Today in Philippine History, January 11, 1902, Atang de la Rama was born in Pandacan, Manila

Tuesday January 08, 2013 ()

Honorata Atang De la Rama   
Honorata "Atang" de la Rama   
On January 11, 1902, Honorata "Atang" de la Rama, National Artist for theater and music, was born in Pandacan, Manila.

Orphaned at an early age, she grew up under the care of an elder sister who was married to a zarzuela composer where she was constantly exposed to the zarzuela. She would later become the lead star of around 50 zarzuelas and performed not only in locally-renowned venues but also in "open plazas" and "cockpits".

At the age of 7, she was already starring in Spanish zarzuelas such as Mascota, Sueño de un Vals, and Marina.

At 14 she played Angelita in "Dalagang Bukid", a zarzuela in 1917 and popularized the song "Nabasag ang Banga". The show was made into a movie in 1919, the first Tagalog full length feature movie. She was so popular in her role as a simple maid turned flirt in "Ang Kiri" that it was immortalized in the film "Mahiwagang Binibini".

Today in Philippine History, January 11, 1902, Atang de la Rama was born in  Pandacan, Manila

Other films she appeared in were "Dugong Silangan" (1930), "Ay Kalisud" (1938), "Batong Buhay" (1950) and "Ang Buhay at Pag- ibig ni Dr. Jose Rizal".

De La Rama sung Kundimans created by some of the most important composers of the 1920’s and 1930’s. She popularized the songs "Bituing Marikit", "Madaling Araw", "Mutya ng Pasig" and "Anak Dalita".

She also wrote lyrics for songs such as "Pag-asa", whose music was composed by L. Ignacio.

She wrote skits in Spanish, English and Tagalog, including "Hele-Hele", "Kabayanihan" and "Milagros ng Birhen", to name a few.

She wrote short stories in Tagalog such as "Doon sa Dakong Timog", "Sa Malayang Lupain", "Nakukubling Tala" (under the pseudonym of Herminia de la Riva) and "Kahinahinayang na Pag-ibig" (under the pen name Matimtimang Laqui).

Atang also wrote four operatas, namely, "Bulaklak sa Kabundukan", "Aking Ina", "Anak ni Eva", "Puri at Buhay".

During the Japanese occupation, she did her patriotic duty by carrying secret messages, often hidden in her hairdo, back and forth to Filipino guerillas.

A civic-minded artist, de la Rama led several groups not only in culture and arts, but in politics as well, namely the Kaisahan ng Kababaihan sa Pilipinas, the Gagalangin Ladies Association and the Red Cross Fund drive, and became a zealous supporter of such groups as the Confederation of Labor Organization, the Home Nursing Association and the Girl Scouts of the Philippines. Later, she supported various groups like the PETA Babaylan and GABRIELA, by giving inspiring lectures.

De la Rama gave the best years of her life to the arts.

In recognition of her contributions to the enrichment of the nation's cultural heritage, she was conferred the National Artist Award for theater and music on June 11, 1987.

Other awards she received were:

  • Panitik ng Kababaihan (1950),
  • Kababaihan ng Lahi (1975),
  • Presidential medal of merit (1966),
  • Sagisag ng Lungsod ng Maynila (1964),
  • Diwa ng Lahi (1974),
  • Reyna ng Kundiman at Mutya ng Dulang Tagalog (1963),
  • Queen of the Kundiman and Prima Donna of Filipino Theater (1968),
  • Reyna ng Kundiman, Paglilingkod sa Bayan (1973),
  • Tandang Sora trophy (1977),
  • Walang Kupas Award (1982) and
  • The Ateneo de Manila University Tanglaw ng Lahi.

During the latter part of her life she lived in Gagalangin, Tondo, birthplace of her husband, Amado Hernandez, who was also a National Artist, whom she married in 1932.

On July 11, 1991, she died of a lingering illness. She was given a state funeral, and buried at the North Cemetery.

National Historical Institute (
Philippine News Agency, January 11, 2010
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