Cover Photo: Britannica

In honour of women's history month, and international women's day we celebrate and honour these 11 remarkable women who have made history—be it by excelling in their respective fields or creating their own path towards a momentous victory. Read all about these fantastic women who were firsts:

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Miriam Defensor Santiago

The late senator Miriam Defensor Santiago was the first Filipino and Asian judge of the International Criminal Court. She was also the first female editor-in-chief of the University of the Philippines' student newspaper, Philippine Collegian. Many revere the senator for her intelligence and courage in fighting corruption in the country.


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Anastacia Giron-Tupas

In 1917, Anastacia Giron-Tupas made history by becoming the Philippine General Hospital's first chief nurse and superintendent. All the while, Calderon and a group of nurses strived to prepare a new law that would benefit the nursing education system.

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Lea Salonga

The multi-award-winning singer and actress Lea Salonga was the first Asian female to play Éponine and Fantine in the Broadway musical Les Misérables. She is also the first Asian female to win Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical for Miss Saigon and Best Direction of a Musical at the Tony Awards. She was also the first Asian woman to win a Laurence Olivier award. 

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Paz Marquez-Benitez

Paz Marquez-Benitez is a prominent figure in the history of Philippine Literature. She wrote the first modern short story in English entitled, "Dead Stars" which was published in 1925. She was also the mentor of the first generation of Filipino writers in English.

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Angelita Castro-Kelly

Decorated space scientist Angelita Castro-Kelly was the first-ever female mission operations manager of NASA. Before becoming a mission operations manager, she was also a project manager and helped develop the successful Shuttle or Spacelab Data Processing Facility.

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Gloria Diaz

For the first time ever, a Filipina brought home the crown for winning the Miss Universe pageant in 1969. The victorious 18-year-old candidate was Gloria Diaz, who charmed the whole world with her beauty and wit. After that remarkable night, Diaz continued to make history as she flew across the world to promote advocacies.

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Concepción Felix de Calderón

Concepción Felix de Calderón, otherwise known as Concepción Felix, is a true feminist icon in the Philippines. She was the woman behind the Feminist Association of the Philippines which was established in 1905. De Calderón, along with two other women, presented a petition for suffrage—which was signed by 18,000 women—to lawmakers in the Philippines. Soon, her efforts to fight for human rights were recognised, earning her a Presidential Medal in 1966.

Read more: International Women's Day: Women of Power in The Philippines

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Kelsey Merritt

Kelsey Merritt moved to New York City in 2017 to begin her journey of becoming a model. Merely a year later, she became the first Filipino-American model to join Victoria's Secret runway show. Kelsey has now been featured in American Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, and Elle. 

Fun fact: she is a Gen T honouree! 

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Cory Aquino

Maria Corazon Cojuangco Aquino, also known as Cory Aquino, became the Philippines' first female president in 1986. Before Aquino took on her role as the 11th president of the country, a massive revolution—now remembered as The People Power Revolution—was held along EDSA as an effort to overthrow the dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

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Aimee Carandang

Maria Aurora Carandang-Gloria, popularly known as Aimee Carandang, had flown high in 1993. It eventually led her to become the country's first female commercial pilot. Since then, Carandang has become an inspiration for many women across the country. The number of lady pilots has continuously grown since.

Read more: 10 Business Women Shaping the Philippines

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Carina Dayondon

Gen T honouree Carina Dayondon literally climbed her way to the top and made headlines as the first Filipina to successfully reach the peak of the highest mountain in Antarctica, Vinson Massif, in December 2018. Not long after, Carina also stood victorious at the peak of Mount Everest along with two other Filipinas. 

Read more: 25 Filipina Power Women