The Institute of Mathematics, UP Diliman, joins the mathematics community in mourning the passing of Professor Josefina Caluya Fonacier, a pillar of Philippine mathematics education and beloved former colleague. Professor Fonacier, Josie to her friends and Ma’am Fona to her younger colleagues and students, spent her entire academic career at the University of the Philippines from 1950 to 1986, and continued serving on an unofficial and voluntary basis until her demise.
Ma’am Fona finished BS Education, major in Mathematics, cum laude, from UP Diliman in 1948, and obtained the MA Mathematics degree from Columbia University in New York in 1949. She was a faculty member of the UPD College of Liberal Arts Math Department from 1950 to 1965 and also taught courses at the Graduate School of the UP College of Education. From 1965- 1969 she was on special detail to the Science Teaching Center Project, a Ford Foundation-funded project aimed to study and initiate improvements in the secondary and elementary school science and mathematics curricula and in teacher training. In 1970 she transferred to the Science Teaching Center, forerunner of the Science Education Center (SEC) that transformed later as the National Institute for Science and Mathematics Education Development (NISMED). At SEC, she became head of the Mathematics Workgroup, Assistant Director and eventually the Center’s Director from 1985 to 1986.
Professor Fonacier contributed extensively to curriculum development, assessment, textbook writing and instructional materials development, and teacher-training and engaged with various agencies such as the DOST-SEI, DepEd, SEAMEO-RECSAM. She wrote and edited papers, books and resource materials on mathematics education, including an English translation of the Japanese book, Origamics. She was founding President of the Philippine Council for Mathematics Teacher Educators (MathTED) and was managing editor of MathTED’s journal, Intersection. She also served on the boards of the UP Diliman Math Foundation and the Foundation for the Promotion of Mathematics Education and Research. A stalwart of the Mathematical Society of the Philippines (MSP), she was the Director and the force behind the Philippine Mathematical Olympiad from 1984 to 1998 and served as Associate and Managing Editor of Matimyas Matematika, the MSP’s official journal.
The Institute, while deeply saddened with her demise, celebrates the long, happy and productive life of a dear colleague, scholar and mentor, and condoles with her bereaved family.