Sunday, February 08, 2009

GABRIELA SILANG - Joan of Arc of Ilocandia, Filipino Heroine

"Those who profess to favor freedom
and yet deprecate agitation

are men who want crops without
plowing up the ground;
they want rain without thunder and
They want the ocean without the
awful roar of its waters.
This struggle may be a moral one
or it may be a physical one

or it may be both moral and physical
but it must be a struggle.
Power concedes nothing without a
It never did, and never will." – Frederick Douglass
American Abolitionist, Lecturer, Author and Slave, 1817-1895)

PLEASE DONATE CORE/FUNDAMENTAL SUBJECT BOOKS TO OUR HOMELAND (i.e. your hometown public schools, Alma Mater, etc.). Those books that you and/or your children do not need or want; or buy books from your local library during its cheap Book Sales. Also, cargo/door-to-door shipment is best.  It is a small sacrifice.  [clean up your closets or garage - donate books.THANKS!]

I consider these earleir posts and the RECTO READER as essential in knowing and understanding our homeland and ourselves, native, Malay Filipinos; and are therefore always presented in each new post. Click each to open/read.
  2. WHAT IS NATIONALISM [Filipino Nationalism]?
  3. Our Colonial Mentality and Its Roots 
  4. The Miseducation of the Filipino (Formation of our Americanized Mind)
  5. Jose Rizal - Reformist or Revolutionary?
  6. The Purpose of Our Past, Why Study (Our) History?
  7. Studying and Rethinking Our Philippine History
  8. Globalization (Neoliberalism) – The Road to Perdition in Our Homeland
  9. Resisting Globalization (WTO Agreements)
  10. Virtues of De-Globalization
  11. Our Filipino Kind of Religion
  12. Our Filipino Christianity and Our God-concept
  13. When Our Religion Becomes Evil
THE RECTO READER is presented in several postings. Click each to open/read:

NOTE: Recto's cited cases, examples or issues were of his time, of course; but realities in our homeland in the present and the foreseeable future are/expectedly much, much worse. Though I am tempted to update them with current issues, it's best to leave them as they are since Recto's paradigms about our much deepened national predicament still ring relevant, valid and true. In short, Recto saw the forest and never got lost in the trees.- Bert

Hi All,

It is unfortunate that we do not have much knowledge of our national heroes, thanks to our misused/stolen public funds; consequently we Filipinos do not have the time, money and effort to pursue a a deep research or study of our history and thus, of our heroes.

Heroes are like so-called saints in a way: Heroes are people who deserve to be emulated. In these times, we Filipinos have a dearth of heroes, live ones -not necessarily dead ones, to help lead and struggle with us towards national liberation: economic and political independence from foreign domination and fellow Filipinos who are traitors to our national sovereignty and to the well-being of the impoverished, native majority.

One of our national heroes is Gabriela Silang. Below is a brief narrative of her life and her heroic acts.

- Bert


Joan of Arc of Ilocandia

If France had a St. Joan of Arc (1412-1431), who liberated her country from the English invaders, and if Vietnam had the fighting Trang sisters, who save their native land from the Chinese invaders, the Philippine had, at least two freedom fighter – Maria Josefa Gabriela Silang (Mrs. Diego Silang) of Ilokandia and Teresa Magbanua of Iloilo.

As the wife of the famous Diego Silang, Ilocandia’s liberator, Maria Josefa Gabriela was popularly known as Mrs. Diego Silang. By her own right, she was equally great as her husband. After her husband’s assassination, she continued his libertarian movement, fighting valiantly on the bloody battlefields and died with heroic courage at the hands of the Spanish enemy.

Mrs. Silang was born in the barrio of Canlogan, Santa, Ilocos Sur, on March 19, 1731. Her father was an Ilokano peasant from Santa and her mother, an Itneg household maid from Pidigan, Abra. She was brought up as a Christian by her father, for she had been separated from her pagan mother since birth.

She grew up to a comely lass, noted for her pious and charitable character. At the age of 20, she was forced by her father to marry a rich old man, who died shortly after the wedding, leaving his wealth to his young widow. Thus, she became a rich and pretty widow, very much attractive to all eligible swains.

Diego Silang who was then a young and dashing mail-carrier between Vigan and Manila, fell in love with the beautiful widow. After a few years of romance, they were married and established their residence in Vigan. For five years, they lived happily, although unblessed by children. Diego Silang continued his regular trips to Manila, in the course of which he made many friends not only in the capital city but also in the towns and provinces where he made brief stopovers.

In September, 1762 the raging Seven Years’ War in Europe reached the Philippine shores. A British expeditionary force, prepared in India by the English East India Company upon orders of the British Crown and commanded by General William Draper and Admiral Samuel Cornish entered Manila Bay on September 22, began the siege of Manila on the 24th, and captured it on October 5.

The capture of Manila by the British invaders shattered Spain’s military prestige and inspired the oppressed Filipinos in certain regions to rise in arms against Spanish rule. In Ilocandia, Diego Silang, with the help of his brave wife, emerged a liberator. On December 14, 1762, Silang proclaimed the independence of his people and made Vigan the capital of Free Ilocos

He proved to be an able general, for he routed the Spanish forces in Cabugao. Failing to crush his independent government by force arms, the Spanish authorities resorted to a sinister strategy-assassination. The hired assassin, Miguel Vicos, a perfidious mestizo friend of Silang, succeeded in killing him on May 28, 1763.

