AGUEDA ESTEBAN                    

(1868 - 1944)

 

 

          Agueda Esteban, a heroine of the Philippine Revolution, was born on February 9, 1868 In Binondo, Manila. She was the second child of Ambrosio Esteban of Ligaw, Camarines Sur and Francisca de la Cruz of Cainta, Rizal who, after their marriage, established their residence in Binondo. Her Parents were Blessed with several children, but only three reached adulthood.

 

          Young Agueda ibtained her warly schooling from a matron, “Maestrang Bulag” as shewas popularly called, who owned a little store selling ikmo leaves and hitcho (tobacco). It was in this place Agueda, her brother and sister were taught.

 

          Their family, a poor one, could not afford to defray educational expenses and so she was placed under the patronage Doņa Vicenta de Roxas who enrolled her in a girls's school in  Binondo. She excelled in many subjects and earned the admiration of her teachers, parents and Doņa Vicenta. Her school activities were published the newspaper, La Oceania.

 

          When young Agueda reached womanhood, she was courted Mariano Barroga of Batac, Ilocos Norte, who was working as mayordomo in the household of Don Francisco Roxas, (son of Doņa Vicente Roxas). They got married and by the time the Revolution broke in 1896 they had three children, namely Catalina, Adriana, and Anastacia.

 

          Her husband was a member of the Katipunan and was given

symbolic name "Tungkod" (cane or post). He joined the insurrection in San Juan del Monte, Montalban, and Marikina. When he transferred his station to Tangos, Cavite, he brought along his family from Manila.

 

          Agueda joined her husband in the struggle to free the country from colonial rule and, inspired by his patriotic spirit she would jounery to Manila to buy salpeter, copper, lead and other materials needed by the revolutionary army in making bullets and ammunitions. She did not mind the hardships of going up and down the mountains of Mapagtiis, Pangwagui, Magtagumpay, Mainam, Naghapay, Mendez Nunez, Magwagui, Amadeo, Talisay, Tagaytay range, Sugay and Kabangaan. She and her family lived quietly in Cavite (Tangos), until the first phase of the revolution was ended by the Truce of Biak-na-Bato.

 

          When the Republic was established in Tejeros (now General Trias under the council of Magdalo, Agueda made a living by selling meat at the plaza of Naik, then the capital of the rebel movement. One day while she was selling, she saw a hammock being carried past her stall and wanting to know who was inside she ran towards and lifted the linen that covered the man being conveyed to the tribunal. She saw the "Supremo" curled up and covered with blood. Desirous of knowing what had happened; to Bonifacio, she approached a soldier whom she knew and softly asked him about the incident. The soldier was surprised and apparently ran away. A few minutes later he retuned and told her secretly that any mentioning the name of the "Supremo" would be meted the pena de la muerte (death penalty).

 

          When the Spaniards took the town of Maragondon, Tungkod

and his family were among the many that left Maragondon for Talisay, Batangas where Agueda's youngest daughter (Anastacia) died and was buried in the fields. The rebels had hardly reached Talisay when Spanish soldiers met them. They climbed the mountains of Tagaytay once again and there learned that Aguinaldo was letting them take advantage of an amnesty granted by the Spanish government. Major Tungkod refused amnesty and instead continued propagating the doctrines of the Katipunan in Cainta. Again,Agueda's help was solicited in the buying of materials needed for making gun powder and bullets.

 

          When the second phase of the Revolution started, Major Tungkod was assigned to the command of Colonel Antonio Montenegro of Zone 3, comprising Manila and suburbs. Major Tungkod was promoted to lieutenant colonel and was ordered by General Artemio Ricarte to recruit volunteers in Manila. it was at this time that Agueda gave birth to Salud.

 

          At the height of the Filipino-American War, Agueda served as courier between her husband in Manila and General Ricarte in San Francisco de Malabon, Cavite. All the secret papers on war strategies were entrusted to her, especially those concerning planned attacks against enemy strongholds. Her secret activities were never discovered. Being a woman, she was never looked upon with suspicion by the authorities.

 

          On July 1, 1900, together with General Ricarte, Lt. Col. Tungkod and Agueda were caught and imprisoned at Calle Anda. The grenades she used to carry, which were as big as the native oranges of Tanauan, Batangas, were confiscated when a house-to-house search was made.

 

          On February 16, 1901, Lt. Col. Tungkod, together with other leaders of the Revolution. was deported to Guam. His wife Agueda was left behind with their four children, Catalina, Adriana, Miguel and Salud. Though used to hardship, she could not take care of all of them and so had to leave her three elder children at  de Hospicio de San Jose, taking only Saiud to stay with her. On a goodwill basis, she ventured into selling jewelry to help her family until Lt. Col. Tungkod returned from exil. When he died in November 1902, she was left again heavy with child. When she gave birth, she named him "Artemio" in honor Artemio Ricarte.

 

             Agueda constantly communicated with Ricarte who was exiled in Hongkong. From her he learned that the followers of Lt. Tungkod still desired to resume war against the United States and so came home secretly and stayed in Agueda's house for a while, news of his revolutionary activities reached the Americans, they arrested Agueda on the pretext of her being an encubridora de rebelion (concealer of the rebellion) together with her son Artemio,but she later freed on bail and forbidden to go out of Manila. When she is free she went to Antipolo to look for means of livelihood, she was captured by saddled constable and imprisoned, but not for long because Attorney Kincaid defended her. Shortly after, her son Artemio died.

 

          In 1910, she visited Ricarte after he was exiled for the second time to Hongkong after serving six years imprisonment in Manila. He been exiled because of his refusal to sign an oath of allegiance to the United States. She became the wife of General Ricarte in May 1911 and from 1910-1951 lived there with her daughter, Salud, first, on the little island of Lemah at the mouth of the harbor and later in Kowloon.

 

          When the British government removed all political exiles from Hongkong after the outbreak of World War I, the Ricartes had be shipped to Shanghai and from that Chinese city,to Japan. Then reached Moji, and from there they proceeded to Kobe, Nagoya, and Aichikin.

 

          In 1921, they moved to Tokyo, where Ricarte earned a teaching Spanish at the Kaigai Shokumin Gakko (Overseas School).   In April, 1923, they transferred to Yokohama where they

established their permanent residence. They lived comfortably at their home at 149 Yamashita-cho, Yokohama - where they also established: profitable Karihan (restaurant). They lived there for eighteen years together with their children and grandchildren.

 

          During the Japanese occupation of the Philipines, they returned. In 1944, Ill health claimed the life of our heroine.

 

 

 

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