Melchora Aquino, popularly known as Tandang Sera and "Mother of the Philippine Revolution," was born to prosperous farmer parents, Juan Aquino and Valentina de Aquino on January 6, 1812 in barrio Banlat, Caloocan, Rizal (now Banlat, Balintawak, Quezon City).
She learned to read and write while she was young. A pretty young lass, she was often called to play the role of Reyna Elena in the barrio santacruzan festival.
She married one of her persistent suitors, Fulgencio Ramos, who later become the cobeza de barangay (barrio captain). In marriage, were blessed with six children: Juan, Simon, Estefania, Juana, Romualdo and Saturnina.
Being of amiable character, she was well-liked by the community. Because of her good singing voice, she was frequently invited to the pabasa not only in Banlat but also in the surrounding barrios.
The death of her husband almost broke her spirit. Grieving, but brave as a mother, Melchora played the dual role of a father and mother to her children. She undertook the management of the farm and other business interests left by her spouse. Courage, industry, patience, nobility: these were the attributes that sustained her during
those trying days.
On August 23, 1896, Bonifacio and his men arrived at the house of Melchora Aquino. She furnished the katipuneros with 100 cavans of rice and 10 carabaos and other necessities. During the revolution, she nursed those who fell sick or wounded.
Tandang Sora and her family fled to Novaliches upon the advice of Bonifacio. She was nonetheless arrested by the Guardia Civil at Pasong Putik, Novaliches. On August 29, 1896, she was held captive in the house of the cabeza de barangay. She was brought to Manila for confinement at the Bilibid prison the very next day. Here. she was subjected to gruelling interrogation by the Spanish inquisitor, but she steadfastly refused to reveal the hideout of Bonifacio and his men.
Three days later, by decree of General Governor Ramon Blanco, this heroic old woman was deported to Guam along with other Filipino patriots.
The American government later freed and repatriated her. She was 91 on February 26, 1903 when she bearded the S.S. Uranus, together with 76 other exiled patriots and returned to her home in Banlat where she was warmly and tearfully welcomed by all the villagers, including her children and grandchildren.
During her last years, she lived in obscurity in the hills of Balintawak. Being too old to work, her surviving children and their families took care of her. She declined material rewards from the government for her patriotic services and sacrifices. To her, rewards did not matter, despite the fact that she lived in poverty. She was contented with the fact that she had supported the Katipunan and suffered six years of lonely exile for her country's freedom.
Finally, on February 20, 1919, at the age of 107 she died quietly in Banlat in the house of her daughter, Saturnina. She was interred in the Mausoleum of the Veterans of the Philippine Revolution at La Loma Cemetery.