MANILA, Philippines - Filipino women have figured prominently in history, and an exquisite coffee-table book chronicles their achievements.
Entitled A Legacy of Hope and Triumph, the book details via text and images how members of the National Federation of Women's Clubs in the Philippines (NFWCP) led in shaping Philippine history as we know it.
NFWCP, a non-stock, non-profit organization, was formed in 1921 by Filipino and American members of the Manila Women's Club to unite Filipino women through the promotion of their general welfare, for mutual understanding and cooperation, and to prepare and equip them to become more effective participants in national development efforts.
Among its first members were Trinidad Rizal, the sister of national hero Jose Rizal, and Concepcion “Doña Concha” Felix-Calderon, wife of Malolos Constitution framer Felipe Calderon.
Filipina women's achievements
Cited in the book is the suffragette movement propelled by the NFWCP during the Commonwealth era. This led to women being given the right to vote.
Also given space is the formation of the Girl Scouts of the Philippines, which was due to the incessant lobby of NFWCP leaders for a counterpart of the Boy Scouts movement.
The establishment of free nursery schools and pre-elementary education, especially for poor children, is also credited to the NFWCP, which carried on the work of the La Gota de Leche in 1907.
The book also tells the story of the country's first feminist organization, the Asociacion Feminista Filipino, formed in 1905 by Concepcion "Doña Concha" Felix-Calderon.
The heroism of women during the two wars involving the United States is also chronicled in the 300-page book.
Women members were also credited for putting up and operating day care nurseries, which led to a law mandating the establishment of day care centers nationwide.
They also taught illiterate adults how to read and write, and the government then established the Bureau of Adult Education.
The book also included the work of women club members in improving the conditions of women prisoners beginning in 1920. The government then put up the Correctional Institution for Women, known today as Welfareville, in Mandaluyong City.
Women have also been cited for patronizing Philippine-made products, which became a movement and gave birth to the National Economic Protection (NEPA) in 1930.
And thanks to a nationwide contest sponsored by NFWCP in 1926, the Philippines now recognizes its national flower, the sampaguita.
“Travelling through the pages of this book, you will encounter an awesome past where overwhelming social restrictions and conditions placed on women did not deter them from achieving an excellent record of pioneering dynamism that shaped the steady growth of women leaders in the Philippines,” wrote NFWCP Foundation president Julita C. Benedicto in a foreword to the book.
“The book is a legacy for God, country, and home,” she added.
A Legacy of Hope and Triumph will be formally launched on October 6 at the Centennial Hall of The Manila Hotel.