Giants in History: Gelia Castillo

Unravelling the impacts of agriculture on society  

Gelia Castillo ( 1928 - 2017)


Filipina sociologist Gelia Castillo (1928 – 2017) pioneered the concept of “participatory development,” (which calls for development projects to engage with local communities), and studied the impacts of agriculture in the Philippines on health, gender relations, the environment, and poverty. Guided by the idea that “science must serve a human purpose,” Castillo’s work influenced policymaking and laid a foundation for subsequent waves of research on agriculture and rural development in the Philippines. In addition to serving on the boards of several development, agriculture, and health organisations, she was a long-time consultant with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), and a champion of women’s rights.  Some of Castillo’s research dealt with the importance of financial support in enabling nuclear families to maintain close ties with extended families, and in empowering women to become more economically productive. A prolific author, Castillo’s most famous book was Beyond Manila, dealing with income distribution, employment, labour, education, and migration in the rural Philippines. Another volume, All in a Grain of Rice, examined Filipino farmers’ responses to new technology. Castillo was awarded the Outstanding Filipino Award in 2004, and in 1999 was conferred the title National Scientist, the highest honour given to Filipino scientists by the Philippine government. 


Academic discipline: 
Outstanding Filipino Award
Giants in History promotional banner