Science Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña was recognized in his hometown in Bulacan with a high distinction bestowing on him the “Gawad Hen. Gregorio H. del Pilar 2021.”

De la Peña received the recognition from the municipality of Bulakan in Bulacan province for his exceptional contribution in cience and technology.

The recognition, written in Filipino, further said that his achievements made him a popular son of Bulakan because of the expertise that he exhibited not only in the province but in the whole country as well.

In his response, the head of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) said the recognition is an honor that will  push him more in his pursuit and dedication to serve the country.

The awarding ceremony was held at the Plaza del Pilar in Bulakan on November 14, which coincides with the Catorce de Noviembre Festival that celebrated the 146th birth anniversary of del Pilar.

Bulakan Mayor Vergel C. Meneses signed the plaque of recognition.

Gracing the occasion were Bulacan officials, including del Pilar’s grandson who is the current Bulakan Vice Mayor Jill Navarro, Bulacan Gov. Daniel Fernando, former governor Wilhelmino Alvarado, First District Board Members Bernardo Ople Jr. and Romina D. Fermin, among others.

Del Pilar was known as the “Boy General” being the youngest general in the Philippine Revolutionary Army during the Philippine-American War.

He was known for the successful assault on the Spanish barracks in the municipality of Paombong, Bulacan, and at his last stand at the Battle of Tirad Pass during the Philippine-American War.

More than 30 years at DOST

De la Peña has been the secretary of the DOST since 2016.

Prior to this, the industrial engineer and professor was the undersecretary for Science and Technology Services from 2001 to 2014.

He has been with the department about 37 years, since 1982, except for his brief retirement from 2014 to early 2016.

He was head of its Planning Service from 1982 to 1984 and was appointed as the director of Technology Application and Promotion Institute from 1989 to 1991.

He was credited in leading the creation and implementation of several government programs, such as the Technology Business Incubation program and the Manufacturing Productivity Extension program which have been supporting small enterprises since 1991.

In 2001, de la Peña assumed the post of Undersecretary for Scientific and Technological Services of the DOST, and became the longest serving president of the National Research Council of the Philippines from 2002 to 2007.

During his 13 years as DOST undersecretary, he implemented several key information technology and e-commerce programs, such as the e-Government Program and the Philippine e-Library Project for which he received the highest civil service award in 2005.

De la Peña served in the Congressional Commission on Science, Technology and Engineering as executive director in 2008.

He also organized the National Innovation Network, popularly known as Filipinnovation, and served as its co-chairman in 2008. In 2011, he was elected chairman of the United Nations Commission on Science and Technology for Development.

He likewise has also served as the president of the Philippine Association for the Advancement of Science and Technology; as president of the Philippine Institute for Chemical Engineers; and the Association of Management and Industrial Engineers of the Philippines. He also headed the Small Enterprises Research and Development Foundation, and NEC Foundation.

Engineering professor

A Career Executive Service Officer Rank I, the highest level in the career service of the Civil Service Commission of the Philippines, de la Peña began work in the DOST at about the same time he was a part-time professor at University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman, where he served in various positions.

He joined the faculty of the UP College of Engineering in 1978 as research assistant, and rose up the ranks.

He chaired its Department of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research until 1988 when he became a full-time Industrial Engineering professor.

He was appointed as director of UP’s Institute for Small Scale Industries in 1992, and as vice president for planning and development of the entire University of the Philippines System by 1993. He served in those capacities until 2001 and 1999 respectively.

UP recognized him for his distinguished career with an Outstanding Achievement Award in 1999.

De la Peña was a trustee of UP Engineering Research and Development Foundation and also served as president of the UP Alumni Engineers.

He world earlier at a private company as operations engineer with ESSO Philippines.

De la Peña is married to Mariquit Banzon, with whom he has five children—Margarita, a medical doctor; Emil, a veterinary doctor; Fortunato Jr., an assistant professor of industrial design; Miguel, an artist and entrepreneur; and Federico, an engineering geologist.

Image courtesy of Enrico Belga

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