The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) is one with the nation in mourning the loss of Senator Leticia Ramos-Shahani, an icon of the modern empowered Filipina balancing finesse and fortitude with charm and grit.
Shahani was one of the authors, together with Senators Heherson Alvarez and Edgardo Angara, of Republic Act 7356 which created the NCCA, signed on April 3, 1992. She also co-authored RA 7355 which institutionalized the National Living Treasures award or the Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan (GAMABA). In the past, she has also served as a member of the NCCA Board as the Chair of the Senate Committee on Education, Arts and Culture, likewise, head of the NCCA National Committee on Library and Information Services (NCLIS), and until 2004, as presidential adviser on culture, and as chairperson of the Committee on Culture of the UNESCO. She was commissioner and chair of the National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women.
She had an extensive career in government service, andwas elected senator in 1987. She headed various committees in the Senate, such as the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Committee on Education, Culture and Arts, and Committee on Agriculture. She became president pro tempore in 1992 until 1996.
Among the most notable laws she authored for the benefit of the Filipino women were the “Shahani Law,” which sought to address gender discrimination at the workplace; the Anti-Rape Law of 1997; the Rape Victim Assistance and Protection Act of 1998; and a law providing for the five percent gender and development budget allocation for all government agencies.
Last August, President Rodrigo Duterte appointed her as member of the Board of Directors of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office in Taiwan. She was in the foreign service for 20 years and served as the United Nations Secretary General for Social Development and Humanitarian Affairs. She became the Philippine ambassador to Australia, Romania, Hungary and West Germany before she was appointed Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs and Chairperson of the National Commission on Women.
Senator Shahani married Ranjee Shahani, former Indian writer and professor with whom she has three children..
(Photo courtesy of Ms. Lila Shahani)