Sunday, January 06, 2008


This is the Mausoleum of the Veterans of the Philippine Revolution at the Manila North Cemetery. I had no idea of its existence until I came across it while taking some photographs of this cemetery last October.

On its wall is a plaque that commemorates some of the veterans of the Philippine Revolution and the Filipino-American War, like Trinidad Tecson, Pio Valenzuela, Tomas Mascardo and Baldomero Aguinaldo. And although they may have been interred there as well, the names were not at all familiar to me. I was hoping for at least one name that would ring a bell.

As it turns out, although not mentioned in any of the mausoleum's plaques or markers. there was, indeed, a very famous revolutionary interred in there -- Tandang Sora.

I was led to this discovery while reading a feature in the editorial section of this Sunday's Manila Bulletin, "The Life and Death of Melchora 'Tandang Sora' Aquino.

She was one of the famous figures of the Philippine history; born in Banilad, Caloocan on January 6, 1812. Already an octogenarian when the revolution broke out in August 1896, she wholeheartedly supported Andres Bonifacion and the revolutionary forces. Because of her many selfless acts and heroic contributions, she gained honorable titles such as the Mother of Balintawak, Mother of the Katipunan and Mother of the Revolution.

When the colonial authorities discovered her activities that aided the revolution, she was arrested and imprisoned. On August 29, 1896, she was brought to Manila and jailed at Bilibid Prison. Despite the rigorous interrogation that she was subjected to despite her old age, the authorities failed to break her. Tandang Sora refused to implicate any of her countrymen. On September 1, 1896, along with several Filipino patriots, she was deported to Guam.

When she was returned and released in February 26, 1903, she returned to Banlat impoverished. And although the Americans offered her a lifetime pension, she declined. She served her country without expecting any reward.

She died on February 20, 1919 and was interred in the Mausoleum of the Veterans of the Philippine Revolution at the Manila North Cemetery.


posted by Señor Enrique at 11:21 AM


Anonymous bertN said...

Isn't that something...Tandang Sora refusing a lifetime pension offered by a former enemy despite the fact that she was in dire need of financial help? And Apolinario Mabini refusing to take the oath of allegiance and preferred to be deported to Guam instead. Do we still have their kind around?

January 06, 2008 11:46 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I could only surmise, BertN, that perhaps, Tandang Sora was cared for by her children ever since her release.

According to the editorial feature in Manila Bulletin, there were other prominent women in our history who refused similar financial assistance -- Teodora Alonso and the wife of Marciano H. del Pilar.

But in these times, I'm not that certain who, amongst our leaderships, nurture similar admirable principles.

January 06, 2008 12:02 PM  

Blogger Photo Cache said...

To add to what has been commented, these days, principle and values have long lost its meaning. Kudos to the our heroes.

January 06, 2008 12:21 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

And thank God that we have these illustrious personalities to grace our historical archives, Photo Cache -- to celebrate and emulate.

January 06, 2008 5:05 PM  

Blogger pusa said...

so that elaborate tomb is tandang sora's! great to know that she's given a nice burial/monument

January 06, 2008 6:25 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

At the turn of the Century, addressing someone as "Tandang Sora" not only borders de-meaning but also, lower class formality address. Spanish was still the formal language at the time those notable revolucionarios spoke Castellano. One would assume, she was being addressed as Señora Sora, Lola Sora, Manang Sora, not Tandang Sora!

What's your take on this, Señor Enrique?

January 06, 2008 9:47 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...


What I mean Señor is that, "Tandang" is a lowly address.

Perhaps she's uneducated, nevetheless, she deserved a high level of courtesy.

January 06, 2008 11:39 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Interesting qustion, Anonymous.

Although some of our traditional values may have long lost its meaning, my observations suggest that to date Filipinos remain courteous of our elderly whether they appear rich or poor, educated or illiterate.

Hence, even though Tandang Sora was not a college graduate, the term "tandang" may be to celebrate the fact that despite being an octogenarian at the outbreak of the rebellion, she was courageous enough to help the Kapipuneros with whatever strength and resources she had. Hence "tandang" may be more to celebrate her old age more so than to demean her lowly status for being a simple sari-sari store owner. A term of endearment, I'd say it is or was.

I should also point out the "senor" in my nom de plume:

You see, New York City, with a sizeable Hispanic population, senor is as ordinary a term as mister used when addressing older men. However, in Manila, being absent for many many years, I had no idea that it may be offensive to those who equate the term senor with the status of an "ilustrado." I had no interest to engage in such pomposity; my use of senor was merely to denote the fact that I'm much much older than when I had left Manila. Also somehow, Mr. Enrique seems stiff and does not project the affable charm as the name Senor Enrique does.

