Aurora Aragon Quezon
February 19, 1888-April 28, 1949
Aurora Aragon Quezon was born on February 19, 1888 to Pedro Aragon and Zeneida Molina, in Baler (then in Tayabas Province). During the Philippine Revolution her father was imprisoned in Fort Santiago by the Spanish for being suspected as being a member of the Katipunan.
After the Philippine Revolution her father was ruinited with her mother and young Aurora, and her sisters, who had been ironically kept with the Spanish garrison during the famous Siege of Baler.
In 1911, Aurora went to Manila to study in the Philippine Normal College but had to stop her studies due to her poor health. In December, 1918, she married her first cousin Manuel Luis Quezon (Aurora’s mother, Zeneida Molina, and Manuel L. Quezon’s mother, Ma. Dolores Molina, were sisters) in Hong Kong. They had four children: Maria Aurora (born in 1919, died in 1949); Maria Zeneida (born in 1921, still living); Luisa Corazon Paz (born and died in 1924); and Manuel, Jr. (born in 1926, died in 1998).
Her husband’s career is well known: governor from 1905-1907; Majority Leader of the First Philippine Assembly, 1907-1909; Resident Commissioner in the US House of Representatives, 1909-1916; first President of the Philippine Senate, 1916-1935; President of the Philippines, 1935-1944.
During her husband’s political life, Aurora Quezon stayed in the background, involving herself with women’s organizations such as the National Federation of Women’s Clubs, of which she was honorary chairman. She was very active in the campaign to give Filipino women the right of suffrage (to vote), which was achieved in 1937.
She accompanied her husband to Corregidor in December, 1941, where her husband was inaugurated to a 2nd term as President, being sworn in by Chief Justice Jose Abad Santos on December 30, 1941.
Thereafter, in February, 1942, they began their long journey to escape the Japanese, finally reaching the United States in June of 1942.
Manuel L. Quezon died of tuberculosis on August 1, 1944. Thereafter, Mrs. Quezon moved to California to await their return to their native country. She and her daughters volunteered as nurses in the Red Cross.
When Mrs. Quezon returned to the Philippines in 1945, she was offered a slot in the Liberal Party slate for the May, 1945 elections, as a senator, but she declined. She however campaigned actively for Manuel Roxas who became the first president of the independent Philippine Republic. The Philippine Congress offered her a pension, but she declined it, saying she could not accept it while there were so many war widows and orphans suffering at that time.
In 1947, the Philippine National Red Cross was established as an independent Red Cross organization, and she became the first Chairman of the Philippine National Red Cross, holding the position until her death in 1949.
She continued to be involved in civic work, such as the efforts to rebuild the Antipolo Church. As First Lady, she was the first First Lady to reside in Malacanang Palace, but she spent as little time as possible there, preferring to stay in a nipa house in Malacanang Park. She received honorary doctorates from the University of Santo Tomas, from Maryhill University in the USA. She received the Ozanam Award from the Ateneo de Manila University, and the Pro Ecclessia et Pontifice Cross from Pope Pius XII.
On April 28,1949 as she was on her way to inaugurate the Quezon Memorial Hospital in her home town of Baler, Aurora Quezon, her eldest daughter Maria Aurora, son-in-law Felipe Buencamino III, Quezon City Mayor Ponciano Bernardo and several others were ambushed and killed by renegade members of the Hukbalahap, in Bongabong, Nueva Ecija.
She was survived by her daughter, Maria Zeneida, who remarried later on and became Mrs. AvanceÃƒÂ±a, and her son, Manuel, Jr. (her youngest daughter Luisa Corazon Paz had died as a baby).
Aurora Boulevard In Quezon City was named in her honor in 1951, and in the same year, President Qurino created the Aurora sub-province, comprising Baler and surrounding areas in Quezon Province. In 1979 Aurora became a separate province. In 2003, her remains were reinterred by the Philippine government in the Quezon Memorial Shrine near her husband’s tomb.
The Concerned Women of the Philippines have named the Aurora Aragon Quezon Peace Awards after Mrs. Quezon to remind people of the fact that in times of violence, the first to suffer are the innocent.