Did you know that February is National Women’s History Month? In celebration of this special event, we list five Filipinas who didn’t let anything get in the way of their dreams. Read on and be inspired by their stories of sheer dedication and will!
Lorena Barros (1948-1976)
A member of the New People’s Army during the turbulent Marcos era, she sustained a serious gunshot wound in a 1976 encounter with government forces in Mauban, Quezon. Refusing treatment in exchange for information about her fellow rebels, she defiantly told her captors that she was willing to die for the cause.
Remedios Paraiso-Gomez (1919-2014)
Remedios Paraiso-Gomez was Kumander Liwayway during the Japanese Occupation
The death of her father in the hands of Japanese soldiers (who displayed his corpse in public) led her to drop out of college and joined the guerilla forces. Kumander Liwayway, who went to war sporting fancy dresses and red lipstick, was held in high esteem by her peers. “She preserved her feminine charms under the most difficult of circumstances,” said comrade Luis Taruc. “She was not flighty or superficial.” Indeed: a prisoner of war, Kumnder Liwayway would go on to lobby for military pensions and remind people about women’s contributions in the war.
Encarnacion Alzona (1895-2001)
Encarnacion Alzona is the first Filipina to earn a doctorate degree
An advocate for gender equality (at a time when women were considered inferior to men in all aspects), she completed her master’s degree from Radcliffe College and PhD from Columbia University. The first Filipina to achieve such a feat then did it for other women, like Fe del Mundo, founder of the first pediatric hospital in the Philippines. Women have her to thank too for paving the way for them to vote. Her tireless efforts saw the passage of the election bill in 1937, giving male and female Filipinos 21 years old and up the right to suffrage.
Clemencia Lopez (1876-1963)
When her pro-Filipino brothers Lorenzo, Cipriano, and Manuel supported the Philippine Revolution during Spanish rule, then were arrested for their alleged participation in the Philippine insurgency against the Americans, 26-year-old Clemencia traveled solo to the United States to plead for their case. Though US President Theodore Roosevelt rejected her petition to free her brothers in a brief but historic meeting at the White House in March 1902, the Lopez boys were released a month later when Philippine rebel soldiers were no longer considered a threat by the US Army.
Maria Carpena (1886-1915)
Maria Carpena is the first Filipina recording artist
Blessed with a beautiful voice that earned her the nickname “Nightingale of Zarzuela,” Maria pursued her love of music despite her father’s warning to disown her if she did. At 15, she gave her very first performance at a benefit show in 1901. She then went on to headline such plays as Walang Sugat, Lukso ng Dugo, and La Confianza Mata al Hombre. Maria was in the States upon Governor General Howard Taft’s invitation to record “Ang Maya,” and other songs for the Victor Recording Company.