Mrs. Silang widowed for a second time, assumed the leadership of the libertarian cause and carried on the war against Spain. She was assisted by Nicolas Cariño, Diego Silang’s uncle, and by other faithful lieutenants of her late husband.

Driven out of Vigan by the superior forces of Spain, she retreated, with the remnants of her lamented husband army, to Pidigan, the hometown of her Itneg mother. This town became the capital of the free Ilocos government-in-exile. She recruited more freedom fighters, including Itneg archers, and prepared for recapture of Vigan. 

Meanwhile, she launched guerrilla attacks on the Spanish garrisons on the coastal towns. Her unique policy of harassment was so successful that the name generala, which was given to her by the masses, struck, terror to the Spanish troops and to Ilocanos who collaborated with Spain.

About the last week of August, 1763, Mrs. Silang was able to muster a fighting force of 2,000 men armed with assorted weapons – Spanish muskets captured from the enemy bamboo spears hardened in the fire (bikal) bows and arrows (pana), blowguns (sumpit), bleded weapons (bolos, daggers, and swords), and head axes (wasay).

While she was preparing the offensive for the recapture of Vigan, the Spanish authorities were massing a huge army of 6,000 strong for the defense of the city. By the first week of September, Mrs. Silang astride a prancing horse led the march towards Vigan. Upon her command, her bolo brigade, supported by Itneg archers, assaulted the city defenders, offered by trained Spanish officers, and supported by artillery, rolled back the attack, inflicting heavy losses on the generala’s army.

Mrs. Silang, undaunted by the first repulse, launched a second attack. She personally led this assault to encourage her warriors to fight fiercely. But, outnumbered and outarmed, her men could not crack the enemy line. Demoralized by the futility of crushing the enemy, they panicked and fled the battlefield. The valiant Cariño, bravest captain of the generala, perished in action.

The fearless generala and some brave survivors retreated again to the wilds of Abra. A picked brigade of Spanish troopers and loyal Cagayan warriors under Don Manuel de Arza pursued the fleeting patriots, capturing them later in the hinterlands.

Terrible Spanish justice was meted out to Mrs. Silang and 80 of her surviving men. Her brave men were hung one by one along the coastal towns as a stern warning to the Ilocano’s that any resistance to Spain would mean death on the gallows.

Mrs. Silang, the leader and last survivor of the lost rebellion, was brought to Vigan, where she was publicly hanged on September 20, 1763. She died with calmed courage, as befitted a true heroine. Thus ended the heroic life of the fighting widow, the “Joan of Arc of Ilocandia,” and the short-lived independence of the Ilocano people. She deserves the garland of greatness, for she fought and died for her people’s freedom. She was truly the “first woman general” and the “first female martyr” in the Philippine history.

“The HISTORY of an oppressed people is hidden in the lies and the agreed myth of its conquerors.” - Meridel Le Sueur, American writer, 1900-1996

 “Colonies do not cease to be colonies because they are independent” – Benjamin Disraeli, British Prime Minister (1804-1881)


  1. THE FILIPINO MIND blog contains 532 published postings you can view, as of December 12, 2012. 
  2. The postings are oftentimes long and a few readers have claimed being "burnt out."  My apologies. The selected topics are not for entertainment but to stimulate deep, serious thoughts per my MISSION Statement and hopefully to rock our boat of  ignorance, apathy, complacency and hopefully lead to active citizenship.
  3. All comments are welcomed for posting at the bottom window. Comments sent by email will also be posted verbatim. However, ANONYMOUS COMMENTS WILL BE IGNORED.
  4. Visit my other website, click --> SCRIBD/TheFilipinoMind, or the SCRIB FEED at the sidebar, or type it on GOOGLE Search to read or download ebooks and PDFs of essays I have uploaded.  Statistics for my associated website:SCRIBD/theFilipinoMind : ALL FREE AND DOWNLOADABLE: 123 documents, 207,458 reads
  5. Some postings and other relevant events are now featured in Google+BMD_FacebookBMD_Twitter and BMD_Google Buzz and Google+.
  6. Translate to your own language. Go to the sidebar and Click on GOOGLE TRANSLATOR (56 languages - copy and paste sentences, paragraphs and whole articles, Google translates a whole posting in seconds, including to Filipino!!).
  7. Forwarding the posts to relatives and friends, ESPECIALLY in the homeland, is greatly appreciated. Use emails, Twitter, Google+, Facebook, etc. THANK YOU !!!
  8. Songs on Filipino nationalism: please reflect on the lyrics (messages) as well as the beautiful renditions. Other Filipino Music links at blog sidebar.  Click each to play.:

1 comment :

CHITO ABAT said...

Nicolas Cariño is not an uncle of Diego but of Gabriela .... Gabriela before he got married to Diego Silang was Gabriela Carino being born from Spanish mestizo from Candon, Ilocos Sur her named Anselmo Carino, the son of Ignacio Carino from the town of Galicia, Spain. The Galician who migrated to Ilocos introduced the empanada. Gabriela's mother, a househelp of the Carino was a native Tinggian and not Itneg as you wrote from Tayum, Abra and not Pidigan. Itnegs are natives of Apayao while those in Abra are Tinggians.