Geronima T. Pecson
GERONIMA T. PECSON, the first Woman Senator of the Philippines, was born in Barrio Libsong, Lingayen, Pangasinan on December 19, 1896. she was the second child of Victor Tomelden and Pacita Palisoc. She had early studies in the public schools of Lingayen. She earned her Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts degrees from the University of the Philippines. She married Potenciano Pecson, her fellow student at the state university.
A well-known suffragette, Geronima Pecson was a “silent-achiever”. She went about her work minus the attendant fanfare. Her outstanding accomplishments were substantiated by the numerous awards she received from civic, religious and educational institutions. She once said, “I would project my work rather tan myself.”
As a Senator, she headed the three important committees, namely, the Senate Committee on Education, the Senate Committee on Health and Public Welfare, and the Joint Congressional Committee on Education. She was also a member of the Commission on Appointments and of the Senate Electoral Tribunal. She was the prime mover of various notable laws, such as the Free and Compulsary Education Act of 1953; the Vocational Educaion Act; the law permitting the establishment of training facilities for instructors in specific national school of arts and trades; and the law transforming the school of forestry of the University of the Philippines into a college.
Known in civic circles as a “super-social worker”, she worked as a private secretary to President Jose P. Laurel. In 1946, she served as an Assistant Executive Secretary of President Manuel A. Roxas. A year later, she joined the senatorial elections, and made political history by garnering the third largest number of votes. She then became the first woman senator.
Senator Pecson was the recipient of distinguished awards, 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”.
Geronima T. Pecson – senator, educator and social worker – was indeed a leader of the Filipino women in nation-building.