Maria Kalaw Katigbak

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Maria Kalaw Katigbak (14 February 1912-1992) was a Filipino civic leader, business executive and writer, who in 1962 became the second Philippine woman senator. She was also a former beauty queen.

Personal background and education

She was born Maria Kalaw on 14 February 1912, to the prominent writer and statesman Teodoro M. Kalaw and writer and women’s rights advocate Pura Villanueva-Kalaw. She was the eldest of their four children. She was crowned the queen of the 1928 Carnival de Filipinas in Manila, a title which was then the equivalent of Miss Philippines and which had been held by her accomplished mother 20 years before.

Valedictorian of her high school class at Philippine Women’s University, she graduated from the University of the Philippines with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy. She obtained a master’s degree in social work at UP and an MA in literature at the University of Michigan. Later, as a Barbour scholar, she obtained her Ph.D. in social sciences from the University of Sto. Tomas, graduating magna cum laude. In 1934, she married Dr. Jose R. Katigbak, an obstetrician and gynecologist, with whom she had four children.


As an educator and scholar

Once a member of the Board of National Education, Kalaw-Katigbak sat on the board of trustees of a number of schools, including the Philippine Normal College, the Philippine College of Commerce, the Philippine College of Arts and Trade, the Samar Institute of Technology, and the Mindanao Institute of Technology. She was once a member of UP’s board of regents as well. She also belonged to the American Studies Association of the Philippines.

As a business executive

In the corporate world, Kalaw-Katigbak has held important positions, including vice chairman of the JRK Development Corporation and director of the Union Savings & Mortgage Bank.

As a writer

Kalaw-Katigbak was a writer and columnist for the Manila Times and Weekly Nation. She was one of the presidents of the Philippine Association of Women Writers. She wrote the biographies of her illustrious parents and translated some of her father’s works from Spanish.

As a politician

In 1962, Kalaw-Katigbak became a senator, the 2nd woman in the Philippines to achieve that distinction. Over the next 5 years, she became chair of the Senate committees on education, commerce, and industry and created a number of bills. One of the major bills she authored was Senate Bill No. 84, or the Consumers Protection Bill. Now Republic Act 3765, it is a law protecting consumers buying goods on credit or installment plan. She also worked to amend Republic Act 621, “An Act Creating the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization National Commission,” under Senate Bill No. 30. From 1962-1966, she was the chairman of the UNESCO General Conference and in 1967 she attended the United Nations General Assembly. She was also a member of the board of the Commission on Appointments.

Socio-civic work

Kalaw-Katigbak was involved with the Girl Scouts for many years, serving as the president of the Girl Scouts of the Philippines (GSP) as well as the Quezon City Girl Scouts Council. She also served as a board member and regional chairperson of the Central Luzon chapter of the GSP. She went to Denmark, Greece, Japan, Finland, and Canada to attend the Girl Scouts’ World Conferences.

She also represented the Philippines in international socio-civic events. A member of the national board of the Catholic Women’s League, she went to Rome, Italy in 1957 for the Second Congress of the Lay Apostolate. In 1958, she attended the Afro-Asian Conference for Women in Colombo. Kalaw-Katigbak was on the national board of the Philippine Board of Scholarships for Southeast Asia. She also served as director of the Kilusan ng mga Mamimili ng Pilipinas, Ink. and of the Cooperative Foundation Philippines, Inc. She was organizer of the Catholic Charities of Manila and chairman of the MAP Movement as well. She also belonged to the Community Chest Foundation of Metro Manila, the Philippine Association of University Women, and the Philippine Association of Social Workers. With her wide variety of interests, she also became president of the Municipal Symphony Orchestra and assistant treasurer of the Philippine Bonsai Society.

Awards and recognitions

  • Silver Elephant Award, Bharat, India Scouts & Guides
  • Certificate of Merit and Certificate of Appreciation, GSP
  • Bronze Medal of Merit, Boy Scouts of the Philippines
  • Dangal ng Batangan citation, Provincial Government of Batangas

Some of her publications

  • A survey of four major catholic social welfare agencies in Manila and suburbs (1954)
  • Few there were (like my father) (1974)
  • Legacy : Pura Villanueva Kalaw : her times, life, and works, 1886-1954 / by Maria Kalaw Katigbak. (1983)

External link

  • Entries for Maria Kalaw-Katigbak. [1]


  • Romulo, Carlos, et. The Outstanding Leaders of the Philippines 1980. Asia Research System, Inc., 1980.
  • ”Maria Kalaw-Katigbak.” In Philippine Senate Website.[2] (Accessed March 5, 2009).



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