I came to know about Dr. Maria Luisa Camagay, PhD of the University of the Philippines-Diliman whom we endearingly call Ma’am Malou when I first enrolled in the undergraduate subject Makabagong Europa in 1998. For us college students, her lectures at the ground floor end room of Palma Hall twice a week were always pleasant going beyond information-giving. I particularly sat in front of the class so as not to miss any word she uttered during her lectures. I have not seen her got mad nor amiss of her teachings.
In my graduate class, I was taking up the subject Philippine-American War under her when she became the Natatanging Guro for the nth time. We were so elated and clapped our hands in class for her. It was in this class when she obliged to take us to a field trip in Biak-na-Bato in San Miguel, Bulacan.
By this time, I came to know that she obtained her doctorate de troisieme cycle at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes on Science Sociales in Paris, France. Her suggested readings about Philippine-France relations and French readings about the Philippines have always been invaluable.
It was also at this time that she became the Director of the UP Press. Many years earlier, her books Working Women of Manila in the 19th Century (Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 1995) and Encarnacion Alzona: An anthology (Quezon City: Office of Research Coordination, University of the Philippines, 1996), among others, have inspired me to research about Filipino grassroots women. Likewise, her writings and publications have explored various issues in social history.
Some of her publications have received honors and awards. The Manila Critics Circle made her book Kasaysayan Panlipunan ng Maynila (1765-1898) the National Book Awardee in the category of history in 1993. She again received the same award for her book entitled Working Women of Manila in 1995.
The prestigious Chevalier de Palmes Academiques of France was also granted to her in 2005.
Her accepting me as her advisee for my master’s thesis was an honor for me. It was at this time that I came to know more about her. Ma’am Malou has been a product of UP where she finished her undergraduate degree in Education, major in History and Master of Arts in Teaching Social Studies in 1972.
Indeed, historian/herstorian Professor Camagay has become an institution in women and social history in the country and abroad. May her tribe increase.