María Josefa Gabriela Cariño Silang (March 19, 1731 – September 29, 1763) was the wife of the Ilocano insurgent leader, Diego Silang. Following Diego’s assassination in 1763, she led the group for four months before she was captured and executed.
Born in Barangay Caniogan, Santa, Ilocos Sur, Silang was a mestiza, of Spanish and Ilocano descent. She was adopted by a very wealthy businessman Tomás Millan, who later married her at the age of 20, but died after three years. In 1757, she re-married again, this time to 27-year-old Ilocano insurgent leader, Diego Silang. The groups’ goal was to ensure an independent Ilocos. She became one of his closest advisors, whenever the troops battle, Gabriela always went with them to give support and help with the battle, a major figure in her husband’s collaboration with the British and the brief expulsion of Spanish officials from Vigan, Ilocos Sur during the British occupation of the Philippines.
On May 28, 1763, two of her husband’s close friends Miguel Vicos and Pedro Becbec betrayed them, which resulted to Diego’s demise; he was assassinated by order of royal and church authorities in Manila. After her husband’s death, she fled on horseback to her uncle Nicolás Cariño’s residence in the mountains of Abra.
Together with Cariño, and Sebatian Andaya and Manuel Flores, there she regrouped her troops, and rallied the Tingguian community to fight. Gabriela’s troops of 2000 fighters attacked the Spanish in Vigan on September 10, 1763. With a larger number of the Spanish troops, the 6000 men strong Spanish garrison was ready, with amassing Spanish, Tagalog, and Kapampangan soldiers, and Ilocano collaborators recruited from other regions to ambush her and rout her forces. Many were killed. She escaped, alongside Cariño and seven others, but later caught on September 29, 1763. They were summarily hanged in Vigan’s plaza. She was the last to be hanged.