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A Woman for the Ages

Updated: Mar 8, 2022

by Cora Quisumbing-King.

When I think of International Women’s Day, my thoughts easily make their way back home

to the land of my birth and my youth where I knew a woman for many, many years. Born in a very small town in my home province of Cebu, she grew up under the tutelage of her mother whom she lost at the age of thirteen. Her guardian was her granduncle, a well-respected parish priest who must have anguished at how best to care for her. He sent her to a boarding school run by nuns away from the city but in the same province so she could easily visit the parish. What was life for her then without her mother and away from her father and granduncle? She rose to the occasion, excelled in high school and moved to the big city of Manila where the same congregation of nuns doted on her and kept many suitors at bay--except for a gentleman who became her husband.

The story of their courtship, their marriage and family life is a long one and perhaps I will share it with you one day. I will say that she could not have become an international woman had she not had a husband who helped her grow with confidence and strength. The “wind beneath our wings” was what she called him in her autobiography. A mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and great-great-grandmother, she was a renowned educator and administrator,

first in her home province and later in the national arena. She reaped many local and national awards even before she became the first female Secretary of Education of my country. She was an advocate in her own right. I was told that she matter-of-factly informed the President she would march with the teachers if their salaries were not raised. Her post as an ambassador to the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization gave her the opportunity to become a member of its executive board. She was the founding president of an organization in my home county focusing on the integration of values education in the curriculum. The international awards she received in the field of education can fill anyone who knew her with pride.

Many of the details of her career escape me (unless I check her curriculum vitae) since I was not a witness to her life once I made my own home in this country. I do know the influence she has had on others remains even to this day. While we are each admirable in our own way, I must admit she was “something else.” As my memory fades further still, I will always remember her. Her light shines forever. After all, she was my mother.


About the Author:

Born in Cebu City, Philippines, Cora attended St. Theresa’s College, then the Ateneo de Manila before embarking for the United States where she completed a Ph.D. in Social & Organizational Psychology under a Fulbright Hays grant. She met her husband Walter King at the University of Chicago and before retiring, Cora served as a manager, consultant and facilitator in the field of organization & leadership development at Liberty Mutual, the Amoco Management Learning Center, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and Banco Popular. Cora has resided in the United States for more years than she has lived in the Philippines – which continues to beckon her – and to where she used to return regularly with Walter and daughter Katrina. Their daughter followed both her parents in the PhD route though she is the true academician.

Cora is a member of the Dover Democrats Executive Committee, its Candidate Recruitment & Campaign Committee and the convener of the DD Social Justice Action Group. She serves as co-chair of the NHDP AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) Caucus and was named one of 250 national leaders from the AAPI community who endorsed President Joe Biden for President. She is also a member of the Dover ad hoc Committee for Racial Equity and Inclusion, the McConnell Center Advisory Board and a tutor at the Dover Adult Learning Center. A founding member of the Racial Unity Team’s AAPI Advisory Board, she was recently elected as Board member of the NH Racial Unity Team.

Her mother, Dr. Lourdes R. Quisumbing, passed away in 2017 at the age of 96.

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