Thursday, September 13, 2012


Does this look like a dangerous woman?

Well, apparently to the Spanish, she was.  Dangerous enough that she had to be exiled to Guam from her native Philippines.

Her name was Melchora Aquino, but, already in her 80s when she was arrested, she was known as Tandang Sora, "tandang" being a form of the Tagalog word matanda, or "old."

She was arrested by the Spaniards for aiding the Filipino revolutionaries fighting for independence from Spain.  She allowed them to hold meetings in her house; fed them and provided them supplies; gave them simple medical attention.  For that, she was arrested and exiled to Guam in 1896.  She may well have been on the same ship of exiles as my great-grandfather, also a Filipino political prisoner.

She lived in Guam for around six years, till February of 1903 when she and many other Filipino political prisoners, such as Mabini, were allowed to return home.  She was 91 years old!  She died at the age of 107.

Those six years on Guam are shrouded in darkness.  I have not come across any significant information on her time on Guam.  Who did she stay with?  What did she do?  In the Philippines, she is well-known.  Here, barely a handful know about the story of this octogenarian political prisoner.


  1. Pale Eric, according to Dr. Augusto V. de Viana, "In the Far Islands,: The Role of Natives from the Philippinees in the Conquest, Colonization and Repopulation of the Mariana Islands (2004:134) Melchora Aquino and Segunda Puentes were placed under house arrest Don Justo Dungca's residence where they also did house work.

    De Viana's cites the work of Isagani R. Medina, "Melchora Aquino Wife of Fulgencio Ramos," In: Women in the Philippine Revolution, Edited by Rafaelita Hilario Soriano. Quezon City: Printon Press, 1995), pp 12-13.

    Bernard Punzalan

    1. Dungca himself was Filipino so I'm sure she felt at home! Thanks for the info!