Philippine Women's University

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Philippine Women's University


Motto The First University for Women in Asia, Founded by Asians


Type Private, non-sectarian
President Dr. Francisco B. Benitez
Faculty Approx. 500
Undergraduates Approx. 10,000
Location Manila, NCR, Philippines
Colors Maroon and white
Affiliations ASAIHL

Philippine Women's University (PWU) is a non-sectarian educational institution in the Philippines founded in 1919 with the aim of preparing young Filipino women for a life of service and leadership. PWU occupies one city block bounded by Taft Avenue and the streets of Malvar, Remedios, and Leon Guinto in the district of Malate in Manila. In 1932, the college was granted university status and became the first university for women in Asia, founded by Asians.



PWU was envisioned and established by seven Filipinas, Clara Aragon, Concepcion Aragon, Francisca Tirona Benitez, Paz Marquez Benitez, Carolina Ocampo Palma, Mercedes Rivera, and Socorro Marquez Zaballero. Jose Abad Santos assisted them in establishing the institution and drafted its by-laws and constitution.

The then Philippine Women's College held its first classes on 9 June 1919, with an initial enrollment count of 190 students. It was first located in a three-story house on A. Flores St., Ermita, Manila. In 1934, PWU moved to its present site on Taft Avenue.

PWU lays claim to several significant “firsts” in Philippine education, including the distinction of being the first university of women in Asia by Asians, first organization of a student council in a Philippine private school in 1922, first to offer Pharmacy course in 1924, first four-year Business Administration course in a private school in 1926, first bachelor's degree in Home Economics in 1928, and first Graduate School in 1931. After becoming a university in 1932, it geared toward training young Filipinas for civic responsibility, such as the Child Development Center and Social and Civic Training in 1938, and the Institute of Human Relations and the Family Life Workshop of the Philippines in 1948. A night school for working women called the Community College was opened in 1949.

Second World War

The war interrupted the university's operations. Then university president Francisca Tirona Benitez, along with faculty members and volunteers, opened the Pagamutan ng Maynila in PWU. The university campus was burned to the ground during the 1945 liberation of Manila and re-opened a year after.

Program expansion continued after the war, where new courses and colleges were introduced: Philippine Institute of Nutrition, Food Science and Technology, Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education, Institute of Human Relations, and Institute of Filipino Culture and Foreign Languages.

Promoting the Filipino Culture

In 1956, Dr. Helena Z. Benitez founded PWU's Bayanihan Folk Dance Group. After a year, it was formally organized as the Bayanihan Folk Arts Center with the Bayanihan Philippine Dance Company as its performing arm. Both were tasked to research on and preserve indigenous Philippine art forms in music, dance, costumes, and folklores; to restructure and enhance these research findings to evolve repertoires suited to the demands of contemporary theater; and to promote international goodwill through performances at home and abroad. [1]

National Artist for Music Lucresia R. Kasilag served as Bayanihan's president and musical director. Through the efforts of Benitez, Kasilag, and National Artist for Dance Lucrecia Reyes-Urtula, Bayanihan became one of the foremost artistic and cultural groups in the Philippines.

On 27 May 1958, Bayanihan made its international debut at the Brussels Universal Exposition. On 13 October 1959, it made a mark in Broadway as it received the unanimous acclaim of New York City critics in its performance at the Winter Garden Theater.

Republic Act (RA) No. 8626 was passed on 17 February 1998 and designated Bayanihan Philippine Dance Company as the Philippine National Folk Dance Company.


The PWU Davao City campus was established in 1954 and the PWU Quezon City campus in 1956. Jose Abad Santos Memorial School (JASMS) was founded in 1933 to cater to elementary and secondary education.


PWU is a member institution of Philippine Association of College and Universities (PACU), Philippine Accrediting Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (PAASCU), and the Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities Commission on Accreditation (PACUCOA), as well as the International Association of Universities and the International Association of University Presidents.


  1. ^ "A National Treasure", Bayanihan (accessed 15 February 2010).



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