Kasarinlan: Philippine Journal of Third World Studies, Vol 14, No 2 (1998)

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Kababaihan sa Rebolusyon (Women in Revolution)

Maria Luis Camagay

Abstract


The women of the revolution have long been a forgotten force in the annals of Philippine history. A rewritten version of the Philippine revolution will be retold in a manner that would include the contributions of women during the most tumultuous
years in the making of the republic. Organized participation began with the leadership of the elite. Emilio Aguinaldo established the first of many Associacion de la Cruz Roja on February 17, 1899, less than two weeks after the outbreak of
the Philippine-American war. His wife, Hilaria del Rosario was the first directress of the women’s association. More popularly known as the Junta de la Cruz Roja, the main purpose of the association was to raise funds and look after the needs of the revolutionaries and their families.

The first association was established in Bulacan and many more were established in Central Luzon and their immeasurable heroism as well as material contributions were well documented. Initially, members came from the ranks of the elite families and were called señoras and señoritas though it allowed all women to join the association regardless of social status. When they were not raising funds, distributing food and clothing, or nursing the sick and wounded, the women also wove flags for the battalions of their respective provinces. Doña Gliceria Marella Villavicencio of Taal, Batangas, donated a boat which ferried Aguinaldo’s soldiers to the Visayas. Melchora Aquino offered her family’s grains to Katipuneros who converged at Pugad Lawin.

There were also those who found inspiration from their fellow women and offered their poetry, many of critical acclaim, to the revolution. In the field of battle, Agueda Kahabagan of Laguna earned the respect of the men, including the secretary of war who recommended that she be recognized as general in 1899. There were others who became prisoners of war and more tragically victims of rape. There were stories of soldiers and their wives who dressed as soldiers to join their husbands, fighting side by side against the Americans. Clearly the women were not a captive audience in the war among armed men. When they moved, singularly or collectively, the revolution did not stand still.

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