Who is Gabriela Silang?

Here is a biographical introduction to one of the most celebrated heroines in the Philippines, Gabriela Silang.

Born in 1789, she led a short life with an eventful death: She was executed by Spanish authorities at just twenty-four years old for leading a rebellion against Spain. Though her story may seem ordinary enough, one thing set it apart from many others: She was a Filipina.

María Josefa Gabriela Cariño de Silang or well known as ‘Gabriela Silang’ is a revolutionary heroine in Philippine history. She was born into a prestigious Tagalog family of aristocrats who served as local magistrates in Bulacan. Her father was the alcalde mayor or top executive in town, and Gabriela would usually accompany him on his rounds to make sure that people respected the law.

At the age of 20, she was forced to marry a wealthy old guy who died three years later. She abandoned the marriage and eventually wedded Diego Silang, a 27-year-old mail carrier at the time, and became an indigenous Ilocano rebel leader. Gabriela was not only Silang's companion but also his equal and most trusted counselor.

Diego Silang is a rebel commander who plotted with British soldiers to overthrow the Spanish and establish an independent Ilocano republic in the northern Philippines. His rebellion was driven by concerns over Spanish tributes and abuses and his conviction in self-government that the administration and leadership of the Roman Catholic Church and government in the Ilocos Region were corrupt.

He led the Ilocano rebellion against the Spanish troops. After her husband was killed, Gabriela Silang led one of the armed revolts against the Spanish dictatorship.

Her courageous attempts were overwhelmed by the enormous troops arrayed against her, causing her to flee to Abra. She attempted to lead her army back to Vigan but was once again defeated.

In September 1763, she was apprehended and publicly executed by hanging. Almost a hundred of her companions were also publicly hanged as a warning to the Ilocanos.

She ascended to become the Philippine revolution's first female leader. She was given the title "Henerala," which meant "woman general," and she had the battling energy and resolve of her husband, if not more so.

Her actions also sparked the country's foremost grassroots women's alliance in April 1984, the General Assembly Binding Women for Reforms, Integrity, Equality, Leadership, and Action (GABRIELA), which strives to liberate all oppressed Filipino women and the rest of the country. It has since expanded to countries all over the world and has a significant presence to this day.

Her ferocious journey towards Vigan is commemorated in several sculptures constructed around the country to mark her bravery and sacrifice. Despite her loss, Gabriela Silang is remembered for her incredible courage in fighting for Ilocos' freedom.

Gabriela Silang redefined what it meant to be a mother, a partner, and a Filipina. She was a Filipina who embraced the essence of being a woman and pushed it beyond, creating a path for freedom. She’ll be remembered as an empowered Filipina who empowered countless heroes.

Our first women’s watch collection is inspired by Gabriela Silang. Truly designed for Filipinas, the watch is crafted with strong Filipino symbolism to remind you of your strength and bravery - just like Gabriela Silang - and the rich roots and culture of the motherland. You can order it from our website and avail of free international shipping!