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Friday, April 2, 2010

Leading Filipino Women: Aurora Aragon Quezon


Aurora Aragon Quezon
Mother of the Philippine Red Cross
(1888 - 1949)

           Aurora Aragon Quezon was the wife of President Manuel L. Quezon. She devoted many years of her life in welfare work especially with the Red Cross here. Her life was rich with acts of thoughtfulness and service for the poor and the needy.


Dona Aurora and the Red Cross
         When you see our Red Cross anywhere you should think of Aurora Aragon Quezon. For Dona Aurora was like Florence Nightingale, the self-sacrificing Lady with the Lamp who nursed the soldiers.
         Aurora Aragon Quezon was the daughter of the Aragons, an old and respected family of Tayabas (now Quezon). She was born in Baler on February 19, 1888. As a young girl she went to a Catholic school.
         She intended to become a teacher and went to Manila to study in the Philippine Normal School. But the fate had other plans for her. She met again the attractive Manuel L. Quezon, whom she knew as a child in Baler. They fell in love with each other, and in 1918 were married in Hong Kong, where she had gone for a summer vacation.


As A Wife
         The years that followed were busy ones for the young wife of the rising statesman. Manuel L. Quezon called his wife a model wife. She cheered him when he was worried with his problems. She offered helpful suggestions to him. She helped her husband carry out plans for the welfare of the poor and the needy.


As A Mother
         Aurora Aragon Quezon made a happy home for her husband. Three of their four children Maria, Aurora, Zenaida, and Manuel grew up to be healthy and intelligent members of this famous family. One of the Quezon children died at the age of two. Mrs. Quezon was a gentle and loving mother who taught her children to be kind, religious, and thoughtful of others.


The First Lady
         In 1935 Manuel Quezon was elected the first President of the Commonwealth. Dona Aurora thus became the First Lady of the Land. She continued to work for the welfare of everyone. Even high officials of the government went to her to help or advice when they disagreed with the President.
        She thought of different ways of helping the poor. Every Christmas Dona Aurora threw open the grounds of Malacanan palace (the official residence of the Philippine president) to them. She established the custom of giving a Christmas party at Malacanan for the poor children of the city. At the party, the children received gifts of food, clothes, toys and other things.


In World War II
        When World War II came, the Quezon family had to leave Manila. They first went to Bataan with the Filipino army. Later on they were taken safely to America by the United States forces. This was done so that President Quezon could continue being the head of the Philippine Commonwealth government. Mrs. Quezon and her daughter spent the war years in America doing welfare work with the American Red Cross. She served in American hospitals as a volunteer.
        This experience was to lead to her important role in setting up an independent Philippine Red Cross later on.


Chairman of the Philippine Red Cross
        In 1945, after the Americans had freed the Philippines from the enemy, Mrs. Quezon and her children returned home. The body of her famous husband, who had died in 1944, followed later on and was buried here with great honors.
       Mrs. Quezon now devoted her remaining years to serving the Philippine Red Cross and other charitable organizations. She was appointed its chairman. She was active in the campaign to rebuild churches and hospitals. She reported at the Red Cross headquarters regularly for work without receiving any salary. She used her influence to win support and friends for the newly independent Philippine Red Cross. She attended its meetings and guided its work. Under her wise guidance the Philippine Red Cross became a strong organization which could serve well the people.
       Then on April 28, 1949, she went on a trip to Baler. She was accompanied by many officials and her eldest daughter, Maria Aurora, and her son-in-law. A historical marker was going to be placed to mark the birthplace of President Quezon in Baler. The marker was to be unveiled by Mrs. Quezon.
       As Mrs. Quezon’s party was nearing Baler, a group of lawless men came out on the road and shot them. Mrs. Quezon, her daughter, and many others were killed. The whole country was shocked to hear of the death of Mrs. Quezon. A great and noble lady who had served her country well was lost to the people.

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