DIEGO SILANG

(1730 - 1763)

 

 

Diego Baltazar Silang was born in Aringay, La Union, on December 16,1730 to Miguel Silang, of Aringay, and Nicolasa de los Santos from Vigan, Ilocos Sur, both of whom were said to belong to the Principales. He was baptized in Vigan, on January 7, 1731. His godfather was Thomas de Endaya.

 

  He became a helper of the parish priest of Vigan, Fr. Cortes y Criosolo. He was entrusted to deliver messages to Manila. There were no roads from Vigan to Manila; travel was by boat. In one such trip the small vessel he took was wrecked along the Zambales coast and the passengers were either drowned or killed by the wild tribes. He was spared, and made a slave. Eventually he befriended the Zambal natives and he was ransomed by a Recollect missionarry.

 

  He continued a letter carrier, enjoying the widening circle of acquaintances he was  developing because of his mobility. He learned  Spanish well. He married Maria Josefa Gabriela, a young widow from Santa, Ilocos Sur.

 

  In Manila, while waiting for the return of the galleon Filipino from acapulco, he witnessed the British Squadron enter Manila Bay in September, 1762 and demanded  the surrender of the city. Because the Spaniards refused, the bombardment began on September 24th. In October 1762, Manila finally capitulated.

 

  He realized the Spaniards were vulnerable; Diego went to Pangasinan to his parents with his thought. They planned a revolt. He made an understanding with Lopes, his relative, who was then the master of the camp in Pangasinan and he went to Vigan to start an unprising. He found Vigan receptive to the ideas that had crystallized during his sojourn in Manila, And his Association with Santiago Orendain. Since Manila had been captured, it was not necessary to continue paying tribute to the Spaniards. With the Filipinos  defenseless against the British who would likely rob them of their Catholic faith, it was imperative that they organized to resist the British.

 

  There were simultaneous uprisings in Pangasinan, Cagayan, Laguna, Batangas. He was acknowledged the leader of the Ilocanos. Simon de Anda who was then magistrate of the audiencia, tried to maintain Spanish power in the provinces outside Manila. Anda, supported by loyalists, fought the British and the rebels at the same time. Silang was caught and imprisoned. Father Millan, in whose household he had lived, interceded for him, so he was released.

 

Once out of prison he redoubled his revolutionary activities. The people were aroused. It helped that he was known to be very pious. Among the local leaders who joined him were Pedro Becbec in Abra; Corquera in Laoag and bacarra; Jose Cristobal in Paoay; and  Botargas in Batac , Sarrat, San Nicolas and Dingras. They supported him in his demands: the removal of Alcalde Antonio Zabala, And the appointment of Silang to stave off the English.

 

  To ward off possible surprise attacks, especially by Governor Anda, he assigned guards by sea and by land. Anda, from his headquarters in central Luzon, ordered him to surrender within nine days to Spanish authorities, otherwise he would be treated as a traitor. Silang decided to Solicit British aid. He wrote a letter to the British leader in Manila, declaring himself ready to acknowledge the British Majesty as his King. The British sent him his appontment as Sarjento Mayor and Alcalde Mayor. They gave him power to choose minor and subbordinate officials. To explain this dallying with the British, he told the Ilocanos that Anda was preparing to send fire and sword to punish them and to deprive them of their newly won liberties.

 

  As he was getting to be too formidable for a direct assault, an assassination had to be resorted to. Anda offered a monetary reward and Spain's gratitude to whoever could accomplish the deed. A mestizo named Miguel Vicos And Pedro Becbec, both friends of his, agreed to carry out the plot. "The religious together with the Bishop spent almost all their time praying fervently for the success of the enterprise," says Pedro del Villar, and "Vicos confessed and took holy communion determined to kill or die.

 

On May 28, !763, Vicos and Becbec visited him at the Casa Real at vigan. At the opportune moment, Vicos shot him in the back. The only words he could utter were "matayakon, Gabriela", and he fell dead.

 

 


 

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