Diego Silang was a
revolutionary leader who conspired with British forces to overthrow Spanish rule
in the northern Philippines and establish an independent Ilocano nation.
Silang worked as a messenger for
a local Castilian priest in Vigan, Ilocos Sur. 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. 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
Silang initially wanted to
replace Spanish functionaries in the Ilocos with native officials and
volunteered to head Ilocano forces against the British.
The Spanish administrators instead transferred their powers to the
Catholic Bishop of Nueva Segovia (Vigan), who rejected Silang's offer.
Silang's group attacked the city and imprisoned its priests. He then began
an association with the British who appointed him governor of the Ilocos on
their behalf and promised him military reinforcement.
The British force never
materialized. Diego Silang was killed by one of his friends, a
Spanish-Ilocano mestizo, whom church authorities paid to assassinate Silang.
After Diego Silang's death, his wife, Gabriela, took command of the revolt.