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Teresa Magbanua – A Daughter of the Revolution, by Grant Leishman.
My current project is a historical romance set in 1894 to the background of the Philippine Revolution against the Spanish oppressors, in 1896. This is my first attempt at a historical novel, which in itself is rather strange. I am fanatical about history and love reading about it, so it would be logical, you’d think that I would want to write about it also. I guess I’ve been wary of giving it a go because I’m terrified of getting something wrong and being picked up on it by my readers. Nevertheless, I’ve finally given it a crack. In doing so, I wanted to make sure I researched the period as carefully as I could and fortunately there is a lot of reference material available. While researching I made a fascinating discovery that I’d like to share with you today. I came across a reference to a young woman from Iloilo, who not only joined the revolution as a revolutionary soldier but went on to lead her troops in several famous battles, against the Spanish, in the Visayas. The more I read about this unassuming woman, the more amazed and impressed I was with her courage, her commitment and her belief in the Filipino people. She had been dubbed the “Visayan Joan of Arc” and It is fair to say I have modeled the hero in my novel after the incredible warrior lady Teresa Magbanua.
Born in Pototan Iloilo, to wealthy parents, Teresa’s early life was typical of young, well-to-do Filipino ladies. After a brief stint as a teacher, she married and settled into the life of a housewife. When the revolution broke out, Teresa, against the wishes of her husband, followed her two younger brothers into the KKK. The KKK, was not, for the benefit of our American friends, the Ku Klux Klan. The KKK was the secret revolutionary society formed by Andrés Bonifacio. Its full name was Kataastaasan, Kagalanggalangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan (Supreme and Venerable Society of the Children of the Nation), more commonly referred to as either KKK or Katipunan. Originally when Bonifacio formed the Society it was strictly for men only, but given Teresa’s amazing life, I have no doubt they are glad they eventually decided to admit women into the organisation.
She would go on to fight in several key battles of the revolution. In December 1898, she led her troops into her first battle, “the Battle of Barrio Yoting”, where the Spanish were soundly trounced. This was where Magbanua earned her “Joan of Arc” nickname, although to her troops she was always affectionately known as “Nanay Isa” (Mother Isa). Also in December 1898, she would lead her troops again into battle during the Battle of Sapong Hills, where despite the odds being heavily in favour of the Spanish, Magbanua was triumphant. She then joined up with the revolutionary forces from Antique, where they proceeded to march on Iloilo City. Along with Generals Delgado, Lopez and Salas, Magbanua and her troops retook the City of Iloilo from the Spanish. With the unexpected conclusion of the Philippine – Spanish conflict due to the arrival of American troops and their subsequent routing of the Spanish, Magbanua turned her attention to fighting for freedom against the new invaders and colonialists, the Americans, In the Philippine – American War. After several encounters with American forces, some successful and some not so, Magbanua was part of the battle of Balangtang, as the Philippine forces took the City and later defended it against a counterattack by the Americans.
The deaths of her two younger brothers Pascual and Elias, a General and a Major, both under suspicious circumstances, hit Teresa hard and she left the official Philippine Army, taking her troops with her, to indulge in guerrilla-style tactics against the Americans. Finally, in 1900, Teresa Magbanua surrendered to the American forces and returned to her home and farming. Despite there being no official records of Teresa Magbanua ever receiving an official commission in the Philippine Army, she was often referred to by the honorific General Magbanua. A truly inspirational and proud daughter of the Philippines, who probably never has received the recognition deserving of her exploits. Her life, as a revolutionary, wasn’t quite over yet, though. In her seventies, Teresa was involved in providing supplies to guerrilla fighters in the resistance movement against the Japanese Occupation during the Second World War. She died at the age of 78 in August 1947, a true patriot and a proud daughter of the Republic of the Philippines, a country she had fought for, so bravely and so truly. She was absolutely a woman of Philippine history to be honoured and revered.
I am an expatriate New Zealander, now living in the Philippines with my beautiful wife and two lovely daughters. At age 55, after careers in Journalism and finance, I finally discovered my true passion in life – writing. I am now a full-time author who has written or co-written seven novels, across differing genres. My latest project is a Historical Romance set to the backdrop of the Philippine revolution of 1896, against the Spanish. I believe in the power of the written word and the mantra that I live by and finish each of my blog posts on my website with is:
CHOOSE TO BE HAPPY! EMBRACE THE OPPORTUNITIES LIFE PRESENTS TO YOU AND ALWAYS, ALWAYS FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS! HAVE A GREAT LIFE AND SPREAD THE LOVE! CHANGING THE WORLD – ONE READER AT A TIME