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.
A novel set in the Philippines
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