Also, my use of the term "senor" celebrates our Spanish-influenced heritage with the same pride nurtured by the members of Hispanic communities in the States :)

January 07, 2008 7:32 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Yes, Pusa. I was just dismayed at the way this structure was sloppily repainted. They could have at least scraped off the old paint before applying a new coat. Oh, well ...

January 07, 2008 7:36 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Con mucho gusto, Señor Enrique

January 07, 2008 9:05 AM  

Blogger nutart said...

As to comment on Anonymous' comment on the lowliness impression on using "aling, mang or tandang" in addressing people. I beg to disagree. I experience when using these words to address elderly people is both signs of respect and even affection. In this province I live in addressing people with "ka" like "Ka Rolando" o Ka Berting" is such. "Tandang Sora" is both a sign of familiarity and respect among locals. This means that "Tandang Sora" indeed belong to the masses! If I may exaggerate, it can be analogous to "Your Excellency" without the pomposity and egoistic artificiality.

January 07, 2008 10:08 AM  

Anonymous beth said...

Eric, I thought Tandang Sora is buried at Himlayang Pilipino. Mali pala ako.

January 13, 2008 1:53 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I was very much surprised to learn that she was in fact buried there, Beth, since her name was not listed on any marker.

For someone as distinguished, they could've at least put one in her honor.

January 13, 2008 6:53 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

That's right, Bernadette. I really do not think that the term "tandang" was meant as any disrespect.

January 13, 2008 6:54 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Gracias, Anonynous :)

January 13, 2008 6:55 PM  

Blogger tony said...

Senor Enrique,

Thank you for featuring Melchora Aquino...Tandang Sora as the Tagalog way of addressing "elders" with respect. As the Ilokanos way of expressing their respect as well, "Lakay" meaning elder; like "Apo Lakay".

Like you mentioned, there are a lot of "bayani" "pilit bayani" or "nasabit na bayani" at the Mausoleum of the Veterans of the Philippine Revolution at the Manila North Cemetery. I long wanted to write a book reintroducing Revolutionaryos to our young Pilipinos about these heroes life, how they lived, if they were really "makabayan" or were placed in our history because we were forced to believe by the invaders who should be our heroes and who should we call "tulisan". Of course the people who they called "heroes" were the ones who collaborated with them, as we call now "Balimbing". Some "heroes" who were lucky to be with the 'Magdalo' 'Magdiwang' or Aquinaldo's side (like as always in our politics; tayo-tayo at sila-sila), kahit ang mga "bayani" na ito ang dahilan sa pagkakapaslang sa Supremo Andres Bonifacio or even assassinated a great hero, General Antonio Luna. Bonifacio is so unlucky for the brutal murder but he's the only hero in world history who is not a national hero of a country who started the revolution! Also important to consider that he started the "First Revolution in Asia Against Imperialism." While a rich doctor, who opposed and refused to join the revolution of the Katipunan, volunteered to serve under Spain as a medic for the Spanish troops fighting in Cuba, became our "national hero"...tsk, tsk, tsk! Mabuti na lang na "late" siya coming from Dapitan, naiwan siya ng barkong kaniyang sasakyan sana na umalis na patungong Cuba, hindi sana siya hero!

Senor Enrique, you mentioned the following "bayani" upon your visit at the mausoleum; Trinidad Tecson, Pio Valenzuela, Tomas Mascardo and Baldemor Aquinaldo. Here are some highlights on this people:

Trinidad Tecson - she was called "Mother of Biak na Bato" for she took care of the wounded Katipuneros, like Tandang Sora. She was also called "Babaing Lalake" because of her courage on the battlefield fighting side by side with male Katipuneros.

Pio Valenzuela - was the compadre "sa binyag" of Andres Bonifacio and Gregoria de Jesus first child, who died. He edited the official organ of the Katipunan, "Kalayaan". He was one of the 3 important members of the Secret Society of the Katipunan, Bonifacio and Emilio Jacinto were the other two. He was the one who was planning to assassinate Fray Mariano Gil, the Cura Parroco of Tondo Church, for leaking the existance of the Katipunan.

General Tomas Mascardo - was a member of the Magdalo, one of the 3 members of the council of war that tried the brothers Andres and Procopio Bonifacio, sentenced them to die! Because of grave differences with the Great General Antonio Luna, during the battle at Bagbag River, Calumpit, resented Gen. Luna's order, Mascardo resigned, but Aquinaldo did not accept his resignation. After the battle of Bagbag River, Gen. Antonio Luna challenged Mascardo to a duel, Mascardo defied it.

