Thursday, March 10, 2016

Great Philippine Women

Researched and compliled by Dr Abe V Rotor
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Great Women in Philippine History
28 March 2014
Excerpts from article of the same title by Kuya Roly

International Women’s Day as it is celebrated worldwide today was made official in 1975. 8 March was the chosen day of celebration.

Women’s Month in the Philippines
The passage of a Women’s Month in the Philippines began in the unlikeliest of times: the Martial Law years.

In connection with the UN’s actions, President Ferdinand Marcos signed Presidential Decree No. 633 on 7 January 1975 which created the National Commission on the Role of the Filipino Women (now Philippine Commission on Women or PCW). The decree was also the first in the Philippines that recognised the Filipina’s contribution to the nation and the need to promote equality between men and women.  Its basic roles were:

  • to promote economic, social and political empowerment of women and
  • to review and implement laws regarding women.
 Greater women empowerment was later supported by President Corazon Aquino with the signing of the Presidential Proclamation No. 227 on 17 March 1988 that made March officially ‘Women’s Role in History Month.’

One of the outcome of PP No. 227 was it gave PCW the role of spearheading Women’s Month in the country through contests, exhibits, awards and other activities.

 Today, Women’s Month is reserved to remember and celebrate Filipinas, regardless of background, who have strengthened the nation. During March, we are given the opportunity to recognise the value of Filipinas as social movers and as the foundation of our economy.

Prominent Filipinas in history
History has proven the importance of women in our society by giving us stories of their courage, intelligence and achievements. I am very happy to say there are plenty of Filipinas who have changed the face of Philippine history…even too many to mention! But let me just name a few:
Gabriela Cariño Silang
National Hero (1731– 1763)
Considered a national hero; the ‘Joan of Arc of Ilocandia;’ la Generala of Ilocano uprisings against the Spanish Empire

Melchora Aquino (Tandang Sora)
National Hero (1812– 1919)
Considered a hero of the revolution; ‘Grand Woman of the Revolution;’ ‘Mother of Balintawak;’ ‘Mother of the Katipunan;’ ‘Mother of the Philippine Revolution’

Josefa Llanes Escoda
Civic participation (1898– 1945)
Founder of Girl Scouts of the Philippines; advocate of women’s suffrage
Fe del Mundo
Medicine (1911– 2011)
National Scientist of the Philippines; pioneered pediatric care in the country; first woman admitted as student in Harvard Medical School; founder of Children’s Medical Centre; Order of Lakandula; Ramon Magsaysay Awardee

Estefania Aldaba-Lim
Medicine and Politics (1917– 2006)
First Filipina psychologist; first woman to become Cabinet secretary as head of the Department of Social Services and Development (now known as DSWD); founding member of Philippine Mental Health; founding member of Museo Pambata Association; assistant secretary general for the UN

Imelda Marcos
Politics (1929)
Incumbent Ilocos 2nd District Congresswoman; former Leyte 1st District Congresswoman; former First Lady of the Philippines; former Governor of Metro Manila

Corazon Aquino
Politics (1933– 2009)
11th President of the Philippines; First female president of the Philippines; ‘Icon of Philippine Democracy;’ Time Magazine’s 1986 ‘Woman of the Year’

 Miriam Defensor-Santiago
Politics (1945)
Incumbent Senator; Incumbent Judge of the International Criminal Court; former Secretary of Agrarian Reform; former Commissioner of the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation; founder and leader of People’s Reform Party; Ramon Magsaysay Awardee
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
Politics (1947)
Incumbent Pampanga 2nd District Congresswoman; 14th President of the Philippines; 12th Vice President of the Philippines; former Secretary of National Defence; former Secretary of DSWD; former Senator

Gloria Diaz
Beauty and Arts – Film (1951)
Miss Universe 1969; first Filipino to win Miss Universe; FAMAS Best Supporting Actress awardee

Nora Aunor
Arts – Film and Music (1953)
 ‘Superstar;’ first Philippine ‘Box Office Queen;’ FAMAS Hall of Famer; 5-time FAMAS Best Actress awardee; 7-time Gawad Urian awardee; 8-time PMPC Star Awardee; 8-time MMFF awardee; Centennial Honour for the Arts awardee; TOWNS awardee for the Arts; Ani ng Dangal Awardee; winner of various Asian  and European awards (Russia, Italy, Belgium, Malaysia, Egypt, France); first Filipino to win an international acting award; first Filipino to receive an acting nomination for a top-tier international film festival; most number of singles in Philippine recording history

Cecile Licad
Arts – Music (1961)
Virtuoso classical pianist; The New Yorker’s ‘Pianist’s Pianist;’ Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra soloist; Leventritt Competition Gold Medalist; Grand Prix du Disque Frédéric Chopin awardee

Lisa Macuja-Elizalde
Arts – Ballet (1964)
Philippine’s first Prima Ballerina; first foreign soloist to join Russia’s Mariinsky Ballet; Vice Chairman of UNESCO-Philippines National Commission; Artistic Director of Ballet Manila; former Commissioner of PCW

Lydia de Vega-Mercado
Sports – Sprinting (1964)
‘Asia’s Fastest Woman;’ ‘Asia’s Sprint Queen;’ 3-time Southeast Asian Games Gold Medalist; 4-time Asian Athletics Championships Gold Medalist; Philippine and Southeast Asia record-holder for personal best; 2-time Olympian; 1982 New Delhi Asiad Gold Medalist; 1986 Seoul Asiad Gold and Silver Medalist;

Lea Salonga
Arts – Music, Film and Theatre (1971)
Laurence Olivier Awardee; Tony Awardee; first Asian actress to play Eponine and Fantine in Broadway’s ‘Les Miserables;’ multi-awarded actress for ‘Miss Saigon;’ first Filipino to be signed in an international recording label; first Philippine-based singer to have a major album distribution in America; 3-time Aliw Awards Best Child Performer; Presidential Award of Merit recipient; Order of Lakandula Awardee

Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski
Sports – Equestrian (1974)
2002 Asian Games Gold Medalist; member of the 125th International Olympic 

Listed below from another source are Great Philippine Women or those who made outstanding contributions to the nation and those who stood out even in the most delicate and dangerous situations. They are categorized based on the field or ability that they are known for (the classifications below are adapted from the book "Filipino Women in Nation Building":
(to access the knowledge database on the Great Philippine Women, click Great Philippine Women link)

Patriotism and Heroism
  1. Marcela M. Agoncillo
  2. Hilaria Aguinaldo
  3. Teodora Alonzo
  4. Melchora Aquino
  5. Espiridiona Bonifacio
  6. Patrocinio Gamboa
  7. Gregoria de Jesus
  8. Nazaria Lagos
  9. Teresa F. Magbanua
  10. Gabriela Silang
  11. Trinidad Tecson
  12. Gliceria Marella Villavicencio
Civic and Social Works
  1. Josefa L. Escoda
  2. Salud Fabella-Unson
Community Services
  1. Margarita Roxas de Ayala
  2. Aurora A. Quezon
  3. Sister Asuncion Ventura
Education and Knowledge
  1. Ignacia del Espiritu Santo
  2. Francisca T. Benitez
Literature and Performing Arts
  1. Leona Florentino

FFE Magazine; Pilipinas Kong Mahal; General Info; Great Women in
Philippine History


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