On the 142nd anniversary of her birth, Filipinos using Google search were treated to a doodle that paid tribute to one of the country’s most prolific suffragists: Rosa Sevilla de Alvero.
An influential educator, journalist, and activist, Sevilla was born in Tondo, Manila on March 4, 1879.
She grew up with her aunt, who would often have patriotic and intellectual guests over. Overhearing the discourse and ideologies from these individuals would greatly influence Sevilla’s own views and beliefs.
Harboring a desire to bring about change in the society she lived in, particularly for women, Sevilla would go on to establish one of the first schools for women, the Instituto de Mujeres (Women’s Institute of Manila), at 21 years of age.
In her time, Sevilla took on several important issues, such as establishing Tagalog as the national language, women’s right to vote and independence from American rule.
Sevilla worked closely with famed poets Florentino Collantes and Jose Corazon de Jesus to present the first ever balagtasan at her school. This feat would ignite the movement to set Tagalog in place as the national language.
She also worked with Pura Villanueva Kalaw and Pilar Hidalgo Lim in 1916, to fight for women’s right to vote. Sevilla co-founded both the Federación Catolica de Mujueres (Catholic Women’s League) and the Liga Nacional de Damas Filipinas (National League of Filipino Women) to secure voting rights.
All her efforts eventually came to fruition, when voting rights were finally granted to women in 1937. Sevilla passed away in 1954.
Her accomplishments and contributions to the causes she tirelessly fought for were instrumental for women’s rights and the establishment of a national identity.
Her legacy continues to live on in modern society, and in the institution she built, which is still operational today, and is currently known as the Rosa Sevilla Memorial School.
PHOTO: Manila Bulletin