Remembering the legacy of Carmen de Luna
In most histories in the Philippines, men are tediously studied and mentioned with their illustrious lives gracing the pages of many a history book. However, many Filipinas were able to equate or even prove themselves better than men, in the course of their lives. One of them is Carmen de Luna. She was born in San Miguel, Manila on 16 July 1873, to Sebastian de Luna and Ignacia Villajuan.
In line with her passion, she first took Maestra Elemental granting her a license to teach in elementary school. Then de Luna took another course from the Assumption Convent and graduated as Maestra Superior with a teaching license as a secondary school teacher.
In 1896, she and Librada Avelino, another remarkable Filipina, opened a school in Santa Cruz. It was only forced to close at the end of the Philippine Revolution because the new United States authorities required that school courses be taught in English. Both de Luna and Avelino traveled to Hong Kong to improve their mastery of English and after six (6) months, returned to the Philippines. She continued her education until she was able to earn a bachelor’s degree in Arts and Sciences in 1907.
For the Philippines, she was vital in educating the educators, as she founded the Centro Escolar de Señoritas in the same year, with Avelino. She firmly believed in the need to educate women, hence the creation of a school for girls. This educational institution would later be named Centro Escolar University. The said university is not only locally acclaimed but also serves to give a globally competitive form of education as an institution.
The long-living impression of Carmen de Luna known as “Sub” during her teaching days can be enveloped in the words ‘sophistication, discipline, and strictness.’ For, she wanted to put forward the significance of the embodiment of the value of character, hand in hand with academics to the students of the then-female learning institution. Thus, she highlights strict adherence to the rules and regulations of the school, and anyone who offends these laws will necessarily face the effects of these consequences.
In recognition of Carmen de Luna’s amenity as a civic, religious, and cultural leader, she was awarded for her services to the Filipino youth by President Elpidio Quirino on 13 July 1949 and in accordance with her excellent leadership in Catholicism, received a Papal award from Pope Pius XII on 10 August 1949. Being an outstanding educator, she was also awarded the Pro Ecclesia at Pontifice. Notably, she also received a gold medal for her contributions to Philippine education in 1950 during the Golden Jubilee of the Philippine Educational System. On 25 March 1961, she was granted the Presidential Award for her role as an educator and civic leader.
Aside from the multiple awards received, her contributions to society through charitable advocacies as an active member of the Liga de Mujeres and of La Gota de Leche enabled her to engage with the community through the utilization of feeding programs for orphans.
On this day, we celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of a woman of strength and valor. Amid the challenging times of Spanish and American colonization, she left a lasting impact and emerged as a distinguished figure among notable Filipinos. She dedicated more than half of her life to educating the youth, particularly the female population, making her an individual truly worth admiring.
Ancheta, Herminia M., and Michaela Beltran-Gonzalez. Filipino Women in Nation Building: A Compilation of Brief Biographies. Quezon City: Phoenix Publishing House, 1984.
Varias-De Guzman, Jovita, Remedios T. De Leon, Vicenta A. Santiago, and Teresita E. Erstain. Women of Distinction: Biographical Essays on Outstanding Filipino Women of the Past and the Present. Manila City: Bukang Liwayway, 1967.
Article by John Murie Cayetano, Sophia Anne de los Reyes, and Tisha Noleen Doller
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