/ 9 February 2022

EDUCATION Secretary Leonor Briones shared her journey and educational experiences that helped her be empowered during the Asia Women’s Forum 2022 last Thursday.

“I was fortunate I grew up in a family where there were no distinctions between genders. The driving ambition was to send all of us to school,” Briones shared in the virtual event hosted by the Asia CEO Forum.

The Asia CEO Awards hailed Briones as a Lifetime Contributor last year.

This year, the education chief was among the 13 outstanding women invited to share the stories behind their success.

Born during World War II in Guihulngan, Negros Oriental, Briones credited the efforts of her family, especially her parents who were teachers who prioritized learning by teaching children in their house and keeping them safe from the dangers of war.

“My parents were teachers, and what my mother did to distract the children from the noise and the horror of war was to gather them in our house, at the bottom of a gorge, and teach them how to read and write,” she narrated.

“There was no paper so banana leaves with lines were used, and sharpened bamboo sticks like barbecue sticks were used as pencils. That is how I learned how to write and read from worn-out books which my mother had saved from public school,” she added.

Inspired by her family, Briones excelled in pursuing her education. After high school, she finished Magna cum Laude from Silliman University while working as a bookkeeper in two bookstores.

She then obtained her Master’s degree in public administration from the University of the Philippines and post-graduate diploma at Leeds University in England and Harvard University in the United States.

During the forum, Briones recognized women as rulers, warriors, healers, princesses and leaders, thus, having equal status with men before the conquerors in the Philippines came in.

With this, she also challenged the traditional role of women in society.

“What I consider my contribution is my efforts and help in bringing back, resuscitating, encouraging, and inspiring women. We are equal with men, and with the freedom to choose what we want to be,” Briones said.