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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Leading Filipino Women: Trinidad Tecson

Trinidad Tecson
Mother of Biak Na Bato
(1848 – 1928)

         One of the bravest soldiers who fought in the Philippine Revolution was a woman. Besides fighting as a soldier, she organized groups of women to nurse the sick and the wounded. This brave woman was Trinidad Tecson. Her life was filled with fearless acts of service for her country.

Early Life
         The family of Rafael Tecson, a farmer, and his wife, Monica Perez, was a large one. They had sixteen children. One of these, born on November 18, 1848 in San Miguel de Mayumo, Bulacan was named Trinidad. She turned out to be the prettiest and brightest of the children. The mother tried to add to the family income by keeping a store.
          In the evening the father taught his sons and daughters how to read and write. After learning the alphabet, little Trining was sent to school. But she did not stay long in school. Her parents died leaving her and her brothers and sisters too young to care for themselves. Relatives took care of them until they grew up.

Trining and the Revolution
          In 1895 Trining Tecson joined the Katipunan. Members of the Katipunan were required to sign their names in their own blood. Trining signed hers in her blood.
          Just before the Revolution, Trining got some guns from the prison in San Isidro, Nueva Ecija. She buried the guns under a bamboo tree. However, someone told the Spanish officials what she did. Spanish soldiers were sent to her home to arrest her and to get the guns. But Trining had run away to hide. The guns were never found by the Spanish soldiers.
          By this time the Revolution had begun. Trining joined the soldiers of General Llanera, and they attacked the town of San Miguel. Trining carried food to the soldiers.
          Once on her way to get food, Trining was almost captured by the Spanish soldiers. She pretended to be hit by their shots and threw herself on the ground. Then she crawled on the grass until she reached the tall bushes beside a brook. She hid for a while and escaped when the soldiers went away.

Trining in the Battlefield
          Trining dressed in men’s clothers when she fought in the battlefield. She wore a wide-brimmed hat. She fought like a man. She endured all the hardships on the battlefields. She was badly wounded in the battle if Zaragoza, where she fought under General Soliman. After her wound was a treated, she went back to fight again.
          Some of the battles in which she fought were those that took place in San Rafael, Dagupan, Malabon, Manila, San Isidro, Zaragoza, and San Ildefonso. She also fought under the command of General del Pilar. At one time she and her husband, Julian Alcantara, and two servants defended the entrance to the fort at Biak-Na-Bato. The Spaniards with a strong force tried to enter the fort. Trining and her small group of defenders beat them off.

The “Mother of Biak-na-Bato”
          Then Trining turned to more valuable work for the soldiers. She gave up fighting. Instead, she organized groups of women to nurse wounded and sick soldiers of the Filipino army.
          The sick soldiers called her Ina ng Biak-Na-Bato, or “Mother of Biak-Na-Bato,” because she nursed them back to health. Biak- Na- Bato or Halved Stone in translation is a cave in Bulacan which is a military base camp of the Filipino soldiers during the revolution against Spain in 1897 but became a seat of revolutionary government of the first republic of President Emilio Aguinaldo, the first president of the Philippines.
          Trinidad Tecson may be said to be the first person to start Red Cross work in the Philipines. Her services to the soldiers of the Revolution were appreciated by General Aguinaldo. He said of her: “Trinidad Tecson of San Miguel helped the Revolutionists very much. Her work in caring for the sick during the years 1896-1897 was a great service. It was because of her work that she won the title: “Ina ng Biak-Na-Bato.”
          Trining’s group of nurses extended their work to the Ilocos and souther provinces. After the war, her nursing work was recognized by the American Red Cross. They gave her credit for starting Red Cross work in the Philippines.
         When Trinidad Tecson died on January 28, 1928, she was honored for her Red Cross work. As a recognition of her service during the Revolution .and of her bravery as a soldier, she was buried in the Veterans’ Tomb in the Manila North Cemetery.
         Today, the remains of Trinidad Tecson lie side by side those of other heroes of our country.

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