Antonio Luna feted for scientific contributions, correspondence with Dominican professor presented to the public
As Dr. Antonio Luna, a well-known general during the Philippine revolution who was born October 29, 1866 commemorates his 150th birth anniversary, the Department of Biological Sciences (DBS) held a lecture-forum entitled “Antonio Luna: Thomasian Scientist” on October 26, 2016 at the Tanghalang Teresita Quirino, Benavides Building, University of Santo Tomas. The event was held in recognition of Dr. Luna’s contribution in the field of science and as part of the DBS Lecture Series in Biology and Microbiology.
Dr. Benjamin M. Vallejo Jr., the coordinator of the Science and Society Program of the University of the Philippines – Diliman, delivered the keynote lecture on Antonio Luna’s doctoral research on malaria and the emerging international malaria research program. He underscored the importance of Dr. Luna’s research which had contributed to the improved awareness on the biology of Plasmodium spp., the causative agent of malaria.
The chair of the UST History Department, Dr. Augusto V. De Viana delivered the second lecture. He presented a paper entitled “Beyond the Revolution: Antonio Luna’s Other Aspects”. His lecture centered on the family background and other interesting stories on Antonio Luna, including insights into his behavior and other interests.
The last talk was delivered by the UST Archivist, Prof. Regalado Trota Jose, who shared the contents of a letter correspondence between Antonio Luna and his UST professor, Rev. Fr. Casto de Elera OP, who taught Natural History to pre-pharmacy and pre-medicine students of UST. The letter, which is deposited in the UST Archives, highlighted the close bond between Luna and his Dominican professor. This was the first time that the contents of their correspondence had been made public.
The event was concluded with an open forum where Prof. Dr. Fortunato B. Sevilla III, Dr. Rey Donne S. Papa, and Dr. Maria Rhona G. Bergantin served as members of the panel of reactors. All three academics shared their thoughts and insights on the three lectures, highlighting the role of the supervisor during the development of a research topic, the relevance of Dr. Luna’s legacy to freshwater and medical research in the country, and the role of the University of Santo Tomas in the development of science in the Philippines during the Spanish colonial period.
The half-day symposium provided the Thomasians an opportunity to learn about the previously unexplored chapter in the life of one of the most significant and colorful figures in Philippine history, Dr. Antonio Luna who began his university studies at the Faculty of Pharmacy of the University of Santo Tomas, but earned his Licentiate in Pharmacy degree from the University of Barcelona and Doctorate in Pharmacy from the Central University of Madrid. Dr. Luna conducted research in the Pasteur Institute (France) and became well known for his work on malaria which he did with his supervisor, Dr. Elie Metchnikoff, who would become a winner of the Nobel Prize. Later, he did studies on bacteriology, the water quality of the Pasig River and the mineral springs of Sibul during his tenure in the Manila Central Laboratory.
As the symposium ended, the organizers expected that the event created awareness on the Thomasian roots of Gen. Dr. Antonio Luna.