Baldomero Aquinaldo y Baloy - he was know as "Kapitan Berong". He was justice of the peace of Kawit, Cavite. Member of revolutionary cabinet under Emilio Aquinaldo, one of the signers of "Biak na Bato Constitution" He was with Emilio Aquinaldo in Hongkong on their "self exile" shopping spree, using the first payment that the Spanish Colonial Government in the Philippines offered at the Pack of Biak na Bato.

These are just few of the many reason why our country's history should be revised. Nakakapandiri!!!

Anyway, Senor Enrique here's some facts I have collected during my days as a history researcher for the National Heroes Commission, about The Great Tandang Sora...

Si “Tandang Sora” ang ina ng Katipunan. Siya ay ipinaganak sa maranyang pamilya ng magsasaka na sina Juan Aquino at Valentina de Aquino, noong Enero 6, 1812, sa barrio Banlat, Caloocan, Rizal (na ngayon ay Balintawak). Melchora, sa kaniya’y ipinagalan, ugma sa araw ng kaniyang kapanganakan, pangalan ng isa sa tatlong haring (Melchor, Gaspar at Baltazar) naghandog parangal sa pagsilang ni Hesus Kristo.

May katangiang ganda si Melchora at kaya naman siya ay laging napipiling maging Reyna Elena pag sapit nang Santacruzan. Kay ganda rin ng kaniyang tinig tuloy laging naiimbitahang umawit sa mga “pabasa” pag sapit ng mahal na araw, ng “Pasyong Mahal”. Kaya naman kay daming kalalakihang naakit at lumigaw sa dalaga, at sa wakas ang nakabihag ng kaniyang puso ay si Fulgencio Ramos na naging isang “cabeza de barangay”. Sila’y nagkaroon ng anim na supling: Juan, Simon, Estefania, Juana, Romualdo at Saturnina. Maagang binawian ng buhay ang kabiyak ni Melchora, at sapilitang ginampanan niya ang maging ama at ina ng kaniyang mga anak. Siya rin ang nagpatuloy sa pamamahala nang taniman na naiwan ng kaniyang kabiyak.

Isang araw, 23 ng Agosto, 1896, mga Katipunerong sugatan, gutom, pagod sa pakikidigma, bigla na lang kumatok sa kaniyang pintuan at humingi ng tulong sa pamumuno ni Andres Bonifacio. Kaniya namang pinatuloy, ginamot ang mga sugatan, pinakain at pinagpalipas nang gabi sa kaniyang tahanan. Kinaumagahan kaniyang pinagkalooban pa ang mga Katipunero nang 100 caban na bigas, 10 kalabaw, mga gamot, damit at ano-ano pang mga pangagailangan. Patuloy ang pagdalaw sa kaniya ng mga Katipunero at patuloy din ang kaniyang walang sawang pagtulong. Marami tuloy na “historian” ay nagtatalo kung saan ang orihinal na lugar ginawa ang “cry of Balintawak”. Karamihan ang paniniwala ay sa bakuran ni Tandang Sora. Ayon kay Guillermo Masangkay sa kaniyang sinumpaang testimonyo, ang “sigaw” ay nangyari noong 26 ng Agosto, na kung saan ngayon nakatirik ang monumento ni Bonifacio, sa Caloocan. Ang bersiyon naman ni Dr. Pio Valenzuela, isa muling pagsigaw ng mga Katipunero ang ginawa, ito ay “cry of Pugad Lawin”, ayon sa kaniya ito’y naganap sa bukid ni Juan Ramos Aquino (anak ni Tandang Sora), at hindi sa lugar ni Apolonio Samson, sa Kangkong, hindi sa Balintawak o sa bakuran ni Tandang Sora. Kasalukuyan ito pa rin ay isang kontrobersiyal na ulat sa ating kasaysayan, samantalang ang estado ukol sa kagitingan ng ating: Unang Pangulo, dapat ay “National Hero” at nagpasimuno ng himagsikan sa ating bansa na pinakauna sa buong Asia, na si Andres Bonifacio ay unti-unting, paliit nang paliit ang pagbigay halaga ng ating bayan at pamahalaan sa kaniyang kabayanihan. Ang dahilan ba’y sapagkat siya ay hugot sa masa at hindi pinatangkilik ng mga Gringo?

