Ms. Nelia Teodoro Gonzalez was conferred Doctor of Laws (Honoris causa) during the 44th Commencement of the University of the Philippines Los Baños last June 25, 2016 at the DL Umali Freedom Park.
She graduated BS Agriculture degree in 1944 at UPLB. After graduation from the College of UPCA, she gained recognition for her outstanding initiatives in Agriculture, Agrbusiness, and Entrepreneurship. At 92 years old, she maintains her various civic involvements, humanitarian work, and public service.
Dr. Gonzalez delivered her acceptance speech during the program.
Thank you for the great honor of this Honoris causa degree. I accept it with immense gratitude. I have loved and supported this university for more than 70 years and, whenever I am recognized for my professional and socio-civic achievements, I take great pride in saying that UP Los Baños is my alma mater. As witnesses to the privilege, the majority of my immediate family of six children, 15 grandchildren, and 13 great grandchildren stand with me on this stage. I thank most sincerely the UP College of Law and the UPLB for my nomination and the grant of approval of the Board of Regents through our President. I never imagined I would someday be joining the graduating class of 2016, accepting a Doctorate of Laws in recognition of my service to the public. Certainly, many others have remained in the government positions longer than I have. What I have, instead, tried to do, is to serve the public as a private individual. I have always welcomed the opportunity to be involved in the political debates of our country—as Trustee of the Philippine Constitution Association and a member of the Consultative Commission for Charter Change. I’ve chosen to be personally and professionally involved in shaping the future of this university—by working with our Alumni Association as its 1st Vice President and serving on the Board of Regents. I volunteer my time to UP’s Ugnayan ng Pahinugod so that I can inspire in others as spirit of volunteerism. I serve in the board of the Philippine Tuberculosis Society, assisting President Nini Quezon Avanceña, daughter of former Pres. Manuel L. Quezon. I help keep foundations like ERDA Tech sustainable so that children from low-income households can get a good education and be armed with a brighter future. In my career, I have persevered to establish a pest control management business, a livestock and poultry magazine, and an agribusiness company. I serve in the board of Manila Overseas Press Club. I established the Philippine Hybrid Inc. to introduce the production of hybrid increasing the production of corn 20 bags over 140 bags per hectare of land to support the growing poultry and animal industry. I introduced the contract growing in the Philippines to enhance the partnership between the feed miller and the poultry raiser to assure both an equitable sharing of profit in the animal industry. I have sat at the helm of real estate and agro-industrial business and rural communities. I advocate causes that are close to my heart, especially those of women professionals as Chairman of the Center for Women Studies.
I Chair SERDEF, the foundation supporting the medium scales industries. Why am I telling you my life history? Because I want you to know that if success comes in many forms, so too does service. One’s spirituality must be alive, I Chair the Order of the Carmelite Scholastics at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Carmel. You can serve the public in different ways. You can leave a mark and make a positive impact whether you are in public or private sector. What is essential is that, in big things and small, you live to serve God and your fellowmen.
Congratulations to you graduates for your achievement and to your parents who surely are overflowing with pride and joy.