Writing for Tambuli, a community-inspired publication produced mainly by young people in the DC metropolitan area more than 15 years ago, Gloria T. Caoile dedicated her piece to Filipino women for their contributions to our history and culture. “The more challenges we face,” she wrote, “the more we rise to the occasion. And it even amazes us when we face those challenges and conquer our fears.”
To Gloria, one woman who stands out is Marcela Agoncillo, known in history books as the “Mother of the Philippine Flag.” She was the principal seamstress of the first and official flag of the Philippines.
The following is excerpted from Gloria’s account: Agoncillo was one of many historical women who played a significant part in the building of a nation. Over a hundred years ago, when General Emilio Aguinaldo went into exile in Hongkong, he was accompanied by revolutionaries, including womenfolk: wives, sisters, daughters, kinswomen, patriots in their own way. Among them was Agoncillo, the wife of Aguinaldo’s spokesman, Don Felipe. She was asked to sew the first flag of the Philippines. She chose silk – a brilliant red, a bright blue and pristine white, purchased from the bazaars of Hong Kong. She selected the touch of gold and used silken threads to match the brilliant swatches of silk cloth.
Together with her young daughter, Lorenza and Delfina Herbosa de Natividad, whose mother was a sister of Dr. Jose Rizal, the women labored hard. Their hearts were imprinted on the flag. Marcela never saw the flag fly in Kawit, Cavite. At the request of Aguinaldo, her husband remained in Hong Kong and she stayed with him.
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