Josefa Llanes Escoda founded the Girl Scouts of the Philippines (GSP) in 1940. Her career started as a social worker for the Philippine Chapter of the American Red Cross. She was sent to the US under scholarship for a master’s degree in social work from Columbia University. There, she began training girl scouts in the US in 1933, and returned to the Philippines to do the same.
President Manuel L. Quezon made her Girl Scout training a national organization where she was the first National Executive for GSP. Escoda was also appointed as the first elected treasurer and national president of the National Federation of Women’s Club (NFWC). Her noble work included providing rest rooms for women workers, free nursery classes, rural health and sanitation, and adult education.
Escoda played an important role during World War II where she offered aid to prisoners of war and help reconnect them with families in Manila, with the help of other women that she trained. By gaining the trust of Japanese forces, Escoda would use their resources to pass on to local prisoners in camps. However, this came to a halt when she was exposed and executed by the Japanese when they found out about her contributions.
Right before her arrest, Escoda conveyed to a friend: “If you survive, tell the people that the women of the Philippines did their part in making the ember sparks of truth and liberty alive till the last moment.”
Artist: Sabina Kencana, from Indonesia