Don’t F*ck with My Womyn’s History Month 2015

March marks Womyn’s History Month in the US, and has International Womyn’s day on the 8th. On cue, there are tons of articles popping up to help raise awareness on gender justice and women’s empowerment. As I finally get my fingers tapping and writing for myself on this blog, I want to take a more personal slant with this month’s entry.

Lately, I have been experiencing absurdly high amounts of microaggressions from men. Although this is nothing new, I should mention that I have drastically down-sized my exposure to social spheres. I go to work, and go home. On weekends, I go for walks, maybe go to a community function to see some friends, then go home. For the past several months, I’ve tried to spend as little time as possible being out and about in society because depression and anxiety hit me pretty hard this winter. Given that I’ve limited the amount of opportunities to make myself vulnerable to harassment, it still happens. Such as (and these are just a few):

  1. Not being clear with intentions
    Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 10.36.36 PM
  2. Using my front-line position at work as an ego boost
    Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 10.41.31 PM
  3. …Or mistaking my general personality for attraction
    Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 10.42.11 PMScreen Shot 2015-03-04 at 10.43.05 PM

These are minor and not threatening by any means, but it explains just how normalized we have been made to just deal. Although I exaggerate that stuff like this happens to me ERRDAY, it is damn close to it. Just this morning, there was an elementary school class taking a field trip that I passed on my way to work. I heard one of the boys from behind me try to holler, and I cringed as I imagined him a few years later growing into manhood doing the same cat-call to another sister on the street.

So, what is my point? My point is I’m pretty fucking ticked off. Enduring stuff like this every single day or multiple times in one day, no matter what city, context or space – we put up with it all. I’m also pissed that even other women take the “I don’t know why you’re still so surprised” attitude when I bring this stuff up. They mishear me because I am not surprised, but I am indeed angry. So please, don’t fuck with my Womyn’s History Month. Or in other words, my own history month as a womyn. Because really, we should celebrate ourselves.

Last month, I payed attention to the #surivorloveletter that went around on Valentine’s day. If you haven’t done so yet, I encourage you to look it up now. Through all the ugliness and pain and suffering, survivors truly are beautiful souls to cherish and learn from. What breaks my heart most – because this has happened to me – is that survivors of any form of sexual abuse are often left or blamed in relationships for being “crazy.” Even more heart wrenching is that so many men out there are most likely going to attempt a relationship with another survivor (unbeknownst to them) down the road and then flee for the same reason, tearing yet another sister apart. Many don’t understand what it is like to have to heal from traumatic pasts, and in my experience, most don’t have the patience. So, during my exploration of “survivors” and “lovers,” I really intended to question WHY THE FUCK men expect to find a non-crazy, strong as hell womyn when 1 in 6 of us have survived sexual abuse? To add context:

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 10.37.55 PM

While there are many things we can do to heal ourselves, having extra support from loved ones and dear friends always helps. Here were some of the links that were posted on that thread:

And other related links:

So this month, I’m turning inwards and reflecting on my own experience as being womyn as well as explore how I can heal more deeply than I have already. But don’t worry – I’ll emerge soon enough, because I know I have fierce sisters who are looking out.


In the meantime, you can catch me upholding the legacy and power of women’s resistance here and abroad at the 105th International Working Women’s Day March at Lake Merritt Amphitheater this weekend. Hope to see you there!



Gave Thanks to the Ancestors & Elders

Because I am still grappling with how certain cultural practices and spiritual systems are being misappropriated and/or further colonized, for Dia de Los Muertos this year, I decided to leave an atang offering instead. In the Filipino tradition, an atang is a food offering to the ancestors to ward off evil by keeping their spirits cared for and happy. This post is backdated. 


I visited the ancestors today.

Lemons for my Loleng/Jimenez lolo’t lola sa tuhod because of the calamansi tree that sprouted in my grandmas front yard, after she saved money to bring her parents over. (I didn’t have any calamansi, so I improvised with lemons from my own yard).
     A rose for my Benetua lolo’t lola, because I remember stories of how fragrant and alive my Lolo’s rose bushes were. And Lola used rose twigs to keep her ears gauged. (This single rose was the last we had in our garden for the season. Yes it is
thorny, and yes it’s rose scent is strong).
          A donut for my dad because he always took us for donuts, and now it’s my own tradition to bring him one when I visit. I also brought him a lemon from our backyard.
               Extra citrus for everyone, because it’s in season, and
                    A sprig of bay leaves – from the fallen branch I found – to remind them of adobo, the best comfort food there is.

