Nazaria Lagos (b. August 28, 1851 – d. January 27, 1945), known as the “Florence Nightingale of Panay,” was the pioneer Red Cross leader in the Visayas region. A native of Dueñas, Iloilo, she had done numerous humanitarian activities including the nursing of the revolutionaries, thus, became the Revolution's first nurse and later, director of the hospital of the Revolutionary army. She was also the maker of the first Philippine flag in Iloilo.
Early life and education
She was born on August 28, 1851 in barrio Burongan (now Jaguimit) Dueñas, Iloilo. She was the only child of Juan de la Cruz Lagos and Saturnina Labrilloso. She learned the caton and cartilla from her mother. Under maestro Gregorio Tiongson, she studied the ofrecemiento, tocsin, cent, planar, and grammatical castellan.
Family life and career
At an early age of 12, Nazaria married Segundo Lagos, son of Bartolome Lagos, the founder of the town of Dueñas. Segundo was the chief sacristan at the town church when he was appointed municipal president by General Martin Delgado on October 27, 1898.
In 1897, the military governor order Fr. Lorenzo Suarez to organize the first Red Cross in Iloilo. Nazaria was appointed as Red Cross President of Dueñas and was given the authority to name its other officers.
Despite their good relationship with both the church and government authorities, Nazaria and Segundo always aspired for the freedom of the Filipinos. They supported the revolutionary movement by giving their time and facilities to the Visayan rebels. Their house served as a venue for the secret meetings of the revolutionary leaders.
Nazaria was appointed chief and director of the proposed rebel hospital in Jaguimit as well as the food supply and equipment depot in Lagos hacienda. She asked her father's assistance in building the hospital as well as in the acquisition of bamboo beds, chairs, tables, shelves, and cabinets, and clothing materials and beddings. 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. She also mobilized traditional healers. The hospital rendered service to wounded Filipino soldiers who had fought with valor at the Battle at Tacas-Tucud-Sambog Balantang line in February 1899.
Nazaria asked the help of the Red cross women in nursing the sick and the wounded and in soliciting contributions of food and other supplies as the need for supplies and manpower increased. A number of civilians also went there for treatment.
She and her husband lost two of their children to smallpox. But it did not stop her from doing her nobe duties to the country.
During the first anniversary of the Proclamation of Philippine Independence on June 12, 1899, Nazaria raised the Philippine flag with solemnity at the Dueñas town plaza. She embroidered it herself, with the help of Gorgonia Somera, Lorenza Calatan and Pomposa and Caridad, her daughters.
When the Americans occupied Iloilo, they burned the Lagos home and the hospital buildings. Their family fled to different towns and experienced difficulties. They started life anew when peace settled back in the province. Nazaria worked hard on the farm.
Death and legacy
Nazaria died on January 27, 1945. She was survived by seven children who are all successful in their chosen fields. In her honor, the National Historical Institute installed a marker at her birthplace on August 28, 1973.
- Ancheta, Hermina M. and Michaela Beltran-Gonzalez. Filipino Women in Nation Building - A Compilation of Brief Biographies. Quezon City: Phoenix Publishing House, Inc., 1984.
- “Today in Philippine History, August 28, 1851, Nazaria Lagos, maker of the first Philippine flag in Iloilo, was born in Dueñas, Iloilo”.The Kahimyang Project.(Accessed on August 27, 2015).