Sa pakiusap ni Bonifacio, si Tandang Sora kasama ang kaniyang mga anak ay nagsipag tago sa Novaliches sa dahilang pagkalat nang balitang pagtulong niya ng puspusan, patuloy na pagkubli sa bukirin niya, paggagamot sa sugatan at maysakit, na mga Katipunero. Agosto 29, 1869, sa inaasahang pangyayari, siya ay natuntunan at nadakip ng mga “Guardia Civil” sa Pasong Putik, Novaliches. Sa bahay ng “cabesa de barangay” siya ay pansamantalang piniit. Kinabukasan siya ay nilipat sa piitan ng Bilibid, Maynila at dito’y siya ay pinahirapan at ininteroga upang mabatid ng mga Kastila ang pinagkukutahan nila Bonifacio at Katipunan. Gaano man ang pagpapahirap at pagwalang galang sa kaniyang pagkatao ay hindi niya pinagkanulo si Bonifacio at ang ginagalang niyang Katipunan. Nang magsawa na ang mga Kastila sa pagpapahirap at walang makuhang impormasyon kay Tandang Sora, sa kautusan ni Gobernador Heneral Ramon Blanco, ang matandang Sora kasama ang maraming rebolusiyonariyong Pilipino ay pinatapon sa Agana, Guam.

Nang sakupin at gawing koloniya ng America ang Pilipinas, si Tandang Sora at 76 na patriotang Pilipino, ay pinatawad, pinalaya. Pebrero 26, 1903 lulan ng barkong Amerikano, S.S. Uranus mula Agana, Guam, ang matandang Sora ay sinalubong ng kaniyang mga anak, mga apo, kamaganakan at kababayan ng siya ay iuwi at muling makapiling sa kanilang barrio, Banlat. Si Tandang Sora noon ay 91 taong gulang na.

Inukol niya ang mga nalalabing araw ng kaniyang buhay sa pagaaruga ng kaniyang mga apo. Siya ay na handugan nang munting pensiyon, subalit ang natatangap na material na ito mula sa pamahalaang koloniyal ay kaniyang pinaubaya, ipinagparte-parte sa mga mahihirap at mga sawingpalad. Tila hindi matangap ng kaniyang kalooban, ang umasa at mamuhay sa materyal na pensiyon na ipinagkakaloob nang kolonial na pamahalaan. At dahilan dito ay patuloy ang matanda sa pamumuhay nang isang dukha.

Pebrero 20, 1919, sa gulang na 107 sa tahanan ng anak niyang si Saturnina sa barrio Banlat, Ang Ina ng Katipunan-Tandang Sora ay binawian ng buhay. Ang kaniyang labi ay hinimlay sa “Mausolem of the Veterans of the Philippine Revolution, sa sementeriyo ng La Loma.

Kahanga-hanga ang nagawang kadakilaan, katapatan, kagitingan at sakripisyong inalay para sa kaniyang paniniwala, sa Supremong Andres Bonifacio, sa kilusang Katipunan, sa pansariling prisipiyo, sa kaniyang pamilya at sa inaaping bayan ni Gat Melchora Aquino. Lalo’t noong kapanahunan na ang kalalakihang “Machong Lipunan” ang umiiral. Ang mga ina ng tahanan ay tulad sa isang alipin na halos lahat ng gawaing bahay, sila ang inaasahan. Samantalang si “machong tatay” ay nagbabasa lang ng pahayagan ay sisilbihan pa nang kapeng mainit ni nanay. Una sa panahon si Tandang Sora, ang tinatawag natin ngayon na “single mother” ay kaniyang ginampanan na bago pa ito mauso at ating hangaan. Bukod sa pagaaruga sa mga anak, kaniya rin ipinagpatuloy ang pamamahala ng kanilang bukirin ng ang kaniyang kabiyak ay sumakabilang buhay. Sino kaya ngayon ang hindi ipagkakanulo si Bonifacio at ang Katipunan, habang ang mga imbing mga kaaway ay ikaw naman’y pinahihirapan, nilalapastangan ang iyong pagkatao at tapos naman’y ipatapon ka upang hindi makapiling at makita ang iyong mga mahal sa buhay, sa malayong dayuhang islang lugar sa dagat Pasipiko, na ang mga kasamang nakararami ay mga kriminal at ketongin, sa gulang mo na 72…sino ?

Ka Tony Donato
revised the 7th of January, 2008

Once again Senor Enrique, a million thanks!

June 30, 2008 6:43 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

A million thanks to you as well, Tony, for sharing more light on Tandang Sora.

I truly enjoy reading your comments which enrich our appreciation for our local history.

Yes, you should write a book! I'd be the first on line to buy a copy :)

June 30, 2008 7:45 AM  

Blogger ma.christine mae said...

,,i'm not looking for english answer,i'm looking for tagalog answer with this question,,
"who is the gobernador heneral?,,
,,can you help me?,,

September 15, 2008 9:15 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

And that would be a question akin to: "Who is the presidente?"

Sorry, wouldn't know the answer unless you have a particular era of the Philippines under Spanish rule.

September 15, 2008 9:31 PM  

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Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


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