Leona Florentino (19 April 1849 – 4 October 1884) 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.

Florentino married a politician named Elias de los Reyes at the age of 14. They had five children together. Their son Isabelo de los Reyes later became a Filipino writer, activist and senator. Due to the feminist nature of her writings, Florentino was shunned by her husband and son; she lived alone in exile and separately from her family. She died at the age of 35.


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