Sofía Reyes de Veyra (1876-1953)
Sofia Reyes de Veyra was born in and married the Resident Commissioner of the Philippines. In 1917, she accompanied him to Washington D.C. to advocate for Philipine independence from the United States. While she was there she and other Filipinas became active in the American suffrage movement.
Despite having only a few years of grammar school, Veyra was an extremely accomplished woman. She spoke three languages, had established the first nursing school in the Philippines, and founded several organizations serving the needs of women and malnourished infants. During her stay in America, she added to those accomplishments by joining the Congressional Red Cross unit, worked as her husband's personal secretary, raised their four children, knitted socks and sweaters for the army, and made it her personal mission to educate people about her home country by giving lectures using stereogram photos to proudly promote the Philippines and its people. She hosted a “made-in-the-Philippines” dinner at University of Missouri which featured Filipino students playing traditional music, food made by Filipino chefs and displayed the finest of Filipino handicrafts. She took correspondence courses in dressmaking, cooking, and housekeeping skills from the Women’s Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences in Scranton, Pennsylvania. She was so popular that the Congressional Woman’s Club made an exception and allowed her to be their first non-resident member.
Upon her return to the Philippines, she became Dean of the Domestic Science Department of the Centro Escolar University and co-authored a cook book. She continued to be active in women’s clubs and promote women’s issues. She advocated for proper care for the mentally ill, unwed mothers, lepers, and other marginalized members of society. Filipino women were granted suffrage in 1937. The islands of Philippines were recognized as an independent nation in 1946
Another important Filipino woman studied chemistry at University of Washington (Seattle campus) in the 1920s. Maria Orosa went on to revolutionize the food industry in the Philippines and became a war hero in WWII.