Filipino Heroines: 4 Remarkable Women in our Nation’s History
There’s no power like girl power! Throughout the stretch of time, strong and brilliant women have made history doing extraordinary things that changed the world for the better. The Philippines definitely has its fair share of exceptional women who were vital in shaping this country.
In celebration of National Women’s Month this March, here are four (4) empowering female national heroes whose stories spark inspiration and love for the country.
Meet the first known female leader against the Spanish colonizers, Gabriela Silang.
Called “Generala” during her time, Gabriela Silang led Ilocano revolutionaries against the Spanish colonial powers. Silang proved herself to be an excellent leader, using effective guerilla tactics to intimidate and defeat enemy forces. Though her tenure was cut short after suffering the same fate as her husband, Diego Silang, what she was able to accomplish fighting for the country’s independence continues to inspire Filipino women to fight for what they believe in.
Melchora Aquino, also known as “Tandang Sora”, proved that caring for others is revolutionary.
Melchora Aquino opened her home to the Katipuneros and let them use it as their headquarters, even though she was not formally a member of the society. While there, the Katipuneros would hold secret meetings and be taken cared of by Aquino, who would feed them and provide medical care for those who were injured. No good deed goes without consequence, however. She was arrested on August 29, 1896 for aiding the Katipuneros and was deported to Guam. Fortunately, she returned home after nearly seven years and was greeted warmly by family and the revolutionaries she had taken care of. Tandang Sora was 84 years old when the Philippine Revolution broke out, but her elderly age did not stop her from playing a vital role in the fight for independence.
Get to know Teresa Magbanua, a modern Visayan warrior.
From the get go, Teresa Magbanua was already seen as a force to be reckoned with– she was a renowned teacher, a skilled horseback rider, and marksman. These prepared her well for leading revolutionaries in Iloilo against Spanish enemy forces, despite the protests of her husband and military leaders in the area. Her leadership was so effective and exceptional that she led armies in both the Spanish and American colonization periods. Magbanua’s fighting spirit continued well into World War II at her old age, where she aided guerilla fighters against the Japanese with whatever resources she had. She lived through three harsh periods in Philippine history, yet she remained resilient and courageous throughout her life.
You may see Josefa Llanes Escoda on your 1000 peso bill, but her story is greater than any sum of money.
Passionate about education and helping others, Josefa Llanes Escoda studied hard to fulfill her aspirations and to prove that the Filipino woman is more than what society expects of her. While working as a social worker for the Philippine chapter of the American Red Cross, she was sent to the United States to receive training for Girl Scouting. Upon her return, she began to train young Filipino women and officially founded the Girl Scouts of the Philippines in 1940. When World War II broke out, her love for helping others continued as she and her husband Antonio helped aid displaced Filipino families. Sadly, she was arrested and tortured by Japanese forces for her efforts. Her last words were "If you happen to survive, and I fail, tell our people that the women of the Philippines did their part also in making the ember sparks of truth and liberty alive till the last moment." Escoda’s life was dedicated to uplifting the Filipino woman. She continues to be an inspiring example to the generations of women who have since surpassed her.
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