The first Filipina to lead an uprising against a foreign power
Gabriela Silang (1731-1763) perhaps the most well-known of all heroines in the Philippines, often mentioned in tandem with her husband Diego in their revolt against Spain. But too often we forget that Gabriela had her own fair share of heroic acts as “the first Filipina to lead an uprising against a foreign power.”
For her bravery and valiant efforts, Gabriela Silang is remembered as “Joan of Arc of Ilocana.”
The Order of Gabriela Silang is the sole third-class national decoration awarded by the Philippines whose membership is restricted to women.
Taking over her husband’s role as commander of rebel troops after his assasination in 1763, Gabriela was a fearless Ilocana warrior who rallied fighting forces (including the native Itneg people) to carry on the war against Spain in their home province of Ilocos, launching guerrilla attacks against Spanish garrisons – attacks that caused Spanish soldiers to fear her name.
For her final battles at the liberation of Vigan, she led over 2,000 men to go against an army of over 6,000 Spanish soldiers backed by a powerful artillery. The battle proved unsuccessful for the General, so she and 80 remaining troops retreated to unexplored regions of Abra, where they were eventually captured.