Josefa J. Martinez

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Josefa Jara Martinez (b. January 21, 1894 - d. unknown) was among the Philippines most outstanding social workers and Filipina to find social work as her career. She was the program director of the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM), a well-known nonprofit institution in Nueva Ecija.


Early Life

Born in Iloilo, Martinez was the daughter of Jose Jara and Emilia Gogil. She studied at Mandurriao, Iloilo City and became the school's brightest student. Later, she was sent to Philippine Normal School as a pensionada and graduated in 1912. She practiced her career and became a public school principal before she was sent to New York in 1919 as a government pensionada.

After which, Martinez became a teacher and a principal in a public school before she was sent to New York in 1919, as a government pensionada. She took up a degree in social work with child and family welfare as her major. She married Rufino Martinez who was an engineer and naval architect by profession. The couple was gifted with three lovely children.

Social Work

After her quest for knowledge for social development overseas, her record as a social worker was exemplary when she came back to the Philippines. She specialized in community organization and organized seminars in community leadership and rehabilitation of the handicapped:

  • Chairman of the first Wage Board, which impartial consideration of nightly controversial labor management relations.
  • First executive secretary of the Associated Charities for thirteen years.
  • Chief of the Division Dependent Children, where she palnned the Welfareville (Children's Village)
  • Founder and first director of the first school of social work in the Philippines, now known as Philippine School of Social Work which was affiliated with the Philippine Women's University.
  • Introduced methods and new techniques in social work education, and raised the standard of social work practice and elevated social work to the status of profession.
  • Pioneered in the developement of field work facilities for students of social work.
  • Responsible for the founding of the Council of Welfare Agencies and the Association of Red Feather Agency.
  • Worked in the United Nations social welfare adviser to the Republic of Guatemala and the central service training expert on the United Nations Technical Assistance Mission for five years.
  • She served as the consult-lecturer for the Institute of Social Work and Community Developement of the University of the Philippines in 1970.
  • Training adviser in Mexico for three terms (1960, 1963-64)
  • Interim consultant with UNICEF-assisted social Services Project and as the training consultant with the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement.

Citations and Awards

  • Awarded, M.A. in Social Work, honoris causa by the Centro Escolar University (CEU)
  • Awarded, Doctorate in humane letters, honoris causa by the Siliman University
  • Medal of Merit, by the Philippine government for distinguished social service (1953)
  • Philippine Legion of Honor from the Armed Forces of teh Philippines for humanitarian services to the prisoners of war and their families. (1954)
  • Presidential Merit Award in recognition of "her inspired, enlightment, and totally committed leadership in the Filipino Women's fight for suffrage. (1966)
  • Social Worker of the Year Award from the Proffesional regulations Commissions. (1978)


  • Ancheta, Hermina M. and Michaela Beltran-Gonzales. Filipino Women in Nation Building. A compilation of Brief Biographies. Quezon City: Phoenix Publishing House, 1984.



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