Friday, April 29, 2011

In History: Aurora Quezón

This is the 74th post in a weekly feature here at Spare Candy, called "In History." Some posts might be little more than a photo, others full on features. If you have any suggestions for a person or event that should be featured, or would like to submit a guest post or cross post, e-mail me at rosiered23 (at) sparecandy (dot) com.

Aurora Antonia Aragón de Molina Vd.ª De Quezón (born Aurora Antonia Aragón y de Molina on Feb. 19, 1888), usually known simply as Aurora Quezón, and sometimes as Aurora Aragón-Quezón, was the wife of Philippine President Manuel Luis Quezón and the First Lady of the Philippines from 1935 to 1944. Though she is recognized as the second First Lady of the Philippines, she was actually the first spouse of a Philippine president to be called as such, the honorific being unknown during the presidency of Emilio Aguinaldo, and thus not applied at that time to his wife Hilaria. Much beloved by Filipinos, Quezón was known for involvement with humanitarian activities and served as the first Chairperson of the Philippine National Red Cross.

Five years after her husband's death, Quezón and her daughter "Baby" were assassinated, on April 28, 1949, while they were en route to open a hospital dedicated to her husband. The province of Aurora was named in her memory.

Within the first seventeen years of their marriage, Manuel Quezón emerged as a dominant figure in Philippine politics. His career reached its apex in 1935, when he was elected President of the Commonwealth of the Philippines. During her husband's political life, Aurora Quezón stayed in the background, involving herself with women's organizations such as the National Federation of Women's Clubs, of which she was the honorary chairperson.

The Quezons were the first presidential couple to reside in Malacañang Palace, but Aurora spent as little time as possible there, preferring to stay in a "nipa house" in Malacañang Park or in her farm, Kaleidan, in Arayat, Pampanga. She nevertheless was an active First Lady, engaging herself in the campaign to give Filipino women the right of suffrage, which was achieved in 1937. She was particularly involved in managing the family's Arayat farm to demonstrate how social justice could be applied to landlord-tenant relationships in an agrarian setting. Quezón was involved in the Girl Scouts of the Philippines and the Associación de Damas Filipinas, a noted orphanage in Manila. She was also the honorary president of another orphanage, the White Cross, located in San Juan.

In 1947, with the active support of Quezón, the Philippine National Red Cross was established as an independent Red Cross organization. She became the first Chairperson of the Philippine National Red Cross, holding the position until her death. She also was named as honorary vice-president of the Philippine Tuberculosis Society. (Her husband died from tuberculosis.)

She continued to be involved in civic work, such as the efforts to rebuild the Antipolo Church. She received honorary doctorates from the University of Santo Tomas, and from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. She was likewise bestowed the Ozanam Award from the Ateneo de Manila University, and the Pro Ecclessia et Pontifice Cross from Pope Pius XII.

On the morning of April 28, 1949, Quezón left her home to travel to her husband's hometown of Baler to open the Quezon Memorial Hospital. She had been cautioned about this trip beforehand due to the frequent insurgency activities in Central Luzon of the Hukbalahap, the military arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines. Together with Quezon in her Buick sedan was her daughter "Baby", then a law student at the University of Santo Tomas, her son-in-law Felipe "Philip" Buencamino, Quezon City mayor Ponciano Bernardo, and retired Armed Forces Chief of Staff Major General Rafael Jalandoni.

They traveled along the Baler-Bongabon Road connecting Baler with Nueva Ecija, which Quezón herself inaugurated in 1940. At Quezón's request, her vehicle led the caravan, and it soon sped away from the military jeep immediately behind it. As Quezón's vehicle traversed the mountain road, it was blocked by a group of armed men. The men ignored the protestations from General Jalandoni and Mayor Bernardo that Quezón was in the vehicle, and machine-gunfire erupted from the side of the road and from the mountain slopes. It was later estimated that between 100 to 200 armed men had participated in the attack. Quezón, her daughter, and Bernardo were killed instantly, while her son-in-law was mortally wounded. In all, twelve members of the Quezon party and ten of the assailants were killed.

