Friday, January 18, 2013

Filipino Martyr: NAZARIA L. LAGOS

“Florence Nightingale of Panay”
Nazaria Lagos was a caring and self-sacrificing patriot of the Revolution and the Filipino-
American War.
Known as the “Florence Nightingale of Panay,” she was born on August 28, 1851 in barrio
Burongan (now Jaguimit) Dueñas, Iloilo, the only child of Juan de la Cruz Lagos and Saturnina
Labrilloso. It was from her mother that she learned the caton and cartilla. Then she studied
under maestro Gregorio Tingson, who taught her the ofrecemiento, tocsin, cent, planar, and
grammatical castellan.
She was only 12 years old when she was married to Segundo Lagos, son of Bartolome
Lagos, founder of the town of Dueñas. Her husband was serving as chief sacristan at the town
church when he was appointed municipal president by Gen. Martin Delgado on October 27, 1898.
This placed her “in the good graces of both the government and church authorities.”
When the military governor ordered Fr. Lorenzo Suarez to organize the first Red Cross in
Iloilo in 1897, she was appointed as Red Cross president of Dueñas, with the priest giving her
blanket authority to name its other officers.
Despite their good relationship with both the church and government authorities, she and
her husband always aspired for the freedom of the Filipino people. They supported the
revolutionary movement by freely giving their time and facilities to the Visayan rebels. Their house
in barrio Burongan served as venue for the secret meetings of the revolutionary leaders.
In one of those meetings, Nazaria was appointed chief and director of the proposed rebel
hospital in Jaguimit, including the food supply and equipment depot established in the secluded
Lagos hacienda, adjoining Jaguimit. She lost no time in asking her father to help build the
hospital, as well as provide bamboo beds, chairs, tables, shelves, and cabinets, and in soliciting
clothing materials and beddings from her town mates. She also collected medicinal plants, such as
alibhon, adgaw, buyo, luy-a, beta, amargoso, and guava, since there were no readily available
medicines and drugs at the time, and mobilized traditional healers.
During the Philippine-American War, that hospital rendered invaluable service to
wounded Filipino soldiers who had fought with valor in the battle at the Tacas-Tucud-Sambog-
Balantang line in February 1899. When the need for supplies and manpower increased, Nazaria
tapped the Red Cross women, who helped her in nursing the sick and the wounded and in
soliciting contributions of food and other supplies. As the news about the hospital spread, a
number of civilians also went there for treatment.
It was during this time of danger and strife that Nazaria and her husband lost two of their
children to smallpox, but the twin tragedies did not stop her from continuing to perform her noble
duties for the country.
On June 12, 1899, when Panay observed the first anniversary of the proclamation of
Philippine independence, Nazaria showed up with a beautifully embroidered Philippine flag which
was raised with solemnity at the Dueñas town plaza. It was made by Nazaria herself, with the help
of Gorgonia Somera, Lorenza Calatan and Pomposa and Caridad, her daughters.
When the American troops occupied Iloilo, they burned the Lagos home and the hospital
buildings. Nazaria’s family fled to different towns and experienced great difficulties. They were
reunited and started life anew when peace settled back in the province. Nazaria worked hard on
the farm.
Nazaria was blind when she died on January 27, 1945. She was survived by seven children,
all of them successful in their chosen fields. Caridad was the donor of the Jaguimit barrio school
site. Felicita became a nurse. Ramon turned out to be a pharmacist, politician, and historian.
Pomposa and Filomena were teachers. Discoro became the first elementary school principal of
Dueñas. Jose was the first Filipino district supervisor for five Iloilo towns.
In her honor, on August 28, 1973, the National Historical Institute installed a marker at
her birthplace.

Camacho, Leonarda. 100 Filipina sa Digmaan at sa Kapayapaan. Quezon City: SBA Printers,
Quirino, Carlos. Who’s Who in Philippine History. Manila: Tahanan Books, 1995.
Soriano, Rafaelita H. Women in the Philippine Revolution. Quezon City: Printon Press, 1995.

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