Melchora Aquino
Melchora Aquino

(1812-01-06)January 6, 1812[1]
DiedFebruary 19, 1919(1919-02-19) (aged 107)
Resting placeTandang Sora National Shrine, Quezon City
Fulgencio Ramos
(died 1856)
The historical marker installed by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines at the Melchora Aquino Shrine in Quezon City in 2012.

Melchora Aquino (January 6, 1812 – February 19, 1919) was a Filipino revolutionary. She became known as "Tandang Sora" ("tandang" meaning "old") because of her age during the Philippine Revolution.

She was known as the "Grand Woman of the Revolution" and the "Mother of Balintawak" for her contributions.

Early life and marriage

Known as the "Mother of Revolution", Tandang Sora was born on January 6, 1812, in Barrio Banlat, Caloocan (the present-day Barangay Tandang Sora, Quezon City).[2]

Tandang Sora, daughter of a peasant couple, Juan and Valentina Aquino, never attended school. However, she was apparently literate at an early age and talented as a singer and performed at local events as well as at Mass for her Church. She was also often chosen for the role of Reyna Elena during the "Santacruzan", a processional pageant commemorating Empress Helen's finding of the Cross of Christ, celebrated in the Philippines in May.[1][3]

Later in life, she married Fulgencio Ramos,[1][4] a cabeza de barrio (village chief), and bore six children. As his wife she was known as Melchora Aquino de Ramos ("of Ramos"). Her husband died when their youngest child was 7 and she was left as a single parent for their children. Tandang Sora continued her life as an hermana mayor active in celebrating fiestas, baptisms, and weddings. She worked hard in order to give her children education.[1]

Involvement in the revolution

In her native town, Tandang Sora operated a store,[5] which became a refuge for the sick and wounded revolutionaries. She fed,[1] gave medical attention to and encouraged the revolutionaries with motherly advice and prayers.

Secret meetings of the Katipuneros (revolutionaries) were also held at her house in August 1896. Thus she earned the names "Woman of Revolution", "Mother of Balintawak", "Mother of the Philippine Revolution", and Tandang Sora (Tandang is derived from the Tagalog word matandâ, which means old). She and her son, Juan Ramos, were present in the Cry of Balintawak and were witnesses to the tearing up of the cedulas.[1][6]

When the Spaniards learned about her activities and her knowledge to the whereabouts of the Katipuneros, she was arrested by the guardia civil on August 29, 1896. She was held captive in the house of a cabeza de barangay of Pasong Putik, Novaliches and then transferred to Bilibid Prison in Manila. While in prison, she was interrogated but she refused to divulge any information. She was then deported to Guam, Marianas Islands by Governor General Ramón Blanco on September 2.[1][6] In Guam, she and a woman named Segunda Puentes were placed under house arrest in the residence of a Don Justo Dungca.[7][8]

After the United States took control of the Philippines in 1898, Tandang Sora, like other exiles, returned to the Philippines in 1903. She later became an active member of the Philippine Independent Church.[9]


She died at her daughter Saturnina's house in Banlat on February 19, 1919, at the age of 107.[1] Her remains were first interred at the Mausoleum of the Veterans of the Revolution at the Manila North Cemetery.[10] These were then transferred to the Himlayang Pilipino Memorial Park in Quezon City in 1970 and finally at the Tandang Sora National Shrine in 2012.[11][12][13]


Melchora Aquino, as depicted on the English Series 100 pesos banknote.

As a token of gratitude, a Quezon City barangay and a road were named after Tandang Sora. Her profile was also placed in the Philippines' five-centavo coin from 1967 to 1994. She was the first Filipina who appears on a Philippine peso banknote, in this case, a 100-peso bill from the English Series (1951–1966). Tandang Sora Street in the city of San Francisco is named in her honor.[citation needed]

In 2012, on the celebration of her 200th birthday, the Quezon City local government decided to transfer Tandang Sora's remains from Himlayang Pilipino Memorial Park to the Tandang Sora National Shrine. They also declared 2012 as be Tandang Sora Year.[11][12]

Bust at Placido del Mundo Elementary School in Novaliches, Quezon City

Her descendants carry different surnames, with almost all living in Novaliches and Tandang Sora districts in Quezon City as well as in Guam such as Figueroa, Ramos (her husband's surname), Geronimo, Eugenio, Cleofas and Apo.[14]

A Philippine Coast Guard 97-meter (318 ft) vessel was named after her, the BRP Melchora Aquino.

In popular culture


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Language Arts for the Filipino Learners: An Integrated Language and Reading Work-a-Text for Grade Four: Volume One. Rex Bookstore, Inc. pp. 106–. ISBN 978-971-23-1402-5.
  2. ^ "The Tandang Sora bicentennial". Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines. Retrieved February 26, 2021.
  3. ^ "5 Surprising Facts About Melchora Aquino ('Tandang Sora')". March 19, 2014.
  4. ^ "Fulgencio Ramos". Retrieved October 21, 2023.
  5. ^ Kirstin Olsen, ed. (1994). Chronology of women's history. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 207. ISBN 9780313288036.
  6. ^ a b Lola Elyang (January 19, 2012). "Tandang Sora: Bicentennial woman". The Philippine Star. Cebu, Philippines. Retrieved December 30, 2021.
  7. ^ Augusto V. de Viana, "In the Far Islands,: The Role of Natives from the Philippines in the Conquest, Colonization and Repopulation of the Mariana Islands. 2004:134.
  8. ^ Isagani R. Medina, "Melchora Aquino Wife of Fulgencio Ramos," In: Women in the Philippine Revolution, Rafaelita Hilario Soriano, ed. Quezon City: Printon Press, 1995, pp 12-13.
  9. ^ Torrevillas, Domini M. (January 9, 2015). "On Tandang Sora's 203rd birth anniversary". The Philippine Star. Retrieved November 8, 2022.
  10. ^ "Tandang Sora's birthplace declared a national shrine". Philippine Daily Inquirer. March 3, 2012. Retrieved November 4, 2018.
  11. ^ a b "P-Noy to lead re-interment of Tandang Sora's remains".
  12. ^ a b Ocampo, Ambeth. "Tandang Sora home on her 200th birthday". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved January 8, 2012.
  13. ^ Samonte, Severino (January 9, 2019). "Tandang Sora gets flowers on 207th birth rites". Philippine News Agency.
  14. ^ (January 7, 2012). "Heirs want Tandang Sora holiday declared". Retrieved September 4, 2015.