Diego Silang

Diego Silang y Andaya (Spanish: [ˈdjeɣo si.ˈlaŋg]; December 16, 1730 – May 28, 1763) was a Filipino revolutionary leader who allied with British forces to overthrow Spanish rule in the northern Philippines and establish an independent Ilocano state. His revolt was fueled by grievances stemming from Spanish taxation and abuses, and by his belief in self-government, that the administration and leadership of the Roman Catholic Church and government in the Ilocos be invested in trained Ilocano officials. His wife, the Itneg Gabriela Cariño, take on leadership of his revolt after his assassination.

Diego Silang
Bust of Diego Silang at the Rizal Park, Manila
Governor of the Ilocos
British Philippines
In office
Personal details
Diego Silang Y. Andaya

December 16, 1730
Aringay, Pangasinan, Captaincy General of the Philippines, Spanish Empire (now Aringay, La Union)
DiedMay 28, 1763(1763-05-28) (aged 32)
Bantay, Ilocos Sur, Captaincy General of the Philippines, Spanish Empire
Manner of deathAssassination
SpouseMaria Josefa Gabriela Cariño

Historical accountsEdit

"Diego de Silang, a Filipino, very quick and artful, and who being a native of Manila [ie island of Luzon], spoke the Spanish language well, began to revolutionize this province, by telling his countrymen, that in order to maintain the Catholic faith, and to preserve the country in obedience to the King, it was requisite to join together and arm against the Spaniards, and deliver them up to the English, against whom they had no means of resistance. These specious arguments made an impression on the minds of the chiefs, and many plebeians, particularly those of Vigan, which is the capital of the province, and residence of the Bishop. The seduced Filipinos presented themselves armed, and demanded that the Alcalde should give up the staff of government, and deposit it in the hands of the Vicar-general. The majority advised the Alcalde to defend himself against this attack; but instigated by his fears, or swayed by the opinion of injudicious friends, he resigned the command to the Vicar-general, and with no inconsiderable share of hazard of his life, effected his escape from the province. Emboldened by their success in this instance, the rebels demanded of the Bishop elect, Señor Ustariz, a Dominican, an exemption from the tribute, declaring that they acted justifiable in deposing the Alcalde. The Bishop pledged himself to lay before Señor Anda a favourable representation of their claims; but Silang being determined on acquiring the command, and little satisfied with what he had done, began to collect troops for more extensive operations."

Joaquín Martínez de Zúñiga (1805)[1]

Early lifeEdit

Born in Aringay, Pangasinan (an area in present-day Caba or Aringay, La Union), Silang's father was Pangasinense; his mother was Ilocano. He was baptized on January 7, 1731 in Vigan, Ilocos Sur.[2] There, young Diego worked as a messenger for a local Castilian priest. Bright, passionate, and fluent in Spanish, he ferried correspondence from the Ilocos to Manila; journeys that gave him his first glimpse of colonial injustice and that planted the seed of rebellion.


Spain allied with France during the Seven Years' War, in opposition to Great Britain. The British in response sought to weaken the Spanish Empire. The seizure of Manila by British naval forces in October 1762, and the subsequent surrender of the Spanish Philippines to Britain during the British occupation of the Philippines, inspired uprisings in the farthest north of Ilocos Norte and Cagayan, where anti-Spanish sentiments festered. Though Silang initially wanted to replace Spanish functionaries in the Ilocos with native-born officials and volunteered to head Ilocano forces on the side of the Spanish, desperate Spanish administrators instead transferred their powers to the Catholic Bishop of Nueva Segovia (Vigan), who rejected Silang's offer.


Memorial of Diego Silang in his birthplace Caba, La Union.

Diego Silang was killed by one of his friends, a Spanish-Ilocano mestizo named Miguel Vicos, whom church authorities paid to assassinate Silang with the help of Pedro Becbec.[3] He was about 32 years old.


After Silang's death, his Spanish-Itneg mestiza wife, Gabriela Silang, took command of the revolt and fought courageously. The Spanish sent a strong force against her. She was forced to retreat to Abra. Gabriela led her troops towards Vigan but was driven back. She fled again to Abra, where she was captured. Gabriela and her men were summarily hanged on September 20, 1763, she being hanged the last.

In popular cultureEdit


  1. ^ Martinez de Zuñiga (1814). Historical View of the Philippine Islands Vol. 2. Translated by Maver, John. T. Davison. p. 212-214.
  2. ^ National Historical Institute (1996). Historical Calendar (1521-1969). Manila: The National Historical Institute. p. 5. ISBN 971-538-097-2.
  3. ^ Lamberto Gabriel, Ang Pilipinas: Heograpiya, Kasaysayan, at Pamahalaan. 1997 ISBN 971-621-192-9


  • Zaide, Gregorio F. (1984). Philippine History and Government. National Bookstore Printing Press.
  • Rebecca Ramilo Ongsotto, Reena R. Ongsotto: Philippine History Module-based Learning. Rex Bookstore Inc, 2. Auflage 2003, ISBN 971233449X, p. 109 (online copy, p. 109, at Google Books)
  • C. Duka: Struggle for Freedom. Rex Bookstore Inc, 2008, ISBN 9789712350450, p. 103 (online copy, p. 104, at Google Books)