WODEEF Founder Victoria Tan Bio

Victoria Tan Bio

WODEEF Founder Victoria Tan

April 5, 1945 – October 1, 2002

Visionary and Founder
Women Development and Earth Foundation (WODEEF)
Cordova, Cebu – Philippines

Victoria (Vicki) Tan was the second child of Manuel Tan (a Chinese immigrant to the Philippines) and Gregoria Pacaldo, a native of Cordova, Cebu. Born in the Philippines during the end of World War II, Vicki has one older brother, two younger sisters and half brothers and half sisters.

She attended Cordova Elementary School, finished high school from the University of the Visayas, Cebu, Philippines and obtained a Liberal Arts degree from Colegio de San Jose-Recoletos, a Catholic university run by Recollect Fathers. After graduating from college, she taught at the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart Seminary in Cebu, and another institution in Surigao, Philippines. She joined the Benedictine Sisters in Manila, but after a brief time in the convent she realized that this was not her vocation.

Throughout her life, Vicki’s heart went out to the plight of those living in poverty in the Philippines. She became active in the grassroots resistance movement to the Marcos regime in the early 70’s. As an activist she witnessed first-hand the oppression of her people, especially the experiences of women and children.

In 1981, through her sister, who had immigrated and became an American citizen, Vicki went to the United States. In the USA she first worked in a battered women’s shelter and then at a day-care center for poor working families. She received a Masters degree in Public Administration from California State University Long Beach. With her heart pulled to her people in Cebu and a degree in hand, she returned home to the Philippines and founded the Women Development and Earth Foundation (WODEEF) located at the St. Euphraisa Center. In a few short years, Vicki started a women’s center, adult classes, scholarships for youth, savings and loan program and a piglet project all in Cordova, Cebu on the Mactan Island where she grew up. How did she manage to do this?

Vicki understood the meaning of solidarity with women. She established strong relationships in the United States and in the Philippines. Each year she would return to the USA to visit family and friends; she would seek financial and spiritual support for the WODEEF center on Cebu. She spoke in private homes, attended community events, held fund-raisers, collected clothes, wrote grants and developed a network of people who believed in her vision. This was not an easy task. She was relentless in her passion to make a difference in the lives of her people thus she pursued grants and funds for the WODEEF projects everyday of her life.

On one of her visits to the United States, Vicki was diagnosed with breast cancer. Vicki was not a vain person and immediately went along with the doctor’s recommendation to have a mastectomy. During this ordeal, Vicki’s friends and family realized her power and strength to face many challenges. She never gave up her passion and support of WODEEF. Nor did she complain about her illness and the series of treatments needed to fully recover. Her focus was to get back her health and continue her work on behalf of WODEEF.

A few months prior to her death a generous benefactor purchased land for an organic farm for WODEEF. In addition to this funding a grant from the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange, California provided the additional funds for supplies for the Eco-learning farm. Headed by skilled personnel the farm educates indigenous people in self-supporting farming methods and promotes sustainable technology for the region.

During her last visit to the U.S. in September 2002, Vicki was driving to early morning Mass and was involved in a fatal car accident. This was a great shock to her family, friends and colleagues. Surrounded by family and friends Vicki died on October 1, 2002 the feast of St. Theresa of Lisieux, a saint who dedicated her monastic life to praying for those living in poverty. Following a funeral celebration of her life attended by many people, Vicki’s mother and younger sister took her ashes home to be buried in Cordova, Cebu, Philippines, where she is resting in peace.

Although Vicki did not live long enough to see the full results of her vision both WODEEF/Philippines and WODEEF/USA are committed to bringing Vicki’s vision into action.

The board of WODEEF/Philippines appointed Sister Mary Luz Bantilan, RGS to succeed Vicki as Executive Director of WODEEF/Philippines. Sister Luz is a member of the Good Shepherd Sisters of the Philippines province. She has been intimately involved in all the developments and programs of WODEEF/Philippines since 1988 and has served as its Vice-President. She also knew well the vision of Vicki Tan.

Vicki lived her divine passion between two worlds, two cultures, and two languages. She was a bridge for many of us. In a world torn by war, injustice, greed and materialism she called us to participate in activities that created charity, justice, goodness and random acts of love and kindness. We are grateful for her passion for justice and her commitment to those living in poverty. We appreciate your financial support which furthers the visionary work of Vicki Tan.

Susan M Maloney, SNJM, Ph.D
President of the Board – WODEEF/USA