It goes without saying there are thousands of women who have done a substantial amount of work to help move their country forward. That being said, these five remarkable Filipinas have left their mark on the nation’s history:
1. Gabriela Silang (1731-1759): A Flame of Rebellion
Gabriela Silang wasn’t just the wife of a revolutionary leader; she was a revolutionary herself. When her husband Diego Silang was assassinated during the Ilocano Revolt against Spanish rule, Gabriela took up his mantle. Leading guerilla warfare with courage and strategy, she defied colonial forces for months before being captured and executed. Gabriela’s bravery continues to inspire Filipinos fighting for justice and equality.
2. Josefa Llanes Escoda (1898-1945): A Champion for Workers’ Rights
Josefa Llanes Escoda dedicated her life to improving the lives of Filipino workers, especially women. She founded the General Labor Union, the first labor organization in the Philippines with a women’s section. Escoda tirelessly fought for fair wages, better working conditions, and women’s suffrage. Her legacy lives on in the strong labor movement and expanded rights for women in the Philippines.
3. Leticia Ramos-Shahani (1929-2017): A Voice for Peace and Human Rights
Leticia Ramos-Shahani dedicated her life to promoting peace and human rights in the Philippines and beyond. She co-founded the Asian Peace Alliance and tirelessly documented human rights abuses during the Marcos regime. Ramos-Shahani also played a crucial role in establishing the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in the Philippines. Her unwavering commitment to human dignity continues to inspire activists around the world.
4. Leonor Orosa (1907-1995): A Culinary Pioneer
Leonor Orosa wasn’t just a chef; she was a food scientist and cultural ambassador. She revolutionized Filipino cuisine by researching and promoting indigenous ingredients and cooking techniques. Orosa also established the Institute of Food Technology, which helped improve food production and preservation in the Philippines. Her efforts earned her the title “First Lady of Philippine Cuisine,” and her legacy lives on in the vibrant culinary scene of the Philippines.
5. Aurora Aragon Quezon (1888-1949): A First Lady with Grit and Grace
Aurora Aragon Quezon wasn’t just the wife of the first Philippine president; she was an active partner in shaping the nation. A social reformer and philanthropist, she founded the National Council of Women of the Philippines and championed education and healthcare for women and children. Aragon Quezon also played a crucial role in establishing the Philippine Red Cross. Her dedication to public service continues to inspire Filipino women in leadership roles.