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Get to know five female pioneers this Women's Month.
BY VINCENT ONG
ART BY JEREMIAH IDANAN
Women have always played an active role in history. This Women's History Month, we pay tribute to five key personalities who have defined what it means to be a pioneer. These women have forged their own paths in their respective fields and make it easier to be a Filipino today. Which of them do you recognize from your Social Studies classes?
Rosa Sevilla de Alvero was a suffragette who was most recently commemorated in a Google Doodle. Aside from championing women’s right to vote through an organization she founded, Liga Nacional de Damas Filipinas, she also advocated for education. At only 21, she founded the Instituto de Mujeres of Manila (now Rosa Sevilla Memorial School), an exclusive school for girls.
To instill pride in the Tagalog language, she was a part of the first-ever balagtasan, a debate done in rhyming verses, at a time when the Philippines was still colonized by Spain.
Josefa Llanes Escoda was a social activist, war hero and the founder of the Girl Scouts of the Philippines (GSP). After graduating from the University of the Philippines, she worked at the Red Cross, which then granted her a scholarship in the Ivy League.
In the 1920s, she used her post at the National Federation of Women's Clubs to advocate for women's right to vote; and in 1940, founded the GSP. During World War II, she worked to deliver supplies to prisoners at war camps. This led to her capture and execution. Today, her visage is on the P1,000 bill.
Fe del Mundo, also known as "The Angel of Santo Tomas," was a doctor, inventor and founder of the Philippines's first pediatric hospital. A true pioneer, she studied in Harvard University Medical School at a time when the institution only admitted men.
Her time as an intern in a hospital in her home province Marinduque also led to her inventions: an incubator that didn't require electricity, a cloth-suspended weighing scale, and a bamboo radiant warmer. The Children's Medical Center in Quezon City stands because of her dedication and vision.
A master of draping and construction, Salvacion Lim Higgins was a pioneer in fashion design. Known to drape the fabric directly onto her muse or mannequin—as opposed to a pattern, which is then cut and sewn—Slim was lauded for her intricate, heavily-adorned, architectural designs.
A testament to her craft, the Victoria & Albert Museum in London has acquired 2 of her dresses. The eponymous fashion school, which she founded with her sister Purifcacion, is currently located along Chino Roces Ave., Makati.
An alumna of Philippine Science High School, Josephine Santiago-Bond "didn’t grow up wanting to work for NASA." After graduating with an engineering degree from the University of the Philippines, Josephine relocated with her family to the United States where she continued her studies at the South Dakota State University, during which she was a research assistant for a project funded by NASA’s Space Grant Consortium. This led to a summer, and eventual full-time employment, at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Which Filipina woman pioneer do you look up to?