Former Senator Helena Benitez dies at 102

The Philippine Women's University – of which Benitez was a longtime chairperson of the board of trustees – says she died of natural causes

PIONEER. Benitez was recognized by the Senate in 2012 'for her contributions as a Senator, pioneer environmentalist, educator, advocate of culture and civil society leader.' File photo by Joseph Vidal/Senate PRIB

MANILA, Philippines – Former Philippine Senator Helena Zoila Benitez died on Thursday, July 14, at the age of 102. 

The Philippine Women’s University – of which Benitez was a longtime chairperson of the board of trustees – said on Facebook she died of natural causes.

A memorial mass was held in earlier in the evening. The PWU Facebook page added, Benitez’s cremated remains “will be brought to PWU Chapel tomorrow, July 15, 2016 for the 7:00 p.m. mass. Viewing will continue until Sunday, July 17, 2016 from 9:00 am onwards. Her remains will also be brought to the Philippine Senate before its inurnment on July 19, 2016 at the Mira Nila Chapel, Quezon City.” 

Born on June 27, 1914, Benitez served in the Senate from December 30, 1967 to September 23, 1972. 

As the 7th elected woman senator, Benitez championed environmental protection, women’s rights, education, and culture and the arts. She was the founder of the world-renowned Bayanihan Philippine Dance Company, and was the first Filipina chairperson of the UN Commission on the Status of Women. (FAST FACTS: Helena Benitez on her 100th birthday)

She was also the first Filipina and first woman to become the president of the governing council of the UN Environment Program (UNEP). 

On June 4, 2012, the Senate also adopted a resolution – SR 786 – honoring Benitez for her service to the country.  Rappler.com