Rosa Sevilla de Alvero: Filipina Suffragist

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It's Women's Month, but the annual celebration observes on March 8 that highlights the contributions of women throughout history. The moment you'll visit Google.com, it shows an illustration of a woman wearing a Maria Clara dress while she places a ballot inside a box (lead image). This was the company's tribute to one of our suffragists who fought her fellow sisters of their right to vote in 1937. On this day (March 4), the year was 1879. Rosa Sevilla de Alvero was born.

Rosa Sevilla de Alvero

Rosa was born in Tondo, Manila to Ambrosio Sevilla, a sergeant of the Spanish Army, and Silvina Tolentino y Rafael. Before fighting their right to vote and for equality, she was sent to live with her aunt, an educator who hosted key figures during the Filipino Revolution. She would eavesdrop on their conversations about educational colonialism that mold her beliefs. She was one of two women staffers of La Independencia (The Independence), the revolutionary newspaper led by Gen. Antonio Luna.

Rosa pursued her passion of becoming a teacher at Assumption College and graduated as Maestra Superior (Senior Teacher), became the 1st Dean of Women at Universidad de Santo Tomas, and founded a school only for women on July 15, 1900, at the age of 21 - the Instituto de Mujeres (Women's Institute, now Rosa Sevilla Memorial School). It became a hot seat under her leadership as she educates women on topics from suffrage, vocation, to learn our local language. In 1916, with her institution in good hands, Rosa left Manila to organize Liga Nacional de Damas Filipinas (Philippine National Ladies League) as they begin to secure their right to vote.

The 1935 Constitution limited the right of suffrage to men, but that changed on September 30, 1936, the National Assembly passed Commonwealth Act No. 34 granting women's suffrage in the following year of April 30, 1937. Rosa, her fellow sisters in their organization, and other Filipinas were allowed to place their votes. With her efforts, she was given the Presidential Medal of Merit on July 4, 1948, for the services she did for the country. In that same year, she received the Queen Isabella II of Spain Award. She passed away at the age of 75 on May 11, 1954, and survived with her husband, Emilio Alvero.

A decade after granting Filipinas the right to vote, Geronima T. Pecson was the 1st woman senator elected in 1947. Years later, the 1st Filipina President, Corazon Aquino became the 11th President of the Philippines - the earliest country in South-East Asia to have a female president. The current 1987 Constitution grants equality for both men & women to vote, to run for public service, to political expression, and the right to information. No wonder why Filipinas like to participate in politics. Before, women were treated in other ways. Now, they can keep up with us men.

Sources:

Lead Image from https://google.com

https://www.google.com/doodles/rosa-sevilla-de-alveros-142nd-birthday

https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1403037/filipino-suffragist-rosa-sevilla-honored-in-google-doodle

https://kahimyang.com/kauswagan/articles/974/today-in-philippine-history-march-4-1879-rosa-sevilla-was-born-in-tondo-manila

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