Prof. Francisco Nemenzo
"Father of Philippine Coral Taxonomy"
A renowned academic and naturalist, he earned his BS and MS in Zoology at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City. He went on to teach at the same university, eventually holding the prestigious title of Professor Emeritus. In addition, he also earned an MA from the University of Michigan, USA.
Prof. Nemenzo devoted his life to the study of Philippine corals. He was among the first to do so, as the only previous work dealing extensively on the subject had been conducted some 30 years prior, based exclusively on specimens deposited in museums in the United States.
Despite never pursuing a doctorate or donning a SCUBA tank, Nemenzo meticulously described and catalogued over 375 species of corals, including 94 new species and five new varieties. His work was published in seven volumes of “Systematic Studies on Philippine Shallow-Water Scleractinians” and several standalone papers, a process which took over 20 years. Nemenzo insisted on publishing these in local scientific journals, primarily the Natural and Applied Sciences Bulletin, as he firmly believed that understanding and protecting the Philippines’ rich biological heritage should be primarily the responsibility of Filipinos, and thus his work must be accessible to them.
During his lifetime, Nemenzo was granted fellowships from the Guggenheim memorial Foundation, US national museum (Smithsonian Institution, Washington), and the British Museum of Natural History (London), as well as memberships in numerous local and international learned societies. He isimmortalized in the coral genus Nemenzophyllia (Hodgson & Ross, 1982), which is named in his honor.
To date, Nemenzo’s works remain the most comprehensive record of Philippine corals, and a precious legacy to present and future Filipino scientists.