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Aurora

Aurora Day

Aurora Day, also called Aurora Foundation Day, is a founding anniversary celebration held in the province of Aurora, Philippines held every 19th of February. It also remembers one of its illustrious residents, the former first lady Doña Aurora Aragon Quezon, whose birth date falls on the same day and whose memory the province was named after.

In 2024, it was held in conjunction with Pasidayaw Festival.

February 19th is a special nonworking holiday in the province of Aurora pursuant to Republic Act No. 7285 that was approved on March 24, 1992.

History of Aurora

Aurora Day is celebrated every February 19th as the founding of the province. The province which was composed of Baler and Casiguran during the Spanish rule. These areas were part of Tayabas, presently called province of Quezon, for years.

In 1856, they were absorbed into Nueva Ecija district called El Principe. When the Americans came, the district was dissolved and Aurora was annexed to Tayabas once again.

The sub-province of Aurora was created by virtue of Republic Act No. 648 on June 14, 1951. Its constituent localities included the towns of Baler, Casiguran, Dipaculao, and Maria Aurora. Through the years, the sub-province grew as more territories were added through the passage of a series of legislation.

Then on November 21, 1978, Aurora separated from Quezon and became an independent province through Batas Pambansa Bilang 7 and plebiscite in May 1979.

Life of Aurora Aragon Quezon

The 19th of February is also the birthday anniversary of Doña Aurora Aragon Quezon, former first lady and spouse of President Manuel L. Quezon, the president of the Commonwealth of the Philippines from 1935 to 1944. The province was named after her, and her hometown Baler is the capital of Aurora.

Born on February 19, 1888, she was the youngest child of Laguna native Pedro Aragon and Spanish mestiza Zenaida Molina. Pedro Aragon was put to prison by the Spanish authorities on accusation that he was a member of the Philippine Revolution through the Katipunan. When her father died in prison, the family fell into poverty and Aurora stayed for a brief period at her aunt’s family Maria Dolores (her mother’s sister) and Lucio Molina, the parents of future Manuel Quezon.

Aurora spent two years at Philippine Normal College in preparation to acquiring a bachelor’s degree in education, but she quit after she got ill. In December, 1918, she married her first cousin and future president Manuel Quezon in Hong Kong. The family bore four children: Maria Aurora “Baby”, Maria Zenaida, Luisa Corazon Paz, and Manuel Lucio Jr.

Aurora was thrust to the national spotlight as the political career of her spouse became successful. She became the First Lady of the Philippines upon the election of Manuel L. Quezon became president of the Commonwealth of the Philippines in 1935.

She joined her husband in exile to Australia and United States of America in the beginning of the World War II as the Japanese Imperial Army invaded the Philippines in 1942. Manuel Quezon would die in United States in 1944, and she returned in the Philippines after the war.

On April 28, 1949, she and a number of family members were killed when her convoy was ambushed by the communist insurgency group Hukbalahap along Baler-Bongabong Road. The news of her untimely death shocked the nation. President Elpidio Quirino declared a nine-day mourning period and cried publicly in her funeral.

April 28th is a death anniversary and special working holiday in the province of Aurora by virtue of Republic Act No. 11799. A marker containing the details of events that led to her death was installed at the spot where she died by the National Historical Institute on February 13, 1991.

Aurora was renowned for her stately demeanor along with her works in charity and social causes. She supported the push for women’s suffrage in 1937, worked with the Girl Scouts of the Philippines, and was one of the leading figures in the establishment of the Philippine Red Cross.

Perhaps one of the enduring stories was her refusal to cash the pension check of Php1,000 granted to her by the Philippine government. She sent back the check with the letter stating,

I feel that on account of … countless war widows and orphans … I should waive collection of a pension . . I cannot, in good conscience, receive … Government assistance when so many of my less fortunate sisters and their children are not yet taken care of. . . I know [if I accepted] I would not be keeping faith with the memory of my beloved husband.

Letter sent to the Philippine government by Aurora Aragon Quezon

Pasidayaw Festival

The provincial government launched the first Pasidayaw Festival in 2024 in time with Aurora Day. Its name is a portmanteau of pasida (sharing one’s food) and dayaw (celebrate with pride).

Aurora Day Schedule of Activities

In 2020, some activities were cancelled because of coronavirus pandemic. Celebrations in 2021 were also conducted in accordance to the minimum health protocols set by the health department and were made available for people online.

Aurora Day has a full schedule of activities. Competitions are open such as battle of the bands and drum and lyre. It also dedicates time for specific sectors of society such as indigenous people IP youth day, LGBT Day, and Senior Citizen Day. Other activities include clean-up, pet shows, fireworks, and raffles.

Here are some of the highlights.

Araw ng Agrikultura

Araw ng Agrikultura translates to Day of Agriculture. It is a part of the festival that is dedicated to one of the economic drivers of the province. A considerable portion of the population are involved in the agricultural industry, and the province is a producer of such crops like banana, coffee, and rice.

Anniversary program

The anniversary program is one of the mainstays and held in the last day of the festival.

Binibining Aurora

Binibining Aurora is a beauty pageant and considered the most prestigious in the entire province. Each of the municipalities send representative to the competition. It is a search for the “next icon of beauty” in Aurora.

Cultural shows

Cultural shows include parade, street dancing, anniversary program, and street party. These are usually conducted as culminating activities.

Dangal ng Aurora Award

Dangal ng Aurora Award is a the highest award given by the Aurora provincial government. It is given to individuals who excelled in their respective fields that bring honor to the province. Awardees include actor John Arcilla and politician Edgardo Angara.

Dayana

Dayana is the opening activity on February 19, the birthday anniversary of Doña Aurora. Also called Dayana para kay Doña Aurora, it is a kick-off activity of the special occasion for the entire day that starts early morning hours with the participation of a marching band.

Sports

The festival likewise has a lively sportsfest in different events. A few of the competitions that are opened include cycling, 4×4 extreme challenge, skateboarding, surfing, fun run, etc.

Trade Fair

Trade fair is usually located in Capitol Compound. Different richly decorated booths display for sale different food and miscellaneous items that are locally made.

Where to go

Most activities happen in Baler particularly in Provincial Capitol and Capitol Grounds.

How to reach Aurora

Aurora is about five to six hours travel on land from Metro Manila. Bus trips ply the route on regular basis.

References

Aurora Day Summary

NameAurora Day
CountryPhilippines
DateFebruary 19
Duration2 weeks
Emailauroragovernorsoffice@gmail.com
Facebookwww.facebook.com
LocationAurora
OrganizerProvincial Government of Aurora
Other NamesAurora Foundation Day
Websiteaurora.gov.ph