FORMER UST secretary general Fr. Isidro Abaño, O.P. on Wednesday proposed renaming the UST Educational Technology Center (EdTech) after the late Assoc. Prof. Giovanna Fontanilla, one of its pioneers.

Abaño, now director of the UST Museum and Civil Law regent, made the proposal in his eulogy after a funeral Mass for Fontanilla’s repose at Santisimo Rosario Parish on Dec. 9.

He said renaming EdTech to “Giovanna Fontanilla EdTech Center ” would be a concrete show of gratitude for her contributions to the University.

“There is so much to thank her for. She practically donated her entire life to the University… To thank her merely with words is a shortcoming,” Abaño said.

Fontanilla, UST’s long-time public affairs chief, became EdTech’s first director in 1994. Educational technology was the topic of her master’s thesis at the University of the Philippines, said Asst. Prof. Virginia Sembrano, Fontanilla’s top aide.

Fontanilla’s death on Dec. 6 from a heart attack shocked the University community, which she had served for 41 years. She was 62.

READ: Thomasians mourn death of Fontanilla, ‘ever smiling, welcoming face of UST’

‘University stalwart’

Former UST rector Fr. Rolando de la Rosa, O.P., who appointed Fontanilla head of public affairs in 1990, said the late associate professor once rejected an offer to work at the Vatican after the successful staging of the 1995 International Youth Forum, part of the World Youth Day festivities led by Pope St. John Paul II in Manila.

De la Rosa showed a photo of Fontanilla being hugged by the late pontiff at the UST Grandstand during a meeting with the youth.

Assoc. Prof. Giovanna Fontanilla embraces Pope John Paul II during his Papal Visit at the University in 1981. (Photo grabbed from UST’s official Facebook page)

“In her short life, she served the University well and showed others what love really means,” de la Rosa said in his homily.

De la Rosa, UST’s rector during the Quadricentennial, also said he was in awe of Fontanilla’s skills at organizing for the milestone event.

“She seldom showed any indication that she was not feeling well. Her death is a reminder that our tenure here on earth is not permanent,” he added.

Abaño also recalled how he worked with Fontanilla in the early 1990s for the University’s first-ever Christmas celebration, dubbed “Paskuhan.”

“Through the years, Paskuhan has grandiosely evolved. However, Giovanna had remained as enthusiastically involved as the first Paskuhan,” he said.

Abaño also quoted Varsitarian publications adviser Joselito Zulueta, who said: “Even during the most challenging of PR crises, [Fontanilla] never lost her cool. She was the ever-smiling, welcoming face of UST for nearly three decades.”

The Eucharistic celebration was presided by Vice Rector Fr. Isaias Tiongco, O.P.

Fontanilla’s remains lay in repose at the Buenaventura Garcia Paredes, O.P. Building on Dec. 8 and were transferred to Santisimo Rosario for the livestreamed Mass on Dec. 9.

Her remains were brought to Loyola Memorial Park in Marikina for a public wake. Cremation will be on Friday, Dec. 11.



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