MSI honors Gomez, renames its building

The UP Diliman (UPD) Marine Science Institute (MSI) recently honored National Scientist Edgardo D. Gomez, its founder and the institute’s prime driving force, by renaming its building as the Edgardo D. Gomez Hall (Gomez Hall) at the celebration of its 50th founding anniversary.

Gomez (†). Photo from the UPDIO Archives

Three UPD chancellors gave messages on the day the MSI paid tribute to Gomez, who was also one of the few university professors emeriti of the University.

UPD Chancellor Edgardo Carlo L. Vistan II said Gomez proposed for the creation of the MSI with just two sheets of paper. He proceeded on affirming the institute’s achievements and role outside UP.

“It is no exaggeration to say that the MSI is one of UPD’s most productive institutes, consistently contributing to the University’s publications,” Vistan said. “Beyond academia, the MSI is always working with government officials, NGOs [non-government organizations], and stakeholders to bring marine science to the people. The MSI has shown how important scientific research is for building communities, supporting economic industries, and instilling a sense of national pride,” Vistan added.

Rene Abesamis, PhD, an associate professor at the MSI and the event host, said the “MSI has always been committed to science that serves the people.”

Meanwhile, former UPD chancellor Fidel R. Nemenzo recalled how he came to know Gomez.

“My grandfather Francisco Nemenzo, whom I called Tatay, was a marine biologist who devoted his career to the study of corals. It was from him that I first learned about Ed Gomez,” Nemenzo said.

Nemenzo once invited Gomez to give a lecture in his Science, Technology, and Society class so they could “learn about the social context of science and how science connects with other disciplines.”

“The main reason I invited Ed to my GE [general education] class was because he was, for me, the quintessential GE professor. A marine biologist with an undergrad degree in education, minor in English and the social sciences. He explained that the role of the scientists goes beyond writing scientific publications. Scientists should not only do science but should contribute to addressing problems of our people and our country,” he said.

(From left) Tapang, the Gomez family, Vistan, David, and Nemenzo in front of the Gomez Hall marker. Photo by Jefferson Villacruz, UPDIO

Former UPD chancellor Michael L. Tan, whose written message Abesamis read, said, “I actually met him [Gomez] even before I became chancellor because I was appointed national academician in 2012 before becoming chancellor, and he was one of our most outstanding national scientists, a role model for us.”

In response, Gomez’ son, Jose Edgardo A. Gomez Jr., PhD, a professor at the UPD School of Urban and Regional Planning, thanked the MSI for its tribute and the chancellors for their messages.

“On behalf of my family, I would like to express how deeply honored I am to stand before you today to express my gratitude for this historic act of naming the Marine Science Institute building after my late father Edgardo Dizon Gomez… more so for associating my father’s name with an institution that continues to enable Filipinos to contribute to marine science globally, and certainly, to lead among Southeast Asian peers in the field,” he said.

Following the MSI building’s renaming were the inauguration of the Marine Biodiversity Resources and Information System (MBRIS) building and a thanksgiving dinner.

(From left) David, Jimenez, Vistan, Pascual, Tapang, and Nemenzo in front of MBRIS building marker. Photo by Jacelle Isha B. Bonus, UPDIO

“At the heart of MBRIS will be the MSI reference collections of marine organisms, libraries of natural products extracted from these organisms, and other marine biodiversity collections,” said Maria Celia D. Malay, PhD, an associate professor at the MSI and the inauguration host.

Joining Vistan, MSI Director Laura T. David, and UPD College of Science Dean Giovanni A. Tapang at the ribbon-cutting were Department of Trade and Industry Secretary and former UP president Alfredo E. Pascual, UP President Angelo A. Jimenez, and Nemenzo.

(From left) Nemenzo, David, Pascual, Jimenez, Vistan, and Tapang at the MBRIS building inauguration. Photo by Jacelle Isha B. Bonus, UPDIO

Capping the celebration was the MSI@50 Thanksgiving Dinner. At the dinner, David acknowledged all who have been part of the achievements of the MSI and of its 50th founding anniversary celebration. The MSI paid tribute to its retired faculty members and gave recognition to the institute’s partners in the academe, government, and private sector.

Current and retired MSI faculty members. Photo by Jacelle Isha B. Bonus, UPDIO

According to the MSI website, the institute was “originally established as the Marine Sciences Center with the approval of its charter by the Board of Regents (BOR) on 28 March 1974.” It was renamed and transformed to the MSI upon the approval of the BOR at its 976th meeting on 23 April 1985.

The MSI events were held on April 4 at the MSI complex.

MSI retired and active faculty, staff, students, and alumni, the Gomez family, and UPD officials. Photo by Jefferson Villacruz, UPDIO