If there is one real-life proof that can be shown to the adage that “one can never be too old for anything,” our history provides such in the life of Melchora Aquino, (1812-1919) the “Grand Old Lady of the Revolution” popularly known to many as “Tandang Sora.”
In her 80’s, as the Philippine Revolution was beginning to unfold and would eventually break out, she helped provide a venue for secret meetings for the revolutionaries, giving them comfort, shelter, and even medical aid to those wounded in battle. While she never fought in battle, revolutionaries and the Spanish authorities recognize her invaluable contributions to the revolution. In fact, the Spaniards deemed as dangerous enough that she was arrested and sent to exile in Guam. She would eventually return as the Americans took over the administration of the country and would live on until her death at the very age of 107.
Her remains were first interred at the Manila North Cemetery, then to the Himlayang Pilipino in Quezon City, near her old neighborhood where she lived that now bears her name. Then, in commemoration of her bicentennial birth anniversary in 2012, her remains were transferred to the site of her old home that has now been converted into a shrine in her honor.
The shrine itself has been there a bit longer as it was opened in 2008 by the Quezon City government. The centerpiece of the shrine is a massive sculptural work done by Toym Imao, son of National Artist Abdulmari Imao depicting Tandang Sora caring for a wounded revolutionary. Surrounding the sculpture are relief sculptures depicting the different episodes of Tandang Sora’s life. Fortunately, (unlike my experience at the Pugad Lawin Shrine) the shrine is accessible as you will be guided by a caretaker who is actually Tandang Sora’s descendant.
With its subdued charm and a sense of calm dignity it exudes, the shrine itself is a fitting tribute to a heroine who served the country with dignity and without much fanfare despite her age and fear of punishment. Till the very end, she remained a true patriot who never wavered in her love for the motherland.
To get to the Melchora Aquino Shrine, one can take the tricycle near the corner of Tandang Sora Ave. and Banlat Road. The shrine is farther up Banlat Road.
© The Urban Roamer