By: Cesaree M. Caperare
The Philippines lost a great woman in science a year ago when Dr. Maripaz Lawang Perez passed on last March 31, 2021. She was the former Undersecretary for Regional Operations, Assistant Secretary for R & D and Technology Transfer, Director of DOST Technology Application and Promotion Institute (DOST-TAPI), and has been championing STI solutions with the DOST-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD) since 1977. Aside from Usec. Perez’s loyalty and unwavering commitment, her works, and legacy continue to touch lives and shape the society. She enabled the metamorphosis of the Small Enterprises Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP) from being Usec. Tesoro’s brainchild to a realized DOST's strategy that encourages and assists Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in adopting technology and innovations, enhancing their operational efficiency, boosting productivity, and promoting competitiveness. This program has helped many businesses and enterprises write their rags-to-riches success stories.
In honor of her legacy, the DOST through the Office of the Undersecretary for Regional Operations and DOST-CALABARZON with Usec. Perez’s family led the commemoration program in Heaven’s Garden, Los Baños, Laguna. Due to public restrictions, limited DOST-CALABARZON staff, a couple of parishioners, and Usec. Perez’s immediate family were accommodated at the venue. The event was also live-streamed on Zoom and on the DOST-CALABARZON Facebook page.
Part of the program was a commemoration mass that was offered to the late undersecretary. Likewise, testimonials of the purposeful life she lived were delivered by Sec. Fortunato T. de la Peña, DOST Secretary, Engr. Sancho A. Mabborang, DOST Undersecretary for Regional Operations, Dir. Emelita P. Bagsit, DOST-CALABARZON Regional Director, and Mr. Neb L. Perez, Usec. Perez’s son.
Sec. de la Peña shares, “Maripaz can also be characterized as a mesmerizer. Recalling the stories on how she became the director of DOST-TAPI, it was told that it started with a call for a meeting at the DOST Central Office by then Sec. Ceferino Follosco and the topic was technology transfer. DOST-PCAARRD sent MLP to the meeting without any preparation at all and she was asked by Sec. Follosco to present the techno-transfer initiatives of DOST-PCAARRD. Of course during those days, wala pang Powerpoint. The of-the-cap extemporaneous presentation of MLP impressed Sec. Follosco so much that led to the eventual designation of MLP as DOST-TAPI Director.”
Usec. Maborrang imparted glimpses from his own encounters with Usec. Perez how she was a beautiful person, a brilliant mind, and a loving mother. Also, as part of Dir. Bagsit’s message, she introduced the concept of a butterfly garden dedicated to the late Undersecretary. She emphasized how Usec. Perez was a simile of a butterfly that changes the lives of the ones it touches.
Mr. Neb Perez looked back as to how his mother rendered half her life serving with the DOST and that upon hearing the messages and seeing the audio-visual presentations, he further realized how much her mother took care of their family and her DOST family. He regarded the event as bitter-sweet and was thankful for everyone who joined them in remembering the life of his late mother - Usec. Maripaz.