History of Nursing in the Philippines

 Early Beliefs, Practices and Care of the sick

  • Early Filipinos subscribed to superstitious belief and practices in relation to health and sickness
  • Diseases, their causes and treatment were associated with mysticism and superstitions
  • Cause of disease was caused by another person (an enemy of witch) or evil spirits
  • Persons suffering from diseases without any identified cause were believed bewitched by “mangkukulam”
  • Difficult childbirth were attributed to “nonos”
  • Evil spirits could be driven away by persons with powers to expel demons
  • Belief in special Gods of healing: priest-physician, word doctors, herbolarios/herb doctors
Early Hospitals during the Spanish Regime
  • Religious orders exerted efforts to care for the sick by building hospitals in different parts of the Philippines:
    1. Hospital Real de Manila San Juan de Dios Hospital
    2. San Lazaro Hospital Hospital de Aguas Santas
    3. Hospital de Indios
Prominent personages involved during the Philippine Revolution
  1. Josephine Bracken – wife of Jose Rizal installed a field hospital in an estate in Tejeros that provided nursing care to the wounded night and day.
  2. Rose Sevilla de Alvaro – converted their house into quarters for Filipino soldiers during the Phil-American War in 1899.
  3. Hilaria de Aguinaldo –wife of Emlio Aginaldo organized the Filipino Red Cross.
  4. Melchora Aquino – (Tandang Sora) nursed the wounded Filipino soldiers, gave them shelter and food.
  5. Captain Salomen – a revolutionary leader in Nueva Ecija provided nursing care to the wounded when not in combat.
  6. Agueda Kahabagan – revolutionary leader in Laguna also provided nursing services to her troops.
  7. Trinidad Tecson (Ina ng Biak na Bato) – stayed in the hospital at Biac na Bato to care for the wounded soldiers.
School Of Nursing
  1. St. Paul’s Hospital School of Nursing, Intramuros Manila – 1900
  2. Iloilo Mission Hospital Training School of Nursing – 1906
    • 1909 – Distinction of graduating the 1st trained nurses in the Phils. With no standard requirements for admission of applicants except their “willingness to work”
    • April 1946 – a board exam was held outside of Manila. It was held in the Iloilo Mission Hospital thru the request of Ms. Loreto Tupas, principal of the school.
  3. St. Luke’s Hospital School of Nursing – 1907; opened after four years as a dispensary clinic.
  4. Mary Johnston Hospital School of Nursing – 1907
  5. Philippines General Hospital school of Nursing – 1910
College of Nursing
  1. UST College of Nursing – 1st College of Nursing in the Phils: 1877
  2. MCU College of Nursing – June 1947 (1st College who offered BSN – 4 year program)
  3. UP College of Nursing – June 1948
  4. FEU Institute of Nursing – June 1955
  5. UE College of Nursing – Oct 1958


  • 3 female graduated as “qualified medical-surgical nurses”


  • The 1st Nurses Law (Act#2808) was enacted regulating the practice of the nursing profession in the Philippines Islands. It also provided the holding of exam for the practice of nursing on the 2nd Monday of June and December of each year.


  • 1st board examination for nurses was conducted by the Board of Examiners, 93 candidates took the exam, 68 passed with the highest rating of 93.5%-Anna Dahlgren
  • Theoretical exam was held at the UP Amphitheater of the College of Medicine and Surgery. Practical exam at the PGH Library.


  • Filipino Nurses Association was established (now PNA) as the National Organization Of Filipino Nurses
  • PNA: 1st President – Rosario Delgado
  • Founder – Anastacia Giron-Tupas


  • Republic Act 877, known as the “Nursing Practice Law” was approved.