There was national and international condemnation of the massacre. United States President Harry Truman was shocked and simply declared, "It was awful." A nine-day national mourning period was declared. Quezón was buried at Manila North Cemetery. While no Philippine President has ever been assassinated, Aurora Quezón is one of three presidential spouses who have been murdered. The other two were Alicia Syquia-Quirino and Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr.

Manuel and Aurora Quezón are the only spouses to have respective provinces in the Philippines named after them. The Concerned Women of the Philippines have named the Aurora Aragon Quezón Peace Awards after Aurora Quezón.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Blog update

Hi all, sorry for the lack of posts recently! It's been one of those times when life has trumped all of the internets. For the second week in a row, there will not be a Sunday reading column today, but it will return the following Sunday, and In History will be back on Friday. Also have some guest posts and regular posts in the works, so hopefully those will be up soon, too!

Thanks for patience and understanding and sticking around. :)

Friday, April 15, 2011

In History: Helen Joseph

This is the 73rd post in a weekly feature here at Spare Candy, called "In History." Some posts might be little more than a photo, others full on features. If you have any suggestions for a person or event that should be featured, or would like to submit a guest post or cross post, e-mail me at rosiered23 (at) sparecandy (dot) com.

Helen Joseph, a South African anti-apartheid activist, was born April 8, 1905, in Easebourne near Midhurst West Sussex, England, and graduated from King's College London in 1927. After working as a teacher in India for three years, Helen came to South Africa in 1931, where she met and married Billie Joseph. She served in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force during World War II as an information and welfare officer, and later became a social worker.

In 1951, Joseph took a job with the Garment Workers Union, led by Solly Sachs. She was a founder member of the Congress of Democrats, and one of the leaders who read out clauses of the Freedom Charter at the Congress of the People in Kliptown in 1955. Appalled by the plight of black women, she was pivotal in the formation of the Federation of South African Women and with the organization's leadership, spear-headed a march of 20,000 women to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest against pass laws on August 9, 1956. This day is still celebrated as South African Women's Day.

She was a defendant at the 1956 Treason Trial: she was arrested on a charge of high treason in December 1956 then banned in 1957. On the October 13, 1962, Joseph became the first person to be placed under house arrest under the Sabotage Act that had just been introduced by the apartheid government. She narrowly escaped death more than once, surviving bullets shot through her bedroom and a bomb wired to her front gate. Her last banning order was lifted when she was 80 years old.

Joseph had no children of her own, but frequently stood in loco parentis for the children of comrades in prison or in exile. Among the children who spent time in her care were Winnie and Nelson Mandela's daughters Zinzi and Zenani and Bram Fischer's daughter Ilsa.

Joseph died on December 25, 1992, at the age of 87.

  • The road, formerly known as Davenport Road, in Glenwood, Durban has now been named after Helen Joseph under the recent Road Name Change Act which was initiated by the South African government in 2007 to rename streets which have names linked to pre-1994 colonialism.
  • Helen Joseph Hospital in Johannesburg has been named after Helen Joseph.
  • A student residence at Rhodes University (Grahamstown, South Africa) is named after Helen Joseph.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Suggested Sunday reading (4/10/11)

Just a quick reminder, you can submit links for this column via e-mail at rosiered23 (at) sparecandy (dot) com, and you can catch up with Spare Candy on Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr as well. Or! Leave a link in the comments! Self-promotion is perfectly acceptable here.

  • Bikyamasr: "Egypt woman activist announces presidential candidacy." Bothaina Kamel (pictured) is the first woman ever to announce her candidacy for Egypt’s highest office. I suspect she has a long road ahead of her, and I wish her all the best.
  • Think Progress: "Idaho Rejects Rape Exception In Abortion Bill Because 'The Hand Of The Almighty' Was At Work." With apologies, I have to ask ... what kind of God PLANS for you to be raped? I mean really, I can at least understand the argument that a fetus is a fetus, even if it was conceived in rape, and that no fetus should be aborted. But to say that God PLANNED for you to be raped? Come on.
  • Mother Jones: "Indiana Shoots Down Rape/Incest Abortion Exceptions." Hmm, I think I spot a trend! See also:
  • Death + Taxes: "Indiana Says That People Will Pretend To Get Raped In Order To Get An Abortion."
  • AlterNet: "10 States With the Most Shocking Anti-Woman Legislation."
  • RH Reality Check: "All Those Alternatives to Planned Parenthood? In Texas, At Least, They Don't Exist."
  • San Jose Mercury News: "No defendants found liable in De Anza rape trial, no damages awarded." Please also check out The Curvature's "An Open Letter to the De Anza Rape Victim."
  • Metro UK: "Cyber sex pervert ‘seduced by girl, 13’ freed." As in "A judge allowed cyber sex pervert David Barnes to walk free from court after accepting the man was ‘seduced’ by a 13-year-old girl."
  • Slate: "Cruel but Not Unusual: Clarence Thomas writes one of the meanest Supreme Court decisions ever." I'm including this because for sure people in the U.S. should know about their Supreme Court justices.
  • Forbes: "The Woman Behind ‘The Hunger Games’ Movies." I know there is controversy about the casting decisions for these movies, but this article is pretty good.

