Heirs want Tandang Sora holiday declared
MANILA, Philippines—A descendant of Katipunan revolutionary Melchora Aquino is hoping the government will declare Jan. 6, the heroine’s birthday, a nonworking holiday.
“I hope that our lola’s birthday will be made a holiday soon,” Josephine Geronimo said on Friday in her tribute to Aquino, popularly known as “Tandang Sora.”
As if a bit sheepish, she added: “A national legal holiday would certainly help in recognizing her valor and bravery.”
Geronimo, president of the Mga Apo ni Melchora Aquino (Tandang Sora) Association and a fourth generation descendant of the heroine, led her family in “welcoming home” their ancestor.
The remains of the revolutionary were reburied yesterday morning at the Tandang Sora Shrine in Banlat, Barangay Tandang Sora, where she was born in 1812 or 200 years ago.
What remained of the heroine 92 years after her death were three small bones and brown ash, sealed in a small wooden casket and blessed by Novaliches Bishop Antonio Tobias.
Six soldiers in uniform then placed the small casket inside a square hole at the foot of the 35-foot bronze sculpture of Tandang Sora cradling a wounded Katipunero on her lap.
After the wreath-laying, a military honor guard gave her a 21-gun salute as a final tribute.
The Philippine flag that was laid atop the casket was folded and turned over to Geronimo who represented Tandang Sora’s descendants.
The ceremony was a special homecoming for the Katipunan heroine’s remains as she is now in her final resting place, her birthplace of Banlat (formerly a part of Caloocan).
After her death in 1919 at the age of 107, the revolutionary was first buried at the Manila North Cemetery until her bones were moved to the Himlayang Pilipino.
It was only on Wednesday that the Quezon City government succeeded in exhuming Tandang Sora’s remains from her grave site at the private cemetery.
Tandang Sora’s descendants—spanning the third to seventh generations—were joined by dignitaries and common folk in celebrating the heroine’s homecoming.
President Aquino led the celebration along with Education Secretary Armin Luistro, city officials, students, teachers and residents.
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. recalled that it was during his term as city mayor when the 1,000-sq-m Tandang Sora Shrine was built at the site where she was born.
Before the shrine’s construction, her birthplace was only identified by a small marker hidden from view by new houses, according to public information officer Gregorio Banacia.
This marker is now found just a corner away from the 1,000-sq-m shrine.
During the term of Belmonte’s successor, city mayor Herbert Bautista, the Himlayang Pilipino finally allowed the transfer of the heroine’s remains to Banlat.
According to Geronimo, it has long been their family’s wish that their ancestor be buried in the place where she was born, grew up and died.
“This is something that the generations before us dreamed of. We are really thankful to God and those who made this possible,” she said.
In her speech, Geronimo pointed out the fact that Tandang Sora, like the President, is also an “Aquino.”
Tandang Sora’s full name is Melchora Aquino de Ramos but she is more known as Melchora Aquino.
Her descendants carry different surnames nowadays—such as Figueroa, Ramos (her husband’s surname), Geronimo, Eugenio, Cleofas and Apu.
“Like the President, our lola also walked the straight path (tuwid na daan). May her life and legacy serve as a challenge to us to continue going on the right road,” Geronimo said.
She noted that at the age of 84, Tandang Sora did not let old age hinder her in serving her countrymen during the Philippine Revolution.
The old lady was known as the “Mother of the Katipunan” who treated and fed the wounded and tired Katipuneros who sought refuge in her hut.
Later arrested by the Spanish, she was exiled to Guam where she stayed for seven years, only returning to the country in 1903 at the age of 91.
Her selflessness was even emphasized, Geronimo said, when the aging heroine refused the American colonial government’s offer of a lifetime pension.
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