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
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
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.