Do you know that Bicolanos are among those who first value gender equality?
During the times when women were still struggling for equality, Filipinas were already carving their names in various fields. Among them is a Bicolana who took the nation by surprise when she topped the bar examination in 1930 and the civil service examination in 1937. She became the second female administrator of the Social Welfare Administration (now, Department of Social Welfare and Development), and became the fourth Lady Senator of the Philippines. Her name: Tecla San Andres-Ziga.
Tecla was born in Nueva Caceres (now, Naga City) on August 28, 1906. She studied her elementary in Santa Isabel College and her high school at the Catholic Central School. She finished her Liberal Arts and obtained her law degree from the University of the Philippines in 1930. That same year, she took the bar and became the first woman to top it. Her score in remedial law was 99%. Immediately, she was taken in as assistant attorney in the DeWitt law office, the famous and highly respected law office at that time, where she worked for seven years.
In 1937 she took the civil service examination for lawyers and after topping it, was employed in the Department of Justice where she stayed for several years.
In November 1955, she was elected to Congress to serve the unfinished term of her brother – in – law, Lorenzo P. Ziga, who had died in an accident. In the halls of Congress, she distinguished herself for her vigilant fiscalizing and genuine concern for women and children. She sponsored measures for the protection of women and children, regulation of practice in dietetics, and the like. She served as Congresswoman representing Albay’s First Congressional District from November 8, 1955 to 1957 and was re-elected in 1957 to serve from January 27 to December 1961.
After her stint in the Congress, she was appointed as administrator of the Social Welfare Administration — now, the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
After barely a year in office, she was elected to the Senate in 1963 and became the fourth lady senator to break into the legislative body once exclusive for males. The first female to become a Senator was Geronima Pecson (1947-1953) of Lingayen Pangasinan followed by Pacita Madrigal -Gonzales (1954-1961) and Maria Kalaw Katigbak (1962-1969). Pacita Madrigal-Gonzales is the aunt of Senator Maria Ana Consuelo Madrigal de Valade or popularly known as “Jamby Madrigal” who claims to be from Guinobatan, Albay.
In the Senate, Tecla became a member of the committees on agriculture and natural resources, education, foreign affairs, blue ribbon, community development, social justice and welfare, among others. Because of her sterling performance, she became a recipient of various awards.
Tecla was to Venancio Ziga and the mother of Senator Victor Ziga.
Though her birthplace is Naga City, she claimed to be more at home in Tabaco City where she lived the rest of her life. Tecla San Andres Ziga died on August 17, 1992.