Leona Florentino [Mother of Philippine Women's Literature] (19 April 1849 - 4 October 1884 / Vigan)
Biography of Leona Florentino
Leona Florentino was a Filipino poet in the Spanish and Ilocano languages. She is considered as the "mother of Philippine women's literature" and the "bridge from oral to literary tradition".
Born to a wealthy and prominent family in Vigan, Ilocos Sur, Florentino began to write her first verses in Ilocano at a young age. Despite her potential, she was not allowed to receive a university education because of her gender. Florentino was instead tutored by her mother, and then a series of private teachers. An educated Ilocano priest taught her advanced Spanish and encouraged her to develop her voice in poetry. Due to the feminist nature of her writings, Florentino was shunned by her husband and son, and so was forced to live alone in exile and separately from her family. Florentino married a politician named Elias de los Reyes at the age of 14, and they had five children, including Isabelo de los Reyes, who would later become a Filipino writer, activist and senator. She died at the age of 35.
Leona Florentino's Works:
Her lyrical poetry in Spanish, especially in Ilocano, gained attention with their exhibition in various international forums in Spain, Paris and St. Louis, Missouri. Her literary contributions - particularly 22 preserved poems - were recognized when she was included in the Encyclopedia Internationale des Oeuvres des Femmes (International Encyclopedia of Women’s Works) in 1889. She is believed to be the first Filipino to receive this international recognition, a homage that occurred only after her untimely death.
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