Today, we mourn the passing of one of the greatest pioneers the University of the Philippines has produced. At the same time, we honor and celebrate the life she lived and the immense legacy she leaves behind.
Dr. Nora Cruz Quebral has been known by a number of titles throughout her life. She was a UP Professor Emeritus of the UP Los Baños College of Development Communication (CDC), which under her watch has grown from a service unit established under the UP College of Agriculture in 1954, to the Department of Agricultural Information and Communication in 1962, which was renamed the Department of Development Communication in 1971, to the Institute of Development Communication in 1987, and finally, a full-fledged college in 1998. She served the growing institution as chairperson for three separate terms spanning 17 years, from 1966 to 1985. As former UP CDC Dean Maria Celeste H. Cadiz wrote in 2007: “The history of the UPLB College of Development Communication is in a large part the history of Nora’s career in the academe, along with that of the development communication program and its practice at Los Baños.”
The institution and the generations of students she mentored who are now recognized educators and practitioners of development communication themselves, who continue to nurture the new crop of UP graduates who will lead in the field with honor and excellence—they are the living testament to Dr. Nora’s unparalleled dedication to her vocation.
As a trailblazer in an entire discipline, Dr. Quebral was also often called the “mother of development communication”. It was her 1971 paper entitled “Development Communication in the Agricultural Context” that defined the discipline. She later expanded on this, describing development communication as “the art and science of human communication applied to the speedy transformation of a country and the mass of its people from poverty to a dynamic state of economic growth that makes possible greater social equality and the larger fulfillment of the human potential”. She developed the concept that is popularly called the “Los Baños school of thought”. The continuing growth and evolution of development communication within the myriad sociocultural and economic realities around the country and the world are a fitting tribute to her vision and insight.
But perhaps her most treasured moniker would be the simplest one: “NCQ”. This was what she was called by her peers, colleagues, students, and friends. Her brilliance had been evident since her youth, when she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree, magna cum laude, from UP Diliman, then earned her MS in agricultural journalism at the University of Wisconsin–Madison as US International Cooperation Agency and Philippine National Economic Council scholar, and then received her PhD in communication at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign as Rockefeller Foundation scholar in 1966. Dr. Nora worked as a secretary at the Claims Service of the US Army while she was still a student, then after graduating as a debate stenographer of the Labor Management Advisory Board. In 1952, she served as copyeditor of the journal Philippine Agriculturist published by the UP College of Agriculture and later as a UP faculty member in 1960. And it was here that she found her home.
She also founded the Nora C. Quebral Development Communication Centre, Inc. and later served as a consultant and expert in development communication. In 2007, she received the first Hildegard Award for Women in Media and Communication.
Dr. Quebral lived her life as a beacon, illuminating the path for the many who would come after her, building institutions and mentoring generations. It can be said for few of us that our light would only continue to shine more brightly after our passing, our legacy a flame passed on from torch to torch, evolving with the passing years. Dr. Nora C. Quebral was one such life.
Mula sa UP na inyong minahal, maraming salamat po at paalam, NCQ.
DANILO L. CONCEPCION