Pura V. Kalaw

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Pura Villanueva-Kalaw (b. August 27, 1886 - d. 1954) was an eminent philanthropist, businesswoman, writer and patron of the arts, known for her active social, economic and civic services to the country and her support of young Filipina writers.


Early life

Pura was born in Molo, Iloilo City, to Emilio Villanueva of Molo and Emilia Garcia from Valencia, Spain. She studied at the Colegio de Sta. Ana in Iloilo, which was run by the Avacena sisters. At an early age, Pura showed interest in reading and writing. By the time she was eighteen, she worked as the woman's page editor of El Tiempo, a local newspaper in Iloilo. Four years later, she won the title Queen of the first Philippine Carnival. Her many endeavors as a writer lead to her acquaintance with Teodoro M. Kalaw, the editor of El Renacimiento and a renowned nationalist. Admiration and love developed between the two writers, and by 1910, they were married.


After their marriage they decided to have children of their own. Villanueva-Kalaw became a full-time housewife. Soon she realized that their children were rapidly growing and their needs were increasing. Teodoro, having his own scholarly endeavors, could not leave his career. As such, Pura decided to open up a business which later grew and became successful. As an evidence of her success, she put up the Villanueva-Kalaw Investments, which was one of the most stable firms at that time. This time, Pura diverted her attention to her first love -- reading books.

Social work

After her husband died, she started to make efforts to enlarge Teodoro's collection of Filipiniana and first issues of Philippine periodicals. She wrote articles in Spanish, in local newspapers. Through her support and encouragement, the Philippine Women Writers Association was founded - an organization devoted to showcasing the literary skills of Filipinas. She was also the first president of the League of Women Voters and continued to play an active part in the league until 1951, when she was 65.

She actively participated in social work and contributed generously to charity. She was constantly engaged in civic projects to improve the plight of the poor. She was also well known for her philanthropic activities and generous donations to art projects.

Awards and citations

  • Degree of Master of Arts and Letters of the Philippine Women's University for her active participation in public affairs. (March 1950)
  • Medal recipient for leading the feminist movement in the Philippines.
  • Award given for her distinguished career as a writer in Spanish.

Books authored

  • Condimentos Indegenas (Native Recipes)
  • Paglulutong Pilipino
  • Osmena", From Newspaperman to President
  • Women in Politics
  • History of the Philippine Flag


  • PURA VILLANUEVA-KALAW. (accessed on August 22, 2007).
  • 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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