(1731 - 1763)
Maria Josefa Gabriela was the true name of Gabriela Silang. She was born on March 19, 1731 in Caniogan, Santa, Ilocos Sur.
Gabriela was a beautiful young woman. She was so pretty that many men, young and old alike, wanted her to be their wife.
She was 20 when her father arranged her marriage to a wealthy suitor. She became a widow at an early age. Her husband died a few years after they wed. She became wealthy because she inherited all the possessions of her spouse.
She met Diego Silang, a brave young man who led a group of courageous fellowmen fighting the abusive Spaniards. They fell in love and got married. They lived in Vigan, Ilocos Sur where Diego's hideaway was located.
Gabriela Diego was a fearless man. He fought valiantly. In one of the skirmishes with the Spaniards, he was killed. She took over as the leader of Diego's group. Like her husband, she fought gallantly against the Spaniards. She put into practice what she had learned from Diego when he was still alive especially using weapons.
Unfortunately, the Spaniards overpowered Gabriela and her men in one enocunter.
The Spaniards persecuted her by means of strangulation on September 20, 1763.
Biography in English
Gabriela Silang, born March 19, 1731, and known as Gabriela Silang, isremembered as a fearless warrior and a great leader of the people of the Philippines. She was a militarygeneral in the resistance to Spanish colonialism and led the longest sustained revolt against thecolonizers.
Her brave legacy has persevered long past her death. The memory of Gabriela’s actions has continued to guidewomen and men in the struggle againstimperialism.Gabriela was the daughter of an Ilokanopeasant living under Spanish colonial rule in thePhilippines. For hundreds of years, Spaindominated the Philippines through forced labor,excessive tax collection and payment oftributes.
Imperial Spain’s three centuries of colonialism were not accepted passively by the Filipinopeople. At least 300 significant armed revoltsagainst cruel Spanish repression werelaunched by the indigenous peoples of thePhilippines.Gabriela first married a wealthy man when shewas 20 years old. After three years, she left themarriage and later remarried a 27-year-oldindigenous Ilocano resistance leader namedDiego Silang.Gabriela was not only Silang’s partner; she was his equal and closestadvisor.
During the Seven Years’ War— a war betweenSpain, Britain, France and other colonialpowers of the day — Diego Silang was imprisoned by the Spanish. Spain was allied with France and others against Britain duringthe war. Britain was attempting to diminish theSpanish empire. It invaded the Philippines.Diego Silang was imprisoned after hesuggested to the Spanish authorities that theyabolish the tribute, colonialist tax, and replaceSpanish functionaries with native people. He volunteered to head Ilocano forces against theBritish. The newly appointed Catholic Bishop of Nueva Segovia rejected his call.
Diego Silang’s imprisonment stirred an Ilocano revolt. After his release, he roused his people to action once again. His effort was cut short when he wasassassinated by a traitor paid by the Catholic church.Following his death, Gabriela took on full leadership of the resistance. She moved into the Abramountains to establish a new base, reassemble her troops and recruit from the local Tingguian community to fight the Spanish. Gabriela led the resistance group for over four months before beingcaptured. She and around 100 resistance fighters were executed by the colonizers on Sept. 20, 1763.
Liberation struggle continues.
The people of the Philippines eventually defeated Spanish colonialism in 1898, only to begin a new anti-colonial struggle against the United States. Despite harsh, racist repression and vicious massacres, theU.S. imperialists faced the same problems as the Spanish had. They too were unable to subdue theFilipino people.The courageous fighting spirit and leadership of people like Gabriela still marks the anti-colonial, anti-imperialist struggle being waged in the Philippines.
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