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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Angel Alcala - Filipino Biologist

Angel Chua Alcala

Angel Chua Alcala (b. 1 March 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 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|Boy Scout troop], 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.

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.

Dr. Angel Alcala has devoted more than 30 years studying how to conserve the marine ecosystems throughout Southeast Asia. What make him do this? It’s the fact that the sea is threatened because of the very riches it holds.

Dr. Alcala is an authority on community ecology, biogeography, and the systematic of amphibians and reptiles. He developed the first community-based program that created artificial coral reefs. This program became the model for similar fisheries development programs throughout establishing the Apo, Sumilon, Carbin, an Pamilacan marine reserves in the Philippines, Alcala is also the Director of the Angelo King Center for Research and Environmental Management.

Having written more than 60 scientific papers, Dr. Alcala believes that marine reserves have a significant role in ensuring fish abundance even in areas beyond the protected sanctuaries. This process, called “spillover,” is the focus of his work with the Pew Institute for Ocean Science. To set up more effective marine sanctuaries local communities and organizations to manage and protect the sanctuaries. Dr. Alcala believes that sustainable development it’s only possible through informed and committed human involvement.

Dr. Alcala has headed the Institute of Marine Biology at the University of the Philippines and was deputy executive director of the Philippine Council for Aquatic and Marine Research and Development. He has been a visiting researcher at various universities and establishments, including the University of Florida and the Smithsonian Institution. Dr. Alcala has also worked for the Philippine government as secretary of Environment and National Resources, and as chairman of the Commission on Higher Education.

Angel Alcala - Degrees:

Undergraduate degree Silliman University

Ph.D. Stanford University

Angel Alcala - Awards:

1994 - The Field Museum Founders' Council Award of Merit for contributions to environmental biology

Magsaysay Award for Public Service

Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation

Work with Philippine Amphibians & Reptiles:

Angel Alcala has done the most comprehensive studies on Philippine amphibians and reptiles, and minor studies on birds and mammals. His research was done between 1954 to 1999 lead to the addition of fifty new species of amphibians and reptiles.