Friday, April 8, 2011

In History: Pancha Carrasco

This is the 72nd post in a weekly feature here at Spare Candy, called "In History." Some posts might be little more than a photo, others full on features. If you have any suggestions for a person or event that should be featured, or would like to submit a guest post or cross post, e-mail me at rosiered23 (at) sparecandy (dot) com.

Painting of Francisca Carrasco Jiménez (Pancha Carrasco) 1826-1890
hanging in the Juan Santamaria Cultural-Historical Museum in Alajuela, Costa Rica.
Pancha Carrasco, born on this day, April 8, in 1826, was Costa Rica's first woman in the military. Carrasco is most famous for joining the defending forces at the Battle of Rivas in 1856 with a rifle and bullets. The strength and determination she showed there made her a symbol of national pride and she was later honored with a Costa Rican postage stamp, a Coast Guard vessel, and the creation of the "Pancha Carrasco Police Women's Excellence Award."

In 1856, at age 40, when William Walker and his filibusteros invaded Costa Rica, Carrasco volunteered as a cook and a medic. She filled her apron pockets with bullets, grabbed a rifle, and joined the defending forces at the Battle of Rivas. She died Dec. 31, 1890, at the age of 64.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Suggested Sunday reading (4/3/11)

Just a quick reminder, you can submit links for this column via e-mail at rosiered23 (at) sparecandy (dot) com, and you can catch up with Spare Candy on Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr as well. Or! Leave a link in the comments! Self-promotion is perfectly acceptable here.

  • ACLU Blog of Rights: "We'll See You in Court: South Dakota's Governor Signs Outrageous Law Restricting Abortion Care." His name is Dennis Daugaard (pictured). Just at least read this:
  • This law requires women to wait 72 hours between the first counseling session with the doctor and the abortion; it also requires women to first visit "crisis pregnancy centers," entities that are notorious for providing false and misleading information; and requires doctors to tell the woman of any possible risk factor published in medical and psychological journals since 1972. These new restrictions are on top of the long list of abortion restrictions in South Dakota, and come from a state that has one abortion provider.
  • Salon: "What's really driving the GOP's abortion war."
  • Women's Health: "Birth Control: Your Rights, Right Now,"an interview with Planned Parenthood Federation of America president Cecile Richards.
  • USA Today: "Our view: New abortion laws come in disguise."
  • The Raw Story: "Florida Republicans upset Democrat said ‘uterus’ on state House floor." Yes, this is a real story.
  • Journal Sentinel: "Police investigate alleged sexual assault at Marquette University." Need a victim-blaming/rape culture bingo card to get through this one.
  • Prison Law Blog: "Take 2, 5, or 15 Minutes Today to Speak Out against Government Tolerance of Prison Rape."
  • New York Times: "When a Girl Is Executed … for Being Raped," by Nicholas Kristof.
  • Reuters: "No votes for women in Saudi municipal elections."
  • "Couple outraged after hospital takes newborn baby away." As they should be.
  • WebMD: "FDA: Pharmacies Can Still Make Preterm Birth Drug." If you recall this story, this drug went from $10-$20 a dose to $1,500 a dose once a pharma company was given approval to make it. But now the FDA says the cheaper doses can still be made. So that's good.
  • The Crunk Feminist Collective: "How Chris Brown is Effing Up My Sex Life: A B-Side to Dating While Feminist." I'm calling this a must read.
  • Racialicious: "Why the Casting of 'The Hunger Games' Matters."

