Sofia Reyes De Veyra
Sofia Reyes De Veyra (b. Sept. 30, 1876 - d. 1953) was one of the outstanding women civic leader and social worker who stood out in her pioneering work and zeal to make the Philippines gain international recognition. She was a leader of the "Kilusang Sibiko at Adhikain Pangkababaihan", an organization aiming to develop the emotional and intellectual foundations of students. In 1934, she became the vice president of the Centro Escolar University.
Born in Arevalo, Iloilo City, Sofia was the daughter of Santiago Reyes and Eulalia Tiaozon. She was a student of the late Chief Justice Ramon Avancena's sister who operated a private school in their town. Despite the fact that she had not had formal schooling after the latter, Sofia remained to be an avid learner - acquiring all the knowledge she missed in school through her various experiences. She was able to get a bargain from an American lady teacher who came to the Philippines whom she tutored Castillian language in exchange of an English lesson. Soon, she learned enough English to study arithmetic and other subjects which the said language was involved. In 1902, she became the first appointed teacher of English in Saravia, Negros Occidental. Later became the appointed dean of the first dormitory for girls in Bacolod, and after which, was made assistant dean of women of Normal Hall, and the dean of the Philippine Normal School dormitory in Manila.
In 1907, Sofia and Mary E. Coleman founded the first training school for nurses in the archipelago. In the same year, she got married to Jaime de Veyra who was the provincial governor of Leyte at that time. In 1917, the governor was appointed as resident commissioner to Washington D.C., and Sofia accompanied her husband to the United States where she played the role of an exemplary commissioner's lady to the U.S. capital's diplomatic community. She disseminated accurate information about the Philippines and the Filipino to the American people, who had been falsely fed with disparaging remarks about the course of the recent Filipino-American War. She was often invited to speak before the women's club on matters about the Philippines.
In 1925, upon their return in the Philippines, she organized the Manila Women's Club. It was the first of its kind in the country, which soon spread nationwide and was later known as the National Federation of Women's Clubs (NFWC). She was the first vice-president, and after some time, the president of the said prestigious club. Being steadfast in principle, Sofia was made one of the leaders in the movement for women's right to vote. She became the president of La Protection de la Infracia in 1917; represented the Philippines in the Pan-Pacific conference held in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1922; worked as social secretary of the late first lady Aurora Aragon-Quezon during the Commonwealth period.
Sofia de Veyra died at the age of 77, leaving a distinguished heritage of service to country and the Filipino people.
- Member, Catholic Women's League
- Non-resident member, U.S. Congressional Club
- Member, executive committee of the American Red Cross
- Member, Indeterminate Sentence Board and Parole Office
- Member, Board of Censors for Moving Pictures
- Member, National Councils of Education
- Chairman, women's section at the first Independence Congress (1929)
- Ancheta, Hermina M. and Michaela Beltran-Gonzales. Filipino Women in Nation Building. A compilation of Brief Biographies. Quezon City: Phoenix Publishing House, 1984.
- "National Historical Institute. Historical Markers: Regions V-XII. Manila: National Historical Institute, 1993.
- de Guzman,Jovita V.,Vicente A. Santiago,Remedios T. de Leon and Teresita E. Erestain. Women Of Distinction; Biographical Essays on Outstanding Filipino Women of the Past and the Present. Philippines: Bukang Liwayway, 1967