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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Leading Filipino Women: Gregoria De Jesus

Gregoria De Jesus
Lakambini (Muse) of the Katipunan
(1875 - 1943)

          Gregoria de Jesus was the wife of Andres Bonifacio. She helped him in his great work of leading the Filipinos in their fight for liberty in 1896. She shared his dangers and hardships. Gregoria de Jesus was as brave as any soldier who fought in the battlefields.

Early Life
          Gregoria de Jesus grew up in Caloocan, formerly a town under the province of Rizal but now a city, where she was born on May 9, 1875. Her father, Nicolas de Jesus, was a master mason and carpenter. He was very active in the town. He was first teniente de barrio, or barrio lieutenant, and then gobernadorcillo, or town mayor.
          In the public schools Gregoria proved to be a bright student. She won silver medals for excelling in different subjects. However, she was not able to finish her studies. She had to help her older sister in the latter’s business. Gregoria had to work so that she could help support her brothers and sisters.

Gregoria Meets Bonifacio
         When Gregoria was 18 years old, she met Andres Bonifacio in Binondo. Her marriage to Bonifacio led her to join the Katipunan.
The Katipunan was a secret society that Andres Bonifacio formed. Filipinos who wanted to fight for their country joined the Katipunan. The names of the members were kept secret because the government officials imprisoned the members who were discovered.

The Lakambini
          Gregoria de Jesus was called the Lakambini of the Katipunan. She kept important papers of the secret society. In August, 1896, the Katipuneros sounded the “Cry of Balintawak.” This was the start of the revolution, or fight, of the Filipinos to free themselves from the unjust rule of Spanish officials.

Gregoria’s Dangerous Life
          The life of Gregoria was now in danger. The secret police of the Spaniards learned that she was the wife of Andres Bonifacio. They tried to capture her. Gregoria gathered all the important papers of the Katipunan and fled. She often stayed in the homes of her friends.
          Sometimes Gregoria would learn that the police were looking for her nearby. Then she would get into a quiles, a vehicle drawn by a horse, and drive away as fast as the horse could run.
         At one time she stayed in the house of her sister-in-law, Esperidiona Bonifacio, in Clavel, San Nicolas. Gregoria was known there as Manuela Gonzaga. But she had to leave this place in order not to place her sister in danger.
         She followed her husband to the mountains. Andres Bonifacio fought with his brave men from province to province. In Cavite, however, he had fight with some soldiers and was killed. After the death of Bonifacio, Gregoria returned to her family.
        She settled down to a quiet life after having fought bravely side by side with her brave husband-hero, Andres Bonifacio. She married Julio Nakpil and settled a prosperous, comfortable living and died on March 15, 1943.

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