Librada Avelino

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Librada Avelino, co-founder of the Centro Escolar University

Librada M. Avelino (17 January 1873 - 9 November 1934) was a pioneer educator, feminist, and human rights advocate in the Philippines.

Early Life

She was born in Quiapo, Manila to Pedro Avelino, a pharmacist, and Francisca Mangali. She grew up in Pandacan after they transferred to a new residence.

She studied at a public school for girls under the guidance of Maestra Luisa Bacho. She also took up Spanish grammar and music lessons. Inspired by the novels of Jose Rizal, she regarded the hero as her favorite author.

Education Advocate

Avelino wanted to become a teacher. She enrolled under Margarita Lopez to prepare for the teacher's examination, which she passed with honors. She opened a school in Pandacan.

To become a better teacher, she took up a one-year teaching course under the Assumption Nuns. She received her diploma that qualified her to teach high school students. She continued teaching in her school until she closed it during the Philippine Revolution in 1896.

During the early American regime, she established a private school that turned out to be unsuccessful due to insufficient courses offered in English. To meet that demand, she enrolled at a summer school by Americans for Spanish-trained teachers. She also had private English lessons from an English-speaking Filipino tutor.

Once she was able to master the language, she was appointed as principal of a girls' public school in Pandacan by Dr. David Barrows, the superintendent of public schools in Manila. She was the first Filipina public school principal during the American era.

She showed her patriotism and willingness to stand up to colonial powers in several incidents, such as when she protested a lecture by Prescott F. Jernegan. She asserted that the Filipino Revolutionaries were not bandits but patriots just like the soldiers of the American Revolution. Another time, she protested the interference of an American school official in her school affairs, which led to the first recorded walkout of students supporting their teacher.

In 1907, together with Carmen de Luna and Fernando Salas, Avelino founded the Centro Escolar de Señoritas, the first non-sectarian nationalistic school for girls in the Philippines. She taught her female students to take active interest in the government, particularly its various functions. The college was the first non-sectarian institution to offer graduate courses leading to the degree of philosophy and doctor of education and was renamed Centro Escolar University (CEU).


Avelino was the first female recipient of the Master of Pedagogy, honoris causa by the University of the Philippines in 1929 for her remarkable contribution to Philippine education and progress.

CEU established the Librada Avelino Memorial Awards in her honor to recognize outstanding women leaders in Asia.


  • Ancheta, Herminiana and Michaela Beltran-Gonzales. 1984. Filipino Women in Nation Buidling. Quezon City: Phoenix Press, Inc.
  • National Historical Commission of the Philippines. 2015. Education. Accessed 4 April 2021.
  • Varias-de Guzman, Jovita. 1967. Women of Distinction: Biographical Essay on Outstanding Filipino Women of the Past and the Present. Philippines: Bukang Liwayway.
  • Zaide, Gregorio. 1970. Great Filipinos in History. Manila: Verde Bookstore.



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