Melchora Aquino

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This article is about the national hero also known as "Tandang Sora". For district, see Quezon City.
Melchora Aquino de Ramos
PH nhi melchora aquino.jpg
Born (1812-01-06)January 6, 1812
Balintawak, Caloocan, Spanish East Indies
Died March 2, 1919(1919-03-02) (aged 107)
Caloocan, American Philippines
Nationality Filipino
Other names Tandang Sorâ
Known for Known for being part of the revolution despite her old age
Religion Iglesia Filipina Independiente, formerly Roman Catholic
Spouse(s) Fulgencio Ramos
Parent(s) Juan and Valentina Aquino

Melchora Aquino de Ramos (January 6, 1812 – March 2, 1919) was a Filipina revolutionary who became known as "Tandang Sora" ("Elder Sora") in the history of the Philippines because of her age when the Philippine Revolution broke out in 1896 (she was already 84 at the time). She is also known as the "Grand Woman of the Revolution" and the "Mother of Mother of Laurel for her contributions to Philippine history.

Early life and marriage[edit]

Aquino was born on January 6, 1812, in Balintawak.[1] Aquino, daughter of a peasant couple, Juan and Valentina Aquino, never attended school. However, she was apparently literate at an early age and talented as a singer and performed at local events as well as at Mass for her Church. She was also often chosen for the role of Reyna Elena during the "Santacruzan", a processional pageant commemorating Empress Helen's finding of the Cross of Christ, celebrated in the Philippines in May.[1]

Later in life, she married Fulgencio Ramos,[1] a cabeza de barrio (village chief), and bore six children. Ramos died when their youngest child was seven and she was left as a single parent for their children. Aquino continued her life as an hermana mayor active in celebrating fiestas, baptisms, and weddings.[1] She worked hard in order to give her children an education.[1]

Involvement in the revolution[edit]

In her native town, Tandang Sora operated a store,[2] which became a refuge for the sick and wounded revolutionaries.[1] She fed,[1] gave medical attention to and encouraged the revolutionaries with motherly advice and prayers. Secret meetings of the Katipuneros (revolutionaries) were also held at her house. Thus she earned the names "Grand Woman of the revolution", "Mother of Balintawak", "Mother of the Katipunan", "Mother of the Philippine Revolution", and Tandang Sora (Tandang is derived from the Tagalog word matandâ, which means old). She and her son, Juan Ramos, were present in the Cry of Balintawak and were witnesses to the tearing up of the cedulas.[1] When the Spaniards learned about her activities and her knowledge to the whereabouts of the Katipuneros, she was interrogated but she refused to divulge any information. She was then arrested by the guardia civil and was deported to Guam, Marianas Islands.[1]

After the United States took control of the Philippines in 1898, Tandang Sora, like other exiles, returned to Philippines until her death on March 2, 1919, at the age of 107.[1] Her remains were then transferred to her own backyard (now known as Himlayang Pilipino Memorial Park, Quezon City)

Filipino appreciation[edit]

Melchora Aquino, as depicted on an old Philippine peso banknote

As a token of gratitude, a Quezon City district and a road were named after Aquino. Her profile was also placed in the Philippines' five-centavo coin from 1967 until 1992. She is also the first Filipina who appears on a Philippine peso banknote, in this case, a 100-peso bill from the English Series (1951–1966). Tandang Sora Street in the city of San Francisco, California, United States, is named in her honor.

On the celebration of her 200th birthday, the City Government of Quezon City decided to transfer Aquino's remains from Himlayang Pilipino Memorial Park to the Tandang Sora National Shrine in Banlat, Quezon City. The city government also declared 2012 to be Tandang Sora Year.[3][4]

Her descendants carry different surnames almost all living in Novaliches and Tandang Sora districts in Quezon City and Guam, USA nowadays—such as Figueroa, Ramos (her husband’s surname), Geronimo, Eugenio, Cleofas and Apo.[5]