10 Great Filipino Mothers

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Our mothers are our first teachers. They are the first ones that molded us into what we are today. Mothers are to be admired for they give a lot of effort and sacrifice just to give the best that they can to their children. There are even those who are Super Moms who work full-time as moms and still have energy to work at the office. Greater admiration, however, must be given to those mothers who worked hard for the benefit of their country and countrymen. WikiPilipinas presents the list of ten Filipino mothers who are artists and scholars in different fields of knowledge who became founders and leaders of their own ventures.

10. Clare Baltazar

is the foremost Filipino entomologist, a zoologist focusing on insects. Known as the “Mother of Philippine Entomology”, she is the author of Philippine Insects, the first authoritative text on Philippine insects. She has done numerous studies on insects, particularly on Philippine-endemic Hymenoptera species, which proved important for biological insect control in the country. She also discovered 8 genera and 1 subgenus of Hymenoptera, and 108 species of Philippine parasitic wasps. She received in 1980 the Rizal Patria Award in entomology. In 2001 she was conferred as a National Scientist by Former President Joseph Estrada.

9. Damiana Eugenio

is the “Mother of Philippine Folklore”. She is known for her scholarly anthologies of Philippine epics, folktales, myths and proverbs. She was responsible for landmark publications on Philippine oral and epic literature. She has been honored with awards from the Manila Critics Circle, Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas (UMPIL), and UP.

8. Engracia Cruz-Reyes

is the “Mother of Filipino Cooking”. She co-founded Aristocrat, a popular Filipino restaurant with branches all over Metro Manila. Considered as an icon in Philippine food history and culture, she was honored by the National Historical Institute with a historical marker at Plaza Raja Soliman. She was honored with the Outstanding Woman of the Year Award by the Philippine Marketing Association in 1967 and the Gintong Ina Award in 1982.

7. Francisca Reyes Aquino

is the “Mother of Philippine Dancing”. She was named National Artist for her contributions in dance in 1973, the very first woman to receive a National Artist Award. She traveled the Philippines to observe and record dances and formed various dance troupes, including the Filipiniana Dance Troupe. She also organized the Filipiniana Folk Dance Troupe which performed for servicemen as a part of the United States Army Special Services for seven months in 1945.

In 1949, she founded the Philippine Folk Dance Society to bring together physical education students, teachers, administrators and individuals interested in folk dancing.

Dr. Reyes Aquino received the “Philippine Republic Award of Merit" for her efforts in collecting, compiling, and propagating folk dances, and for her outstanding contribution to the advancement of Filipino culture in the field of dance. Other awards include the Cultural Award, UNESCO of the Philippines; the Rizal Pro-Patria Award; certificate of merit Bulacan Teachers Association; the Ramón Magsaysay Award, and an award for outstanding alumna, College of Education, University of the Philippines.

Aquino was the author of Philippine Folk Dances and Games, which focused on studying native Philippine dances. Her efforts led to the popularization of Philippine folk dances. She was a recipient of the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award for government service in 1962.

6. Leona Florentino

is the “Mother of Philippine Women's Literature” as she was the first Filipina poet. Because of her gender, she was not allowed to enter a university to study. She was instead tutored by her mother and a series of private teachers. She was trained in advanced Spanish by an educated Ilocano priest.

Her lyrical poetry in Spanish, and especially in Ilocano, gained attention with their exhibition in various international forums. Her literary contributions were recognized when she was included in the Encyclopedia Internationale des Oeuvres des Femmes (International Encyclopedia of Women’s Works) in 1889.

She was married to a politician named Elias de los Reyes at a young age. She bore five children, including Isabelo de los Reyes who would later become a controversial Filipino writer and activist.

5. Gregoria de Jesus

is the “Mother of Philippine Revolution”. She was one of the brave Filipina women who risked their lives fighting for independence from the Spaniards during the Revolution. Because of her desire to attain freedom she joined her husband Andres and other Katipuneros to plan for their revolt. Whenever she heard that the police would search the places they gather at, she would assemble and keep their documents, seal and arms. She would also drive to Tondo's bay front and along Binondo streets to save countrymen from being caught. She moved from town to town after being targeted for her involvement in the Katipunan. She soon left for the mountains and met Andres at San Francisco del Monte and together went to the Katipunan's headquarter at Balara.

4. Melchora Aquino

is the “Mother of Katipunan” and the “Mother of Balintawak”. Despite her old age, she looked after the sick and injured Katipuneros and gave moral support and prayers, earning her the name "Mother of the Katipunan" or revolution.

