Who is the Father of Philippine Chemistry?

Ever since I blogged about Filipino Chemists, the next question that would lead students to this blog is the title of this post, which I will repeat:

Who is the father of Philippine Chemistry?

A very good question and again, I was clueless as to what the answer was. Obviously it’s a name. The problem is, at present, there is very little content about Philippine historical figures, by that I mean those who did something of historical value in our history and not just those who fought in the Revolution, World War II, Japaneses occupation, etc., that can be found in the internet. It all needs extra diligence, patience and a lot of experience of working with search engines and of course common sense.

So in my own search of the internet, one name was consistently showing up in the search results:

Anacleto Del Rosario (b. July 13, 1860 – d. May 2, 1895) and according to WikiPilipinas:

He was the foremost chemist during the Spanish Period and was considered as the Father of Philippine Science and Laboratory. He won first prize at the 1881 World Fair in Paris for inventing a formula for a pure kind of alcohol from the tuba of a nipa palm. He also extracted castor oil from an indigenous plant called palma christi.

Sure he was not named the Father of Philippine Chemistry, but since he has been cited or mentioned, consistently, as the first Filipino chemist, he could qualify to be given the same honor and title. Then again he is already considered as the “Father of Philippine Science and Laboratory.”

Taking up this question has led me to ask and consider another question which I believe is more a fundamental one, “What is Philippine chemistry?” My own haphazard and little-educated guest is that it is chemistry that is uniquely Filipino, in the sense that our own Filipino chemists have shaped and turned something universal as Chemistry into something that has a local root, approach, application and future.

Of course, this requires a lot more research and that would be for a future post. In the meantime, good luck with all your school work and keep on seeking knowledge about Filipinos, and for Filipinos.

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