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PRRM Chairperson Emeritus turns 97

by Leonard G. Reyes

PRRM’s Chairperson Emeritus Helena Benitez turned 97 on June 27. “Tita Helen”, as she is fondly called by friends and admirers, is a pioneer in public service and has earned her the moniker “First Filipina”.  Among the “firsts” in her long and illustrious career:

  • 1st Filipina, 1st Asian, and 1st woman international academic and legislative leader inducted into the Democracy Hall of Fame International (2003)
  • 1st Filipina Chair of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (1969)
  • 1st Filipina and 1st woman president of the Governing Council of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP, 1975)
  • Founder of the 1st Filipino dance company, Bayanihan National Folk Dance Company (1957)
  • 1st Filipina and 1st woman member of the Board of the International Association of Universities
  • 1st Filipina to be conferred the Presidential Award of the Order of Sikatuna, Rank of Datu
  • 1st Filipina to author the first law that protects the Philippine Eagle

(source: First Filipina: Helena Benitez)

A Tea Party was held at the Philippine Women's University to fete Sen. Helena Benitez on her 97th birthday.

The 1st Filipino dance company, Bayanihan National Folk Dance Company founded by Sen. Benitez in 1957, in its current incarnation.

Tita Helen, as she is fondly called by the people she has worked with, delights in the numbers during the Tea Party held in her honor at the PWU, of which she is the founder.

Sen. Benitez and close kin take time to pose for a photo with (R-L) PRRM President Isagani R. Serrano, PRRM Chair Senator Bobby Tañada and wife, Mrs. Azucena Tañada, PRRM VP Marlon Palomo and AVP Carla Santos.

An environmentalist long before the term was coined, Senator Benitez remains a staunch advocate of sustainable development. "When we fail to protect the environment, we fail to protect the fragile web that supports our own life" is one of her well-known adages. (source: Helena Benitez website)

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