Cebuana Trailblazers Sugboanang Tag-una

These first Heritage Cards is a compendium of Cebuana Trailblazers or SUGBOANANG TAG-UNA", crafted to recreate and rekindle a passionate love of our country, our people and culture.

As leading arbiter of culture and development in this part of the country, the Cebu Provincial Government, through the Provincial Women’s Commission, recognizes these women who have made their indelible mark in their respective field of endeavor.

Dr. Resil Mojares from his book KAAGI: “…now, as in the beginning,Cebu is at the very navel (kinapusoran) of processes transforming the nation…and the Cebuano woman is not only a binding influence in the home but also a visible and influential presence in community life…”

Where in 1890, Alfredo Velasco, a Spanish newspaper editor in Cebu, remarked that..taxes and tributes are remitted by the towns of the province with fair regularity, and that there is a little enthusiasm among the men…(thanks, he said, to the women who, in actuality, control much of the island’s trade..)



A woman of prowess who lived in Cebu before the coming of the Spaniards. She was relative of Humabon, a woman warrior who led his “army” and was considered “the first truly wealthy person in Cebu, and maybe in the whole country.”

Hingyuon was a woman of prowess who lived in Cebu before the coming of the Spaniards. There are two sources for her story. In the first, Felix Sales (1935) records that she was a relative of Humabon, a woman warrior who led his “army”, gifted with an “anting-anting” in the form of lemon seed that drew all foreign traders to come to Cebu to buy Humabon’s goods. She brought good fortune to Humabon and his “kingdom” and was considered “the first truly wealthy person in Cebu, and maybe in the whole country.”

Karl Hutterer (1967) attributes a story about her to a 90-year old resident of the city. Hingyuon was a poor, ugly and lazy girl who slept the whole day. She was hired as a cook’s helper by Spanish pirates who landed in Cebu even before Magellan came. One afternoon, the captain of the pirates came upon her in a trance and murmuring in Spanish, about the location of a richly-laden flotilla off the coast of Cebu.

The pirates took the cue and came back with the booty. Hingyuon became the captain’s favorite because of her prophecies and later married her. Both ruled over the pirate band and directed many successful raids. When the captain died and the pirates disbanded, Hingyuon was left with the accumulated treasures. Before her death, she had a replica of a Spanish galleon made, with all her treasures inside, and had it buried with her. She ordered all her servants to be buried alive inside the ship as guards. A curse was directed at whosoever would desecrate the burial ground (said to be located near the corner of Magallanes and Lapulapu Streets), would be horribly dealt with by her sepulchral guards.


Pioneering Cebuana Activist

Considered the “TandangSora” of the Revolution in Cebu. Campaigned for independence and women’s suffrage.

Doña Felicidad Climaco, whom some considered “the Tandang Sora of the Revolution in Cebu,” continued supporting the cause of nationalism during the American period.

Born to the prominent Climaco family with sugar estates in Dumanjug, Cebu, she supported the efforts of her relatives Juan and Arsenio during the second phase of the revolution. Like the Velez sisters who helped their revolutionary kin, she sent clothing, food and other supplies to the warriors in the hills.

She was a familiar figure at rallies during the campaign for independence and women’s suffrage, and ran for public office at least once. At a big rally on 10 February 1933 held at Washington Park against the HareHawes-Cutting Bill, she faced an audience of 15,000, the only woman speaker besides Emilio Alcuizar, Alberto Mansueto, Solidum Ybañez, Jose Delgado, Cesar Sotto and Vicente Rama. A piano teacher, she played at concerts such as the one held December 4, 1931 at the Colegio de San Carlos for the Cebu Leprosarium.


One of the Cebuana Revolutionaries

Made the flag of the revolutionary government at Sudlon, along with Balbina Ricardo and Justina de Peña.

One of the three women who made the flag of the revolutionary government at Sudlon, along with Balbina Ricardo and Justina de Peña. (Gahuma became a jewelry dealer after the revolution). They were also responsible for distributing supplies to the soldiers. Other Cebuana revolutionaries include those who were tortured (like Hilaria Abellana), the Hermanas de la Caridad who nursed the soldiers (Sebastiana Espina, Feliciana Bracamonte, Romana Lasala, Hilaria Salinas, Juana Mendez, Damiana Veloso, Pilar Diez, Julia Abellana and Dominga Cruz) and those who distributed “anting-anting” (amulets) prescribed by Leon Kilat (Paz Javier, Constancia Alaura and Juliana Revilles).


Religious Feminist

First female religious who organize PundoksaHigalangKababayen-an, a community based organization of rural women.

Sr. Maria Belen “Mabe” Alcoseba, ICM, is the first female religious to organize a woman’s group, Pundok sa Higalang Kababayen-an (Organization of Women Friends) to work not only for women’s welfare but also to be the catalyst for community upliftment in Balamban, west Cebu.

The ICM offered Sr. Mabe the challenge of an apostolate with women, and so she organized Pundok sa Higalang Kababayen-an in 1995. As she worked with them and their concerns in Balamban, she uncovered their talents, inspired and developed them for performances to promote their self confidence, and inspired them to open these with prayers in indigenous, and female-friendly liturgy.

With Balamban as their base, she worked with the women’s problems and realized that their victimization in domestic violence often resulted from drug abuse. She then linked with Kamatuoran, Inc., an anti-narcopolitics group. The collaboration has now reached the level of the municipal government. With these linkages Sr. Mabe and Pundok sa Higalang Kababayen-an motivated local officials to use both power and resources to actually serve the people.


Grassroots Christian Worker

Sr. Vincent dared to bring Christ’s good news to the notorious pier area in Cebu City through GagmayngKristohanongKatilingban – Alay Kapwa (GKK).

Sr. Vincent Borromeo, RGS, dared to bring Christ’s good news to the notorious pier area in Cebu City through Gagmayng Kristohanong Katilingban – Alay Kapwa (GKK).

Sr. Vincent set up house with a public school teacher and a market vendor in the Carbon Market and from there started GKK, organizing and extending through to the pier area. GKK has extension in Alaska, Mambaling and Danao City.

Since the end of the seventies, the GKKs have grown with a combination of Bible-sharing, alternative education, income-generating activities, and regular meditation sessions. Slowly but surely, the GKK members are growing spiritually. At the same time they are learning about quality control, accounting reports and management, reflecting on social issues. With Sr. Vincent, female leaders have also learned to lead meaningful, moving rituals.


Keeper of the Sinulog Beat

Innovative choreographer, carried on the devotion passed from a peasant farmer from Banilad, to dance the sinulog to the beating of their drums before the Santo Niño every fiesta, preserving original songs.

“Titang” Diola of Mabolo, Cebu City has carried on the devotion passed from a peasant farmer from Banilad known only as “Iklot”, who had promised at the close of the 19th century that he and his descendants would train young boys to dance the Sinulog to the beating of their drums before the Santo Niño every fiesta. A skillful drummer, she is a true bearer of cultural tradition, preserving original songs, at the same time that she is also an innovative choreographer. An energetic community organizer, she served as a liaison between her neighborhood and powerful factions in Cebuano society: The Augustinian order, the city government, and wealthy families. From the time of Philippine independence through Martial Law, she was responsible for assuring rehearsals and performances on schedule and for recruiting new dancers for performances hosted by elite families. In 1965 her troupe won first prize in a Sinulog dance drama competition held by the Basilica.


Pioneer Researcher and Conservator of Indigenous Cebuano Folk Dances

Pioneered the use of classical dance form as medium for Philippine folk dances, awarded for her exemplary achievements in performing arts.

Luz Mancao-Sandiego graduated from high school at St. Catherine School in Carcar as salutatorian and college, at the University of San Carlos (USC). Luz had her formal lessons in ballet under Kate Hauser and Ricardo Cassel. She is the founder of the Sandiego Arts Dance Studio, formerly the Cebu Ballet Studio.

In the late 1960’s, she was the president of the Lioness Club of Lions International Cebu Chapter. By 1971, she received the Most Outstanding Alumni award from the USC after having been appointed Head of the P.E. Department and having organized the USC Dance Troupe.

Pioneered the use of classical dance form as medium for Philippine folk dance.

In 1979, Luz, with the help of the Cebu P.E. Teachers Association, was requested by Mayor Florentino Solon to organize the first Sinulog of Cebu City with Estelita Diola as the resource person.

She moved to the U.S.A. and was the official choreographer of the Ang Bisaya, Inc. in Washington D.C. and the Filipino Doctor’s Association of Richmond Virginia.

Other awards she has received over the years are for her exemplary achievements in performing arts and for the preservation of the Filipino culture and heritage.


Architect and Keeper of Heritage

Former Dean, College of Architecture & Fine Arts, University of San Carlos; Cebu Provincial Consultant on Heritage, Restoration, Conservation and Preservation.

Melva C. Rodriguez-Java, an alumna of St. Theresa’s College, is a multi-faceted woman. As an architect, anthropologist, educator, media practitioner or fulfilling her tasks as a mother and family matriarch, she has also proven her best as lady custodian of Cebuano heritage.

Her rich background as an architect, specializing in Architectural Conservation, catapulted her to more challenging roles as Dean (for 12 years), College of Architecture & Fine Arts (CAFA), University of San Carlos; Head, Conservation Studies, and a host of other career demands, the most dynamic of which is Cebu Provincial Consultant on Heritage, Restoration, Conservation and Preservation.

The measure of her professionalism as a media practitioner/TV anchor is also proven by her having been selected as CAMMA Awardee for Best TV News for three (3) consecutive years. She is also writes “Heritage”, a column in the Cebu Daily News.


A Life Devoted to Plants

Honored by the international scientific community after she discovered cadang-cadang, a disease of coconuts.

Dr. Salome del Rosario devoted her life caring for plants. She was honored by the international scientific community after she discovered “cadang-cadang,” a disease of coconuts, while still an undergraduate student at the University of the Philippines Los Baños sometime in the 1950s. Her fields of specialization include botany and entomology. She was likewise an expert in pest management on citrus, abaca, banana, African palm and mangoes.

After her retirement from government service in 1992, she went on to dedicate her last remaining years to the study and preservation of Cebu’s endemic and endangered plants. She cultivated and grew these plants on a patch of land which she called “Noah”s Garden” and single-handedly directed public attention on the values of Cebu’s native plants which faced extinction due to urban development.

She was in the process of publishing a book on the medicinal and other beneficial uses of these endemic plants and herbs when she succumbed to cancer in August 2001.

Lome’s jolly humor and devotion to plants would never be forgotten. It is a legacy that will live on the hearts of people whose life she had inspired.


Advocate of Sustainable Development

Organized FORWARD (Federated Organization of Women in Active and Responsive Development) in 1990. Received an Award of Recognition from President Fidel Ramos, leads the Cebu Community in the International Clean Up the World Campaign in this part of the country.

“Save Mother Earth!” and all efforts fall into place. That capsulizes Martina “Beling” Go Ching Hai’s multifarious and very effective endeavours. Together with forward-looking women, Beling organized FORWARD (Federated Organization of Women in Active and Responsive Development) in 1990. The UP Association of Philippine Technologists, Scientists and Inventors invited her to speak at an environmental conference in UP Diliman in 1993, to share FORWARD experiences in the greening of Cebu City and Siquijor municipalities.