I am thankful for their strength and struggles, and for providing me with the lessons necessary to be who and where I am today.

To the ancestors:

it is my hope we remember your stories and pass them to the generations to come so that they might know more than just your/our chronology, but your personalities as well. Y’all were wise, warm, maybe batshit cray because of the war… And loved and missed. I hope I’m making you proud. 

Your lil’ descendent.

This Thanksgiving (Thanks-taking / Thangs-taken) I will be spending time with friends and family. I am thankful to have parents and elders who had strength when they immigrated to this country, and I’m thankful that I haven’t had to face much struggle because of them.

I just want to take a moment to recognize that we are all settlers in this country unless you are indigenous. However many generations, whatever number, I don’t care – I just ask on this holiday at least admit to the fact that this day celebrates and perpetuates colonization, genocide, and continued oppression of the native people of this land. 

Monday Musings: Institutionalized Racism?

How do you deal with privilege in the workplace? Racism?

When one has to deal with the subtleties of institutionalized racism, it creates friction. Although “friction” is a misnomer, because when only the person of color experiences that tension, the relationship is simple; it causes oppressive and repressive tendencies that I knowingly bend to – for some stupid reason. I know this is an issue, but I don’t know how to bring it up. In the meantime, I turn inwards and blog about it. It wasn’t until I reflected on this topic with my sister that I have found the courage to write about this.

Day in and day out, I look over our grant proposals and metrics and demographics logs. As I hear them speak about our impact and justify how one of our programs is impacting a multitude of “underserved” populations within Oakland, I start to wonder about their conception of “community.” Questions go off in my head: Who are they (we) serving? How much time to they (I) give? Who do they talk to, and more importantly, are they listening? Even after listening, are we putting programs in place to actually respond to community needs (through art education or art therapy, for example), or is it all a ploy for recognition with some talking heads at City Hall?

Anyway, without further ado…

First this happened:

quick-drafted tweet after a moment of panic, 5/15/14

quick-drafted tweet after a moment of panic, 5/15/14

Then this happened:

unedited rant on Instagram, 8/13/14

Here’s another example:

I recall a time when a woman whose name I’ve changed to Erin, a resident at affordable housing, shared a very simple  story about how she learned pinhole photography from a workshop with one of our registered artists. It wasn’t a huge speech, but it was the way she said it with such earnest sincerity  that showed us how much she appreciated and valued the workshop: she thought it was really cool, she learned something really neat, and was thankful she had something interesting and skillful to show to her kids. Erin is a black woman, and aside from being introduced to the reception as one who is living in affordable housing, there were other indicators of class inequality between her and other folks at the reception in the gallery.

And they whispered:
“Lauren – can you take pictures of her speaking?”
“Lauren – make sure you get her in front of everyone!”
“Lauren – did you take notes? This would go great in our narrative.”

I am ridden with both an earache and heartache as I know exactly how they are benefiting from someone else’s struggle. It could be said that Erin’s is the kind of story we require to continue running our programming with the affordable housing community, and therefore continue offering a lending hand. Maybe. (Even though we need to empower rather than provide). But in the end, I was the only one who went up to Erin to shake her hand and thank her for sharing and ask her what her kids thought of her work. The way I see it, the difference between me and my colleagues is that while I acknowledge Erin as a person, I have reason to think they digest her as an example – one that is easily collected and archived for use for a crucial moment in the future.

Last example:

Two of my colleagues were discussing a short list of jurors for an upcoming show. As they ran down the list, one of them goes, “how many of the jurors have been white in previous years?” I felt myself tense up, preparing for another onset of privilege. The other one proceeded to divide the list of names into categories: white or [appropriate ethnicity]. I stepped away and pretended to do some gallery maintenance because I couldn’t handle the way the conversation was shaping up. Aside from perpetuating the “white vs. other” dichotomy, it took me a minute to identify exactly why I was so upset. After mulling it over with some friends and talking about it with my sister, the layers started falling away to reveal what’s at work.

