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The Women of Malolos
by Nicanor G. Tiongson
Date: 1/6/2007

Descended from four big mestizo-sangley clans and related to each other by blood or affinity, the Women of Malolos were born and raised in upper-middle class circumstances that allowed them to lead leisurely lives. But because their relatives were passionately committed to the anti-friar struggle, the women themselves became slowly politicized and took up steps to learn Spanish so that they could be enlightened and could help to further erode the hegemony of the friars. Their involvement in the issue of education reached its climax in their request for a night school from Governor General (Valeriano) Weyler and their efforts to have the school opened and operative in spite of all friar machinations. Their demand for education was picked up by the reformists in Spain and became an international issue, eliciting opposite reactions from the pro-friar camps and the reformists and other liberals.

But even after the school was closed in May 1889, the commitment of most of the women did not flag. They participated in the Revolution against Spain by providing funds, food, and other services. When the Philippine-American War broke out, eight of them joined the first national Red Cross, donated money to buy medicines or actually tended to the sick in the hospitals in Barasoain, Polo, and Lolomboy, among others. And even as many of the women “fell out of commission” because of marriage and mothering, ten of them became founding members of the Malolos Committee of the Asociacion Feminista de Filipinas in 1906, the very first national women’s organization that had for its goals the upliftment of the conditions of women of all classes, principally through education. (pp. 139-140)

(Below are the names of the Women of Malolos. pp. 142-143)

Elisea T. Reyes (1873-1969)
Juana T. Reyes (1874-1900)
Leoncia S. Reyes (1864-1948)
Olympia S.A. Reyes (1876-1910)
Rufina T. Reyes (1869-1909)
Eugenia M. Tanchangco (1871-1969)
Aurea M. Tanchangco (1872-1958)
Basilia V. Tantoco (1865-1925)
Teresa T. Tantoco (1867-1942)
Maria T. Tantoco (1869-1912)
Anastacia M. Tiongson (1874-1940)
Basilia R. Tiongson (ca. 1860-ca. 1900)
Paz R. Tiongson (ca. 1862-1889)
Aleja R. Tiongson (ca.1865-ca.1900)
Mercedes R. Tiongson (1869-1928)
Agapita R. Tiongson (1870-1937)
Filomena O. Tiongson (ca. 1865-1930)
Cecilia O. Tiongson (ca. 1867-1934)
Feliciana O. Tiongson (1869-1938)
Alberta S. Uitangcoy (1865-1953)

But courage and valor were not the monopoly of the group that composed the Women of Malolos. Other women of the town displayed the same traits on different occasions and for different purposes.

One day, in early 1889, Maria Rojas entered the church after taking a bath—with her newly washed hair down and loose. Upon seeing such “irreligiousness,” the sacristan mayor accosted her and ordered her to gather her hair up in a bun (magpusód). Maria flatly refused. The sacristan repeated the order, as an order coming from the friar curate himself. Maria then turned to the troublesome sacristan and told him to tell his curate that she would not gather her hair up for as long as all the wooden virgins of the church were wearing their hair loose like her. And if he wanted her to do as the cura ordered, she would like to see the virgins in church obey the cura’s orders first. However, even if the virgins did that, she nonetheless would not gather her hair in a bun if it were still wet, as hers still was. (p. 187)

Source: Excerpts from the book, The Women of Malolos, written by Nicanor G. Tiongson, Quezon City: ADMU Press, 2004.

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