TAN, Mary Christine L., RGS


Sister Christine Tan came from a family of means. She was the fifth of seven children.

Sr. Christine was the first Filipino to head the Philippine province of the Religious of the Good Shepherd (RGS), a congregation founded in France more than 100 years ago.

She also headed the Association of Major Religious Superiors of Women in the Philippines for some time during the martial law years, a time when she became known for her militancy and firm stand against totalitarian rule.

Poverty as practised in the convent was not enough for her, so she chose to live among the poor. In the late 1970s, together with several Good Shepherd nuns, she opted to live and work among the poor of Malate and stayed with them for more than 26 years.

She founded the Alay Kapwa Christian Community and helped set up cooperatives and livelihood projects for the poor in Manila and in the provinces of Cavite, Quezon and Cebu, with whom she was humble but a disciplinarian.

She gave of her time to others. She would say that the sisters’ vow of poverty meant that they must give of their resources as well as of their time to others. “Every minute must be used well and deliberately.”

Her fellow nuns in the RGS said she gave RGS relevance during the difficult years of the 1970s and the 1980s because she had a way of "bringing new wineskins for new wine."

She was appointed member of the Constitutional Commission that drafted the 1987 Constitution.

Former president Corazon Aquino, who is a close friend, said Sr. Christine possessed integrity, patriotism, selflessness and dedication. “I think Sister Christine is a great woman,” she said.

In 1998, again breaking ground, Sr. Christine accepted a government appointment as member of the board of directors of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office where later on, she again made newspaper headlines when she questioned irregular fund disbursements at the agency.

She died of cancer complications.


BORN     November 30, 1930 in Manila

Died        6 October 2003 in Metro Manila
Parents : Judge Bienvenido Tan, Sr. and Salome Limgenco

Siblings : Consuelo, Bienvenido Jr. (former ambassador to Germany), Teresita Suarez, Caridad Manga, Leticia Sevilla and Angeles Alora.