By Anna Valmero
QUEZON CITY, METRO MANILA - Young people can learn a thing or two from national hero Melchora Aquino, more popularly referred to as “Tandang Sora”, by doing simple acts that make them good Filipino citizens.
“Tandang Sora fought by showing compassion to her fellow Filipinos who are fighting for the country's freedom. We hope the youth will take her example of showing compassion to others and being good citizens,” said Quezon City mayor Herbert Bautista.
Quezon City is celebrating the Filipino heroine's 200th birthday. Her remains will be transferred from Himlayang Pilipino to her original birthplace in Quezon City, marked by the Tandang Sora Shrine in Banlat Road.
The shrine is a a symbol of heroism and hope. Its centerpiece is a 35-foot brass statue of Tandang Sora carrying a wounded Katipunero. For her efforts , Aquino is also referred to as the “Grand Lady of the Katipunan”.
The P3.2 million statue was designed by artist Abdulmari de Leon Imao Jr. who named it “Ilaw ng Tahanan, Gabay ng Katipunan, Tanglaw ng Lipunan.” It sits at the center of six smaller brass murals that depict the life of Tandang Sora and her contributions to the Katipunan.
On my visit there, a group of students from the Tandang Sora National High School are practicing their performance depicting the life of the great heroine. Despite the heat of the sun, the students narrated and acted the life and times of the heroine in preparation for a presentation during her 200th birth anniversary on January 6.
As they spoke of her greatness, one can really reflect how in the late 1890s, an old lady stood up to help Filipino rebels in their fight for freedom. Tandang Sora actually joined the Katipunan at 84 years old, easily the revolutionary army's oldest member.
Despite her old age, she joined the Katipunan and helped the wounded Katipuneros during the Filipino revolt against the Spaniards. Her small sari-sari store housed the group's secret meetings and often supplied their food. It is said that Tandang Sora remained poor but found content in helping her countrymen.
After her return from exile in the Marianas Islands, Tandang Sora was offered pension by the American colonial government but she refused.
She said she helped the Katipuneros because she believed in their cause to free the Philippines. She was quoted saying that even if she had nine lives, she would have done the same.
The Tandang Sora shrine is located along Banlat Road at Barangay Tandang Sora in Quezon City and is open to the public from Mondays to Fridays.
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