  1. We become tokens. They’re down for the color but not down for the cause.
  2. “Diversity” = “Digest-able” for the whities. Yes, please make us educate you about our own struggles at your convenience!
  3. We satisfy your funders. It does a number on my psyche having to work for an organization that uses a person rather than works with them because they see their work as important, valued, and necessary.

I endure stuff like this each week. A friend of mine told me in response to my instagram photo, “you missed your moment to help white people with their racism.” Truth be told, I doubt I’ll run out of opportunities. The first photo was from my twitter which I wrote just a couple of weeks after I began my new position. At first I thought I was just being hypersensitive to rudeness, but after months of countless situations like these, and clumsy use of language, I can confirm that my hunches are correct. Both race and class privilege are pretty easy to sniff out, but bringing it out into the open so that the offending parties can realize it, is another task. Especially aggravating when it becomes the burden of the offended (oppressed), amirite?

I don’t know how to talk about this in a positive and comfortable way with them. While I was talking it over with my sister who started her own non-profit, she told me that they had workshops and training available that the employees would go through. I want that for my organization. Sadly, I’ll be the only POC in the office. Sadder still, most workshops are designed to bring up topics about race and racism in ways that don’t threaten the white person. Until I find something effective, if anyone has any pointers that won’t put my career or work environment at risk, I think I need to hear them.

Wearing my ‘Redskins = Racist’ Tee in a Bourgeois Area

Last month I picked up this delightful tee and have been giddy to wear it everywhere I go. I decided that the first time I would wear it, it would have to be in a place with high ignoramuses who bleed privilege. Yeah yeah yeah…call me out for being an attention-whore who seeks shock value, whatever. Anyway–

Where did I go? Santana Row, of course! I get this gag reflex every time I go there. Although I’m overly generalizing, it seems to me that everyone wants to be like Kim Kardashian and Kanye West out there. People who hang out there on any given day means they 1) aren’t at work or busy hustling, and 2) display their wealth in disgusting excess. The interesting thing is – San Jose is so ethnically diverse. It attracts folks from all over the world because of it’s association with Silicon Valley on top of being considered the biggest (wannabe) metropolitan city in the South Bay. Although many groups of people who reside in San Jose are minorities, many of them are very unaware of internalized oppression and the reality that they (we) are largely marginalized. They ‘pass,’ so they don’t think any more of it. Sounded to me like a perfect opportunity to give people a little dose of history, a bit of a challenge, and also kick their consciousness in gear.

So, you bet your bottom dollar I’m going to traipse myself around in this t-shirt!

The Results:

  • Lots of double-takes. Most people’s gaze went to my shirt, up to my face, and down to my shirt again.
  • Blinking eyes and raised brows. A lot of these also came in the form of pointed stares as if it were somehow offensive to them. No surprise there, but wearing a t-shirt is passive – not active, nor confrontational. (Ok, maybe visually confrontational).
  • One conversation. One guy said that he agreed with my shirt. He seemed nervous and made it a point to keep our chat very short, but overall he relayed that after learning more in-depth treatment of Native Americans in the US at school, he couldn’t believe people still use such terms.

That sole conversation was more than I expected. But as I could see the wheels in people’s heads turn, I knew that the visibility – and more importantly, readability – were a good point to my wardrobe choice. I know I’m not going to change the world by wearing the shirt, but I can challenge wearer-perceiver relationships and stereotypes that keeps people from talking about it. At the very least, I can say I’ve got them thinking about it. We all start somewhere.

To read more about how the term “redskins” is racist and offensive, I’ll point you to one of my favorite bloggers and scholars, Adrienne K.’s Native Appropriations. As for the shirt, I got mine here  from Bambu DePistola – be sure to check his music.

Retellin’ Oceania & Sensing the Self in the Other

Retellin' Oceania

This past Friday, I listened to storytelling and poem readings from Pasifika* and First Nations peoples at Heyday Books in Berkeley. It made me remember that passing on stories through oration and singing at gatherings is so important and needs to become more prominent in the way we relate to one another. It also made me realize how much of it is lacking in my present reality. Listening to these stories from our perspectives – perspectives from the margin and not from Western-centric  versions in history books – is humbling and enlightening.

