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There is no lack of brave women in the Philippines. Throughout our country's history, women have always played an important role.
What is thought of as a patriarchal society is actually a matriarchal one, where the men pay homage and deference to women (specially mothers, wives and sweethearts). Women fought side by side with men in battles. They were equal to their male counterparts in terms of bravery, perseverance and love of country. Filipino women are leaders in their own rights, not only in battles or politics but also in every day life when they play their roles as mothers, wives, sisters, cousins and friends.This country now has a great number of CEO women, perhaps even outnumbering male CEOs. Listed below are a few examples of our known Filipino women leaders and warriors:

1. MELCHORA AQUINO also known as TANDANG SORA (Old Sora)- Born on 06 January, 1812 in Caloocan, she became known as the Mother of the Soldiers of the Revolution (Katipunan, late 19th century).She fearlessly aided the soldiers giving the food and shelter even though the Spanish authorities warned those who aid the rebels of severe punishment in the forms of imprisonment and death.

2. GENERAL AGUEDA KAHABAGAN - considered as the "Joan of Arc of the Philippines" she was the only female general in the army of the Katipunan ( society that started the revolution against Spain in 1896).She led a formidable detachment armed with rifles and machetes.She not only fought against the Spanish forces but against the American foes as well.

3.GREGORIA DE JESUS - Wife of Andres Bonifacio , one of the founding fathers of the revolutionary secret society Katipunan. She was born on 9 May, 1875 in Kalookan.She was initiated as the Lakambini (muse) of the society.She was entrusted with the important role of custodian of documents.If not for her, Filipinos today would not have a broad knowledge about the organization of the Katipunan. When the Katipunan was discovered, she joined the men in the battlefields.Her nom de guerre was Manuela Gonzaga.

4. GEN. GABRIELA SILANG - kindly see my earlier blog ,"Gabriela Silang- 13 Steps to Martyrdom".

5. TERESA MAGBANUA -The first woman in Panay to fight in the Philippine revolution. Known as the Visayan Joan of Arc. Born in Pototan, Iloilo, on November 4, 1871. Died in August 1947.

6. AGUEDA ESTEBAN -Katipunan member who later married Artemio Ricarte (see my blog,"Gen.Artemio Ricarte-Last Man Standing). She commuted from Cavite to Manila to buy saltpeter, lead, and copper which where used to make ammunitions. She also carried secret messages about the planned offensives against the Spanish posts.

7. MARINA DIZON-Daughter of a Katipunan leader in Cavite, who was one of the Trece Martirez, executed by the Spanish officials in 1896. Born in Trozo, Manila, on July 18, 1875. She joined the Katipunan in July 1893, one of the first women to have done so. She also kept important documents of the Katipunan. Died on October 25, 1950.

8. TRINIDAD TECSON- known as the "Mother of Biak-na-Bato",she was born in San Miguel de Mayumo, Bulacan on 18 November, 1848.Early in life, she showed spunk and courage .Fearlessly, she joined the Katipinan and was the only known women to undergo the rites called "Sandugo"..(signing the Katipunan contract and pledge of loyalty by one's own blood).Her courageous feats include: leading a group of women to seize arms and munition from enemy camps;joining the forces of Gen.Mariano Llanera in full scale battles (she wore the male uniform called "rayadillo" in these battles);"She figured in other several bloody encounters fighting under Gen. Francisco Makabulos in the battles of Zaragosa and San Antonio in Nueva Ecija; under Gen Isidro Torres in the battle of San Rafael; and under Gen. Mariano Llanera in the battle of San Miguel, Baling Kupang, Biak- na-bato, San Ildefonso and Cabanatuan. She was also in the battles of Dagupan, Malabon, Manila and San Isidro. She served under the command of General Soliman and General Del Pilar" She was not only a good soldier but a nurse too. In the fight against the Americans she helped nurse the wounded and the sick soldiers.

9. CORAZON COJUANGCO AQUINO- wife of slain political leader Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino.She fought the aging dictator Ferdinand Marcos in the controversial snap elections for Presidency in 1986. She won but was cheated. She was installed into power as the first woman President of the Philippines by the phenomenon known as "People Power Revolution" (Febuary, 1986). Not a gun was fired, yet Marcos was forced to step down because millions went into the streets and demanded his resignation.

10. CONCEPCION FELIX -convened a group of nationalist women and planted the seeds of the first feminist movement in 1905 called the "Asosacion Feminista Filipina".

11.SALUD ALGABRE- slain woman peasant leader of the Sakdal Movement of the 1930s. Her famous quotes are:
" No uprising fails.Each one is a step in the right direction."
" In a long march to final victory,every steps counts, every individual matters,every organization forms part of the whote."

12. DARLENE MAGNOLIA ANTONINO CUSTODIO- Congresswoman of the district of South Cotabato, she may well be considered as the youngest and prettiest woman in the Congress of the Philippines. Just 33 years old, she belongs to the opposition bloc in congress fiercely and openly fighting against the mismanaged administration of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Looking small and frail outside, she is strong and hard as steel inside. She campaigned for the impeachment of Pres.Arroyo 2 times, in June 2005 and now June ,2006.Both cases failed to see the light of day.But Darlene 's principles and beliefs never changed nor waned.


SOURCES:

*www.emailpinoy.com

* Keynote Speech of Sec.Gen.Imelda M.Nicholas of the National Anti-Poverty Commission ( 20 Feb., 2005-Sampaloc, Manila)

*Tales of Courage & Compassion, Stories of Women in the Philippine Revolution By: Lilia Quindoza Santiago. A Publication of DIWATA Foundation and HASIK Inc. with the assistance of the CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT AGENCY.

* Website of the Congress of the Philippines.



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