Also known as the “Florence Nightingale of Panay”, she was the only child of Juan de la Cruz Lagos and Saturnina Labrilloso. It was from her mother that she learned the caton and cartilla. Then she studied under maestro Gregorio Tingson, who taught her the ofrecemiento, tocsin, cent, planar, and grammatical castellan.
She was only 12 years old when she was married to Segundo Lagos, son of Bartolome Lagos, founder of the town of Dueñas. Her husband was serving as chief sacristan at the town church when he was appointed municipal president by Gen. Martin Delgado on October 27, 1898. This placed her “in the good graces of both the government and church authorities”.
When the military governor ordered Fr. Lorenzo Suarez to organize the first Red Cross in Iloilo in 1897, she was appointed as Red Cross president of Dueñas, with the priest giving her blanket authority to name its other officers.
Despite their good relationship with both the church and government authorities, she and her husband always aspired for the freedom of the Filipino people. They supported the revolutionary movement by freely giving their time and facilities to the Visayan rebels. Their house in barrio Burongan served as venue for the secret meetings of the revolutionary leaders.
In one of those meetings, Nazaria was appointed chief and director of the proposed rebel hospital in Jaguimit, including the food supply and equipment depot established in the secluded Lagos hacienda, adjoining Jaguimit. She lost no time in asking her father to help build the hospital, as well as provide bamboo beds, chairs, tables, shelves, and cabinets, and in soliciting clothing materials and beddings from her town mates. 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, and mobilized traditional healers.
During the Philippine-American War, that hospital rendered invaluable service to wounded Filipino soldiers who had fought with valor in the battle at the Tacas-Tucud-SambogBalantang line in February 1899. When the need for supplies and manpower increased, Nazaria tapped the Red Cross women, who helped her in nursing the sick and the wounded and in soliciting contributions of food and other supplies. As the news about the hospital spread, a number of civilians also went there for treatment.
It was during this time of danger and strife that Nazaria and her husband lost two of their children to smallpox, but the twin tragedies did not stop her from continuing to perform her noble duties for the country.
On June 12, 1899, when Panay observed the first anniversary of the proclamation of Philippine independence, Nazaria showed up with a beautifully embroidered Philippine flag which was raised with solemnity at the Dueñas town plaza. It was made by Nazaria herself, with the help of Gorgonia Somera, Lorenza Calatan and Pomposa and Caridad, her daughters.
When the American troops occupied Iloilo, they burned the Lagos home and the hospital buildings. Nazaria’s family fled to different towns and experienced great difficulties. They were reunited and started life anew when peace settled back in the province. Nazaria worked hard on the farm.
Nazaria was blind when she died on January 27, 1945. She was survived by seven children, all of them successful in their chosen fields. Caridad was the donor of the Jaguimit barrio school site. Felicita became a nurse. Ramon turned out to be a pharmacist, politician, and historian. Pomposa and Filomena were teachers. Discoro became the first elementary school principal of Dueñas. Jose was the first Filipino district supervisor for five Iloilo towns.
In her honor, on August 28, 1973, the National Historical Institute installed a marker at her birthplace.
(Camacho, Leonarda. 100 Filipina sa Digmaan at sa Kapayapaan. Quezon City: SBA Printers, 2000.
Quirino, Carlos. Who’s Who in Philippine History. Manila: Tahanan Books, 1995.
Soriano, Rafaelita H. Women in the Philippine Revolution. Quezon City: Printon Press, 1995.) all via The Philippine Historical Commission
Source: Kahimyang Project