When the katipuneros arrived at Melchora’s place on 23 August 1896, she gave them 100 cavans of rice, 10 carabaos, as well as other needs while having their revolution. She cared for the sick and the wounded too. She was later captured by the Americans and deported to Guam. She was freed after six years with 76 other exiles. In her last years, even if she soon became unintelligible, she did not acknowledge the material gifts given by the government as reward for her contributions. She already became contented with having helped the Katipunan. Her remains lie at the Mausoleum of the Veterans of the Philippine Revolution at the Manila North Cemetery.

3. Mercedes Concepcion

is the “Mother of Asian Demography”. As a pioneer in the field of demography, she holds many "firsts"-first Filipino demographer, first Filipino staff member of the United Nations Statistical Training Center in the Philippines (1955), first director of the UP Population Institute (1965), first Philippine representative to the UN Population Commission (1967), first woman chair of the UN Population Commission (1969-1977), and first Asian woman elected President of the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population (1981-1985).

She has written several research papers, consultancies and research projects on population and demographics and has worked with local and international governments, the World Health Organization and United Nations. She has even been one of two Asian representatives to the Vatican as part of the Birth Control Commission in 1964. This work eventually led to the Humanae Vitae in 1968. She is one of the very few people that has attended all five Asia and Pacific Population Conferences. Her reflections on her participation were published in the Asia-Pacific Population Journal.

In 1986, under her leadership of the Committee to Review the Philippine Statistical System, the National Statistical Coordination Board was established as well the reorganization of the statistical offices in the country.

Among her numerous awards and recognition were the Outstanding Woman in Profession, Rafael M. Salas Population and Development Award, Outstanding Award in Science and Technology Research, Achievement Award for Demography, Outstanding Woman in Science and Technology, Tandang Sora Award, Professional Award in Demography, Distinguished St Theresa's College Alumna Award, and a Travel Award to Mexico to observe the population program.

2. Dr. Raquel del Rosario-Fortun

is the “Mother of Philippine Forensic Pathology”. She is the first Filipino to be formally trained as a forensic pathologist, a medical professional involved in determining cause of death for legal purposes. She had her training in forensic pathology abroad but she opted to stay in the Philippines and be a professor at the UP College of Medicine and impart her expertise in general pathology and legal medicine.

Having been teaching her craft for seventeen years in the Philippines, she has had her share of difficult and controversial cases and contributions to the understanding of forensic pathology and other forensic sciences in the country.

Some of the more high-profile cases Fortun has worked on in the Philippines include the Payatas disaster in 2000, the Asian Spirit air crash in 1999, and the Asosacion de Damas Filipinas fire in 1998. She has also done forensic work and training in several countries like the Netherlands, Cyprus, Japan, Sierra Leone, Cambodia and East Timor.

She has earned the following awards Outstanding Teacher, Outstanding Woman in the Nation's Service, Philippine TOYM Awardee and Gintong Ina Celebrity Award. She has received other awards form the the University of the Philippines, Soroptimist International of Dasmariñas-Salcedo, the Philippine Jaycees, Inc., and Philippine Society of Pathologists. She even has one from former Quezon City Mayor Ismael A. Mathay, Jr., for her work in identifying the Ozone Disco fire victims in 1996, her first controversial case. Fortun is also one of the 100 Filipinas featured in "Filipina Firsts: A Salute to 100 Women Pioneers 1898-1998", as the First Filipino Woman Forensic Pathologist. She has recently been inducted as an honorary member of the UPLB Genetics Society.

1. Honoria Acosta-Sison

is the “Mother of Philippine Obstetrics”. She is the first Filipino woman physician, first Filipino woman graduate of an American Medical School and first Filipino woman obstetrician. She had published one hundred and seventy three scientific publications which contributed to progress in Philippine Obstetrics and Gynecology. She published one of the very first researches on obstetrics and gynecology at the Philippine Journal of Science.

She also established the normal pelvimetry, or the assessment of the female pelvis in relation to the birth of a baby, among Filipino Women and cephalometry, or the measurement of the human head, among Filipino newborns. In collaboration with Dr. Liborio Gomez, she showed that there is no constant liver lesion in eclampsia, a pregnancy complication.

She has been given numerous awards like the Presidential Medal as Torch Bearer in the Feminist Movement in 1955, Gold Medal from the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1959, and Most Outstanding Woman Physician from the Philippine Women’s Medical Association, also in 1959. The Bureau of Posts issued a commemorative stamp in her honor in 1978.




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