Born on January 12. 1912, in Pikit, Cotabato, Bai Hadja Fatima Matabay Plang was regarded as one of the most outstanding Muslim women. She was highly recognized for her contributions to the field of education and social work, particularly in Mindanao.
At an early age, the young Bai Nadia began as a classroom teacher after graduating from high school. In order to pursue her college education, she went to the Philippine Normal School, now Philippine Normal College, in Manila, and earnedher first degree as a major in Home Economics, minor in Library Science. After college, she went back to teaching, and this time she taught at the Pagalungan Elementary School. Afterward, she transferred to Cotabato Elementary School. When the war broke out, Bai Hadja served through the Mlang Women’s Auxiliary Service of the Guerilla Organization, whose mission was to provide the guerilla fighters food, shelter, and other essentials. After the war, she went back to teaching at the Balongis Elementary in her hometown, and later on in the Central Mindanao College in Kidapawan, Cotabato.
The establishment of the Mindanao Institute of Technology was one of her greatest contributions. While working as a researcher in the Senate, she fought for this project in order to inculcate the significance of education to the Mindanaoans. It was in 1954 that the MIT was founded by virtue of Republic Act No. 998, with Bai Hadja appointed as the president. In addition to this, she was also responsible for the establishment of the Children’s Education Foundation Village, which catered to poor children and gave them access to education.
Bai Hadja devoted her life to doing social works that would benefit her fellow Mindanaoans in accessing quality education regardless of their social status. She created a legacy that is admired by people, Bai Hadja died on April 13, 1984.
“The Founder,” November 28, 2018.https://www.usmsedu.ph/about-usm/the-founder/.
Rappler – National Heroes Day Post
Justine M. Arguelles