Country leaders and artists look back on Nini Quezon-Avanceña's activism

Published July 14, 2021, 5:16 PM

by John Legaspi

The daughter of former President Manuel Quezon passed away at the age of 100

Maria Zeneida Quezon-Avanceña (Image credit: Raoul Wallenberg Foundation)

Maria Zeneida Quezon-Avanceña, the last surviving daughter of former President Manuel Quezon, passed away on July 12, 2021. News about her demise was made known by multiple tribute posts on social media. She was 100.

Born on April 9, 1921, Zeneida, fondly called Nini by her peers and loved ones, is known for her elegance, wit, and bravery. Among her lasting legacy is her passion and service in advocating for human rights and fighting the regime of President Ferdinand Marcos.

“Most of Tita Nini’s 100 years were as a family woman and staunch ally of justice and human rights,” Senator Kiko Pangilinan posted. “She always carried her family’s legacy with grace and added her own pursuits befitting the needs of the time.”

Kapit-bisig kami ni Tita Nini noong student activist pa ako sa panahon ng martial law (Tita Nini and I walked hand-in-hand when I was a student activist during martial law),” the senator continued. “She lent her name and gravitas to difficult, valuable causes, including those of political detainees. She made such an impact. After the Marcos dictatorship was toppled, she became a member of the Presidential Human Rights Committee, together with Senators Ka Pepe Diokno and Lorenzo Tañada. Sila ang aking mga role model, lalo na sa pagtataguyod ng katarungan (They were my role models, especially in upholding justice).”

Mar Roxas commended Lola Nini for being “always on the front lines when it mattered most.”

“What a classy lady…a patriot who deeply loved our country and always did what she could for her,” said the former senator. “Born during the Commonwealth, witness to her father’s struggle for independence and thereafter carried on with through every chapter of our nation’s ongoing journey.”

Actress Pinky Amador shared a memory during the ’80s when her grand-aunt Nini joined anti-Marcos rallies that took place in Makati City. During that time, Pinky was a resident actress of Repertory Philippines.

“My Lola Nini was always (literally) at the forefront of these rallies… Already in her 60s and yet so fierce and full of life,” Pinky said. “It became customary to ‘shower’ these rallies with yellow confetti (often torn from the yellow pages)… Sometimes, people would get lazy to tear the pages off and sometimes throw whole swatches of the yellow pages book. I would be aghast and say, ‘Please be careful, someone might get hurt, you might hit my grandmother.'”

Issa Manalo Lopez, theater artist and daughter of political activists during the Martial Law, posted a touching memory she had when she was young with Lola Nini.

“Whenever Lola Faming would call me to greet Lola Nini, Lola Nini would always say that she helped bring down my high fever when I was a baby and brought me home from a prison in Iloilo,” she wrote. “I loved watching her and Lola Faming talk to each other—they were thick as thieves.”

Rest in peace, Lola Nini.