Nelia Sancho, beauty queen, women's rights activist; 71 | Inquirer News

Nelia Sancho, beauty queen, women’s rights activist; 71

/ 10:13 PM September 02, 2022

Women’s rights activist and former beauty queen Nelia Sancho has passed away, her family and colleagues from the Gabriela Women’s Party confirmed on Friday.

File photo lifted from Facebook

MANILA, Philippines — Women’s rights activist and former beauty queen Nelia Sancho has passed away, she was 71, her family and colleagues from the Gabriela Women’s Party confirmed on Friday.

In a public Facebook post, her daughter Anna Louise Sancho Liao confirmed the demise of the former beauty queen who eventually pursued activism and even became one of the co-founders of Gabriela.


“I will remember you this way, Nanay.  Savoring the moment, not afraid to try new things and so full of life,” Anna Louise said in her post showing a photo of her mother enjoying the sea.


“You will always be my mom, my rock and my strength. My critic and my cheerleader. Favorite Lola of my kids Ava and TJ and Best Lola to my nieces Chloe and Fiona and nephew Wayne Tony Scott. We already miss you,” she added.

In a separate statement, Gabriela Women’s Party offered condolences to the bereaved family of Sancho, noting that the women’s rights advocate showed that women are not meant to be mere submissive individuals.

“Gabriela Women’s Party expressed condolences to the family of Nelia Sancho, a staunch human-rights advocate and one of the co-founders of Gabriela, an organization named after the heroic Gabriela Silang that advocates for women’s rights,” the party said.

“She is proof that women are not meant to be submissive and obedient, but have a crucial role in pushing for genuine freedom and human rights,” it added.

Sancho was one of the two former beauty queens who became activists during the martial law regime of former president Ferdinand Marcos Sr., the other being Maita Gomez who was also affiliated with Gabriela.

Sancho joined Binibining Pilipinas in 1969, finishing first runner-up.  She was then crowned as Queen of the Pacific in a beauty pageant in Australia in 1971.


Like Gomez, Sancho was also an in-demand model for fashion designer and national artist Jose “Pitoy” Moreno.

“Despite winning the title of Queen of the Pacific in 1971, Nelia Sancho left the comforts of privileged life and became an activist at the onset of the First Quarter Storm and eventually joined the underground movement during Martial Law and became a political prisoner,” Gabriela said.

“Afterwards, she co-founded the women’s rights organization GABRIELA National Alliance of women with fellow beauty queen turned activist Maita Gomez. She became active in advocating for women empowerment, and one of the campaigners for just compensation for Filipina Comfort Women of World War 2,” it added.

According to Gabriela, Sancho’s life would be an inspiration to those who want to fight for women’s rights.

“Despite her passing, the life of Nelia Sancho will continue to inspire generations of women who will continue the fight against the worsening humanitarian crisis in the country,” the group noted.


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TAGS: Activist, Gabriela, Nelia Sancho, obituary

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