We heard stories of life, of death, of forgiveness, of family and lineage, of travel and journey, and of loss – from people, to land, to language.  With each reading, we were transported into a space where the past and present intersected. The voices and lives of the ancestors washed over us in a warm embrace. Afterwards, we continued talking and sharing stories in a more casual way. We sang, we danced, we drank some kava and ate some food.

– – –

When I was saying my goodbyes at the end of the night, I thanked the owner of Heyday, Malcolm Margolin, for hosting this event. We got to talking about his friend, Darryl Babe Wilson of the Achumawi and Atusgewi tribes (northeastern California), who recently passed away. I expressed my condolences, but I could tell he still thought the world was a slight shade darker without Darryl’s presence.  Sensing his mourning and grief, I related to him by saying I never really appreciated hearing “he’s in a better place now,”  when my father passed away. It seemed either a cop-out or an implication that his living moments were full of suffering only. Either way, I used to think it was lame.

Malcolm Margolin of Heyday Books

Malcolm Margolin of Heyday Books

I quickly added that I truly believe our loved ones go to better places, now that I’m older: “He’s among the ancestors, and they were there on the other side to give him a warm welcome,” I said.  Malcolm made some noncommittal noises and shook his head, his Gandalf-like mustache and beard shuffling from side to side. The extremely long pause that followed was both confusing and uncomfortable. He frowned and curled his hand underneath his chin in thought, clicking his teeth. He sighed and scoffed and pulled on his ears in discomfort. Then he furrowed his brow, shook his head again, and said through closed eyes, “I don’t think there is another side. I don’t think there’s anything left for us after death.” He smiled apologetically, knowing that after the night of readings, our beliefs are in contradiction to one another’s.

The Morning The Sun Went Down - Darryl Babe Wilson

The Morning The Sun Went Down – Darryl Babe Wilson

It was my turn to take a pause. I blinked a few times and told him, “Well maybe so. We all believe what we do. If there is nothing for us after we pass on, I think there are ways our spirit continues its journey. Our ancestors are invoked so long as our stories are told.” It was a no-brainer really, but Malcolm finally cracked a smile from behind his glasses and beard. Waving his finger at me in agreement, chuckling slightly, he pushed himself off the bench and walked away. I started to wonder about his off-kilter mannerisms, but before giving it another thought, he returned saying, “let me give you Darryl’s book,” and shoved a copy of The Morning the Sun Went Down into my hands with a smile. I was touched by this gesture. I’m glad I could remind him that we live on past our years through the stories our upcoming generations can tell. He certainly found Darryl’s story important enough to live and pass to me.

– – –

Backtrack a couple hours and here’s where I’m coming from.

The reading delivered by scholar and activist, Fuifuilupe Niumeitolu, opened my eyes. She told of a story that depicted a dispute that occurred between Samoans and Tongans at a gathering, and her father was made to speak on the matter. Instead of giving authority to any one family group, her father recited the genealogies of the clans that brought them together in unity, across the moana and from different islands. During her reading, she iterated that the ancestors her father mentioned were beyond any of their memories’ reach, yet they were familiar and present because they were repeated so often in stories.

There was another performer and young scholar, Makaiwa Tong, who shared two songs from Hawai’i. Before she sang, she emphasized that stories also live inside songs, and perhaps the greatest thing about their power is that it must come from memory. Nobody walks around with printed songbooks at these gatherings – they are known by heart. It’s simple – if you sing, you know it. If you don’t know it, you don’t sing. During her two songs, she sat amongst us in the crowd and faced the front of the room so as not to “sing at” or “perform for,” but rather “share with.” The mana pouring from her voice was so strong; you could sense the ancestors emanating from her breath as she sang, traveling into our ears and hearts – the voices of the ancestors.

As I sat there, happy to be present and honoring the brothers and sisters in the room and their histories, I felt a little vulnerable without my kapwa.* In this case, I was truly sensing the self in the other. I was saddened that thus far, I haven’t been able to enjoy an epic telling of genealogies uniting Filipino peoples. I don’t know any songs by heart. While I feel in touch with my roots, I realized there is so much more work for me – us – to do. So much to find.