“Save Mother Earth!” activities of FORWARD received an Award of Recognition from then President Fidel Ramos, and garnered many partners, including the Rotary Club of Cebu Fuente for funding, the Chiba, Japan Rotary Club for annual tree - plantings, and the MCWD for its pocket forest in Talamban, Cebu City.

With Beling’s continuing involvement, FORWARD annually (since 2001) leads the Cebu Community in the International Clean Up the World Campaign in this part of the country.


Versatile Writer in English(1917-1983)

One of the important pioneers in women’s writing in the Philippines, honored by the City Government of Manila with the PatnubayngSining at Kalinangan Award in 1978.

Born in San Nicolas, Cebu, in 1917, Estrella D. Alfon finished high school in Cebu and earned an Associate in Arts certificate at the University of the Philippines. She took up courses in law and medicine but was forced to give up her studies because of poor health. She never took up formal training in writing, never bothered about theories in creative writing which everyone in academe was deep into. But in Manila she kept the company of the day’s most talented writers (who would for the canon of Philippine literature in English) including Manuel Arguilla, N.V.M. Gonzales, Paz Latorena, Francisco Arcellana, and H.R. Ocampo.

After her first short story appeared in Graphic in 1935, she contributed regularly to Philippines Free Press, Philippine Magazine and Philippines Herald, wining numerous national prizes for her stories, essays and plays. Her collection of short stories, Magnificence and Other Stories (1960), a fine evocation of life in her home province, established her reputation as a fictionist. She was also active in journalism.

In her stories in English, Cebu lives on in her favorite setting, Espeleta St. in San Nicolas.

Hailed as one of the important pioneers in women’s writing in the Philippines, Estrella Alfon was honored by the City Government of Manila with the Patnubay ng Sining at Kalinangan Award in 1978. Here’s an interesting aside: Feminists have hailed her for daring to publish a story about sexual initiation, “Fairy Tale for the City” in 1957.


Everyone’s Favorite Aunt

Called “the Dorothy Dix of the Visayas”, phenomenally popular in the Visayas and Mindanao for her regular feature in Bisaya magazine, “AngPanidniMandingKarya”.

She was called “The Dorothy Dix of the Visayas”, phenomenally popular in the Visayas and Mindanao for her regular feature in Bisaya Magazine, “Ang Panid ni Manding Karya”, which gave advise to letter-writers in matters of love, family and social manners. She would get as many as twenty letters a day.

Born in Carcar in 1878, Maria Cabigon had, women of her day, little formal schooling. She learned reading and writing and elementary Spanish from an Aunt. Her first story entitled “Ang Gugma sa Inahan” was written at aged 16 under a pseudonym. She began her real name in 1912, her initials MAK accompanied a body of works carried by numerous Cebuano Publications, including plays, poems, stories, and essays. At a time when writers dominated the literary and journalistic scene, Cabigon helped pave the way for the succeeding generations of women writers.

Her short stories alone until 1953 numbered more than a hundred, earning her the title of the “Most Prolific Cebuana Writer”.


Esteemed Writer in English

Has written 11 novels in Cebuano and two in English, awarded by the Pan-Pacific Southeast Asian Association in 1975, Southeast Asian Writers Award in 1989, and the GawadPambansangAlagadniBalagtas in 1992.

Born of Cebuano parents in Cagayan de Oro in 1919, Austregelina Espina-Moore grew up in Cebu where she attended the public school and finished high school and a bachelor’s course at Southern College (University of Southern Philippines).

World War II interrupted her studies in Law at Far Eastern University. She joined the guerrillas and was arrested by the Japanese military. After the war, she studied foreign service at FEU while working at the Malacañang Press Office and writing for Manila magazines.

Her first story in English, “Just Like Any Dream”, published when she was only 16, started a very productive literary career. She used her war experiences in many of her stories. Lina started writing in Cebuano in 1956, producing written 11 novels in her native tongue. Beside this, she has only two novels in English, Heart of the Lotus (1970) and A Lion in the House (1980). She has also a collection of stories, Cuentos (1985).

Lina received honors as writer: the Pan-Pacific Southeast Asian Association Award in 1975; the Southeast Asian Writers Award in 1989; and the Gawad Pambansang Alagad ni Balagtas from the Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas (Umpil) in 1992. Her stories have been translated into Bahasa, Mandarin, Japanese and German.

She was married for seventeen years to Kip Moore, an American working in the Mountain Province, but was widowed in 1976. She returned to Cebu 1997.


Writer Abroad

Published three collections of stories and essays and two novels: edited various anthologies of Filipino folklore and literature. Received the Outstanding Individual Award from Cebu City. In 2001 she received a Filipinas Magazine Award for Arts.

Baby Manguerra was born in 1947 in Cebu City, the daughter of Concepcion Cuenco, who was Carnival Queen of Cebu before the war. She was educated in Maryknoll College and did graduate work in film making at the UCLA. Since 1988, she has published three collections of stories and essays, Woman with Horns and other stories, Philippine Woman in America; and Acapulco at Sunset and other stories; the two novels: When the Rainbow Goddess Wept (Dutton, earlier published as Song of Yvonne by New Day in 1991; and reprinted 1995 and 1999) and Magdalena (Plain View Press, 2002). Her own memoirs are found in Cecilia’s Diary.

In 1998 she received the Outstanding Individual Award from Cebu City. She has also received a California Arts Council Fellowship in fiction, a Brody Arts Fund Award, and Special Recognition Award from the Los Angeles City Board of Education for her work dealing with Asian-American Youths. In 2001 she received a Filipinas Magazine Award for Arts and a Certificate of Recognition from the California State Senate. She lives in Santa Monica, California with husband Lauren Brainard, a former Peace Corps Volunteer, and her sons.

Baby Brainard never fails to get in touch with her friends and her intermittent visits here.


Writer/ Women’s Suffrage Advocate

The only woman among four Cebuano awardees of the PremioZobel.a writer, journalist, educator and social worker, a women’s suffrage advocate in the 1930’s.

Ines S. Villa-Gonzalez was among the earliest known advocates for woman’s vote in the Philippines.

The only woman among four awardees of the Premio Zobel, she got this award for excellence in Spanish literary writing for her book, Fiipinas en el Camino de la Cultura, published in 1932.

Dr. Villa-Gonzalez was a writer, journalist, educator and social worker, aside from being a women’s suffrage advocate in the 1930’s. In “Philippine Epic of Democracy”, a book she wrote:

“For decades, Filipino women had been acquiring a good education and training in the various professions and trades, dedicating themselves to worthwhile social, industrial, economic, cultural, scientific advancement for the nation. Yet they were deprived of suffrage, although they were a part and parcel of home, community, and the nation. In the realm of politics the women were excluded then from the political growth and general forward democratic evolution of the nation and government. Yet they were a great asset to the community and to the nation with their honest desire for a good democratic rule, for good laws and an effective enforcement of the same by efficient public officials.”

Dr. Ines S. Villa-Gonzales was a valiant Cebuana trailblazer for the women’s suffrage we now enjoy.


Journalist and Chronicler of Old Cebu

Concepcion Gontuanco-Briones

In 1979, Conching Briones co-founded with Pachico Seares the Cebu Newspaper Workers Foundation to “enhance the standards of journalism, promote professionalism and ensure the welfare of workers in the newspaper industry.” Briones became its first executive director of Cebu Newspaper Workers Foundation (CENEWOF). She combined a 28-year career as executive secretary at the Cebu City Mayor’s Office with that of wife, mother to 13 children, and newspaperwoman.

Two books written by her, City of Cebu and Life in Old Parian, are social documents that chronicle Cebuano “history without tears.” Cebu Journalism: The People and the Times reports that from the 1950s until her death in 1985, she wrote regular columns and features for The Freeman and the Republic News, as well as for Manila-based publications, Evening News and Focus magazine. In 1980, Pope John Paul II awarded her the gold medal, Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice.”

Presentacion Dakoykoy

Cantariz of radio

“Cebuanacantariz”, first Cebuana mezzo-soprano to record Cebuano songs on Victor Records earning her the title. Hosted “Tikoy-Tikay” show over DYRC up to the early 1960s in tandem with the famous entertainer and composer SiuxCabase.

Presentacion “Tikay” Dakoykoy passed away quietly at the ripe age of 79 in 1989 with nary an obituary in the local dailies. Today we remember her as a teenager who, on February 8, 1930, claimed the distinction of being the first Cebuana mezzo-soprano to record Cebuano songs for Victor records, earning her the title “Cebuana cantariz”. On the day, the Erlanger and Galinger Company announced the arrival of four of 14 records by Tikay, who trained under the Italian baritone Giaccomo Brigardi in Manila. Among the songs she sang count “Mini”, “Dalaga sa Bukid”. “Miligoy”, and “Amahan Namo”, which were recorded in the Iloilo Studios of Victor Company in August 1929.

Tikay, who never married, went on to become the other half of Tikoy-Tikay” radio show over DYRC up to the early 1960s in tandem with the fellow comedian entertainer and composer Siux “Tikoy” Cabase.


Heroine of the Airwaves

In the martial law period, she became the voice for victims of human rights abuses, her programs covered such events as the anti-Marcos “Freedom March” in Cebu in 1980. In 1986, appointed undersecretary of local government.

Known to many simply as Inday Nita, Nenita Cortes-Daluz was born in Compostela in 1938. She dropped out of college (University of the Visayas) since she was so enamored with radio, frequenting the radio stations instead of attending school. In 1959, she auditioned for a part in radio soap opera. Gifted with an expressive voice, she became a regular radio talent, teaming up with Ben Zubiri (Iyo Karpo) in the popular PMC Amateur Hour. In radio, she was writer-director of radio dramas, announcer, production and program manager, and station manager.

In the martial law period, she became the voice for victims of human rights abuses and, despite censorship, her programs covered such events as the anti-Marcos “Freedom March” in Cebu in 1980. She was arrested and detained at Camp Lapulapu and her radio station padlocked.

When the Aquino government came to power in 1986, she was appointed undersecretary of local government. She has continued to be active in social causes as a personality of both radio and politics.


Pioneer Broadcaster

first female radio announcer on DYRC, the first radio station to go on air after Liberation Currently anchors two radio programs for women on DYLA

Ginnie Vamenta led the way for women broadcasters in Cebu. In 1947, she was the first female radio announcer on DYRC, the first radio station to go on air after Liberation. Popular for her cool soothing voice and her near-native command of English, she says that she learned the language from the American family for whom her parents worked. As a Smith-Mundt Leader Grantee in Radio and Television of the US State Department on a three-month tour in 1954 of US broadcast stations, they found it unusual then that she as a woman could head an all-male announcing staff.

Her lengthy experience in the broadcast industry has allowed her to mentor other broadcast journalists both formally and informally.

She currently anchors two radio programs for women on DYLA, and writes a weekly column for the Cebu Daily news.


Crystal Diplomat

Set up the first Philippine Embassy in Prague, the City of Crystals in 1997 prime mover in getting envoys from the Asia-Pacific Countries together in a monthly forum.

In the magical City of Crystals, Prague Chzechoslovakia, are crystals of all shapes, sizes and colors.

The Philippines has its own crystal in Prague,. Carmelita “Menchu” Rodriguez Salas. In dignity and in the quiet passion of her nationalistic bent, this crystal of a diplomat set up the first Philippine Embassy in Prague in 1997.

Ambassador Salas, the widow of former Presidential Executive Secretary Rafael Salas, very much a Cebuana, prayed before the Sto. Niño in Cebu for guidance and support for an appointment still to be confirmed. Shortly after, her appointment was confirmed!

