An illustration of Gabriela Silang, the Filipino revolutionary who rides a horse, holds a bolo sword, and wears a red headband surrounded by the mountains of the Philippines.

Gabriela Silang: The Ilocano Heroine Who Led a Revolution

Today is March 19, and it is Gabriela Silang's birthday! Gabriela Silang is one of my favorite Filipino historical figures because of her bravery to fight against the Spanish colonizers. Her wearing the iconic red headband and riding a horse while wielding a bolo sword is an image that is etched in my brain, and I couldn't help but dedicate her by drawing an illustration of her in my own style. In this blog, I will be sharing a brief history of who Gabriela Silang is and how her courageous actions have left a mark in Philippine's history.

Who is Gabriela Silang?

Gabriela Silang was an Ilocano woman known as a fearless revolutionary movement leader in the Philippines. She led rebellions against the Spanish colonizers in the late 1700s. She took leadership when her husband and former rebellion leader, Diego Silang, was assassinated after a betrayal from fellow locals.

The Bravery of Gabriela Silang

Gabriela Silang was successful in leading the rebellion in her hometown in Santa, Ilocos Sur. This was the first time the Spaniards felt threatened by a Filipina woman, and were insistent on defeating her. 

Gabriela and her troops regrouped in the mountains of Abra, and the Spanish couldn't track them down at first due to the unfamiliar terrain. 

Gabriela united with her uncle, Nicolas Cariño, to gather 2000 men to descend the mountain and fight Spanish forces. Both sides suffered great casualties, but Gabriela's forces were overwhelmed. 

On September 20, 1763, Gabriela was captured and suffered humiliation and psychological torture by being forced to witness the hanging of those that fought alongside her. Eventually she was brought to the town plaza to be hanged before the crowd of Spaniards. To this day, her final resting place remains unknown.

The Legacy of Gabriela Silang

Gabriela Silang's leadership, martyrdom, and courage has made a lasting impact on the history of the Philippines. She is recognized carrying a bolo sword, wearing a red band, and riding a horse.

The organization GABRIELA (General Assembly Binding Women of Reforms, Integrity, Equality, Leadership, and Action) was founded in April 1984 and advocates for women's rights and issues in the Philippines.

Dive Deeper

If you liked this very brief history of Gabriela Silang and would like to learn more about her, here are some links that go more in depth of her life:

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