Remembering Dr. Thelma B. Kintanar

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by Dr. Sylvia Claudio

Goodbye, Ma’am Thelma.

I got to know Professor Emeritus Thelma Lorna B. Kintanar in the last 10 years of her life when I became Director of the UP Center for Women’s Studies (now UP Center for Gender and Women’s Studies) in 2008.

By that time she was already Professor Emeritus.

She was at that time a board member of the UPCWS Foundation. At the time of her passing she was its Vice President for External Affairs.

I knew she had been one of the founders of UPCGWS.

But I learned quickly how fundamental her role to the Center had been. A role that continued until her death on July 7, 2017.

She was one of its founding Deputy Directors, working until her retirement on all aspects of its work whether that be training or research or publications.

But for me, her biggest contribution was the regular publication of the journal Review of Women’s Studies. It did not just come out on time: its articles were of high academic quality. Editing was second nature to her and in these last years; I would consider it a victory if she found only one or two mistakes in any document we ran by her.

I got to know her well because long after her retirement, Ma’am Thelma would come to office every day at the UPCWS.

To some, giving office space to her, who could have demanded this elsewhere as Professor Emeritus of English and Comparative Literature, might seem strange.

But for myself and the four Directors who provided this space, it was an honor that she chose us to be her home. It is really a matter of respect that was inspired rather than demanded.

I remember how, as I came to her with an ethical dilemma as a new Director, her response was supportive and immediate. She helped me implement the work, too, which rationalized system procedures and democratized UPCWS governance. Typical Ma’am Thelma. She would not impose but her moral standards never failed her, so that when I finally asked, she had long understood and was ready to help.

She was instrumental in setting up our library space when I was Director. And one of the best decisions I ever convinced her to abide by was to put her computer and nook in the library she had helped raise funds to build.

She did so partly by holding art exhibitions. For Dr. Kintanar kept us in touch with the world of art and literature with an eye to the impeccable and the feminist.

To her nook she would go every day while I was Director and long after. And that discipline was not for show. From that nook she continued to write and publish, bringing honor to the Center and the University.

It is a testament to that discipline that when we asked her to revise her best-selling book on gender fair language to include LGBT concerns, she not only said yes readily; she delivered and on schedule.

Long after I had realized that this was one woman who truly deserved the honor of being Emeritus, I sat in an apartment with colleagues from the University of Hawaii in Manoa, to hear idols like Resil Mojares pay her homage. The woman had a right to do comparative studies, they said, because she took the time to learn Bahasa or Thai and did not rely on translations.

I knew her when she lost her husband. And she despaired and became frail after. I was not witness to that great love story, but I recognized it because of what his loss meant to her. Yet still, she labored on.

Good bye, Professor Emeritus Thelma B. Kintanar! I am very glad and honored to have met you, great intellect and great soul.

And though I said this often, over riding your lack of sentimentality, I will say it one more time:

I love you, Ma’am Thelma.

 

*image from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WzwA8Ibh-dg

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