Friday, April 1, 2011

In History: Sophie Germain

This is the 71st post in a weekly feature here at Spare Candy, called "In History." Some posts might be little more than a photo, others full on features. If you have any suggestions for a person or event that should be featured, or would like to submit a guest post or cross post, e-mail me at rosiered23 (at) sparecandy (dot) com.

Marie-Sophie Germain, who was born on April 1, 1776, was a French mathematician, physicist, and philosopher. Despite initial opposition from her parents and difficulties presented by a gender-biased society, she gained education from books in her father's library and from correspondence with famous mathematicians such as Lagrange, Legendre, and Gauss. One of the pioneers of elasticity theory, she won the grand prize from the Paris Academy of Sciences for her essay on the subject. Her work on Fermat's Last Theorem provided a foundation for mathematicians exploring the subject for hundreds of years after. Because of her gender, she was unable to make a career out of mathematics, but worked independently throughout her life.

In 1794, when Germain was 18, the École Polytechnique opened. As a woman, Germain was barred from attending, but the new system of education made the "lecture notes available to all who asked." The new method also required the students to "submit written observations." Germain obtained the lecture notes and began sending her work to Joseph Louis Lagrange, a faculty member. She used the name M. LeBlanc, "fearing," as she later explained to Gauss, "the ridicule attached to a female scientist." When Lagrange saw the intelligence of M. LeBlanc, he requested a meeting, and thus Sophie was forced to disclose her true identity. Fortunately, Lagrange did not mind that Germain was a woman, and he became her mentor.

Around 1807, the French were occupying the German town of Braunschweig, where Gauss lived. Germain, concerned for his safety, wrote to General Pernety, a family friend, requesting that he ensure Gauss' safety. Pernety sent a chief of a battalion to meet with Gauss personally to see that he was safe. As it turned out, Gauss was fine, but he was confused by the mention of Sophie's name.

Three months after the incident, Germain disclosed her true identity to Gauss. He replied
How can I describe my astonishment and admiration on seeing my esteemed correspondent M leBlanc metamorphosed into this celebrated person ... when a woman, because of her sex, our customs and prejudices, encounters infinitely more obstacles than men in familiarising herself with [number theory's] knotty problems, yet overcomes these fetters and penetrates that which is most hidden, she doubtless has the most noble courage, extraordinary talent, and superior genius.
Germain became interested in a contest sponsored by the Paris Academy of Sciences concerning Ernst Chladni's experiments with vibrating metal plates. The object of the competition, as stated by the Academy, was "to give the mathematical theory of the vibration of an elastic surface and to compare the theory to experimental evidence." After two failed attempts at winning, Germain submitted her third paper, "Recherches sur la théorie des surfaces élastique" under her own name, and on Jan. 8, 1816, she became the first woman to win a prize from the Paris Academy of Sciences. She did not appear at the ceremony to receive her award. After winning the Academy contest, she was still not able to attend its sessions because of the Academy's tradition of excluding women other than the wives of members. Seven years later this tradition was broken when she made friends with Joseph Fourier, a secretary of the Academy, who obtained tickets to the sessions for her.

In addition to mathematics, Germain studied philosophy and psychology. She wanted to classify facts and generalize them into laws that could form a system of psychology and sociology, which were then just coming into existence. Her philosophy was highly praised by Auguste Comte.

On June 27 of 1831, Germain died, of breast cancer. Despite Germain's intellectual achievements, her death certificate lists her as a “rentière – annuitant” (property holder, not a "mathematicienne." But her work was not unappreciated by everyone. When the matter of honorary degrees came up at the University of Göttingen six years after Germain's death, Gauss lamented, "[Germain] proved to the world that even a woman can accomplish something worthwhile in the most rigorous and abstract of the sciences and for that reason would well have deserved an honorary degree."

Two of her philosophical works, "Pensées diverses" and "Considérations générales sur l'état des sciences et des letteres aux différentes epoques de leur culture," were published, both posthumously. This was due in part to the efforts of Lherbette, her nephew, who collected her philosophical writings and published them. Pensées is a history of science and mathematics with Sophie's commentary. In Considérations, the work admired by Comte, Sophie argues that there are no differences between the sciences and the humanities.


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