IN TIME for the United Nation’s International Women’s Day last March 4, a young, ambitious photographer celebrated and honored Filipino women who have made milestones through an exhibit at the Bulwagang Juan Luna at the Cultural Center of the Philippines from Jan. 26 to Mar. 11.

Isa Lorenzo’s photo exhibit, Filipinas, presented 30 women, including former President and honorary Thomasian Corazon Aquino, actress Gloria Romero, and alumna Eugenia Duran-Apostol, founder of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Curated by Deanna Ongpin-Recto, the exhibit was an ensemble of women from all walks of life who have greatly contributed to Philippine culture and society. Lorenzo photographed, among others, 2004 Magsaysay honoree Haydee Yorac, actress and producer Armida Siguion-Reyna, and economist and TV host Solita Monsod. Lorenzo chose those women who she said were pioneers in their fields.

The exhibit also featured women who have left lasting impressions in the arts and culture such as National Artist for Theater and UST alumna Daisy Hontiveros–Avellana, Anita Magsaysay–Ho, the pioneering modernist painter and the only woman among the so-called the “Thirteen Moderns.” The exhibit also included Nene del Rosario-Villanueva, a renowned pianist who had played with the New York Philharmonic and the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) Symphony, and Ligaya Fernando-Amilbangsa, choreographer, writer, and teacher who had passionately studied and taught Pangalay, a dance style of the Sulu archipelago. The exhibit also included well-known historian and journalist Carmen Guerrero–Nakpil.

Then there were also included women in politics such as former senators Leticia Ramos-Shahani and Santanina Tillah-Rasul, as well as the first female cabinet member, Estefania Aldaba-Lim, who worked as the secretary for the Department of Social Services and Development from 1971-77.

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However, the exhibit’s true cornerstones were those women who have silently pioneered their works behind the scenes, for many years: Fe del Mundo, 95, was the first woman president of the Philippine Pediatric Society; Leonora Paraan San Agustin, who was a teacher and community service worker in Baguio and Mountain Province; and siblings Fe and Honorata Muyot, who dedicated themselves to teaching at the College of the Holy Spirit. The exhibit also included Eva Fidela Maamo, a nun and medical doctor who used her knowledge in the field of medicine for her missionary work.

The photographs, all portraits, were shot in grayscale, with most against a white background. “I didn’t want any clutter,” Lorenzo said. “The absence of a background allows their gestures and personalities to fill the photograph completely.”

But Lorenzo, a graduate of the New School University-Parsons School of Design in New York City also used file photos as those of Yorac, who passed away last September.

Lorenzo said she wanted to show the “strong, timeless Filipina with a humanity that transcends history and legacy.” The exhibit will be displayed across the country and in the United States and Europe.

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