Philippine Women’s University celebrates centennial grand alumni homecoming

PWU alums from Southern California lead the national anthem. From left: Lily Harris, Vicky Soong, Elden Pablo, ExalIgidbashian, Tessie Lightholder, ArceliGagajena, Minda Gorospe, MarilouKinetz, MarigeneStrouse, and Mel Paredes.
Nostalgic visit at the PWU campus
Alums from California, New York and Chicago, bonding with former President Amelou Benitez Reyes by the Conrado Benitez Hall

MANILA – PWU’s Centennial celebration on February 24, at the Conrad Manila Hotel, drew about 1,400 alumni from all over the world.

“It was the perfect opportunity to rekindle ties with classmates and other alumni,” said PWU Alumni Association of Southern California President Lu Barretto, who led a delegation of 30 Philwomenians and families.

“The invitation to the homecoming was issued in person by Lydia ‘Lyca’ Francisca Benitez Brown of the PWU Alumni Relations Office,” said President-elect Marilou de OcampoKinetz.  “We are the 2019 Golden Jubilarians,” she proudly announced, “together with Lyca and Lu, Regine Flores-Tercero, Elizabeth de Guzman-Reyes, Lilia Rose Elevazo-Jose, and Mel Jimenez-Paredes (PWU HS’69).”

PWU President Dr. Jose Francisco B. Benitez has shared the good news during alumni gatherings that “alumni from the Visayas and Mindanao are a part of the PWU family and Davao City and Iloilo will soon be joined by a PWU in Silay City, Negros Occidental, through a donation of land by the Jison family.”

The hundred-year-old university continues its proud legacy – a private institution known for the diversity of its student population and its innovative programs such as Music, Fine Arts and its basic education unit JASMS Jose Abad Santos Memorial School which pioneered in a progressive learner-centered pedagogy that has become the cornerstone of a PWU education.



‘Hectic’ is an understatement for Philwomenians who came for the 100-year celebration of their alma mater. The time before and after the Feb. 24 grand reunion was all-consuming. The nurses had their own gathering at Novotel attended by Vicky, Elden and the Chua sisters Arceli, Aida and Tess. There were rehearsals for the program: stage formation for singers of the national anthem; dance numbers from Lena Mazanka and the PWU alumni group from Las Vegas, and from the Jubilarians. Virgie wanted to eat at Dampa; Esther wanted spicy noodles at Okada Casino; and Lu craved for fruits and convinced others to take a taxi to San Andres Bukid.  Driver was confused because he said it’s called San Andres Market.

SoCal ladies went their separate ways after the Centennial homecoming. A big group (13) that called themselves the Pangasinan/Vigan Team caravanned to Dasol, Pangasinan, hosted by Mel at their Jimenez-Paredes family farm house. The tourists included Tessie, Vicky, Exal, Virginia and Esther Reyes; the five ‘69ers; Myrna Lorenzana, PWU HS’70; and Mel’s high school friend Genevieve Buenaventura, who came with Mabel Tagoylo, a balikbayan from Georgia.

Mel and friends also visited the Hundred Islands in Alaminos, and “had a wonderful time at the Governor’s Island” according to her. They walked or rode a tram going places at the Dasoland Resort Family Adventure Park, developed as a town legacy by its owners Menardo R. Jimenez and wife Carolina (“family behind television giant GMA-7”). Their favorite was the big albino snake (Burmese Python) which they held and wrapped around their necks and shoulders.

The Ocampo sisters, Juliet Abrantes, Genie Strouse and Lena Mazanka, and their families visited Cebu, while Minda, son Raul and sisters Eden and Veekee had a “sentimental journey” to Bicol. Reggi had quite an experience at the Crocodile Farm in Puerto Princesa; and Exal continued her vacation to Australia. The Chua sisters bonded with relatives they haven’t seen for years; so did Puring Worrell, her sister, and husband Sen. Lu visited her Barretto and Magsaysay relatives in Olongapo and Zambales, and “time spent with her Aunt Lulu and cousin Billie ,” she said, “was the best thing ever for self-healing.”