– – –

I left that night with a few things to reflect on. Knowing one’s own ancestry and passing on that knowledge is something that hasn’t always been available to me. I know a lot about my immediate family, and a substantial amount of the preceding generations…but beyond that, I can’t recall much. When I go to our Filipino community events, sometimes I feel as though the narratives aren’t mine. Sometimes I don’t feel like I’m a part of the story, because from an archipelago with 7100-some-odd islands and 170-ish languages, our clans weren’t really united (and then what about the diaspora?). There may be stories out there, but I haven’t been acquainted with any yet. It’s got me questioning: am I this family, or am I that family? Am I allowed in? Can I write myself into this narrative? This history? Who’s ancestors am I invoking if I’m singing along to a chant from a tribe I don’t belong to?

I know I can run my mouth on decolonization and indigeneity like a blabbering fool and can debate about cultural appropriation or diasporic/first world transnational communities re-colonizing or re-appropriating till I’m blue in the face. But this night of story telling has really got me thinking on ways I’ve felt both included and excluded even within Filipino communities. For a while I got lost and fortunately our Pasifik cousins helped steer my canoe back in the right direction, until I finally found some fellow kapwatids. While I have a better grasp on cultural displacement, I now have a new filter to observe it from. This story telling session taught me how I can get closer to my ancestors, yet also keep me at a distance. It also reinforced my belief that oration and storytelling are efficient ways of learning, teaching and socializing one into a community.

My head might remain spinning for another few days, but I’m just glad that I will be going to see my kapwa this week and fill up on all the good energy. I really could have used an ancestor hug at Retellin’ Oceania.

*PASIFIKA refers to people of Pacific Islander ancestry or heritage living in the islands, or in diasporic communities, away from their mother islands.

*KAPWA has become a Filipino term that defines togetherness & community as well as a shared inner self amongst others. Read more about it here via Rem Tanauan // Pathfinders Commune. Or check out fellow kapwatids’ definiton over at Kapwa Collective in Toronto.

UP NEXT on “Decolonization” – A Politically Correct Term Required?

“Decolonization” appears a scary, uncomfortable term. “Global warming” was replaced by “climate change”; “gentrification” replaced by “shifting urban economic landscapes”. Just as these monikers were deemed undesirable and ineffective to be considered important in mainstream news, it seems as though the waves of “decolonization” has also fallen into obsolescence due to overuse and righteousness. So what’s next for this term? The movement? Stay tuned, and mind your canoe!

This is a facebook status I recently posted which was inspired by numerous online discussions I have observed, participated in, and even instigated. Right after posting, I urged everyone to laugh but also really consider where the future of this whole “decolonization” tip is going.

These conversations continue. Just as I encountered more and more people stoked on decolonization and indigenization, what seemed by the masses, I have equally encountered those who shrink back in disgust at its implications. Interestingly, those who are all about it, and those who are naysayers regarding the term, BOTH celebrate cultural customs, and do work to promote ancestral (Filipino) traditions. So why the big fuss? Apparently these terms are giving us a bad rep, painting us as potentially xenophobic, new age brown folks in America. Don’t believe me? Check out Tlalli Yaotl’s blog post on Anti-Colonial Anarchism vs Decolonization, Barbara Jane Reyes’ musings on what it means to Decolonize the Creative Space, or even Michael Dalupo’s  questioning of diasporic individuals who “indigenize” but might not actively support and protect the indigenous of the homeland like Lumad’s Quest for Justice.  All of these posts hint towards the decolonizing trend being just that: trendy. Does that make us trendy brown people?  Of course not, so let’s decentralize some things just a moment –

I don’t believe decolonization and indigenization limits us to just one ethnic group. I do believe that decolonization enlightens us to knowing how systems of oppression/marginalization have permutated over the generations, leading to our internalized oppression and marginalized cultural traditions. Also, “indigenizing” doesn’t have to imply xenophobia where we must choose only one indigenous root; considering we are probably all mixed at this point, the process of ‘indigenizing’ could rather imply embracing the (spiritual) ways of life before Westernization/eradication of non-Western cultural norms. In some circles, it’s merely a frame of mind, or a lifestyle- DISCOUNTING the temporal notion of indigeneity. All things said and done, I like the thought of dissolving Western attitudes towards the Non-West. Surely, we can at least hope for equality and normalize our own traditions.

Don’t let the name scare you off track. Continue the journey and don’t let Western norms make you think being different is bad. Being Othered, however, IS bad, and we should do all that we can to abolish the systems that perpetuate such prejudices. This is, after all, why we do what we do, and we can do it with finesse and passion.  Call it what you want to call it, though, right?  If anyone has any ideas, comments, or suggestions – PC or Radical – hit me up and share them.

