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Remembering life and works of Senator ‘Imay’

In most Filipino aspects especially in politics, men have ever since predominated over women.
Filipino women have come a long way to prove their crucial roles in the nation's struggle towards freedom, social justice and development.
In Philippine history, one of the most significant civic movements was Filipinas’ fight for suffrage.
From the establishment of Asociacion Feminista Filipina in 1905, to the formal organization of National Federation of Women’s Clubs of the Philippines in 1921, various Filipinas have led the fight for women’s right to vote.
During the plebiscite held on April 30, 1937, women's movement succeeded and won their right to suffrage by overwhelmingly gaining more than the 300,000 needed votes.
But did you know that one of the Filipinas who passionately led the movement for women’s suffrage in the country, is a Pangasinense fondly called as “Imay”?
According to Dyxon Lix Dizon, representative of the Unified Tomelden Clan, "Imay" as she was fondly called is Geronima Tomelden Pecson, who was also an educator, suffragist, and a “super social worker” who was born on December 19, 1995 in Barrio Libsong in Lingayen town.
"She graduated as a teacher and married Judge Potenciano Pecson," he said, adding that Imay is the second child of Don Victor Tomelden and Doña Maria Paz Paiso.
During her lifetime, Imay’s leadership in the civic movement and in the fields of social work and education, which made huge contributions in the life of Filipinos that are still felt today, has gained popularity.
Her quality leadership has made her secure a Senate post in 1947, making Imay the first Filipino woman to be elected as Senator in the Philippines.
But beyond being the "First Woman Senator of the Philippines" who passed laws concerning education, health, social welfare and other notable legislations during her term, Imay also became the first woman and first Filipino elected in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Executive Board.
She was also recognized as the first woman to sit on the governing body of a United Nations agency.
A woman of "first" and notable accomplishments, Senator Imay also led the establishment of the Foundation of Youth Development in the Philippines (FYDP) in 1966 which provided illiterate and semi-illiterate youth and young adults with basic literacy skills to give them a better chance for employment and hence, a better life.
The numerous awards she received from civic, religious, and educational institutions substantiated Senator Imay’s outstanding accomplishments.
Among which were the Press Association’s Legion of Honor Award from the President of the Philippines, Pro Patria Presidential Award, 1964 Outstanding Award for excellent service in Philippine education, Presidential medals and citations for “educational statesmanship through legislation” and for “being the first Filipino and first woman elected to the executive board of UNESCO”.
True to her words, Imay really projected her work more than herself.
With such huge contributions in the life of Filipinos, the Pangasinan Provincial Government, through the Provincial Tourism and Cultural Affairs Office (PTCAO), organized an exhibit featuring her works and contributions to remember the late senator and display her life and works to the public.
Entitled, “Saray Matalunggaring ya Bibii ed Awara’y Pangasinan,” the exhibit highlights Imay’s life and works through vivid photos and significant documents during her lifetime.
The free admission exhibit is open to the public until September 2, 2022 from 9AM to 4PM at Casa Real in Lingayen town.
The exhibit is not only a space for learning, but more so, space for remembering and honoring one of the most notable women in both Pangasinan and Philippine history. (JCR/AMB/EMSA/PIA Pangasinan)

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Elsha Marie Arguel


Region 1

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