Ambassador. Salas leads in efforts introducing Philippine products to the Czech market by bringing from Cebu, export items to entice buyers for Philippine products.

As a diplomat, she has made her mark as the prime mover in getting envoys from the Asia-Pacific Countries together in a monthly forum to promote common interests. Truly she has succeeded in making the Philippines felt in the Czech Republic.


Pre-War Painter

The only known lady artist before the war. Won a prize at the 1957 annual art contest of United Drug Co.

Mary S. Avila, grandchild of the muralist Maestro Canuto, joined the Cebu Arts Association, the oldest association of artists in the country, in 1937, the year it was founded. She was the only known lady artist before the war then. She works in oil and watercolor in painting, and has a refined technique in sculpture of the classical style. She first exhibited at the Cebu Summer Carnival of 1940 and was the first city artist to exhibit her soap sculpture in 1962. She won a prize at the 1957 annual art contest of United Drug Co.


Siloy of Cebu

Some of Ipyon’s hit songs recorded by Odeon were made popular all over the country through Manila radio.

Concepcion Cananea of Carcar, Cebu is known as the “Cebuana Siloy,” after the black shama (local counterpart of the nightingale, though she was also called the “Cebuana Maya”, by don Filemon Sotto. She married the renowned composer Manuel Velez, who conducted the zarzuelas with her and contemporary singers Presing Dakoykoy (aka Tikay of radio), Doray Selloria, Lalyang Hernandez, Oding Alburo and Soling Fano. Some of Ipyon’s hit songs recorded by Odeon, such as “Luha sa Kalipay”, “Punay”, “Oh, Hataas nga Langit,” and “Awit ni Miss Smiles ug Dodong,” were made popular all over the country through Manila radio.


Durable Actress

Actress in Cebuano andTagalog movies. Mainstay in TV dramas and sitcoms, and consistently won acting awards from the Famas, Citizens Council for Mass Media, Catholic mass Media Awards, and Urian.

From her beginnings in the Visayan movie industry, Caridad Sanchez has become a nationally-recognized character actress and one of the most durable artists in Philippine cinema.

She was born in Mandaue in 1936. She studied at the University of the Visayas, where she and classmate Gloria Sevilla were active in campus dramatics. Sanchez started as a radio talent on dyRC in the early 1950s and then appeared in Cebuano movies, like Dimakaling (1956), Hain ka Na anak Ko (1956), Politika (1957), and Salingsing sa Kasakit (1958).

In 1957, she began acting in Tagalog movies, appearing in Hiwaga ng Pag-ibig, Malvarosa, Awit ng mga Dukha, Santiago, Baby Tsina, Wanted: Perfect Mother, Kapag Napagod ang Puso, Ano ang Kulay ng Mukha ng Diyos?, and many others. She became a mainstay in TV dramas and sitcoms, such as Wala Kang Paki (1970-72), Gulong ng Palad (1978-84), and others. In 1992, she appeared as Doña Victorina in the TV series Noli Me Tangere, produced by the Cultural Center of the Philippines

She has consistently won acting awards and nominations from the Famas, Citizens Council for mass Media, Catholic Mass Media Awards, and Urian.


Queen of Visayan Movies

The most popular Cebuano actress in the Tagalog movies.Revived the dying Visayan movie industry.Best actress in the Famas Awards in 1970.

She was the “Queen of Visayan Movies” in the heyday of the Visayan movie industry in the 1950s.

Born in Cebu City in 1932, she attended Zapatera Elementary School, Cebu Normal School, and University of the Visayas. She was discovered for Azucena Pictures after she won the title “Princess of Camay” in 1950. She quickly became the most popular Cebuano actress, often paired with matinee idol Mat Ranillo Jr., whom she married in 1954.

Her debut film, Princesa Tirana (1950), was followed by such movies as Sangang Nangabali, Rosas Pandan, Paradista, Ang Mga Anak Intawon, Mapait ang Balaod, Ug Unya Nalinaw, May Luhang Nahabilin sa Baybayon, Pit Senyor, and Dalagang Pilipinhon.

In 1954,she started appearing in Tagalog movies, followed by others, some meriting her acting awards from the Filipino Academy of Movie Arts & Sciences (Famas). In mid-1960s, with Mat Ranillo, she tried to revive the dying Visayan movie industry, producing and starring in the films Gihandum Ko Ikaw, Palad Ta Ang Nagbuot, Lungsod sa Buenavista, and Badlis sa Kinabuhi. Badlis won Best Picture honors (and the Best Actress award for Sevilla) in the Famas Awards in 1970. Best Film in Black-and –White in the Asian Film Festival in Jakarta in 1969, and was entered in the Berlin Film Festival in 1969.


Asia’s Queen of Songs

Has multiple gold records to her name. In 1991, the Philippine Association of the Record Industry gave her a Lifetime Achievement Award “for bringing Filipino musical artistry to audiences abroad.”

Pilita Garrido Corrales was born in Manila in 1939 but grew up in Cebu where she attended Colegio de la Inmaculada Concepcion. She then studied at St. Theresa’s College in Baguio and attended a finishing school in Madrid.

She embarked on a career in entertainment, running a program called “La Taverna”, over dzPI where she played the guitar and sang Spanish songs. She also appeared in stage shows at the Manila Grand Opera House and sang professionally in the US, appearing in shows that featured such entertainers as Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Bob Hope, Pat Boone, and Julie Andrews.

Ms. Corrales has gold records to her name. Her popularity has been further enhanced by movie and television appearances. She has acted in musical Tagalog movies and hosted such television programs as GMA-7’s “Tanghalan ng Kampeon” and “Your Evening with Pilita.” In her appearances, she proudly maintains her Cebuano connection by including Visayan songs in her repertoire.


Leading Exponent of Dance

Founder, Ballet Center in Cebu, and organized the Queen City Junior Ballet Company. Founder, TeatroFolklorico Ballet Center West in San Diego, California,USA

Fe Sala-Villarica was born to a Filipino-Spanish family in Barcelona, Spain. She grew up in Cebu: earned a degree in commerce and graduated summa cum laude from St. Escolastica’s College Manila, did graduate work in accounting at Sto. Tomas University, Manila and trained in production arts at New York University and hunter College in New York. She holds a Master’s Degree in Literature at the University of San Carlos, Cebu.

Her lifelong passion, however, is dance. She studied ballet in Cebu with Mara Selheim, a Russian Émigré, then took lessons with Anita Kane in Manila. She also trained at the National Academy of Ballet, John Barker School, and Royal Academy of Dancing, all in New York. In 1990, she attended a teachers’ workshop at the Vaganova Choreographic Institute in Leningrad, and several other workshops in U.S. and Canada.

In 1951, she founded Ballet Center in Cebu. The center came to be the focal point for such productions as Giselle (1956), Nutcracker (1962). In 2004, in cooperation with the Arts Council Foundation of Cebu, she produced the full-length “Sleeping Beauty” ballet, never before produced in its entirety in the country, outside of Manila, as well as Villarica’s own original works. In 1962, she organized the Queen City Junior Ballet Company and, toured all over the Visayas and Mindanao for the next 20 years. She also founded Teatro Folklorico in 1981 and Ballet Center West in San Diego, California in 1986. Her tireless mentorship has produced such accomplished dancers Nicolas PAcana and Noordin Jumalon.

For “exerting the longest and most consistent effort” in the promotion of ballet in the Southern Philippines, she has been honored by the city government of Cebu, Ballet Federation of the Philippines, and other groups and institutions.


An International Artist

Performer in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Hong Kong, Rio de Janeiro, Vienna, Monte Carlo, and Paris. Recipient of “Hall of Fame” award from the Crestwood Performing Arts League, Republic Day award in Music and Arts from the Civic Assembly of Women in the Philippines, and Outstanding Woman in the Nation’s Service award in arts and music in 1981.

The daughter of Salvador Sala and Pilar Blanco, Ingrid Sala Santamaria was born in Cebu City in 1940.

She received her early music training from her mother and, in 1958-59, studied at the famous Juilliard School of Music in the U.S. She earned a master’s degree in music at Santa Isabel College in 1962.

From 1978 to 1986, she was a regular piano soloist in “Concert at the Park”, a televised program held at Manila’s Rizal Park. She performed in the Philippine premiere of “Yellow River Piano Concerto” with the National Philharmonic Orchestra in 1972 and was the first non-Japanese Asia to take part in the Hiroshima International Music Festival (1982, 1985, and 1987). She has performed in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Hong Kong, Rio de Janiero, Vienna, Monte Carlo, and Paris.

She was a “Hall of Fame” awardee from the Crestwood Performing Arts League, the Republic Day award in Music and the Arts from the Civic Assembly of Women of the Philippines in 1980, and was one of the Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service (TOWNS) in 1981. She was recently named trustee of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, and conferred with a doctorate honoris causa by the De La Salle University in Manila.


Filipina Sports Star

Won the first Gold Medal in Track and Field for the Philippines in the Third Asian Games in Tokyo, Japan.

Visitacion “Bessie” Badana, 20, tousle-haired, cute as a button, executed an astounding best broad jump to win the first Gold Medal in Track and Field for the Philippines in the third Asian Games at the Meiji main Stadium in Tokyo Japan. It was a first for the country since the first Asian Games opened in New Delhi, India in 1951.

As Japanese and Asian Newspapers recorded the leap that captured the gold it also noted Bessie Badana’s leap into the hearts of Japanese sports fans. She was also reported most popular with the Japanese sprinters and the Asian athletes, who were taken in by her refreshing friendliness and she gamely sang Japanese songs with them. The Japanese Sports Press was truly charmed and talked to calling her the Filipino Star.


Shot Put Queen

First Cebuana who earned gold for the Philippines in the Fifth Asian Games that brought her to the world Olympics

What is Josephine de la Viña like in person, that big girl from Cebu who won the first gold medal for her country in the Fifth Asian Games? What are some of her profound thoughts to make a definitive sketch? Where did the impetus come from?

She got her early contact with sports when she played first base in the softball team of Labangon, Cebu Elementary School. Her love for sports was further developed at the Cebu Institute of Technology (CIT) where promising athletes were properly nurtured to championship caliber. Big Jo was honed in field events such as discus throw, shot put and javelin. It was at shot put that she put the Philippines in the map at the Fifth Asian Games and brought her to the world Olympics in 1968!

Jo recalled, “Every time I’d win in an international meet, tears would fill my eyes when the Philippine tri-color was hoisted and the band played the National Anthem. Although my father is Mexican I believe I should remain a Filipino. I am proud to be one.”


Mentor OB- Gynecologist

One of the earliest female obstetrician-gynecologist and surgeons.She helped establish the Women & Children Friendly Center, at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center, known as the Pink Building

Daughter of the maverick Cebuano legislator, Don Vicente Sotto, Dr. Suga Sotto-Yuvienco is a trailblazer in her own right. She struggled with the gender barrier to become among the earliest female obstetrician-gynecologists and surgeons.

She pioneered in the organizing of a training program for young, aspiring female ob-gyn specialists, and very generously shared her experiences to hone them in this specialization.

Thus, as a mentor with a broad background, she transmitted this deep commitment to women’s health.

She helped the establishment of the Women & Children Friendly Center, at the VSMMC, known as the Pink Building that attends to women and girl child victims of violence, comprehensively and with much sensitivity.


