Angel Alcala

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This is a photo of a National Scientist, who earned numerous awards for his exemplary work on the field of marine biology. Photo courtesy of Specialized Philippine Enterprise Reference of Experts and Scientists (DOST - SPHERES).

Angel Chua Alcala (born on March 01, 1929) is a Filipino marine biologist who was conferred the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service in 1992. He has done extensive work on Community Development in conjunction with Marine Development and Ecology, Marine Biogeography, and Marine Life Conservation.

Early life

Angel C. Alcala was born to Porfirio Alcala and Crescenciana Chua on 1 March 1929 in the small coastal village of Caliling, Cauayan, Negros Occidental. The Alcala household was a humble one, but the family had everything it needed as they lived where the products of the sea were bountiful.

Alcala's life-long interest in marine ecology started at an early age. His father was a fish farmer who made a living out of taking care of fish ponds that produced a steady supply of milkfish. As the eldest child, Alcala helped his father tend the fish ponds. He and his brothers also spent much of their time going after crabs, shrimp and shellfish, and exploring the shallow waters and coral reefs near their home.


Alcala attended high school on a scholarship at Kabankalan Academy. He was active in co-curricular activities as he took part in the school's Boy Scouts of the Philippines, and was a member of the school's debate team.

In 1948, Alcala took a pre-medical course at Silliman University in Dumaguete. He was later accepted at the University of the Philippines College of Medicine but chose not to proceed because of his family's financial circumstances. Instead, he continued to study Biology at Silliman University and graduated magna cum laude in 1951.


Shortly after graduation, Alcala was offered a teaching position in Silliman's Biology Department. In 1955, Walter C. Brown, a Fulbright professor from Stanford University, arrived at the university. Brown soon took the young instructor under his wing, and their partnership resulted in numerous research works, field trips, and publications. Brown helped Alcala to start his research work in the field of herpetology. They co-authored a scientific paper called “Observations on the Amphibians of the Mount Halcon and Mount Canlaon Areas” in 1955; it was published in the Silliman Journal.

In 1959, with Brown's support, Alcala went to Stanford University on a Fulbright/Smith-Mundt Fellowship to work on his master's degree. He returned to Stanford in 1964 for his doctorate. He was back in Silliman University as an Associate Professor in 1966; by then he had already received recognition for his prolific research in the field of herpetology.

Alcala became the university's vice president for research before he retired in 1988. Afterwards, he served as deputy executive director of the Philippine Council for Aquatic and Marine Research and Development (PCAMRD). In 1991, he returned to Silliman University as its president.

Alcala continued to conduct research in marine biology, particularly in aquatic life conservation. His work was primarily geared towards helping local fishing communities produce better yields, and raising people's awareness on the advantages of protecting the reefs. He has given presentations of his research findings in the Philippines, Australia, Hawaii, British Columbia and the United States. He also was also a consultant on programs on ecological conservation and biodiversity which were commissioned by the United Nations, as well as the World Bank.

On 12 August 2014, Alcala was conferred the rank of National Scientist of the Philippines by President Benigno Aquino III.

In 2016, Alcala was named at the Asian Scientist Magazine in their first ever Asian Scientist 100 list, placing at the seventh and second among the five Filipino scientists who made it.


Alcala married Naomi Lusoc in 1952. They have six children, namely: Estrilda, Angelo, Grace, Moses, Emily and Ely.


  • Biography of Angel C. Alcala. Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation. (Accessed 13 July 2010).



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