Dr. Priscelina Patajo Legasto: A Pillar of Comparative Literature, Postcolonial Studies and Open & Distance Education

Photo from Jose Wendell Capili I FB

Dr. Priscelina Patajo Legasto, teacher, writer, critic, and retired University of the Philippines (UP) Professor of English and Comparative Literature, passed on 8 November 2023. She was 72.

Legasto descended from the Taacas, Mejias, and Patajos of Urdaneta and Tayug, Pangasinan. The late Retired Supreme Court Justice Lino Patajo is her father. Cristeta T. Patajo, her mother, was the founding Principal of The Manila Doctors Hospital School of Nursing (renamed Manila Tytana College). Before her BA, MA, and Ph.D. studies at UP Diliman, Patajo Legasto received her primary and secondary education at St. Mary’s College Of Quezon City.

From her early days as Instructor 3 to her distinguished position as Professor 12 at the U.P. College of Arts and Letters (1975-2016), Dr. Patajo Legasto dedicated over four decades to nurturing intellectual curiosity and fostering a deeper understanding of Philippine Studies across various subject areas. Her contributions extended far beyond the classroom, as she was a visiting scholar at Ma-Yi Theatre Company in New York and a visiting professor at Cornell University, the National University of Singapore, Simon Fraser University, the University of California at Berkeley, and the University of California at Los Angeles.

Dr. Patajo Legasto’s passion for feminist readings of Philippine literature and theatre was widely recognized, earning her Fulbright research fellowships in 1988, 1989, and 2005. Her scholarly pursuits knew no bounds as she explored the intricacies of minority discourse and street theatre modes of production in her research.

A recipient of numerous awards, Dr. Patajo Legasto was celebrated for her unwavering commitment to excellence and service. The Metrobank Outstanding Teacher Award (1998), The Manila Critics Circle National Book Award (1998), the UP Diliman Gawad Chancellor (1995, 1996, 1997, 2010), the Concepcion Dadufalza Award for Distinguished Teaching (2008), the UP Alumni Association (UPAA) Distinguished Alumna Award (2015), the DOST-National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP) Achievement Award (2018) and the UMPIL Gawad Balagtas for Literary Criticism (2020) were just a few of the commendations that adorned her illustrious career.

Beyond her scholarly achievements, Dr. Patajo Legasto was a source of inspiration and mentorship to those fortunate enough to cross her path. Her nurturing spirit and unwavering dedication to her students made her an exceptional educator and a well-loved figure in academic circles here and overseas.

It is strange that despite her accomplishments and contributions, she did not become Professor Emerita. I will always remember her as a true pillar of Comparative Literature, Postcolonial Studies, and Open and Distance Education in the Philippines. Her intellectual legacy will continue to shape the minds of future generations.

U.P. Administrative Posts:

UP System
1. Assistant Vice President for Public Affairs (May 2002-February 2005)
2. Director, UP System Information Office (May 2002-April 2005)
3, Director, UP Office of Alumni Relations (January 2003-February 2005)

UP Open University
1. Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences & Humanities (1999-2002)
2. Dean, Faculty of Science & Technology (1999-2002)

UP Diliman
1. Coordinator, College of Arts and Letters (CAL) Ph.D. Philippine Studies Program (1989-1999)
2. Coordinator, CAL Graduate Studies Program (1989-1999)
3. Coordinator, CAL DECL Comparative Literature Program (2002-2016)
4. Editor, Diliman Review (2005-2016)

U.P. Teaching Awards:

1. Gawad Chancellor bilang Natatanging Guro (2010)
2. Gawad Leopoldo Yabes bilang Pinakamagaling na Propesor ng Kolehiyo ng Arte at Literatura para sa Taong 2000-2001 (26 November 2001)
3, UP Diliman Gawad Chancellor bilang pinakamahusay na Guro, (26 February 1996)
4. UP Open University Plaque of Appreciation to Dr. Priscelina Patajo-Legasto “in recognition of her meritorious contribution as the first Dean of the joint Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities and Faculty of Science and Technology for envisioning and building a community of scholars and teachers, artists and technology specialists across the UP System in support of the UPOU programs; for spearheading the development of courses that apply multimedia technologies; and for her commitment to the professional development of her faculty and staff, (30 April 2002)

U.P. Publication & Research Awards:
1. UP Centennial Book Award for Philippine Studies (12 December 2008)
2. UP System Sarsuwela Grant (September – December 2008)
3. UP Diliman Gawad Chancellor bilang Pinakamahusay na Mananaliksik (Humanities, Arts and Architecture, 15 August 1997)
4. UP Diliman Gawad Chancellor, bilang Pinakamahusay na Aklat (15 August 1997)
5. UP Diliman Gawad Chancellor, bilang Pinakamahusay na Mananaliksik (1995)

Professorial Chairs
1. Filonila Madamba Tupas Professorial Chair, AY 2008-2009, for “Historiographic Metatheater: The Discourses of Nation, Class, Ethnicity & Gender in Philippine Theater Practices, 1986-2006”
2. UP Foundation Professorial Chair, AY 1996-1997
3. UP Sigma Delta Phi Professorial Chair for the Humanities, AY 1991-1992 & AY 1992-1993.

Selected Publications:
1. PHILIPPINE POSTCOLONIAL STUDIES: HAVE WE GONE BEYOND ST. LOUIS?, Edited and introduced by Priscelina Patajo-Legasto. (University of the Philippine Press, 2008)

2. LESSONS 3: Metrobank Foundation Outstanding Teachers Share Stories of Hope, Success & Inspiration. Edited and introduced by Priscelina Patajo-Legasto (Metrobank Foundation. Inc. and Network of Outstanding Teachers and Educators, 2008)

3. PHILIPPINE POST COLONIAL STUDIES: ESSAYS IN LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE. Edited by Priscelina Patajo-Legasto and Cristina Hidalgo (University of the Philippines Press, 1993, 2004)

4. FILIPINIANA READER: A COMPANION ANTHOLOGY OF FILIPINIANA ONLINE. Edited and Introduced by Priscelina Patajo-Legasto (University of the Philippines Open University,1998)

5. SARSWELANG PANGASINAN. Edited and Introduced by Priscelina Patajo-Legasto. (Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1996)

Source: Jose Wendell Capili I Facebook post