Family Planning Organizer

Founded the Cebu Family Planning Organization and became its first president. She then helped organize the Family Planning Organization of the Philippines.

Dr. Lydia Aznar - Alfonso finished her Doctor of Medicine degree in 1955 at Southwestern University College of Medicine, then pursued Graduate School at the University of Pennsylvania and was awarded Most Outstanding Intern by Birmingham City Hospital, New York City in 1957.

After her residency training in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, and armed with progressive ideas on Medical Education and Family Planning, Dr. Alfonso returned to the country and worked as the Director of the Sacred Heart Hospital and Dean of the Southwestern University College of Medicine.

In 1966, Dr. Alfonso, with courage and vision, founded the Cebu Family Planning Organization and became its first president. She then helped organize the Family Planning Organization of the Philippines.

The many-facetted Dr. Lydia followed an inner calling to lead SWU toward an historical and cultural path. Thus the SWU museum was born and is now a mecca to Cebuano Culture lovers


Woman Care Specialist

Devoted to her work and with deep commitment to the health of women, became the first woman to represent Cebu to the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC).

“Babes”, as Purita Raagas-Sanchez is affectionately called, is recognized as a woman care specialist, ‘for her deep commitment to the health of women in every stage of their lives, most especially in the prevention of violence against women and children.”

As the Coordinator of Kauswagan Community Social Center, and women sector representative from Cebu to the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC), her line of feminist advocacy focuses on empowering women in making the right, and at times difficult, choices, regarding their bodies and their lives not only as biological beings, but also as human beings created by God with unique bodies, functions and gifts. In the end, her ultimate commitment is to help guide women towards a happy, healthy, empowered and productive life.”


Secretary of Education

Fought for better wages for public school teachers and the strengthening of values education.

Cebu has contributed three Secretaries of Education: Sergio Osmeña, Narciso Albarracin and Lourdes Quisumbing.

Lourdes Reynes Quisumbing was born in Cebu City in 1921. She attended St. Catherine’s School in Carcar, St. Theresa’s College, and the University of San Carlos. She earned her Ph.D in education in 1963 from the University of Sto. Tomas. She contributed to the development of such institution as St. Theresa’s and San Carlos as scholar, teacher and administrator. She has widely lectured and written on Philippine education and value systems.

In 1978, she assumed the presidency of Maryknoll College in Quezon City and successfully addressed the school’s problems of declining enrolments, low morale and financial instability. In 1986 she was appointed Secretary of Education by President Aquino. As secretary, she fought for better wages for public school teachers and the strengthening of values education. The job got her involved as board chairperson of many educational institutions, including the University of the Philippines, and such agencies as the Commission on Population.

After she left the cabinet, Quisumbing took the position of director-general of the UNESCO National Commission.


Outstanding Teacher- Researcher

Researcher on local governance, Cebu’s economic growth, the environment, watershed management and urban poverty.Most Outstanding Individual, Cebu City in 2000, a SugbuanaAwardee.Most Outstanding College Teacher by the Metrobank Foundation.

A UP Cebu College multi-awarded professor, Felisa U. Etemadi has been named one of Cebu’s most influential people by Sun.Star Cebu. She has earned a place in “Asia 500” Leaders of the New Century, a commemorative volume published by the Baron Who’s Who in 2000. To Cebuano society, she is better known as a researcher, writing papers on local governance, Cebu’s economic growth, the environment, watershed management and urban poverty, among others. She also assists non-government organizations and helps to bring issues of children, women and marginalized groups to policy makers.

For her valuable work, she was named Most Outstanding Individual, Cebu City in 2000, a Sugbuana Awardee 2005 during the Feminist Centennial and honored anew during Women’s International Day on March, 2006, all .by the Cebu City Government. She was also chosen Most Outstanding College Teacher by the Metrobank Foundation.

Felisa Etemadi exemplifies the best of what the academe has molded and offers this at the service of the government and civil society, genuinely making a difference and effecting authentic societal change.


Outstanding Educator

President for Better Education in Cebu City and Province.Outstanding Woman in Education 2003.Founding Chairperson of Living Values Education in the Philippines.Set up the first Vertical Mural and Values Boulevard in the Philippines

Dr. Ester B. Velasquez, President of the Cebu Normal University (CNU) , has revolutionized education with the establishment of the innovative First Center for Teacher Excellence in that venerable teacher training institution. A holder of a Ph. D. in Language Teaching from UP Diliman and having taught English in all educational levels for four decades, and Corporate President for Better Education in Cebu City and Province, Dr.Velasquez was recognized as Outstanding Woman in Education 2003 by Mandaue City and cited in Who’s Who in Education 2004 – 2005 by the American Biographical Institute. One of her latest innovations was the acquisition in 2005 of the CNU Balamban campus.

As founding Chairperson of Living Values Education in the Philippines, she has been given an Award of Recognition for the establishment of two firsts in the Philippines: the Vertical Mural on the side wall at the entry to the CNU main campus building and the Values Boulevard, alongside the campus wall on Osmeña Boulevard.

Dr. Ester Velasquez: truly a Cebuana of Excellence in Teaching Education.



Donor and first administrator of the Hospicio de San Jose, the first and only home for the aged in the Philippines totally funded by a private endowment.

Doña Benigna was donor and first administrator of the Hospicio de San Jose, the first and only home for the aged in the Philippines totally funded by a private endowment.

Born of a landed family of Barili who built their fortune from tobacco production in the 19th century, she worked with her brother Don Pedro for the established of the Hospicio. On November. 27, 1925 the Philippine Commission passed Public Act No. 3239 accepting the offer of the Cuis for them to establish a home care, free of charge for the indigent, invalid and abandoned elderly of the municipalities of Carcar, Dumanjug, Ronda, Alcantara, Moalboal, Aloguinsan, Pinamungajan, Toledo and Balamban. On Jan. 2, 1926 she and Don Pedro formally endowed the Hospicio with income from their extensive properties in Barili and southern Cebu.

The Hospicio, located in Barrio Gibuangan in Barili, has been administered by the Cuis up to the present. It has also been accepting patient from the outside the Municipalities named in the Deed of Donation, some even coming from Hawaii.


Pioneer in Special Education

Founder of St. Martin de Porres School for the developmentally challenged and hearing impaired, that triggered to bring forth special education here in Cebu

Concepcion “Conching” Rodil Martires is best remembered as the founder of St. Martin de Porres School for the Mentally Retarded and Hearing Impaired in 1966. She established the school at an inherited property in Tres de Abril, Labangon, Cebu City, which she later donated and is now run by the Special Child Association in Cebu, Inc.

She had a brilliant record in academics, being a holder of two doctoral degrees from prestigious universities in the US. Her service record has earned her many awards, including Most Outstanding Alumni of the University of San Carlos for Humanitarian Service in 1972; a Plaque of Cooperation, Dedication and Selflessness from Zonta International and a nomination for the Mother Teresa Award in 1999 for establishing St. Martin the Porres; as well as recognition for her other charitable works with Zonta Club of Cebu..

At 78, she has left a beautiful memory with the people whose lives she has touched, and the several books she has written as a legacy.


Champion of Women’s Rights

The Executive Director of LihokPilipina Foundation, Inc., which pioneered the advocacy for women’s rights and the raising of gender concerns in Cebu.First Cebuana nominated to the Nobel Peace Prize 2005.

Tessie Banaynal-Fernandez has been the Executive Director of Lihok Pilipina Foundation, Inc., which pioneered the advocacy for women’s rights and the raising of gender concerns in Cebu.

Lihok advocated the creation of the women’s commission and the implementation of the Gender Budget in the government agencies. It initiated the Bantay Banay in 1992, a community-based approach to violence against women and children which has been replicated in other parts of the country. Lihok Pilipina initiated the monitoring of the City Government’s performance , using the report card tool.

Today she sits as chairperson of the Cebu City Commission on Women and Family Affairs and Regional Subcommittee on Gender and Development (GAD). Tessie was also the first Executive Director of the Cebu Uniting for Sustainable Water (CUSW), convened in 1985 to address the water and watershed issues among conflicting groups in the city.

In 2005 she was nominated among other Filipina Trailblazers, for a Nobel Peace Prize. Lihok Pilipina Foundation Inc. was awarded by the Eduardo Aboitiz Award for Outstanding Institution for Visayas and Mindanao.

Married to Cebu City Administrator Francisco “Bimbo” Fernandez, she has 8 children.


Gender Consciousness Catalyst

Alternative-consciousness educator, who dedicated herself to raising the awareness of working women, and elimination of job biases in the workplace.

Portia, a counseling psychologist and guidance services specialist at the University of the Philippines Cebu College, is recognized as an alternative-consciousness catalyst, “who has dedicated herself to raising the awareness of working women and the community through gender sensitivity seminars and training.”

She was the first Cebuana educator to integrate discussions on gender concerns in work settings with various companies in the private sector, sharing insights and teachings in the world of work, a dedicated trailblazer armed with the commitment to promote gender equality and eliminate women discrimination and job biases in the workplace.


Faith-based Political Educator

Founded and wisely guides C-CIMPEL (Cebu-Citizens Involvement and Maturation in People’s Empowerment and Liberation).

Marilu Briones-Chiongbian has wisely guided C-CIMPEL (Cebu-Citizens Involvement and Maturation in People’s Empowerment and Liberation) since its founding in 1992.

C-CIMPEL’s mission is to bring forth political transformation rooted in Faith, Justice and Love. Core members, staff and volunteers give political education on the Election Code and the Local Government Code in every parish in the Cebu City and Province. They have recently become involved in participative development planning in the barangays.

Spirituality for political action gives CCIMPEL a distinction other political groups sorely lack. This political consciousness based on faith has given its staff and volunteers the strength, integrity and commitment when they do their watch- dog activities and information campaign which actually starts even before election.

Through the years, Marilu Briones-Chiongbian has been constantly with them with her quiet strength and inspiring example – surely a leaven for authentic political maturity.


Champion of Alternative Lawyering

Earned the mark as the first court warrior princess in the Office of the Prosecutors in Cebu in defending the rights of women and children, and championing the delivery of justice for the disadvantaged.

Arbet earned the mark as the first court warrior princess in the Office of the Prosecutors in Cebu in defending the rights of women and children, and championing the delivery of justice for the disadvantaged.

She could have chosen to concentrate on making money and accumulating material rewards. Instead, Arbet jumped headlong into ‘alternative” law.

In 1997 as Legal Services Director of the fledgling Legal alternatives for Women (LAW) Center, Inc., she gave direction, urgency and passion to a movement that placed the issue of violence against women and children a primordial concern as it should be.

As a shining example of gender sensitive legal advocacy, she challenged lawyers to catch the gauntlet as many have.

However, Atty. Arbet was really above the rest in her zeal as she opened her house as refuge to abused women and children who did not have a room to stay while pursuing their cases in the city.

This first human rights lawyer and heroine that lived her passion for ‘alternative lawyering”, was strengthened by will power to cope with threats on her profession, and which eventually cost her life, leaving us with a legacy of courage and sacrifice.


Feminist Lawyer

President and Chair of LihokPilipina Foundation, Inc., Founding President of Legal Alternatives for Women Center, Inc., and stalwart member of Abanse! Pinay.

