Filipino women in the 19th and early 20th centuries used to be stereotyped as Maria Claras: shy, graceful, obedient. However, a lot of Filipinas back then have broken rank and empowered other women in male-dominated arenas such as politics, sciences, and the military. A Filipino Heritage Library exhibit at the Glorietta 4 Mall, entitled "Filipina Brava!", highlights the achievements of some of these women pioneers.
Honoria Acosta-Sison. She is recognised as the first Filipina medical doctor. She specialised in Obstetrics, and focused on studying malignancies in women.
Encarnacion Alzona. Aside from being the first Filipina to obtain a Ph.D., she is also regarded as the first Filipina historian, and is an advocate for women's right to suffrage. She is a National Scientist.
Corazon Aquino. A plain housewife, she successfully led the Filipinos to oust a dictator. She went on to become the first woman president of the Philippines whose influence is still strong even after her death.
Josefa Llanes Escoda. An advocate of women's right to suffrage, she also established the Girl Scouts of the Philippines.
Maria Paz Mendoza-Guazon. She is the third female medical doctor and one of the first two Filipinas to graduate from the University of the Philippines. She is also the first woman to reach the full professorship rank in the university.
Gabriela Silang. She symbolises bravery in women. A warrior, she was in the battle front against the Spanish forces in Ilocos.
Maria Mutia. She is the best example, in my opinion, of Filipinas breaking from the Maria Clara mold. She was granted legal separation from her husband who was abusive and was an alcoholic. Take note of the year: 1647.
These pioneer Filipinas are truly an inspiration. Filipina, brava!