Everyday History
Visayan Joan of Arc Teresa Magbanua
Daily History Women in Philippine History

The Visayan Joan of Arc was born: Oct. 13, 1868

On this day in 1868 (other sources report her date of birth as Oct. 13, 1863 and Nov. 4, 1871), Filipina revolutionary Teresa “Nay Isa” Magbanua, the first female revolutionary of Panay and dubbed the “Visayan Joan of Arc,” was born in Pototan, Iloilo.

Magbanua studied to be a teacher and graduated from the Colegio de Doña Cecilia in 1894. She completed a master’s degree soon after at the University of Santo Tomas. After her studies, she returned to Iloilo where she taught for four years.

In 1898, she met rich landowner Alejandro Balderas and married him in the same year. She abandoned her teaching career to become a full-time housewife. She learned to fire a pistol and ride a horse while tending to her husband’s farm.

Heroism during the revolution

When the revolution against Spain started in Iloilo in 1898, the former schoolteacher joined the revolutionary forces despite her husband’s disapproval. Her younger brothers Pascual and Elias Magbanua also joined the revolutionary forces.

Given command of a military unit, the Visayan Joan of Arc won several battles, including the Battle of Barrio Yoting in November 1898 in Pilar, Capiz and the Battle of Sapong Hills in the following month in Sara, Iloilo. At the Battle of Balantang in Jaro, Iloilo on March 10, 1899, her forces killed around 400 American soldiers.

She later joined generals Leandro Fullon, Martin Delgado, Roque Lopez and Quintin Salas in attacking the Spanish in Iloilo, and later, in defending it against the invading Americans led by Gen. Marcus Miller.

After the Americans captured the city, she resorted to guerrilla warfare and surrendered only in 1900. She returned to her private life after war.

With the death of her husband and the outbreak of World War II in 1941, Magbanua sold her possessions and properties to support the local anti-Japanese guerrillas.

After World War II, the Visayan Joan of Arc relocated to Pagadian, Zamboanga where she died around August 1947.

References:

Funtecha, Henry F. “Nay Isa, the bravest woman fighter of Iloilo“. The News Today. October 20, 2006

Doran, Christine. “Women in the Philippine Revolution.” Philippine Studies. 46 (3), 1998. pp. 367–368

Palafox, Quennie Ann J. “Our Founding Mothers: Lest We Forget.” National Historical Commission of the Philippines. March 25, 2013

Locsin-Nava, Cecelia. “Teresa Magbauna: Woman Warrior.” Review of Women’s Studies, Vol. 6, No. 1, 1996, pp. 61-66

Trivia Question:

Who did Magbanua had to convince to let her join the revolutionaries in Iloilo by pointing out that she was a better shot than him?

Yesterday’s answer: 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition

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