Atty. Morada is recognized as a feminist counselor and advocate for bringing the feminist perspective to legal work. As President and Chair of Lihok Pilipina Foundation, Inc., Founding President of Legal Alternatives for Women Center, Inc., and stalwart member of Abanse!Pinay, she has concretized the basics of feminism in her work with these NGOs.

Atty. Morada’s guiding principle is from the Preamble of Abanse! Pinay:

The Vision and Dream of a society where women and men have equal rights, opportunities, and privileges. A society where no woman shall moan from battering, where no child shall weep from abuse, where no people shall feel the bitter pangs of hunger and pain, where women contribute to the shaping of their destinies and their societies. A society that discriminates not against class, sex, age, religion, ability, and race.

One day, these dreams shall come true through women who pray, who care, and who dare!


Pioneer Children’s Rights Defender

President of FederacionInternacionale de Abogadas (FIDA), and became a staunch advocate for the segregation of children from adult criminals.

“Nang Sising” as she would like to called, is Cebu’s trailblazing advocate for Children’s Rights. The Share-a-Child Foundation institutionalized and concretized her advocacy for generations to emulate.

The Share A Child Foundation came into being because of the work with children in jail by its founder, Atty, Esperanza G. Valenzona, In the middle of the ‘70s, Atty. Valenzona became active in community work as President of Federation Inetrnacionale de Abogadas (FIDA), an organization of lady lawyers in the province of Cebu. She was appalled to find that at the old Cebu City Jail, misnamed “Bagong Buhay Rehabilitation Center”, children were mixed with adult prisoners. The congested conditions, the lack of coherent policies and the absence of any rehabilitation program gave rise to abuses inside the jail with children as the most vulnerable targets. Atty. Valenzona became a staunch advocate for the segregation of children from adult criminals. To ameliorate their situation, decided to put up a basic literacy program to compensate for their being unable to go to formal school.

A key principle that guides the Share-a-Child Foundation is that prevention is the most cost-effective approach to the reduction of all forms of child abuse.


Speedy-Justice Advocate

In 2003, she received the Asian Mother Achievement Award for Law and Judiciary for her remarkable work ethics.

Justice Hormachuelos is part of the growing number of lady magistrates whose dedication and industry in the study of law transcend gender boundaries. She has served in all the pillars of the Justice system, except law enforcement. In the Court of Appeals, where she is the highest - ranking woman jurist from Cebu, she performs her duties with steadfast adherence to the rule of law, tempered with justice and compassion.

In a system where the wheels of justice turn rather slowly, Justice Hormachuelos has made her mark for her exceptional ability in deciding cases with promptness, without neglecting the quality of her decision. She has engaged in an advocacy for the speedy disposition of cases and its concomitant de-clogging of court dockets. Since 2001, she has been holding a zero pending docket and hopes to provide a model for others in the bench. In 2003, she received the Asian Mother-Achievement Award for Law and Judiciary for her remarkable work ethic.


Woman in the Ombudsman

Consistently chosen by the IBP Provincial and City Chapters as an Outstanding Prosecutor.

As a women trailblazer in pursuit of efficiency and transparency in her work as Director of the Ombudsman in the Visayas, Virginia Palanca-Santiago has awakened the Cebuanos to the reality of the moral strength of women in government service”.

She says, “I am a public servant performing the duties tasked of me by law. I am dedicated to see to it that public services are delivered to the citizenry”.

When she was a prosecutor, she was consistently chosen by the IBP Provincial and City Chapters as an Outstanding Prosecutor. When she received the Outstanding Prosecutor Award from the Judicial Executive, she remembered that she cried because she could hardly believe that from among the 2,000 prosecutors in the entire country, she recalls, “They recognized me, a woman and a provinciana at that!”


Crusader Against Violence

After a grueling battle for justice for the gruesome murders of her two beloved daughters, is now deeply involved in Crusade Against Violence (CAV) as its Vice President for VISMIN.

After a grueling battle for justice for the gruesome murders of her two beloved daughters, Thelma Chiong and her battle cry: Justice for Chiong Sisters, caught the minds and hearts of many in Cebu City in 1998.

Drawing strength from her personal tragedies, she has begun a crusade that has given rise to a more systematic endeavor toward seeking justice for heinous crime victims, particularly involving women.

Now, Thelma is now deeply involved in Crusade Against Violence (CAV) as its Vice President for VISMIN. She continues to court-watch, noting that God, more than anyone else, is her refuge. She believes women have always played an important role in the Bible and in the ministry of Christ. Thelma says, “I believe that this role is part of our destiny: an on-going ministry, wherein women could make a difference in society.”


Outstanding Rural Leader

Manager of LamacSamahangNayon, later the Lamac Multi-Purpose Cooperative in 1992.Conferred as “Most Valuable Filipino” Award by the Cebu-based Philippines Foundation Inc., for exemplifying the virtues of self-help and local initiative in community development.

A woman of little education in a poor and isolated barrio in Cebu, she accomplished something quite extraordinary.

Narcisa de Gracia was born in 1925 in the hinterland barrio of Lamac, Pinamungahan. The place was a refuge for rebels against the colonial authorities at the turn of the century, and was connected by a road to the Pinamungahan poblacion only in 1974. Its isolation fostered a village solidarity organized around a chapel in which Narcisa’s father was a spiritual leader. In 1974, this tradition of solidarity was translated into an organization called Samahang nayon, incorporated by 70 farmers with a pooled capital of P3,500, with Narcisa as manager. It became later the Lamac Multi-Purpose Cooperative in 1992. The people of Lamac pulled themselves together to engage in the buy-and-sell of farm inputs, operation of a consumer store, a rice-and-corn mill, and transport services, the building of an irrigation system, and programs of savings mobilization and livelihood credit. The cooperative now has around a thousand members from 19 Pinamungahan barangays and assets running to millions of pesos.

Narcisa de Gracia herself was conferred as “Most Valuable Filipino” Award by the Cebu-based Philippines Foundation Inc., for exemplifying the virtues of self-help and local initiative in community development.


Entrepreneurial Wizard with a Heart

Organized the Cebu CFI Community Cooperative, now has almost a billion pesos in assets and 21,000 members from the Provinces and Cities of Cebu, Bohol, Negros, Leyte and Samar.Received the Baul Award as Model Filipino from the Filipino Foundation.Awarded theTony Martin Leadership Awards by VICTO.

Retired Judge Esperanza (“Ma’am Inday”) Garcia’s compassionate heart and benevolent concern for those who have less in life, started her deep involvement in the cooperative movement. She organized with then Justice Francisco Tantuico a credit union in 1970, to save the Court of First Instance (CFI) employees from the clutches of usurers. That credit union is now the Cebu CFI Community Cooperative. With her guidance it now has almost a billion pesos in assets and 21,000 members from the Provinces and Cities of Cebu, Bohol, Negros, Leyte and Samar.

On January 16, 2000, she received the Baul Award as Model Filipino from the Filipino Foundation for her life long work of initiating and nurturing the organization of one of the Most Successful Cooperative in the country. She was awarded the Tony Martin Leadership Awards by VICTO on April 29, 2001 as outstanding volunteer leader in the VICTO Network, and has demonstrated exemplary performance for enhancing the promotion of cooperativism and fostering the ideals of freedom, justice and nationalism. She has also received from the Federacion International de Abogadas (FIDA) on November 16, 2001, the Esperanza Award for the cause of women, children and family.


The Cebuana as Exemplar

Most prominent woman leader in Cebu City at the beginning of the century.Traded in root crops, owned and operated at one time TeatroJunquera; owned the city’s first sinamay store; and constructed houses for rent, originating (it is said) the “bamboo chalet”.

Maria Fadullon Rallos was the most prominent woman leader in Cebu City at the beginning of the century. She was born in 1862 and acquired an education from private tutors. Gender barred her from pursuing higher studies.

Married to Florentino Rallos, who was president or mayor of Cebu at the turn of the century, Maria (popularly referred to as Nyora Inday) was admired as a patriotic and civic-minded woman. When her husband died in 1912, she remained an energetic and enterprising woman. She traded in rootcrops, owned and operated at one time Teatro Junquera, Cebu’s first and premier theater-cum-cinema; owned the city’s first sinamay store; and constructed houses for rent, originating (it is said) the “bamboo chalet” type of housing popular with Americans in the 1900s.

Rallos was particularly interested in women’s education and self-development. To this end, she authored a book on hygiene and etiquette and wrote Ladga sa Pagpanluto (1924), a large and pioneering 510-recipe compilation of Cebuano cooking that ranges from foreign to local and from the more elaborate to the most humble of fare. Characteristic of its author, the book includes advice for women not only on matters of food preparation and household management but social and community responsibility.

Nyora Inday stands at the beginning of a long and varied line of women leaders in 20th-century Cebu.


Exemplary Cebuano Matriarch

During the war, she lent assistance to the local guerillas. Provided scholarships to indigent students, big contributor to such causes and institutions as the YLAC Free School in Cebu City.

The name Gaisano is a byword in Cebu, signifying the large Cebu-based chain of supermarkets and department stores and evoking as well the image and memory of an exemplary Cebuano matriarch.

Modesta Singson Gaisano was born in Cebu in 1885. She and her husband, Jose Sy Lingkee, started in business with a modest general merchandise store in San Nicolas in 1933. As it prospered, it relocated to downtown Cebu City. Her husband having died early, Modesta Gaisano had to fill the role of matriarch ‘of both a family and a business.

Bearing the names White Gold and Gaisano, the family enterprise expanded into the southern Philippines’ largest chain of “superstores.” Its hallmark has been that of providing mass consumers with quality merchandise at the lowest price.

Doña Modesta Gaisano placed a premium of her involvement in the affairs of the community. During the war, when she moved her family to Bohol, she lent assistance to the local guerillas. She provided scholarships to indigent students and – as a big contributor to such causes and institutions as the YLAC Free School in Cebu City.


Creator of Rosquillos

Concocted and popularized ring cookies or rosquillos that has become a household name not only in Cebu but also throughout the country, even abroad.

The then 21-year old Margarita “Titay” Frasco of the northern Cebu town of Liloan was “playing” in the kitchen when she stumbled into creating the very first uniquely-shaped cookie with an equally new taste.

Using a manual kneader and a wooden eggbeater or taladro, she fashioned her cookies, put them In baking tins fashioned from empty kerosene cans, and baked them in a clay oven or hodnohan, the first batch of rosquillos came to be. But it wasn’t until then Governor Sergio Osmeña, Sr. sampled it and named it rosquillos after the Spanish rosca or ringlet, that the delicacy was raised from anonymity.

Since April 3, 1907 people from all over have made Titay’s Rosquillos store one of their stops on their trips to northern Cebu. and back. People have made it part of their itinerary when in the province, while those who couldn’t be in Cebu would ask visiting friends and acquaintances to buy some rosquillos for them.

Cebuanos themselves have grown up with Titay’s Rosquillos, or simply mean the cookies, which are fondly worn on the fingers or which may be ritually dipped in coffee before nibbling.

Discovered and popularized ring cookies or rosquillos that has become a household name not only in Cebu but also throughout the country.


Pioneering Restaurateur and Hotelier(1990-1967)

Put up the first air-conditioned La Suerte Hotel & Restaurant Bar, the watering hole of politicians and businessmen.

