Accompanied by two women, Gregoria de Jesus rushed to Capitan Emilio Aguinaldo’s residence to beg him to reconsider his order banishing a wounded Andres Bonifacio following a tribunal proceeding. Having gone amidst a heavy downpour and in pitch black darkness of night, they arrived at Aguinaldo’s house drenched. As they went upstairs, the capitan hid in his room, feigned illness and pretended he was resting.1 Oriang, as Gregoria was known to her family and friends, noticed he was awake and was talking to (Feliciano?) Jocson. The latter ran into them downstairs and asked what they wanted and she asked if they could defer taking her sick husband away until the following morning. Jocson said no and told her to expect a letter from the sentry. The letter bore the instructions to detain Andres in the Tribunal and detain Oriang as soon as she returned from Aguinaldo’s house. The following day, Andres and his brother were taken out of the Tribunal and never to be seen nor heard from again.
Such was the agonizing end to a patriot’s life; it was tragic for the wife he left behind. Gregoria de Jesus, a young widow at 22, could not do anything to save her husband. He was killed in Taal, Maragondon on orders from Gen. Mariano Noriel. Earlier, the military tribunal had found him guilty of treason and sentenced him to death which was commuted by Aguinaldo to banishment, but was overturned by his coterie of generals.
Oriang looked for him everywhere. She was given the runaround by those whom she asked. She went from one hill to another with no definitive answers. She died in 1943 without having given her first husband a proper burial.
Theirs was a love story for the ages. She fell in love with a freemason whom her father did not approve of but would later relent and give his consent to her marriage with Andres. They were married twice: first, at Binondo Church in a catholic ceremony; and second, in the residence of their sponsors Restituto Javier and his wife on Calle Oroquieta and attended by Katipunan dignitaries.
Across from San Ignacio Church on Calle Anyahan they found their first residence as a couple. As the wife of the Supremo of the Kataastaasan Kagalanggalang Katipunan, Oriang “began to do all I could for the propagation and growth of the KKK of the A.N.B. (Anak ng Bayan).”
She became the custodian of Katipunan papers and other paraphernalia including a revolver among other weapons. And guard these with her life she did. Usually forewarned of an imminent search by authorities, she would gather all Katipunan paraphernalia and weapons and take them elsewhere.
In her autobiography translated into English from the original Tagalog, Oriang expressed her frustration with several friends who refused to give her shelter.
Such was her routine every time a search was about to take place at their residence.
She only had a semblance of peace when she moved in back with her parents when she became pregnant. There at No. 13 Calle Zamora she gave birth to a son she named Andres, after the Supremo, and who was baptized with Pio Valenzuela as his godfather.
When they returned to Manila, and having lived on Dulong Bayan, they suffered a misfortune: the house burned down, and they sought refuge in Pio Valenzuela’s Binondo house. There, they were struck by a tragedy: their only son died of small pox.
From Binondo, they moved to Calle Magdalena in Trozo. During this time, the Spanish authorities had already been keeping a close eye on the movements of the Katipunan.
During what she called Cry of Liberty (“Cry of Balintawak” or “Cry of Pugadlawin” depending on the sources) when Katipuneros tore their cedulas in defiance of the Spanish authorities, Oriang wrote in her autobigraphy that she was at home on Aug. 25, 1896 with her parents.
I was then with my parents but when I learned that I was about to be apprehended I decided to leave and did so at once at eleven o’clock at night with the intention of returning to Manila under cover through rice fields to Loma. I was treated like an apparition, for, sad to say, I was driven away from every house I tried to enter to get a little rest. But I learned later that the occupants of the houses I visited were seized and severely punished and some even exiled—one of them was an uncle of mine whom I visited that night to kiss his hand, and he died in exile. My father and two brothers were also arrested at this time.
She continued to run, dropped by her uncle Simplicio de Jesus’ house for five hours then left and later found refuge with sister-in-law Esperidiona Bonifacio on Calle Clavel where she stayed for a month under a fictitious name: Manuela Gonzaga. But on Nov. 1, 1896, she came out of hiding and went to the mountains, and en route, she rendezvoused with her husband Andres in San Francisco Del Monte on their way to Balara, and eventually, to Cavite where the Supremo would later be killed on Taal Hill in Maragondon.
Oriang would later find solace in the company of a friend, Julio Nakpil, whom she married and had eight children with. Both revered the Supremo. Julio was secretary to Andres and was in command of the troops up north.
In her autobiography, she refused to talk about whatever happened to them in Cavite, other than stating that she had written it all to Emilio Jacinto. A copy of this letter would later be passed on to Jose P. Santos, and who would later declare that he had somehow lost it. An extant copy of this missive was resurrected by Epifanio de los Santos in a Philippine Review (January 1918, pp. 47-49) article on Bonifacio.
In Filipino, “lakambini” means muse, a word that connotes someone delicate and beautiful. But Oriang was not just a muse to the Katipunan; she wasn’t ornamental. She held the deepest secrets of the organization and kept all their paraphernalia from being discovered by the authorities. She was among the pillars that kept the movement going. She rightfully deserves the title “mother of Philippine revolution.” Whether historians or political scientists agree with it or don’t, Gregoria de Jesus should be high up in the pantheon of heroes of the Philippines.
1 Leandro H. Fernandez. “Autobiography of Gregoria de Jesus.” Philippine Magazine. June 1930, p. 16-18.