Throughout Philippine History, there have been many empowering Filipinas that have pushed the boundaries of society and has paved the way for many of us today, regardless of whether you are a girl or a boy. The following Filipina Woman Heroes are brilliant examples of valiant and clever women who are often overlooked because of their gender, but nonetheless deserve the spotlight and their legacy remembered by the Filipinos of today.
Gabriela Silang (September 20, 1731- March 20, 1763)
Gabriella Silang was a born and bred Ilocana having been born in Ilocos Sur. She is one of the most well-known Filipina Women Heroes for her work in being the leader of the Ilocano Independence Movement from Spain, after her second husband Diego Silang’s assassination. She commanded the rebel troops and achieved a “priestess” status among her followers, launching their guerrilla attacks and carrying a bolo they went on to carry the war against Spain. Even though in the end they were still defeated she will be forever known for her immense spirit, and tenacity in carrying 2,000 men in battle against 6,000 Spanish soldiers.
Tandang Sora – Melchora Aquino de Ramos (January 6, 1812 – February 19, 1919)
Known as “The Grand Woman of the Revolution” or “Mother of Balintawak”, Tandang Sora became one of the great Filipina Woman Heroes for her contribution of operating a refuge for the sick and wounded rebel soldiers. She took in Katipuneros, including Andres Bonifacio, and risked her life by providing them with food, medical attention, and encouragement much like a mother to all the revolutionaries. Even after getting caught and interrogated of the whereabouts of the Katipunan by the Spanish, Tandang Sora’s bravery was unfaltering and refused to give in.
Gliceria Marella-Villavicencio (May 13, 1852 – September 28, 1929)
Doña Gliceria Legaspi Marella de Villavicencio, also known as Aling Eriang, was an ilustrado and is well-known for giving up her own wealth, and time for the Revolutionary Movement during the Spanish times. She is known as a heroine in the Revolution, sympathizer and supporter for Filipino freedom, together with her husband Eulalio Villavicencio, she gave out copies of La Solidaridad to inform and inspire the people. Even after being captured, and threatened, Aling Eriang’s courage and faith in the revolution never wavered. For her heroic role in the Revolution, she was given the title Madrina-General de las Fuerzas Revolucionarios (Matriarch-General of the Revolutionary Forces) on June 12, 1898.
Josefa Llanes Escoda (September 20, 1898 – January 6, 1945)
A prominent advocate for women’s right to vote and equality. This Heroine is most known for being the founder of the Girl Scouts of the Philippines, training young women to become Girl Scout leaders. When World War II broke out and Japanese forces invaded the Philippines, Josefa served by providing medical and emergency services to the troops by supplying medicine, foods, clothes, and messages to Filipino war prisoners and Americans alike. By the end Josefa and her husband were captured, but she is remembered fondly for her brave and fearless contributions to the Filipinos in their time of need.
Teresa Magbanua (October 13, 1868 – August 1947)
Known as the “Visayan Joan of Arc”, as she was a member of the Katipunan revolutionaries in 1896 even though they largely excluded women from the revolutionary army back then, Magbanua pushed through and became a well-known markswoman, even surpassing his uncle who was a general and his two younger brothers who also enlisted. She went on to command her own bolo battalion, and was called by her troops as “Nay Isa” or “Nanay Isa”. When the Japanese invaded, Nay Isa, despite being in her 70’s at the time, still provided support by providing food and supplies to the local troops. For her contribution, she is known as the bravest female fighter of Iloilo, and one of the most respected Filipina Women Heroes in the country.
Kumander Liwayway – Remedios Gomez-Paraiso (July 12, 1919 – May 15, 2014)
Kumander Liwayway was a beauty queen before the Japanese occupied the country, but upon suffering a huge loss from the war and having her family killed, she decided to join the Hukbalahap Rebellion, the Filipino people’s army against the Japanese. During her time in the Huk Resistance, she earned the nickname Kumander Liwayway meaning “Commander Dawn” after she steadily became one of the high ranking officers of the organization. Even through her time in the rebellion, Liwayway was known for always dressing formally, her hair in a neat style, and wearing a red lipstick in battle, saying that she is fighting for the right to be herself like the queen she is. After the war, Liwayway continued on to explain and inform the people of the contributions Filipino women made in the war, which is often overlooked by some historians.
Magdalena Leones (August 19, 1920 – June 16, 2016)
Known as “The Filipina Super Spy”, and being the only Asian woman to receive a Silver Star Medal during World War II. When the Japanese Imperial Army invaded Northern Luzon, Leones was held captive for 5 months, wherein she quickly taught herself to speak the Japanese language, “Niponggo”. When she was released at 22 she met Colonel Russell Volckmann of the United States Armed Forces in the Philippines – North Luzon, and decided to become a special agent. In her work, Leones was able to carry important intelligence data, vital radio parts, and medical supplies through the country, and quickly remember the names of enemy ships, its loads, and the names of the captains docked which became a huge asset for defeating the enemy force. Her brilliance, mental and moral strength, and of course bravery is what earned her the accomplishments that she did, truly earning her the position of being one the Filipina Women Heroes.