Pomposa “Iya Posang” Cirilo-Nator’s humble rise as pioneering restaurateur and bakeshop entrepreneur of Cebu was steeped with trials. Born poor in Minglanilla, Cebu in 1900, poverty drove her to sell tilad (betel nuts for chewing) and food in cockpits and bowling alleys. She later put up a small store tended by her sister, Oray Manching, She learned to bake and cook by taste, for she only studied up to Grade 4 and never took baking or cooking lessons.

Married to Paulino “Inoy” Nator of the old Cinema Oriente in 1933, Posang put up the first La Suerte Restaurant and Bakery along Colon Street. Her famous monay bread and house specialties drew raves. La Suerte became the watering hole of politicians and businessmen. Widowed and losing La Suerte during the war, Posang rebuilt La Suerte, even branching out to Talisay and Manila. She put up the first air-conditioned La Suerte Hotel & Restaurant Bar and the Crown Hotel (now Mercedes Hotel) in Cebu City. She died in 1967.


Original Masareal Maker

Founded Didang’sMasarealone of Cebu’sdelicacies.

Didang’s Masareal, a single proprietorship, was founded by the late Juliana Perez-Suico in the early 1900s as a cottage industry. Now, when we speak of Mandaue City, what usually comes to mind is its delicious delicacy, masareal, Didang’s masareal.

When Juliana started with this industry in Mandaue, masareal was produced in small quantities and limited only to neighboring households. Masareal is a sweetmeat or soft candy originally made of a few measures or saupan of boiled peanuts, mashed and mixed with refined sugar. Primitive tools were used in the production process then. Bottles were used to mash, roll and mix the ingredients, and only dried banana leaves were used to wrap the finished products. Juliana personally took charge of the preparation and production of this incomparably mouth-watering Mandaue delicacy!

After the death of Juliana Perez-Suico on August 9, 1965, her daughter, Gerarda Perez-Suico, took over the business.

The tools used for the production of this Mandaue delicacy is now highly mechanized and it is produced in bulk, but it still has the hallmark of the industriousness of Juliana Perez-Suico. Indeed, Didang’s masareall has now come a long way from mere “bottles used to mash” and a few “saupan of peanuts” in terms of production!


Promoter of “OTAP”

Set up Shamrock Bakery during the pre-war daysand ventured into the production of otap, a popular Cebu delicacy.

“Shamrock” is the name of a company set up by Honoria Villafor Paras during the pre-war days together with an Irishman who had immigrated to Cebu. The shamrock is a plant of Irish folk legend with leaves composed of three leaflets that is associated with St. Patrick and Ireland. The first Shamrock “product” was a hotel located in Cebu City. The mind of Honoria Paras was still very far from the bakery business then.

But when war broke out in the 1940s, Honoria had to leave the hotel behind and find a way to feed her family. It was then that she ventured into the food business in her hometown of Barili in Cebu, selling plain bread baked from a makeshift work area in her house.

While the name Shamrock was virtually forgotten during the war, she revived it soon after when she ventured into the production of otap, the recipe of which she had learned from a baker who worked for her. It is now considered a popular Cebu delicacy that tastes like a cross between a biscuit and a cookie. The recipe may have evolved, but it is still sold under the Shamrock label.


Accountant / Businesswoman Par Excellence

EstablishedThriftimart, Cebu’s first supermarket. PICPA’s HALL OF FAME AWARDEE for being the first woman president appointed to the board of AccountancyPapal Awardee in 1967.

Gifted with wit and excellent business acumen, Amparo “Amparing” Ferraris Rodil established several businesses among which was the Cebu Supermarket, Inc., which ran Thriftimart, Cebu’s first supermarket. Though it closed shortly before her death in 1994 it goes down in history as a trailblazer in the field of superstores, having served Cebu for 27 years.

Ms. Rodil is regarded as an institution in the business world for her selfless contributions and unfailing commitment to service. In PICPA, a HALL OF FAME AWARDEE for being the first lady president in all its chapters, the first woman appointed to the board of Accountancy and the first appointee from the Visayas and Mindanao.

To attain her mission, she was deeply involved in charity works thru the Young Ladies Association of Charity (YLAC) and Zonta International. She was a benefactor of the YLAC Free School and worked towards its financial sustainability. These efforts were recognized when she was chosen Papal Awardee in 1967, and received many other awards in business and community and religious service.. As Cardinal Vidal has said of her, “God will truly make a good accounting of her good deeds.”


Export Development Trendsetter

She has brought Mehitabel and Cebu craftsmanship to the enviable leadership it has reached in the furniture industry in the country & abroad; and awarded the Export Development Citation.

Cebu’s finely crafted furniture has placed Cebu on the world map. And when we talk or write of Cebu furniture, we cannot but look to the trailblazing Mehitabel and its founder, Doña Maria Aboitiz, who has set a standard not only in the quality and artistry of their products, but also in the singular management style that Mehitabel has exemplified. Doña Maria brought up Mehitabel as if it were her child.

This has been imbibed and enhanced by her daughter Josephine “Jo” Aboitiz Booth, and with Jo’s modern influence and distinctive drive, she has brought Mehitabel and Cebu craftsmanship to the enviable leadership it has reached to hold in the furniture industry in the country.

For all that Jo has accomplished for the furniture industry of the country, she was awarded the Export Development Citation. Thus, the Cebu Provincial Government honors her as a Cebuana Trailblazer!


“A Diamond Entrepreneur”

Founder of Julie’s Bakeshop-- now a multi-million peso enterprise with 150 franchisesand 400 bakeries all over the country.

Julia “Julie” Ramon Gandionco, is the woman behind the success story of Julie’s Bakeshop and its subsidiaries.

She possesses beauty and strength of character. She helps the needy and the missionaries, and is deeply involved in the affairs of her community. Thru her unrelenting efforts with her family and neighbors’ unrelenting efforts, the Sun Valley Residents’ Association received awards from the city government and the PNP as the first subdivision to stand up against drugs.

Founder of Julie’s Bakeshop which marked 25 years in serving the Filipino community on January 6, 2006. What was only a step in trying to augment the bread needs of the family’s canteen business with P15,000.00 as initial capital is now a multi-million peso enterprise, multi-awarded as well with 150 franchisees and 400 bakeries all over the country, Julie’s Bakeshop is a pioneering neighborhood bakeshop using franchising to expand its operation. Ms. Julie is its heart and soul as she breathes into company plans socially conscious programs like the “FUTURE LEADERS AWARDS, Nutrition Programs and the like. Thus, its foundress are truly worth to be called Diamond Entrepreneur!


Indefatigable Town Builder(1910-2004)

Spanning a period of almost 30 years, Mrs. Pace’s political career as town mayor of Barili, Cebu. Became known as the Mother of the Barangays.

Spanning a period of almost 30 years, Mrs. Pace’s political career as town mayor of Barili, Cebu had been long (1960-1978 and 1988-1998) and full of accomplishments, with numerous projects that transformed a sleepy 6th class town into a bustling 4th class municipality. Considered a jewel in her crown is the completion of the Barili Municipal Hall without burdening the Municipal treasury and the towns-people. She created 21 more barangays to add to the already 21 developing units linked to the poblacion with feeder roads and bridges, and an enviable water system, using research as a key to harness valuable sources of water for Barili. For these, she became known as the Mother of the Barangays. In Barili, she was never defeated in the polls and outlived all other mayoral candidates, working actively for the good of the municipality and the people until she was 88.


Legislator for Women and Children’s Rights

Proponent of the Women Development Code and the Comprehensive Children and Family Support System in the Province of Cebu.

Agnes Almendras-Magpale was among the earlier groups of women who braved the world of local politics and entered it in 1971.

Her record in the Cebu Provincial Board reflects a commitment to women and family concerns, which is shown in her ability to lead both Committees on Women & Children as well as the Committee on Tourism.

In tourism, eyed with suspicion by feminists due to the infamous ‘sex tours”, Agnes Magpale proposed family tours. Other committees she has chaired are very family friendly: the Committee on Health and Social Welfare and Committee on Culture and the Arts. Perhaps a very significant accomplishment is her promotion of the Women Development Code and the Comprehensive Children and Family Support System in the Province of Cebu.


First Woman Governor

Trailblazer and innovator of programs for the protection of the environment, promotion of Cebuano cultural & historical heritage and the tourism industry in Cebu, as an impetus for economic activity, making the concerns of women and children an important agenda of governance.

Governor Gwendolyn Garcia was inducted into office on June 30, 2004, and the Provincial Capitol & Province of Cebu has never been the same again!

Being the First Woman Governor was a challenge which Governor Gwen responded to with urgency, intelligence, innovation and courage. It is no mean feat to streamline and professionalize an unwieldy bureaucracy’ harnessing it so it can became an efficient, effective and transparent instrument for optimum service for the good of the Cebuanos.

Governor Gwen has trail-blazed and innovated programs for the protection of the environment and the promotion of Cebuano cultural historical heritage and the tourism industry in Cebu as an impetus for economic activity, making the concerns of women and children an important agenda of her governance.

Indeed, Governor Gwen, Cebu’s first woman governor, has set the tempo and direction for future governors to come!


Mother of the Sinulog Festival

In March 2000, the Philippine Foundation, Inc.honored Dolores Morales - Suzara with a Perlas Award: Valuable Filipino Model Teacher. Jason A. Baquia describes her as “Sinulog Mother.” Dolly Suzara led the core group that gave rise to the Sinulog Festival. She led the group from 8 city schools in the creation of street dancing festival. They began by studying closely “the candle vendors” performance of the basilica. Later she performed the role of judge in the festival competition. Now, she is the Project Director of the Sinulog Foundation, Inc.

Baquia quotes her, describing her festival participation as a “spiritual involvement”.


Feminist Judge in Word and Deed

In March 2000, the Philippine Foundation, Inc.honored Dolores Morales - Suzara with a Perlas Award: Valuable Filipino Model Teacher. Jason A. Baquia describes her as “Sinulog Mother.” Dolly Suzara led the core group that gave rise to the Sinulog Festival. She led the group from 8 city schools in the creation of street dancing festival. They began by studying closely “the candle vendors” performance of the basilica. Later she performed the role of judge in the festival competition. Now, she is the Project Director of the Sinulog Foundation, Inc

Baquia quotes her, describing her festival participation as a “spiritual involvement”.


Led the Open Mass Movement During the Dictatorship

“In extraordinary events, there are extraordinary people who are called to do something extra-ordinary”. This was during the last years of the Marcos dictatorship when the BagongAlyansangMakabayan (BAYAN) was formed here in Cebu..ProfessorZenaidaUy, the then Chairperson of the Socio-Anthropology Department of the University of San Carlos was elected as BAYAN Cebu’s Chairperson.

In rallies and demonstrations which characterized the political mood of the times, Ma’am Zeny , as she was fondly called, was the feisty speaker who can hold a crowd of thousands, explaining to them why people had to continue the struggle for the restoration of freedom and democracy in the land.

In the height of her activism, she had to give up her teaching post for security reasons. She indeed is a woman of courage and commitment.


Insulating Societal Values Through the Theatre

The year 1959 was a crucial juncture in the life of Delia Aliño-Villacastin, both as an individual and as a thespic director. There were only two options available to her: either she would stay permanently in America or go back to Cebu to teach and start raising consciousness for theatre arts.She came home and immediately took the lead and breathed considerable light into Cebu’s theatrical scene. In the 60’s she was a “shaft of light” in a dark room. Whether she presents a comedy or tragedy, western or oriental, a Broadway or an off-Broadway show or zarzuela, she has always distilled the spirit of the era.

