Francisca Aquino

Francisca Aquino was born on March 9, 1899 in Lolomboy, Bocaue, Bulacan to Filipe Reyes and Juliana Santos Reyes and the eldest among three children. She finished her Bachelor of Science in Education degree in 1924 from the University of the Philippines and obtained her High School Teacher's Certificate in 1923. From 1921-1923, Francisca traveled to remote communities in Central and Northern Luzon in search for folk dances to use in her Physical Education class. She continued gathering folk dances, songs, and games for her master's thesis at the University of the Philippines in 1926. She revised her work in 1927, and published it as Philippine Folk Dances and Games. Then she was asked to chair a committee at the university that would go to the most remote areas of the Philippines to gather material directly from the old people who used to dance them in their younger days. In 1934, Francisca married Professor Ramon P. Tolentino, Jr., then Assistant Director of the Department of Physical Education but after four and half years of a close personal and professional partnership,her husband died in 1939. In 1947, she married Serafin Aquino, secretary-treasurer of the Philippine Amateur Athletic Federation, an enthusiastic collaborator in presentation of his wife's work. That same year, Frances Reyes Aquino became the superintendent of Physical Education, Bureau of Public Schools. She was awarded a Doctor of Sciences degree in Physical Education, Honoris Causa, from Boston University and, in 1959, a Doctor of Humanities, Honoris Causa, from Far Eastern University. She was named National Artist for her contributions in dance in 1973, the very first woman to receive a National Artist Award. She traveled the Philippines to observe and record dances and formed various dance troupes, including the Filipiniana Dance Troupe. She also organized the Filipiniana Folk Dance Troupe which performed for servicemen as a part of the United States Army Special Services for seven months in 1945. In 1949, Dr. Reyes Aquino founded the Philippine Folk Dance Society to bring together physical education students, teachers, administrators and individuals interested in folk dancing. Dr. Reyes Aquino received the "Philippine Republic Award of Merit" for her untiring efforts in collecting, compiling, and propagating folk dances, and for her outstanding contribution to the advancement of Filipino culture in the field of dance. Other awards include the Cultural Award, UNESCO of the Philippines; the Rizal Pro-Patria Award; certificate of merit Bulacan Teachers Association; the Ramón Magsaysay Award, and an award for outstanding alumna, College of Education, University of the Philippines. Aquino was the author of Philippine Folk Dances and Games, which focused on studying native Philippine dances. Her efforts led to the popularization of Philippine folk dances. She was a recipient of the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award for government service in 1962.

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