NEW SHRINE IN BIRTHPLACE WELCOMES 'TANDANG SORA' (MELCHORA AQUINO)

[PHOTO - The remains of Tandang Sora is formally transferred by his living relatives from the Himlayang Filipino to Quezon City Hall where a vigil is set to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Filipino Hero. INQUIRER/ MARIANNE BERMUDEZ]

MANILA, JANUARY 9, 2012 (INQUIRER) By Julie M. Aurelio - When heroine Melchora Aquino, aka Tandang Sora, comes “home” Friday to a new shrine built in her honor in Banlat, Quezon City, all that will be placed there are three small pieces of her bones.

But even if her bones eventually crumble to dust, her descendants vow to honor her legacy and valor even more fervently.

“We involve the younger generation in our activities so that she will not be forgotten by our children and grandchildren. We want them to remember her selflessness by living it,” said Josephine Geronimo, a fourth-generation descendant and president of the Grandchildren of Melchora Aquino Association.

Geronimo stood as witness as the city government Thursday formally received the remains of Tandang Sora which were exhumed at Himlayang Pilipino, a private cemetery, along with several artifacts such as a piece of broken glass and the handle of her coffin.

“There were no longer any big bones left. Perhaps what remained came from the skull,” said the city health officer, Dr. Antonieta Inumerable, who witnessed the exhumation.

The recovered bones and artifacts were sealed inside a wooden casket less than two feet long, and brought on a hearse to city hall, where a party led by Mayor Herbert Bautista and Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte graced the solemn turnover.

The hearse arrived in the late afternoon as a brass band played and a choir sang in tribute. Among the hundreds of onlookers were city hall employees who stayed after office hours just to catch a glimpse of the relics.

The remains were to stay at city hall for an overnight vigil, prior to their transfer today to the newly constructed Tandang Sora Shrine in Banlat, the heroine’s birthplace.

Family’s request

It was only fitting that she would be brought back to Banlat Friday, the 200th anniversary of her birth, said Aldrin Cuna, the city mayor’s chief of staff.

Tandang Sora’s family requested that her remains be transferred to Banlat during the term of Bautista’s predecessor, Feliciano Belmonte Jr. It was only last year that Bautista’s administration got Himlayang Pilipino’s consent.

The oldest surviving great-grandchild is 93-year-old Isabela Roxas, according to the organization’s secretary Nenita Reyes, who came to Thursday’s rites with a scrapbook containing photocopied pictures of Tandang Sora, including a grainy shot taken on her wedding day.

FROM THE PHILSTAR

'Be like Tandang Sora, be an agent of change' By Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) Updated January 07, 2012 12:00 AM

From left, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista and Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte pay their respects to Melchora Aquino or Tandang Sora at City Hall before her remains were re-interred yesterday at a shrine on Banlat Road where she was born. Inset photo shows President Aquino leading the heroine’s 200th birth anniversary rites at the shrine. BOY SANTOS/WILLY PEREZ

MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino yesterday called on Filipinos to emulate Tandang Sora – dubbed as the “Grand Woman of the Revolution” – whose advanced age did not stop her from helping the cause of the Katipuneros.

“For the heroine that we are giving honor to today, age is not a hindrance to be an effective agent of change in our country. She is Melchora Aquino, the Mother of the Katipunan,” the President said during the celebration of Tandang Sora’s bicentennial birth anniversary yesterday.

Aquino led yesterday’s birth anniversary rites and the re-interment of her remains on Banlat Road in Quezon City, which was also attended by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista and Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte, officials of the National Historical Institute, and the third and fourth generation of Tandang Sora’s descendants.

In paying tribute to Tandang Sora, the President said her status in life – being unlettered and having no wealth – did not deter her from being an agent of change.

Vice Mayor Belmonte, who also sits as chair of Task Force Tandang Sora, said that Tandang Sora’s life has proven that heroism does not depend on age or in engaging in fights.

“She remained humble despite so many contributions to the Katipunan. She was not expecting anything in return and continuously cared for the needy, not only the Katipuneros,” Belmonte said.

Tandang Sora treated sick and wounded Katipuneros even if she had six children and was a widow at the time.

The President also challenged Filipinos to make their contribution to society more meaningful.

During the rites, one of Tandang Sora’s descendants, Josephine Geronimo, asked Aquino to declare Jan. 6 a national legal holiday. The Chief Executive did not reply, but instead urged Filipinos to follow Tandang Sora’s heroic example.

Historical records show that Tandang Sora’s store became a refuge for sick and wounded Katipuneros during the revolt against Spain. She was 84 then. She fed, gave medical attention to and encouraged revolutionaries with advice and prayers.

When the Spaniards learned about her activities, she was interrogated but she refused to divulge any information. She was arrested and deported to Guam. She returned to the Philippines in 1898. She died in March 1919 at the age of 107.

Bishop Antonio Tobias of Novaliches blessed Tandang Sora’s remains before they were draped with the Philippine flag and afterwards, transferred to a special holding place that served as its tomb on stage in the shrine.

Before the re-interment, a Mass was held at the Quezon City Hall, followed by a funeral procession going to the Tandang Sora Shrine.

After Mass, Speaker Belmonte in a message shared that even in old age, Tandang Sora was still very productive.

He said Tandang Sora contributed much to the country’s history despite her limited formal education and her humble beginnings.

Belmonte recalled that during his time as Quezon City mayor, they worked for the establishment of the Tandang Sora Shrine where the heroine’s remains would have a permanent resting place.

Tandang Sora’s remains were exhumed earlier at Himlayang Pilipino, which had been the heroine’s burial ground for the past 42 years.

The Himlayang Pilipino administration, through its president Alberto Albano, recently acceded to the request of the city government and the family of Tandang Sora to have the heroine’s remains exhumed for permanent burial in her birthplace.

The year 2012 has been declared Tandang Sora Year by the Quezon City government through Ordinance No. SP-2092, S-2011.

Built in 2008, the shrine is located along Banlat Road where Tandang Sora was born and died. - Rhodina Villanueva

FROM INTERAKSYON ONLINE

Tandang Sora turns 200, to be reburied at her birthplace 05-Jan-12, 7:41 PM | Ana Miranda, InterAksyon.com

Photo of Melchora Aquino from wikipedia.org

MANILA, Philippines - Filipina revolutionary Melchora Aquino will be reburied on Friday, her 200th birthday, at the Tandang Sora Shrine in Banlat, Quezon City, her birthplace.

The remains of the Katipunan heroine were brought Thursday afternoon to the Quezon City Hall after these were exhumed from the Himlayang Pilipino Memorial Park in Barangay Pasong Tamo, Tandang Sora, Quezon City.

The exhumation of Aquino'remains - composed of three small bones no longer than two inches and some brown-colored dust, was witnessed by a representative from the National Historical Commission of the Philippines and city officials.

“Give it five more years and the bones may be reduced to dust," said city health officer Dr. Antonieta Inumerable, citing that Aquino's body has been buried since 1919.

Her recovered remains have been placed inside a wooden casket encased by glass and brought to the City Hall where a vigil will be held overnight to honor Aquino.

A funeral procession and a Mass will be held at the Tandang Sora Shrine after the vigil, which will last until 7 a.m., Friday.

Then 84, Aquino, the Grand Woman of the 1896 Philippine Revolution against Spanish colonization, earned a place in history when she helped and treated the wounded Katipuneros. She was later captured by Spanish authorities and went on exile to Guam.

She returned to the Philippines in 1903 after the United States took control of the country in 1898.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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