Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Forgotten Filipino Heroes: Diego and Gabriela Silang

FORGOTTEN FILIPINO HEROES: Diego and Gabriela Silang
by Antonio C. Antonio
October 31, 2014

When Filipinos talk about heroes, we seem to automatically refer to the following illustrious names: Dr. Jose Protacio Realonda Mercado-Rizal; Andres de Castro Bonifacio; Apolinario Maranan Mabini; Gen. Emilio Famy Aguinaldo, etc.  Our history books, more often than not, often refer to these names as Philippine heroes… leaving the impression that they are the only ones.  However, there really is a long line of heroes that accompany this patriotic group.  They are often referred to as the forgotten Filipino heroes.  Here are two of them.

“Diego Andaya Silang (December 16, 1730 – May 28, 1763) was a revolutionary leader who conspired with British forces to overthrow Spanish rule in the northern Philippines and established an independent Ilocano nation.  His revolt was fuelled by grievance stemming from Spanish taxation and abuses, and by his belief in self-government, that the administration and leadership of the Roman Catholic Church and government in Ilocos be vested in trained Ilocano officials.

Born in Aringay, Pangasinan (an area in present-day Caba or Aringay, La Union), Silang’s mother was Ilocano; his father was Pangasinense.  Young Diego worked as a messenger for a local Castilian priest in Vigan, Ilocos Sur.  Bright, passionate, and fluent in Spanish, he ferried correspondence from Ilocos to Manila; journeys that gave him his first glimpse of colonial injustice and that planted the seed of rebellion.

Spain allied with France during the Seven Years War, in opposition to Great Britain.  The British in response sought to diminish the Spanish Empire.  The seizure of Manila by British naval forces in October 1762, and the subsequent surrender of the Spanish Philippines to Britain during the British occupation of the Philippines, inspired uprisings in the farthest north of Ilocos Norte and Cagayan, where anti-Spanish sentiments festered.  Though Silang initially wanted to replace Spanish functionaries in Ilocos with native-born officials and volunteered to head Ilocano forces against the British, despite Spanish administrators instead transferred their powers to the Catholic Bishop of Nueva Segovia (Vigan), who rejected Silang’s offer.  Silang’s group attacked the city and imprisoned its priests. He then began an association with the British who appointed him governor of Ilocos on their behalf and promised him military reinforcement.  The British force never materialized.

Diego Silang was killed by one of his friends, a Spanish-Ilocano mestizo named Miguel Vicos, whom church authorities paid to assassinate Silang with the help of Pedro Becbec.  He was 32 years old.

After Silang’s death, his Spanish-Ilocana mestiza wife, Maria Josefa Gabriela CariƱo Silang (March 19, 1731 – September 20, 1763), took command of the revolt and fought courageously.  The Spanish sent a strong force against her.  She was forced to retreat to Abra.  Gabriela led he troops towards Vigan but was driven back.  She fled again to Abra, where she was captured.  Gabriela and her men were summarily hanged on September 20, 1763; she being hanged last.” (Wikipedia)

Reading literature about our heroes should rekindle our nationalist spirit aside from learning from the life and time of these forgotten Filipino heroes.

Just my little thoughts…

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