Trinidad Rizal: The Heart of the Philippine Feminist Movement

In 1888, a group of forward-thinking women challenged the convention that gave men better access to education. The group, which would later be called the Women of Malolos, sent a request to Governor-General Valeriano Weyler for permission to open a night school where they could receive Spanish language classes. In truth, the letter was more than a mere request. One could look at it as a demand, or as a challenge to the prevailing norms of the time. This act of defiance set the groundwork for the feminist movement of the Philippines.

A prominent member of the group was Trinidad Rizal, sister of our national hero. Her life’s work, including those as a member of the Women of Malolos, cemented her own place in Philippine history. Trinidad – or Trining, as close friends and family her call her – was a Katipunera, and a staunch supporter of civic freedom. This drive earned her a prominent role in the Philippine feminist movement, and, ultimately, the history of Gota de Leche itself.

In 1905, Rizal joined the farsighted leader Concepcion Felix, and other educated women, to form Asociación Feminista Filipina, a progressive organization dedicated to the welfare of women and minors, with a special focus on infant mortality.

This led, in turn, to the founding of Gota de Leche 1906, which saw the establishment of a milk station and dairy, a socialized distribution system of pasteurized cow’s milk, and the formulation of maternal nutrition and education programs as its first activities. It set up of a system of service delivery in communities, a template followed nationwide by puericulture centers and government social service facilities in the coming decades.

Rizal’s work shaped and strengthened organizations such as Gota de Leche, Asociación Feminista Filipina, and La Protección de la Infancia. The legacy of her drive and commitment can be felt to this day, and it is a legacy Gota de Leche seeks to uphold.

Recommended reading:

Gota de Leche Timeline

How Women Built the Gota de Leche Building

The Philippine Feminist Movement: From the Women of Malolos to Gota de Leche

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