Former beauty queen and activist Nelia Sancho dies
NELIA SANCHO – A former beauty queen and activist has passed away at the age of 71.
Her passing was confirmed by Gabriela party-list. However, her cause of death was not disclosed.
In a statement, Gabriela 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.”
Sancho, who comes from a well-known family in Aklan, rose to fame as a beauty queen between the 1960s and 1970s. She competed in Binibining Pilipinas in 1969 while still a student at the University of the Philippines (UP), finishing first runner-up to Gloria Diaz, who would go on to win the nation’s first Miss Universe crown.
Nelia Sancho received her own title when she was crowned “Queen of the Pacific” in Melbourne, Australia, in 1971. Additionally, Pitoy Moreno and other fashion designers sought her out as a model.
Later, Sancho stepped away from the spotlight to become a student activist during the regime of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr., earning her the nickname “Rebel Queen” from the media around the world.
Sancho was detained on subversion-related accusations while being immersed in Cagayan de Oro City’s shantytowns. Her two-year detention, from 1976 to 1978, was terminated due to humanitarian concerns.
Then, Sancho helped create the women’s group Gabriela.
She served as the secretary-general of Lila-Filipina in the late 1990s, an organization that supported Filipina comfort women who had been mistreated by Japanese soldiers during World War 2.
She continued to fight for victims of human trafficking and comfort women up until the time of her death.
Meanwhile, her family is still deciding on the specifics of her wake and funeral as of the time of writing.
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