International Women’s Day & 6 Badass Filipina Warriors You Never Heard Of

First off, Happy International Women’s Day everybody! I am so happy to see so many supporters of this day from many genders. Last night I walked around Oakland’s First Friday Art Murmur and was deeply touched by so many men and women liberally wishing me a happy Women’s day. It was really nice.

But then something just clicked in my mind. Why isn’t my being a woman celebrated EVERY day? Just as African Americans and Black Americans uncover the flaws of Black History Month as perpetuating color-based racism and hierarchy, is Women’s Day also upholding international patriarchy? Let’s think about this. For just 24 hours, women around the world get the spotlight. Dear readers, I ask you this: What is wrong with this day? Sure, women are being recognized. Great. But for only one day though? Does this mean the rest of the 364 days out of the year, it’s back to male dominance? Patriarchy has been so normalized, it’s hurtful. It leads to internalized sexism. So for my blog posts this month, I am dedicating them to women-strong causes, herstories, and organizations.

Starting us off, here is a repost of 6 Badass Filipina Warriors You’ve Never Heard Of. If you’re “in the know,” you’ve probably already heard of Gabriela Silang who was an anti-colonial freedom fighter in the Philippines during Spanish rule.  Here’s the article.

6 Badass Filipina Warriors You Never Heard Of

The term warrior typically conjures up images of ironclad gladiators or soldiers who braved out some of history’s bloodiest battles. Here in the Philippines, both Andres Bonifacio and Lapu Lapu somehow fit the bill. However, there are also many unsung heroes whose direct participation in battles have been forgotten. Surprisingly, some of them are women who proved that not all of our Filipina ancestors were the stereotypical Maria ClaraFor this short list, we’ve picked only lesser-known Filipina warriors (sorry, Gabriela Silang) who were directly involved in battles and didn’t just give donations.

Without further ado, here are 6 badass Filipino heroines who showed “Pinay power” at it’s finest:

6. Agueda Kahabagan

Agueda Kahabagan

Who is she?
Known in history as the “Tagalog Joan of Arc”, Agueda Kahabagan was the first andonly woman general in the armed forces of the Katipunan. Hence, her contemporaries called her “Henerala Agueda.”  Historical records show that Agueda was commissioned by General Miguel Malvar to lead troops of men armed with rifles and daggers. For her participation in bloody combats against the Spanish and American forces, Agueda was officially  conferred the title “general” on January 4, 1899.

Badass moment:
In October 1897, Agueda Kahabagan joined General Artemio Ricarte in a three-day attack on the San Pablo garrison in Laguna. While riding a horse, with a rifle in one hand and a bolo in the other, she led her men and fought against the enemy. [Image source:]

5. Patrocinio Gamboa y Villareal

Patrocinio Gamboa

Who is she?
Also known as the “Heroine of Jaro”, Patrocinio was born to a family of ilustrados but yearned to free her country from Spanish rule. She secretly read the works of propagandists such as Jose Rizal and Graciano Lopez Jaena. Inspired by their advocacy, she eventually joined the revolutionary army to raise funds and heal wounded soldiers as a Red Cross nurse.

Badass moment:
Gamboa was dropped off the Spaniard’s radar due to her gender and affluence. She used these to her advantage and acted as an intelligence agent for the revolution. On November 1898, Gamboa voluntarily agreed to take a replica of the Philippine flag to the Santa Barbara headquarters of General Martin Delgado. They had to bring the flag for the inauguration of the Revolutionary government of the Visayas. However, to reach that place from Jaro, they had to pass through several checkpoints heavily guarded by Spanish guards. It didn’t take long before Gamboa came up with a clever plan. After wrapping the flag around her waist and covering it with her garments, Patrocinio took off in a carriage together with a young lieutenant who pretended to be her husband. Upon reaching the road block, the two pretended to be a couple in a serious quarrel. Acting as a dominating wife to her submissive husband, Gamboa managed to escape the guards who found the sight too entertaining. Tia Patron, as she was often called, died an old maid on November 1953. [Image source: “Women of the Revolution”]

4. Gregoria Montoya y Patricio

Gregoria Montoya y Patricio

Who is she?
Born on on November 28, 1863 in Kawit, Cavite, Gregoria Montoya was the lesser known heroine in the Battle of Calero Bridge in Dalahican, Cavite. Just like other women who joined the revolution, Gregoria fought in the battle for a worthy cause: to avenge her husband’s death.

