Gregoria de Jesus

Lakambini of the Katipunan

"Oriang", as Gregoria de Jesus was called, was the "Maria Elena" in a Santacruzan in Caloocan when she first met Andres Bonifacio who was introduced by her cousin Teodoro Plata, also a katipunero.

Right after Gregoria de Jesus and Andres Bonifacio were maried in March 1893, Oriang was immediately sworn into the Katipunan and she took the name "Lakambini". As wife of the Supremo, she was kept the seal of the Society and its secret lists of recruits and supporters. The town beauty married not only the Supremo of the Katipunan but the cause of liberty.

Her story is best told in her own words, excerpts from her autobiography. It is interesting to see the Katipunan from the eyes of a woman who loved and lived with the Supremo, Andres Bonifacio. Gregoria de Jesus wrote:

"I am Gregoria de Jesus, native of the town of Kalookan in Rizal Province. I was born on Tuesday, May 9, 1875, at number 13, Baltazar Street, now Zamora, in the place where thousands of arms used in the Revolution were buried, and where the revolutionary leaders met to make the final arrangements for the outbreak before leaving for the field. My father was Nicolas de Jesus, also a native of this town, a master mason and carpenter by occupation, and a government official during the Spanish regime, having been second lieutenant, chief lieutenant and gobernadorcillo. My mother was Baltazara Alvarez Francisco, of the town of Noveleta in Kabite Province, a niece of General Mariano Alvarez of Magdiwang in Kabite, the first to raise the standard of revolt in that province.

When I was about eighteen years old, young men began to call at our house and among them was Andres Bonifacio, who came in company with Ladislao Diwa and my cousin Teodoro Plata, then clerk of court, but none of them talked to me of love, since parents in those days were extremely careful and girls did not want people to know that they already had admirers.
The truth, however, was that Andres Bonifacio had already informed my parents of his intentions and for nearly a year had been trying to win their approval, although I knew nothing about it. Three months more elapsed before I learned that my father was against Bonifacio's suit because he was a freemason, and the freemasons then were considered bad men by our elders because of the teachings of the friars; and precisely by that time I was beginning to like him a little. Six months later I had earnestly fallen in live with him, and my father, though opposed at first, in the end gave his consent because of his love for me and because I told him frankly of our love for each other."

Life with the Katipunan

As the Katipunan’s activities had reached nearly all corners of the Philippine Archipelago and some of its secrets had already been divulged, we returned immediately to Kalookan. However as we were being watched closely, most of the men, including Andres Bonifacio, after a few days, left town. It was then that the uprising began with the cry for liberty on 26 August 1896. While I was with my parents, through friends, I learned that I too would apprehended. I therefore decided to escape right away and I did so at eleven o’clock at night with the intention of returning to Manila under cover going through the ricefields direct to La Loma. I was treated like an apparition, for, sad to say, from every house where I tried to get a little rest, I was driven away as if the people therein were mortally frightened. However, 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.

My wanderings continued and by four o’clock in the morning, I reached Lico Street, now Soler, and went to the house of my uncle, Simplicio de Jesus, sculptor; but, as it was near a police station, after five hours I left it, boarding a carromata to look for a safer place to live and found one on Calle Clavel and there with my sister-in-law, Espiridiona Bonifacio, I stayed quietly for a month under the assumed name of Manuela Gonzaga. Being a member of the Katipunan, however, and heeding the voice of the Motherland, I left for the mountains on 1st November 1896 and at San Francisco del Monte Andres Bonifacio met me. We proceeded to the historic Balara, the headquarters of the Katipunan, between the towns of Kalookan and Marikina, from which place we entered the Province of Kabite.

I was the first to translate or decipher the alphabet of the Katipunan in code which Emilio Jacinto sent to me in Pasig together with a piece of the bone extracted from his thigh when he was hit at an engagement in Nagkarlan, Laguna Province. I was then in the town of Pasig, now a part of Rizal Province, and it was there that I deciphered the Katipunan alphabet already referred to.

The printing press, the revolvers and the other weapons, the seal, and other articles were bought by the Supreme Council, although gifts were also received from Messrs. Francisco and Valeriano del Castillo, men of the right spirit, patriotic, and of high ideals, who, when informed of the aims of the Katipunan, immediately purchased a big printing press in order to rush the printing of the Kartilla, the newspaper and rules of the Society. So, Emilio Jacinto, Aguedo del Rosario, and Alejandro Cipriano, and Marciano Santiago from Polo, Bulakan, worked together in the printing office, while Macario Sakay and other leaders took charge of the distribution and went on errands. Some people consider Sakay a bad man, who in the end became a bandit, but I know that he helped greatly the Katipunan. Macario Sakay was a true patriot and I can hardly believe that he ended his life on the gallows.

I had no fear of facing danger, not even death itself, whenever I accompanied the soldiers in the battle, impelled as I was then by no other desire than to see unfurled the flag of an independent Philippines, and I was present in and witnessed many encounters. I was considered a soldier, and to be a true one , I learned how to ride, to shoot a rifle, and to manipulate other weapons which I actually used on the ground without tasting food for the whole day, to drink dirty water from mud-holes or the sap of vines which, though bitter, tasted delicious because of my intense thirst. When I came to think of my life in those days, considering my youth then, I am surprised how I stood it all, and how I was spared.

As I remember it, the punishment given those who failed to obey the precepts of the Katipunan, for example, those who committed adultery, was to summon them immediately as soon as their guilt became known, and instead of punishing them, immediately the following admonition was read to them: “If you don’t want your mother, wife, or sister abused, you should likewise refrain from abusing those of others, for such offense is fully worth three lives. Therefore, bear in mind always that you should never do to others what you do not want done an honorable son of the country.

With respect to the controversy between Bonifacio and Aguinaldo, which originated in the disorderly elections held in Tejeros, and the persecution of and the crime perpetrated on our family by the Aguinaldo faction which culminated in the execution of Bonifacio, I will say nothing here, since I have written an account of it which I sent to Emilio Jacinto, which, according to General Cipriano Pacheco, is now in the collection of Jose P. Santos.”

Kalookan, Rizal
5 November 1928

More than a year after Andres Bonifacio and his brother Procopio were killed, Gregoria de Jesus married Julio Nakpil who was commander of all the Katipunan troops in the north. Oriang and Julio Nakpil had eight children.

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