TOMAS L

 


 AURORA ARAGON QUEZON

(1888-1949)

 

 

  The First Lady of the Commonwealth, Mrs. Aurora Aragon Quezon was a woman of rare personal charm and simple elegance, possessed of a kind heart and sympathetic understanding that endeared her to the Filipino people.

 

  Aurora was the youngest and the prettiest of the eight children of Pedro Aragon and Zenaida Molina, born in Baler, Tayabas (now Quezon) on February 19, 1888.

 

At the age of four her aunt, Maria Molina, mother of President Quezon, tutored her. Later, she entered a school of the Franciscan Friars at the convent of Baler, after she had been taught by Emilia, her eldest sister.

 

The outbreak of the Philippine Revolution interrupted her schooling and also brought much suffering to the Aragon Family, for her father was arrested and taken to Manila where he died in prison property was confiscated by the Spanish government.

 

At the age of ten, Aurora had to pitch in with heavy work. She pounded rice, ran errands, fetched water in earthen jars, washed clothes regularly, helped cultivate the home garden and plant rice during planting season.  

 

Quezon’s mother took her under her wings. As a consequence, she became the favorite of Manuel’s father. Living in the same roof, Manuel and his first cousin shared a joyful company.

 

When the Aragon family moved to Lucena, Quezon was then the provincial fiscal of Tayabas. Aurora’s dream was modest, to be a public school teacher. Quezon subsidized her study at the Philippine Normal School in Manila. She was a bright student and popular with her schoolmates. She was fond of the graceful Cariñosa dance. Ill health weighed on her, and she discontinued her studies after two years. ”By reading assiduously good books since I left school, I have learned to write correctly and speak fluently,” she remarked.

 

She formed the Baler Reading circle and Library, she sharing her meager collection. This collection became part of the Malacañang Library.

 

When Quezon became an assemblyman, she often came to Manila at his invitation, accompanied by her relatives.

 

Returning one evening from a formal dinner, he dropped in at her residence.

 

“Why are you wearing orange blossoms?” she asked.

 

Quezon piqued that she had suitors present, airily replied. ”Oh! I’ve just gotten married!”

 

She suddenly burst into tears in front of everyone. Quezon was properly apologetic.

 

In December 1918, Senate President Quezon headed the first independence mission to the United States. She joined the delegation. They were married in a civil ceremony in Hongkong on December 14,1918; the religious rite was held on December 17. Four children were born – Maria Aurora, Zenaida, Luisa Corazon Paz and Manuel Jr.

 

   Before they resided in Malacañang Palace, the Quezons lived in Pasay. Their house was furnished tastefully and comfortably with antique and modern pieces of furniture. She fancied rare Philippine orchids and collected dolls dressed in foreign costumes.

 

She was a devoted wife and strict but understanding mother.

 

She was an enthusiasm patron of art and culture. She sang well and played the piano. She composed several musical pieces in Baler. She had been the strongest single influence in the successful launching of the Philippine Culture Tour of the Far East.

 

She helped found the Asociacion de Damas Filipinas. She visited private and public hospital where she would talk with the patients. She served as honorary president of the White Cross, which aimed to maintain and promote the moral, mental, spiritual and physical wellbeing of the laborers and their children. She was instrumental in the organization of the Girl Scouts of the Philippines.

 

The Quezon family was evacuated to the United States before the Fall of Bataan.

 

She volunteered to be a worker in the blood donors service of the America Red Cross. She took care of her husband whose delicate health was rapidly worsening.

 

Upon her return to the Philippines in 1946, she helped in whatever way she could in the rehabilitation and reconstruction effort. She donated her monthly pension of one thousand pesos to the special fund for the sick and disabled veterans, war widows and orphans. She became the first Chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross after working for its recognition as an independent entity on March 29,1947. She was also chosen senior honorary vice president of the Philippine Tuberculosis Society and senior member of its board of directors.

 

The Marygrove College of Detroit, Michigan conferred on her, honoris causa, the highest collegiate distinction. She was also conferred the Doctor of Human Service, honoris causa, by the Philippine Women’s University during its porcelain jubilee.

 

She was named “The Real Catholic Filipina” and “The Mother of the Masses.”

 

On April 28, 1949, Aurora, together with her daughter, Baby Maria Aurora and party, were ambushed by dissident in Bongabon, Nueva Acija, while on their way to Baler, Quezon to inaugurate a marker in honor of her husband. The assassination was not meant for her, but for some government officials.

 

Aurora Quezon Elementary School in San Andres, Maynila was named after her. But more meaningful, there is now the sub-province of Aurora.

 

 

BACK

 

1