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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Leading Filipino Women: Librada Avelino

Librada Avelino
Woman Educator
(1873 - 1934)

         Librada Avelino was a great teacher. She founded one of the first modern universities for women.The story of Maestra Librada tells about the struggles and tireless efforts of one woman to build a school of higher learning which would train girls for good citizenship and ideal womanhood.

The Young Teacher
        Librada Avelino was born in Pandacan, Manila on January 17, 1873. Her father was Don Pedro Avelino, a pharmacist, and her mother, Francisca Mangali.
        Librada loved to study even as a child. In the early days many children did not like to go to school. But Librada went to school gladly. As she was bright, she easily learned her lessons.
       Her first teacher, Maestra Luisa Bacho, was very proud of her intelligent pupil. One day the Governor-General visited Pandacan. He was told about Ada’s good memory. The governor asked her to solve problems in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. She solved all the problems without a mistake.
       Ada always dreamed of being a teacher. To prepare herself for this work, she entered a private school for girls. She next studied in the school of Dona Margarita Lopez, where she prepared for the examination given to teachers. Ada passed the examination.

Maestra Ada Opens A School
      Then Ada opened her own school in Pandacan. Her school soon became well-known in the district. Many parents sent their children to study in her school because she was a kind and patient teacher.
      One of these parents, however, was doubtful about Ada as a teacher. He was a Spanish named Don Fernandez. He brought his daughter Felisa to the school and there met Maestra Ada, who was a small woman.
“How small she is,” said Don Fernandez. “Is she the teacher?”he asked someone in the room within the hearing of Maestra Ada. She pretended not to hear. She at once took charge of Felisa and took her around the school. Felisa soon grew to love and respect Maestra Ada. She asked her father to let her two sisters study in the same school. He consented.

Maestra Ada Studies English
      Maestra Ada wanted to study further so that she could teach in the high school. So she entered the Assumption College.
      At this time her mother died. But her sorrow did not stop Ada from continuing her efforts to improve herself and her school. She built another school in San Sebastian, Manila. But this school was ordered closed because English was not taught there.
     Ada now took lessons in English. She learned it very quickly. She also studied at night. Then she went to Hong Kong to learn more of the language from the people there. When she returned to the Philippines, she was given a job in a public school by the American Superintendent, Mr. David Barrows.

Ada Builds A University
     Maestra Ada did not teach long in the public schools. She left in 1907 to build her great school, the Centro Escolar de Senoritas. It started in a small building in the heart of Manila. With the help of good friends like Don Fernando Salas, Carmen de Luna, and Margarita Oliva, she improved the school.
     She started the idea of making girls take active interest in the government. She accompanied her pupils in visits to government offices and officials.
     She believed that it was a good way to teach her students the duties of citizenship. Ada was among the first educators to teach girls to know and to practice the duties of citizens.
     The Centro Escolar soon became known for teaching practical lessons in citizenship. Students from far and near came to Manila to study in this school.
    While she was busy with her work as a teacher, Ada never forgot her duties as a loving daughter. Every Christmas season she visited her old father and gave him a bag of coins. It was the joy of her father to give away these coins on Christmas day.

The Great Educator
     During the last years of her life, Librada Avelino received many honors. The University of the Philippines honored her as a great educator. The newspapers wrote about her accomplishments. When she died on November 9, 1934, the country mourned the loss of a great woman educator who had served her country well.

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