This profile was part of the Faculty of Public Affairs’ 75 for the 75th series, which highlighted 75 notable alumni in FPA in honour of Carleton University’s 75th anniversary. These stories were published in 2016 and 2017.
Social Welfare Secretary, Government of the Philippines
Master of Arts, Public Administration (’92)
After Phillipines President Ferdinand Marcos proclaimed martial law in September 1972, an estimated 30,000 opposition figures, journalists, activists and students were imprisoned and tortured. Judy Taguiwalo was one of them.
Today, she serves as Social Welfare Secretary in the controversial government of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. As a survivor of the Marcos regime, Ms. Taguiwalo challenged the recent government decision to bury Ferdinand Marcos at the “Heroes Cemetery”, or Libingan ng mga Bayani, in November 2016.
“Marcos is not and can never be a hero,” she wrote in a statement.
Fellow leftists pressured her to resign, but she told a press conference at the time, “I accepted the post in the Duterte government because the Left finds common ground on pursuing talks for just and lasting peace, prioritizing social services and the needs of the poor.”
These priorities have been the hallmark of Ms. Taguiwalo’s career. After earning her Master of Public Policy and Administration degree, she returned to the Philippines to work as executive director of a non-governmental organization focused on women. She also served as a lecturer at the University of the Philippines, which established a Department of Women and Development Studies in 2000. Ms. Taguiwalo credited her Carleton experience with helping her obtain the position of Chair.
“My Master’s degree was the minimum requirement for me to enter academe and to eventually obtain tenure,” she says. “I pursued the development stream, which provided me with an integrated approach to development and gave me qualitative and quantitative knowledge useful in both teaching, administration and community engagement.”
Ms. Taguiwalo’s focus on women and development was also reflected in her PhD dissertation on women in the labour movement during the American colonial period. After earning her PhD in 2007, she became head researcher for the Preliminary Gender Audit at the university and was involved with the Magna Carta of Women—a Philippine law that mandates government offices address gender bias. It is based on the UN Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women. This led to her appointment as director of the University Centre for Women’s Studies in 2014.
“In that capacity, I led the work of the centre on research, training and publication on women. The Centre also convened an annual meeting of the women/gender units of the various University of Philippines constituent universities under the UP system,” she says.
After retiring from this position, Ms. Taguiwalo accepted the appointment as Social Welfare Secretary in 2016.
When asked what advice she would offer new graduates to the program, she says, “develop the passion for whatever you are doing and combine academic life with an interest in society and in social transformation.”
Ms. Taguiwalo also shared a quote from Eduardo Galeano, a Uruguayan author: “I don’t believe in charity. I believe in solidarity. Charity is so vertical. It goes from the top to the bottom. Solidarity is horizontal. It respects the other person. I have a lot to learn from other people.”
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