-)

Ph. D. Biochemical Genetics

Dr. Dolores A. Ramirez

Dr. Ramirez spent her life on research involving biochemical genetics and cytogenetics of several Philippine crops. She is also known as one of the key plant breeders in the country. Her works on the genetics of several plants, like makapuno and hybrids of rice, helped local agriculture gain insights into increasing the efficiency of production and disease management. 

Dr. Carmen C. Velasquez (1913-1994)

Ph.D. Parasitology

Dr. Carmen C. Velasquez

Dr. Velasquez’s extensive work on trematodes, or parasitic flatworms, in different animal species, helped the livestock and fisheries industries manage parasites. She discovered 32 new species and one new genus of digenetic trematodes taken from Philippine food fishes, two from birds, and five from mammals. Her book, Digenetic Trematodes of Philippine Fishes, provides a regional reference to fish parasitology and aquaculture management.

As cliche as it sounds, the list is just the tip of the iceberg. Numerous Pinays have made contributions to local agriculture, whether as part of the academe or by being farmers themselves. This National Women’s Month, it is important to realize their role and power in propelling the development of agriculture in the Philippines. 

Photos and information from the National Academy of Science and Technology.

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