9 Filipinas Who Fiercely Fought for Philippine Independence and Women’s Rights

March 8 marks International Women’s Day. So today, let’s celebrate the brave Filipino women who fought for our freedom and rights! Here are some of the Filipina heroines who changed Philippine history by fiercely fighting for our country’s independence and the rights of fellow Pinays.

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9. Josefa Capistrano



Josefa Capistrano is dubbed as Mindanao’s “Gabriela Silang.” She founded the Women’s Auxiliary Service (later renamed as Women’s Auxiliary Corps) and trained women to be nurses, soldiers, and spies during World War II. 


8. Concepcion Felix de Calderon


Concepcion Felix de Calderon established the Asociación Feminista Filipina, the first Filipina club that promoted the participation and social welfare of women in public affairs; and the La Gota de Leche, a non-government organization helping mothers and their children. These were two of the first few women’s organizations in the Philippines.


7. Rosa Sevilla


Rosa Sevilla de Alvero founded one of the first schools for women in the Philippines – Instituto de Mujeres (now known as the Rosa Sevilla Memorial School), and the Liga Nacional de Damas Filipinas (National League of Filipino Women) to spread her campaign for suffrage. Sevilla is also one of two women staffers of La Independencia, the newspaper of the Philippine revolution.


6. Magdalena Leones


Magdalena Leones, the “Lioness of Filipino Guerilla Agents,” is one of the World War II veterans and the only Asian woman to have been awarded the Silver Star in WWII by the United States. Her Niponggo-speaking skill helped save the lives of Filipinos captured by the Japanese. She also used this skill to serve as a special agent carrying “important intelligence data, vital radio parts, and medical supplies” through Japanese-held territory. 


5. Josefa Llanes Escoda

The modern woman is no longer the wife that clings; she now helps the husband.


Josefa Llanes Escoda represented the Philippines in the International House and the Women’s International League for Peace. She also trained young women teachers to become Girl Scout leaders. In World War II, Escoda aided prisoners of war and stranded women and children at the hands of the Japanese.


4. Teresa Magbanua


Teresa Magbanua y Ferraris was a Filipino schoolteacher who became the first and only woman to lead troops in Visayas during the revolution. She was dubbed as the “Visayan Joan of Arc” as she successfully led them towards the liberation of Iloilo City. She continued to fight for the country’s independence against the Americans and later on, the Japanese, selling all her belongings to help fund the guerilla movement.


3. Melchora Aquino


Tandang Sora, whose real name is Melchora Aquino, is also known as the “Mother of the Revolution” because she provided food and nursed the wounded Katipuneros in 1896. Unfortunately, she was arrested by Spanish authorities, but she never revealed the location of the Katipunan hideout. 


2. Gabriela Silang


María Josefa Gabriela Cariño de Silang was the first Filipino woman to lead a rebellion during the Spanish colonization of the Philippines. When her husband Diego Silang was assassinated in 1763, she continued what her husband was fighting for as the commander of the Ilocano independence movement.


1. Marcela Agoncillo


Doña Marcela Mariño de Agoncillo is known as the “Mother of the Philippine Flag” as she was the principal seamstress of the first and official flag of the Philippines. She manually sewed the flag in accordance with General Emilio Aguinaldo’s design with the help of her eldest daughter Lorenza and the niece of Dr. Jose Rizal, Delfina Herbosa Natividad.

Happy International Women’s Day! Know more Filipinas who made history? Tell us in the comments! 

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