Press Release
March 2, 2021

Senate honours Princess Tarhata

She was a remarkable woman who defied convention and fought for gender equality when most Filipino women, let alone Muslim women, struggled to have their voices heard.

On Monday, March 1, 2021, the Senate adopted a resolution honoring and expressing its regret on the death of Princess Tarhata Alonto-Lucman, who passed away last February 24 at the age of 94 in Marawi City.

Princess Tarhata was born to a political family in Ditsaan Ramain, Lanao (now Lanao del Sur) on June 26, 1926. She was a daughter of the first Maranao senator under the Philippine Commonwealth in 1935, a sister of congressmen, a wife to Rep. Sultan Rashid Lucman, mother to vice governors and aunt to other political figures in the family.

But Princess Tarhata was more than a mother or an aunt or a sister of politicians. She was an intelligent woman who refused to be bounded by the religious and cultural constraints of her time.

Princess Tarhata served as the first female Governor of Lanao del Sur. In his resolution (Senate Resolution 665), Sen. Richard Gordon said Princess Tarhata was given an American education in the 1930s "where public education was given for free for everyone." The princess was personally tutored and handled by American teachers, notably her adopted mother, Mrs. Spencer, who was part of the Thomasites sent by the United States to conduct humanitarian work in the Philippines.

Princess Tarhata pursued public education and within one year of attending school in her hometown. She was accelerated to grade 4 at the age of 6 years.

"Her invaluable work as Governor resulted in strengthened equal rights for Moro women, inclusion of Lanao del Sur in the list of 22 pilot provinces of the Provincial Development Assistance Program, a joint undertaking of the national government and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to enhance agricultural production as part of the national government's Green Revolution project, and institutionalized performance-based budget planning process thereby removing the illegal practice of the office in giving commission before funds could be released," the resolution read.

It was under Princess Tarhata's leadership as Governor of Lanao del Sur when Muslim-Christian relations were peaceful and strong, according to the resolution.

The princess respected the Christians' festivities and church practices, and supported the national government's "balik baril" program where civilians and rebels were encouraged to turn in their guns in exchange for their boat fare to a pilgrimage in either Mecca or Medina. She even used her personal savings to settle vendettas and make rebels and soldiers cease fighting, the resolution added.

"Her years of dedication to public service will never be forgotten by being an active negotiator and mover of peace and development in Mindanao and by declaring to all Muslims and Christians that Islam is peace. Princess Tarhata indeed is a woman leader, politician, pioneer, and peace negotiator," Gordon said.

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