By MANNY LOSTE
BAGUIO CITY — Friends and colleagues of the late Leonard Co from the academe and the non-government organization (NGO) community here came together noontime of November 25 at the Bulwagang Juan Luna, UP Baguio to pay tribute to his life and contribution to his field of specialization and the effort to promote grassroots based scientific knowledge.The noted botanist was once enrolled at the UP Baguio during the mid 1980s for an undergraduate course in science. He never finished all the academic requirements for a bachelors’ degree as he spent large part of his time doing field research work eventually coming up with the book “Common Medicinal Plants in the Cordillera” even as an undergraduate.
In fact, it was only in 2008 that Leonard Co was granted a bachelor’s degree in science by UP Diliman in recognition of his field work and research contribution which could have easily earned him a doctorate degree. His students admired his passion and dedication to his field of specialization, learning much from his knowledge as well as his exemplary attitude in scientific study.
The people with whom he worked with remember his work style which somehow reflected the activist’s attitude in him of being “insatiable in learning and tireless in teaching.” He was a veritable walking encyclopedia of botanical knowledge which he sought to share with those around him at every possible opportunity.
Even as he did so, he sought out the old medicine men in the the Cordillera to learn from their rich reservoir of traditional knowledge of medicinal plants. This knowledge was eventually distilled and published in the works of Leonard Co, making them accessible to a wider audience of interested researchers and practitioners.
On hand to acknowledge the tribute paid to the memory of the late Leonard Co were his parents and siblings as well as his wife Glenda. They expressed gratitude for the fond memories shared by Leonard’s friends and colleagues here in the Cordillera while expressing the fervent hope that justice will be done to Leonard Co and his companions.
Co together with two of his guides were gunned down last November 15 in a forested area in Hinanga, Leyte while doing field work for a Lopez-owned company. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) claims that the noted botanist and his companions were killed in a crossfire in an encounter with New People’s Army (NPA). Doubts have been raised regarding the AFP’s facile claim of death by crossfire. Thus the Department of Justice (DoJ) has formed a task force to dig deeper into the untimely death of Co and his companions. # nordis.net