“ I always chose plays which are suffused with positive values for the young to emulate,” she intones, deliberately eschewing those that are of the pure entertainment variety.


Lodestar of Graduate Education

An indefatigable academic leader, Dr. Montana Saniel tirelessly worked to uplift the standard of graduate education in the country.

As an active member of the Philippine Association of Graduate Education, she continually held seminars and trainings on thesis and dissertation advising.

For her contribution to the growth and development of the graduate school of the University of San Carlos and the USC Alumni Council she was awarded as outstanding alumna in August 2008.


Prolific Barili Historian

An indefatigable academic leader, Dr. Montana Saniel tirelessly worked to uplift the standard of graduate education in the country.

Azucena L. Pace wrote the following heritage books on the Municipality of Barili published by the Barili Local Government Unit: “Barili – the town, the People, the Years – A History”, “KasaysayansamgaBarangaysaBarili”, “Semana Santa in Barili& its Fabulous Processions”, “The Mayors of Barili from the Early 17th Century to the Early 21st Century”, “ Barili’s Ancestral Homes and Other Heritage Structure, “ Coffeetable book on “Barili’s Heritage Houses and Historical sites (ongoing).

Her cultural and heritage work in Cebu includes building & establishing the Barili Folk & Heritage Museum in Barili in 1998; Founding the Barili Historical Society Inc.; Organizing &curating of the Sta. Ana Shrine Ecales Heritage Museum (2005); and building of the Lighthouse in sitioSamaca, BarangayJapitan, Barili to serve as beacon to fishermen lost at sea.


Integrating Mall Culture and Heritage

Marissa recounts that her first job in the Philippines after her studies in the United States was with the SM Group in 1988 as project manager opening Banco de Oro branches in Cebu.

In 1993, she became general manager of SM - Cebu. This was the opportunity for her to realize her aim to bring to “Cebu whatever is best for Cebu,” an aim that has also catapulted her as Assistant Vice President.

Outside the corporate world, Marissa enjoys the performing arts, a love she is able to promote and share with Cebuanos because of her being with the company.

Recently, SM Cebu with Marissa as its guiding light published the beautiful book, CEBU: Pride of Place. This sums up the inspiration and force within Marissa.


Philanthropy with a Woman’s Face and Heart

MariquitaSalimbangon-Yeung is a Cebuanaphilantrophist who puts a smile to countless indigent children with facial deformities.

At the age of 27, she got married to a Hongkong business magnate and was blessed with 3 children. In August 23, 1999, with the unconditional support of her husband, family and friends, the MariquitaSalimbangon-Yeung Foundation was founded.

MSY Foundation’s early initiatives were into medical aid, scholarship program and economic assistance in the towns of Medellin, Alcoy, Asturias and Tabogon. In 1998, it began sponsoring Operation Smile in Cebu with initially 285 children and young adults beneficiaries. Now in its 14th year, the project has given free re-constructive surgeries to around 3 M plus indigents with cleft lips and palates who now have found reasons to smile.

No doubt, Mariquita’s legacy of sharing knows no bounds.


Memory Keeper

The founding curator of the Cebu Normal University Museum, Dr. RomolaOuano – Savellon is a feisty keeper of memory.

Against all odds, she pioneered the collation and preservation of artifacts on Cebu in the state-owned university. She has documented the work of Cebu artists known for their church ceiling paintings.

An impassioned literature teacher and writer, she shares her love for Sugbuana works with her students and continues to be a resource person for Cebuano culture and history.


Pioneer in Innovative Tourism

Alice Queblatin pioneered studies and trainings on tour guiding and travel management in Cebu in the 1970’s to the 1990’s.

In support of the Provincial government to institutionalize the “Suroy-Suroy” Tour Program, she developed course modules for tourism officers of the province on the areas of Tour Packaging, Destination Marketing and Tour Costing.

To enhance local Tourism awareness, she partnered with RCTV 36 on the MAKE MY TRIP Program, to produce TV documentaries on new eco tour activities and destinations. This was aired from March to May to promote travel within Cebu and Central Visayas during summer of 2011.


Pacesetting Communicator

In the field of communication and training, Dr. LelaniEchaves – Paredes is a Pacesetter.

Recognized by her peers for her dynamism and leadership, she was elected as the first woman president of the National Press Club, Cebu Chapter.

She conceptualized, initiated and institutionalized twelve (12) official publications in various government, academe and corporate sectors. She was recognized for her media work by five countries (U.S., China, Sri Lanka, Sweden, and Germany) through observational travel and study grants.

She also pioneered hosting and/or producing public affairs talk shows on Cebu television (1982 – 1983, and 1984 – 1990).

The University of San Carlos awarded her as Most Outstanding Alumna for communications in 1989.


Eco-Cultural Tourism Governance and Development

Cynthia Moreno, as Mayor of Aloguinsan initiated the most comprehensive cultural mapping of her town.

From this, she utilized the cultural resources of Aloguinsan for economic and cultural upliftment of the people. These changed the sleepy town of Aloguinsan to a bustling eco-cultural hub and a tourist destination. The relaxing Boho River Cruise is an experience worth savoring; theBaluarte or Fortress of the town is now a heritage site and the public market is a showcase of the people’s indigenous crafts and crops.

Most remarkable is that with economic upliftment the Aloguinsanons have been transformed into a positive forward-looking people… Amazing Aloguinsan!


Nutrition Vanguard for the Underprivileged

A staunch advocate of health and nutrition, Parolita or “Letlet” to friends and colleagues had provided the direction and efficient coordination, monitoring and evaluation of the nutrition program in the region and spearheaded the organization of the Philippine Association of Nutrition and Visayas Primary Health Care, Services Inc.

She organized and facilitated numerous trainings in and out of the country on health and nutrition. Various health programs and projects conceptualized, implemented and evaluated by Letlet have benefited much the underprivileged sectors of society. To date she is the Regional Head and Nutrition Program Coordinator of the National Nutrition Council Region VII. Her career had ranged from being that of a radio broadcaster, professor and consultant on health concerns.


Honing Professionals for Genuine Service

To Delia Zosa-Mediano teaching and molding of individuals as future nurses is more than a career. It is a passion.

Starting as a nursing attendant at the Southern Island’s Hospital in 1960, she worked her way up to instructor, assistant Chief Nurse, until she eventually became a member of the Philippine Regulatory Commission Nursing Board in 1992.

She earned various national awards, among which are the AnastaciaGironTupas Award for Nursing and the PRC Award for Demonstrating Exemplary Performance with Excellence, leadership and Commitment. Eventually, international recognition came as she was cited among the International Who’s Who of the Professional and Business Women for Significant Career Achievements, by the American Biographical Institute of Raleigh, North Carolina, U.S.A.

Cebuano exemplars of nursing excellence most likely owe a lot of what they are to a woman they fondly called “ Ma’am Del”.


Pillar, “School of the Future” Approach in Basic Education

Conceived in 1995, the School of the Future (SOF) strategy was the brainchild of Dr. Caridad Labe, then the Lapulapu City Division School Superintendent.

As the first functional SOF in the country, then Education Secretary issued DECs Order No. 71, s. 1996 (dated 26 October 1996) mandating key officials, teachers and members of local government units to visit the SOF in Dr. Labe’s division and to establish their own SOF schools in their respective divisions.

Those who have known and experienced the SOF approach recognize the significant role of Dr. Labe in the conceiving, birthing and nurturing stages of this special school. Dr. Labe’s superior advocacy skill account for the success factor of the SOF.

At present, Dr. Labe is the President of the Board of Trustees Coalition for Better Education and School Division Superintendent of Naga City.


Staunch Advocate for Persons with Disability

In August to October1989, she chose to focus on Accessibilityas the focus topic of her individualized training when shewas sent to Japan. Through the years since then, she has been the Accessibility Specialist of the Accessibility Monitoring Committee (AMC-2) under ORA (Organization of Rehabilitation Agencies) & Regional Council for Disability Affairs (RCDA-7).

In August 6, 2008, the Philippine Foundation for the Rehabilitation of the Disabled, Inc. (PFRD) bestowed upon her the ApolinarioMabini Outstanding Woman with Disability Award, presented by President Gloria M. Arroyo, for her Work in the field of accessibility and capability-building and helping to make Cebu as one of the most disabled - friendly communities in the country.


Nature ‘s Artist

To Ana communicating with nature is the best way to observe lines, shapes, & patterns .As an art teacher in elementary and high school departments she imparted to her students the indispensable qualities of being imaginative and intuitive and urged them to unfold their natural creativity as early as possible.

As refined and as restrained as Ana is in her speech, so are her art works reflective of her personality. Having a penchant for the wet-on-wet technique or for the wash-

out effect on paper or on fabric, she makes use of lines merely to suggest rather than to assert. As always, her deft feminine touch shines through!.


AIDS Harm Reduction Advocate

Lourdes Jereza , is a university professor with a long history in community work who pioneered an intervention and harm reduction programme for injecting drug users in Cebu City in 1995. She initiated a” clean up” drive to clear out the indiscriminate disposal of used syringes; facilitated the establishment of a daycare centre for registered sex worker’s children to gain their mother’s trust; introduced to injecting drug users the idea of rotating the placement of injections to minimize infections; and trained harm reduction advocates among the drug users to work with her in various community outreach and peer education programmes in the barangays (villages) where drug users reside.

Her vocation as a community worker was marked by a passion to help those ostracized by society, taking on projects that no one wants to take care of for fear of contamination.

In 1998 she received an award for advocacy in HIV/AID prevention and education.


Consummate Child Educator

One excellent school in Cebu, and this country as a whole, seen to be a molder of achievers is the St. Benedict Childhood Education Centre. And who doesn’t know this wonderful lady whose name is synonymous to St. Benedict? Perfectly fit to a “T” - - as ultimate TEACHER – Lygia “Lyge” CabatinganIbañez is lovingly remembered for her knack of drawing out the best in every child as St. Benedict Founding Directress. Her visionary influence to put up the best standard of child education simply propelled everything over the top for said institution. That’s Lyge, a born teacher, a teacher’s teacher so worthy of superlatives, and whose vital presence still pulsates through her legacy as consummate child educator.


First University President Advocate for “ Study Now Pay later”

Simply known as Inday Pining, Josefina Rivera-Gullas, matriarch of the University of the Visayas (UV) in Cebu City, trailblazed the UV Presidency following the death of her co-founder husband, Atty. Vicente Gullas, in 1970. Deeply shared memories about her, come from people whose lives had been touched by her humble traits and generosity. A consummate mother for all ages within and beyond the school she provided “Study-Now-Pay-Later” and other scholarship grants to poor but deserving students. A Medal of the Cross Papal Awardee, a woman of values and wisdom, Inday Pining lives as a tower of strength to her three surviving children: Former Cebu Gov. now Cong. Eduardo R. Gullas; former Cong. Jose R. Gullas; and UV Comptroller GliceriaGullas – Lucero.


Cebuana Champion of the Environment

The first woman secretary of the Department of Energy and Natural Resources, BebetGozon won the trust of business leaders, NGOs and political decision makers for her unflagging honesty and personal integrity.

She introduced waste RRR (recover, recycle, reuse) in the Philippines and worked as upgrading the quality and capacity of landfills. This attracted international funding and generated a nationwide support of participatory communities.

For her unrelenting commitment to public service and the public good, this Cebuana is a champion of the environment.


