Maria Villanueva Kalaw
Daughter of Teodoro Kalaw and Purificacion Garcia Villanueva
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About Maria Villanueva Kalaw
A famous name, a scholar’s intellect, an impressive background in social work and undiminished good looks were the passport of Maria Kalaw Katigbak to the Philippine Senate.
MKK was a high school valedictorian and a holder of Bachelor of Philosophy degree from the University of the Philippines. As a Barbour scholar, she earned her - M.A. in Social Work. She earned her doctorate degree in Social Sciences from the University of Santo Tomas, magna cum laude.
In the field of civic and social work, Senator Katigbak was the president of the Girl Scouts of the Philippines and the Quezon City Girl Scouts Council. She was member of the national board, Catholic Women’s League, Philippine Board of Scholarships for Southeast Asia and the Commission on Appointments
She was 1928 Carnival Queen of the Philippines and held the following positions in the educational field: member, Board of National Education; member, Board of Trustees, Philippine Normal College, Philippine College of Commerce, Philippine college of Arts and Trade, Samar Institute of Technology and Mindanao Institute of Technology.
Foremost among the bills to her credit as legislator in Senate Bill No. 84, now Republic Act 3765. Also known as the Consumers Protection Bill, the measure seeks to extend protection to consumers buying goods on an installment plan and such other forms of credit transactions.
As a leading exponent of culture, she was responsible for Senate Bill No. 30, and Act to further amend Republic Act 621 entitled “An Act Creating the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization National Commissio0n.” She was appointed chief of the Board of Censors by President Marcos and wrote for the Manila Times.
Senator Katigbak was married to Dr. Jose R. Katigbak, obstetrician and gynecologist, by whom she has four children. Her parents are the late Teodoro M. Kalaw, writer, statesman, former secretary of the Interior, and Director of the National Library, and the late Pura Villanueva of the prominent Lopez – Villanueva family of Jaro, Iloilo, also a writer, pioneer for women’s suffrage and property rights for women, first president and organizer of the League of Women Voters.
Source: Philippine Senate
Maria Kalaw y Villanueva entered the Fifth National Beauty Contest of the 1931 Manila Carnival as a first second-generation candidate who received much press attention. After all, she was the daughter of the first Carnival queen (Pura Villanueva of Iloilo) and a Manila intellectual (Teodoro Kalaw of Batangas). When she won, she became the first second-generation Queen in Carnival history, in a last-minute, but well deserved victory.
Based on merits alone, Maria, too, was a stand-out. She was born on 14 February 1911 in Manila, the eldest in a brood of 4, that included brother Teddy and sisters Purita and Evelina. Maria’s first Carnival experience was in 1916, when she and her siblings joined—and won the Costume Contest, dressed as Oriental royalties. The children lived a charmed life in their San Marcelino home, where they were sent to the best schools and even traveled abroad with their parents. For her grade school, she attended St. Scholastica, then finished high school at the Philippine Women’s College.
For college, she chose to take up philosophy and letters at the University of the Philippines. Like her father, she cultivated a love for journalism and literature, and some of her writings saw print in national magazines such as Graphic and The Literary Apprentice, the school’s premiere magazine. She was involved in almost every major school organization—as a vice president of the UP Women’s Club, member of the Student Council and the UP Writer’s Club.
Of course, Maria’s beauty went unnoticed. She became the muse of the College of Law’s Bachelor Club and a regimental sponsor twice. A reporter from The Independent magazine wrote that “Maria’s beauty was dazzling, her friendliness in full bloom. Nobility is in her gestures and attitude..she seems born to be an Oriental empress”.
The next day, the new Queen nonchalantly went back to school in her regular white uniform, taking pains to look no different from her classmates. Maria, it seemed, was clearly more into her studies than her fleeting duties as a Carnival royal. Sure enough, after her reign, she went back to school and earned a Barbour scholarship in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she finished her Master of Arts degree in 1933.
A year after her return, she married a fellow Lipeño, Dr. Jose (Pepito) Katigbak, who was also a relative. The Katigbaks came from a clan of political leaders in Lipa, Batangas. Maria and Jose raised four children: Marinela (Nela), Josefina (Pinkie), Purisima (Puri) and Norberto (+Butch). Maria, when not tending her family, was also active in socio-civic movements, like the Girl Scout of the Philippines. In 1948, she was drafted into the Central Committee and later became the national president for 8 years.
In 1961, running under the Liberal Party, Maria won a seat in the Senate, jumpstarting her political career. She broke new barriers by going to Beijing and joining a Vietnam Mission. In between her busy schedules, she earned a Ph.D and wrote his parents’ biographies: Few There were (like my Father) in 1974, and Legacy: The Life and Times of Pura Villanueva Kalaw.
Failing to get re-elected, Maria went back to her writing and became a ‘Checkpoint’ columnist for Manila Times. In 1981, then Pres. Ferdinand Marcos named her as the Chairman of the Board of Review for Motion Pictures and Television and earned a reputation as a tough censor. After the untimely death of her only son Butch, Maria suffered from bouts of depression. Also a diabetic, Maria Kalaw-Katigbak was felled by a series of strokes on 10 December 1992. Her beloved husband, Pepito followed her two years after.
Source: Manila Carnivals