Before entering Vigan’s Heritage Town, you will see a statue of a woman. Wonder who she is? Her name is Leona Florentino, the Mother of Philippine women literature.
Leona Florentino was born on the 19th of April, 1849. She was a Filipina poet and wrote most of his works in Spanish and Ilocano. She started writing poems at the age of ten, but was deprived to pursue university education because of her gender. An Ilocano priest encouraged Leona to write more poems.
Based on the information I found in various websites, I can say that Leona Florentino had an interesting life. She married politician Elias delos Reyes at the young age of 14. I personally feel it is an arranged marriage within their families. They had five children and one of which is Isabelo delos Reyes, who will soon be the founder of Aglipayan Church.
I am really interested to know more about Leona Florentino’s life particularly her poems and other writings. Obviously, she is a repressed individual in many aspects. Don’t you just hate it when you are deprived to do things just because of your gender?
According to one website, her husband and children left her due to the nature of her writings. She even chose to just live on her own. There’s also a story about her writing erotic poetry dedicated to wine seller named Castora. Leona Florentino passed away at the young age of 35, but I cannot find any information about her cause of death.
Twenty two of her preserved poems were submitted by her son at the International Encyclopedia of Women’s Works (Encyclopedia Internationale des Oeuvres des Femmes) in 1889, making her the first Filipina poet to be recognized abroad.