Trainor for Governance

An “ institution” where trainings on governance is concerned… that’s how the Local Government Academy (LGA) recalls of Concesa or “Connie” to friends and colleagues.

Beginning June 1994 until her retirement in 2007, Connie has been the Regional LGA Coordinator, Region VII. She had been responsible for the various trainings on Gender Sensitive Governance among the Local Government Units in the region.

Through her initiative, the DILG Region VII Resource Center was installed. The Center house a wide collection of informative materials and documents on governance and gender.


Bridging Russia and Cebu through Culture and Diplomacy

Armi Lopez Garcia’s diplomatic inclinations showed in her teens. A skilled moderator and motivator, she was able to contribute to many community efforts in livelihood training and basic education, usually being given the authoritative role and carrying out each project to its successful completion. This sense of purpose in a young lady was to be the foundation of her remarkable future efforts.
A “Natural Diplomat”. From her “movement 3” or 3-point strategy focusing on Tourism, Trade and Investment, down to her involvement in Sweet Alert Society, a diabetes advocacy charity, ARMI is simply IT. She has generated enduring circles of friends here and abroad, earning for her this title from the media.

She is now the Honorary Consul of the Russian Federation for Cebu, Bohol and Aklan, the President of the Philippine-Russian Business Assembly, and most recently, the President of the Consular Corps of the Philippines Cebu Chapter.


Standing Tall For Justice and Righteousness

In the judiciary,TeresitaAbarquez - Galanida, Mandaue City, stands tall. The laudable awards recognitions she had reaped bespeak of her determination to banner justice and righteousness in the judicial system. A devout Catholic, she certainly proved her worth as Most Outstanding City Prosecutor of Cebu in 1994; Most Outstanding Public Prosecutor / Senator A. B. Padilla Awardee in 1998; commended by DOJ Secretary TeofistoGuingona Sr., in 1995 for prosecuting murder case against Atty. Raul Sesbreño; by the Crusade Against Violence (CAV) in 1997 re Chiong Sisters rape / slay case leading to the conviction of accused; among many others.


Innovative Cebu Taipan

With a woman’s INTUITION, Rosemarie leads Cebu Gaisano Main, Country Mall, GaisanoBogo and GaisanoBalamban as well as some 11 Gaisano Department Stores in Mindanao to newer heights as VICE PRES and COMPTROLLER.

She is a beautiful blend from a conservative Chinese upbringing and an eclectic bent resulting from a progressive school and stateside experience.

Her down to earth attitude can be seen and felt as she signs checks while talking about managing the chain of Gaisano Business Outlets in the midst of an office where her desk is not much different from the rest of the employees at Gaisano Main where she holds fort.

Rosemarie gives a warm womanly touch with loads of humor to big business in Cebu and to the world. This innovative Cebu Taipan is all WOMAN!


Forerunner of the Cebu Women’s Club Movement

For 50 years, Gloria Ligot - Escaño has emblazed her passionate mark to the charities and civic organizations she had led and continues to inspire.

Foremost of her passion is the CEBU Woman’s Club, which she led from 1955 to 1997. Inspired by the guiding light of volunteerism from her predecessors the growth and advancement of the hospitals and health centers in Cebu rose unprecedentedly. For this, in 1970, the National Federation of Women’s Club in Manila, honored the Cebu Women’s Club with an award of Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Public Service. As a result, the Cebu Provincial Board donated the land for the Cebu Puericulture Center Maternity House and the CEBU Woman’s Club for the perpetuation of Maternal and Child Care Services. A real alleluia for Gloria!


Cultural Lover / Guardian of Cebu’s Heritage

Madrileña’s love for cultural heritage began in her native Carcar. It was nurtured by the ICM sisters at St. Catherine’s School and at St. Theresa’s College especially by Sr. Ma. Delia Coronel.

In 1991, Madz together with her UPCC senior high school students initiated the Cebu Cultural Week.

Then UP Center for Women’s Studies recognized her dissertation – Towards Developing Philippine Feminist Leadership: Articulations and Experience of Selected Women Leaders as a significant contribution to feminist scholarship.

For three years now, Madz has been the cluster editor of nine writers, preparingthe history of their municipalities for the Town History Project of Cebu Province.

Madz was instrumental in having the UP Cebu Administration Building be declared as a historical site.


Exponent of the Cebu Girl Scout Movement

Ma’am Pura as she is so fondly called by young girls and not so young alike, had served the longest as Council Executive Director from 1962 – 1999.

The Cebu Girl Scout Pilot Troop had Ma’am Pura as their Troop Leader way back in 1962. While her Assistant Troop Leaders taught the girls the skills needed for them to earn service badges; it was Ma’am Pura who taught them about life. As Executive Director she professionalized the Girls Scout Cebu Chapter.

Ma’am Pura had been headstrong, a trait needed to steer the Cebu Girl Scout Movement to what it has become today. The Girl Scout Cebu Council is where it is now because once upon a time, Ma’amPura offered the best years of her life believing in young girls challenging them to pursue their dreams and become the best that they could be.


Practical Development Worker

Dominica B. Chua is a Cebuana whose passion for social development is balanced with the ability to conceptualize development programs and manage a big foundation.

Fresh out of college, she joined the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI). Armed with a background in business and accounting and law, plus her experience in community organizing and trainings in developmental issues, she rose from the ranks to become RAFI’s Chief Operating Officer.

She has held the position for 16 years, setting up its systems and processes, particularly securing the foundation’s sustainability, at the same time creating and initiating holistic programs by capitalizing on partnerships with various sectors in society.

Truly, Ma’am Domi is a dynamic force behind social development efforts in Cebu.


Seed Sower for Rural Development Through a Glass of Milk

Grace J. Cenas finished a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from St. Theresa’s College, Cebu and a master’s degree from the University of San Carlos. She was totally unaware that her real passion was in the development of the local dairy industry in Cebu and in the Visayas.

Aside from providing livelihood to small farmers and their families through the establishment of dairy enterprises, Grace tapped various government and private entities in the launching of milk feeding programs for thousands of malnourished children using the milk products of dairy farmers.

In recognition of her remarkable achievements, Grace now serves as the first Cebuana Administrator of the National Dairy Authority, under the President Benigno C. Aquino’s administration.


Women Advocate through Developmental Banking

She trailblazed in rural banking support toward women development in the northern municipalities in CEBU (Sogod, Carmen, Catmon & Camotes).

She took over the reins of the Community Rural Bank of Catmon in February 1986. From a one unit bank, it has now four branches servicing the towns of Carmen, Sogod, Poro and San Francisco.

SIKAP, the microfinance arm of the bank started in 1998. From an initial reach of 60 all women clients, it has now grown to 7,306 clients, with 85% of it being women.


“Invincible President of Two Universities”

While Dr. Alice Cabatingan is a nurse she opted to be an educator. A consistent honor student from grade school to doctoral studies, Dr. Cabatingan had easily become the choice as President of two universities in the city (SWU and USP-F) one after the other and initiated real academic growth in both institutions especially the latter. One of her Important contributions was in the strengthening of international linkages through student exchange program. She established partnerships with universities in South Korea, Taiwan & Thailand among others, in the field of technology, management and health.

As a recognition of her endeavors , she had been given the Distinctive Award in Education by the Sports Commission of Taejon, South Korea.


Town Cultural Transformer

ErlindaCabahug is one of the most esteemed and multi-awarded public elementary teachers in Madridejos.

Her heritage work began when she acted as Tourism officer of Madridejos for more than a year. This commendable stint was exemplified by a well-managed Kota Beach Park, ensuing public museology with several barangays of the town and successful implemention of the cultural mapping project.

She has documented the significance of the Kota spanning the different periods of its history: Spanish, American, Japanese and the contemporary times.

As a teacher in tourism subjects in the community college, she trained and deputized her college students as documentors for the holding of Suroy-SuroySugbu in Madridejos.


Women Empowerment for Service and Development

Shirley Cabañero- Belleza is a born organizer, always putting public service first when she was Talisay City councilor. Her effervescent presence fosters camaraderie and inspires cooperation. She has been instrumental in shaping the future for women Talisaynons and the Cebuano community. Her energy makes her a natural leader: friendly, artistic, and outgoing. Her dictum as public servant is [young in the service], “Leadership is for Service, not for Power.” Shirley’s mark for service and genuine women development remains unassailable as Talisay has been nationally recognized and in the Hall of Fame in Cebu Province.


Leading Force for a Cebu Uniting for Sustainable Water

Concretizes and trailblazes the role of civil society toward effective governance and authentic community empowerment as she guides the Cebu Uniting for Sustainable Water ( CUSW) and the Central Cebu Protected Landscape-Protected Area Management Board (CCPL-PAMB) toward genuine biodiversity and survival of planet earth.
When Socorro a.k.a. “Bajing” was appointed member of CCPL-PAMB she was both humbled and challenged. The CCPL encompasses 29,000 hectares and is composed of 3 water shed areas: Buhisan, Mananga&KotkotLusaran and 2 national parks, Central Cebu and Sudlon.
As lead of CCPL-PAMB, she helps draft and implement policies and activities to ensure the effective management of the protected areas. So, with her zeal toward the earth’s conservation and sustainability being the head of CUSW for the past years, Cebu’s stake toward survival is secured!


The Refuge for Street Children

She did not see Christ so much in the statues and crucifixes in the church. But Sister Mary Marcia Antigua, felt and heard Christ calling her through the presence and images of street children sleeping on the side walks and market places.

With these disturbing scenes in her conscience, she organized the project called “Dangpanan” – (‘refuge in English). Starting with a small apartment, the influx of girls who came for help eventually moved Sr. Mary to build a Center in Laray, Inayawan ,Pardo. Nevertheless, at the request of people in the Carbon market area, they continued with a small center which serves as a daycare center for children of market vendors.



A Ph.D in Education specializing in the training of Science Teachers at Michigan State University has made Ma’am Cel the most sought-after DOST Director in the Philippines for several years.

Mentoring the trainors’ and teaching the teachers’ became the call of the hour after science and math became the nexus of development.

Her teaching prowess and travels abroad have garnered for her numerous awards and commendations.

The Confederation of Scientific and Professional Organizations recognized her with a Leadership Award for pioneering in the organization of scientific and professional organizations in Region 7; which served as the model for other regions in the country.


The “Schovocate” of Heritage and Literary Scholarship

She is a contemporary scholar and advocate of Cebuano language and literature. As director of the Cebuano Studies Center since 1996, she has consistently worked for the advancement of heritage studies in Cebuano culture. An active member of the Women in Literary Arts (WILA), she writes poetry and fiction in both English and Cebuano.

She has published numerous papers and primary texts which she wrote and/or edited on Cebuano literature.

A significant contribution to Cebuano scholarship are her two compilations of purely indigenous terms: Dictionary of Cebuano Arts (2006) and Dictionary of Bisayan Arts (2009).


Child Advocate with Spirituality

Esperanza “Becbec” has actively organized women in poor urban and rural communities. She served in Manila Asian Social Institute as Academic Coordinator in the Center for Asian Dialogue and a Center for Spirituality, before switching to the Philippine Office of the Save the Children Fund.

At present, she is at the helm of Feed the Children Philippines where she actively advocates for “A Future where Filipino Children live healthy, happy and meaningful lives.”

For many years now, Feed the Children Philippines is true to its mission in pushing for the survival, development, protection and participation of children in partnership with their families and communities.