Badass moment:
During the Battle of Dalahican on November 10, 1896, Gregoria led some 30 Filipino rebels to fight against an infantry division of the Spanish army. She was reportedly seen standing on a trench with one hand holding a bolo and another one firmly grasping the Katipunan flag. However, she was more immortalized by the tragic end she met, which only proved how strong religion’s influence was towards less educated women of that era. After climbing atop the fort, Gregoria shouted and reportedly waved a white piece of cloth commonly used by the priest to cover the chalice during a mass. She used it as a charm with hopes of warding off the bullets from the enemy. Unfortunately, an artillery shell or cannonball from a Spanish gunboat hit her in the midsection, almost cutting her in half. Gregoria was instantly killed, along with fifteen of her soldiers. [Image source: Professor Xiao Chua]

3. Lourdes Evangelista-Castro

Lourdes Castro

Who is she?
Lourdes Castro (July 23, 1926 – December 3, 2011) was one of only two Filipina WWII US veterans. A Pharmacy graduate from UST, Castro is known for her volunteer works during the war. Aside from being part of the Medical Corps who attended to the needs of the wounded American soldiers, Castro was also a member of the guerrilla forces as well as the Philippine Commonwealth Army. Later in life, she became a staunch advocate who pushed US Congress to pass laws that would benefit Filipino fighters and guerrilla members during the WWII. These include the “Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation Act” (FVEC) which officially became a law in February 2009.

Badass moment:
When she was just 18 years old, Castro got inducted as a member of the US Army due to two instances of heroism. First was her notable role in freeing POWs in a concentration camp in Los Baños, Laguna. She then later risked her life when she went into the battlefield, pulling wounded soldiers out of harm’s way to treat their wounds. In 1986, Castro migrated in California with her family. She continued to do volunteer works until her death in December 2011.

2. Trinidad Tecson

Trinidad Tecson

Who is she?
Dubbed as the “Mother of Biak-na-Bato,” Trinidad Tecson was already 47 years old when she joined the Katipunan. And unlike other women who joined the revolution, she did the manly tradition of Sanduguan or blood compactShe fought in the battlefield wearing a Katipunero outfit (see photo above) and survived fatal wounds numerous times. She also organized a group of women who would nurse sick and wounded Filipino soldiers during the war. For her efforts, Tecson received a post-war recognition from the American Red Cross. She later became known as The Mother of the Philippine Red Cross. Trinidad Tecson died in 1928 at the age of 80.

Badass moment:
Trinidad Tecson joined the revolutionary army and fought a total of 12 battles. Among her valiant acts were the capture of munitions from the civil guards at Caloocan as well as the capture of firearms from a jail in San Isidro. During one of these exploits, Tecson once pretended to be dead in order to evade capture. Along with her husband, Julian Alcantara, and two of her servants, Tecson also successfully defended the fort of Biak-na-Bato during an enemy attack.


1. Teresa Magbanua

Teresa Magbanua

Who is she?
Teresa Magbanua is known in history as the “Joan of Arc of the Visayas” for her impressive feat as a woman general who battled against the Spanish and American forces. Born on October 13, 1868 in Pototan, Iloilo, Teresa Magbanua or  “Nay Isa” was a “tom boy” as a child. She would later be sent off to two colleges in Manila by her parents who were concerned by her behavior. When the war broke out in Iloilo, she, along with her two brothers, joined the Katipunan. Magbanua enlisted under her uncle, General Perfecto Poblador. During WWII, Magbanua also helped finance the guerrilla forces by selling all her properties. She later migrated to Mindanao where she died in 1947.

Badass moment:
Teresa Magbanua was a terrific female warrior who led groups of men in attacking Spanish soldiers. As a result, she was often called “General” by some of her followers even though she was not officially considered as such. She bravely fought American forces in Jaro in 1899 despite personal setbacks. Her two brothers died in the hands of fellow Filipinos. Elias, then 19, was gunned down by a Filipino guide working with the American forces. Pascual, on the other hand, was brutally killed by Filipino bandits.