Agueda Esteban was born to a humble family on February 5, 1868 in Binondo, Manila. She was the second child of Ambrosio Esteban, a native of Ligao and Francisca de la Cruz of Cainta, Rizal. Coming from an impoverished family, she enrolled in a girls’ school under the auspices of Dona Vicenta de Roxas. At school, she was known to be an intelligent girl, and articles she wrote were published in La Oceania, a Manila newspaper.
She married Colonel Mariano Barroga of Batac, Ilocos Norte who introduced her to the revolutionary movement against the Spanish administration. She helped the Katipuneros by secretly gathering ammunition and supplies, which she clandestinely delivered to her husband in Cavite. She also helped coordinate the movement of General Artemio Ricarte’s troops.
During the American occupation of the Philippines, she acted as courier between her husband in Manila and General Ricarte in Cavite. She was entrusted with classified papers on war strategies and planned attacks on the Spanish detachments. Being a woman, she was never suspected of involvement in revolutionary activities.
On July 1, 1900, all three were arrested in Calle Anda after the authorities discovered grenades in her house. On January 16, 1901, her husband was exiled to Guam with other revolutionaries. Agueda was left behind to take care of her family but had to leave her three children to the Hospicio de San Jose orphanage.
Though she was widowed the following year, she continued the plan to revive the revolution with General Ricarte. Unfortunately, they were discovered by American agents and she was briefly imprisoned in the Old Bilibid Prison in 1904. After her release, she remained in contact with Ricarte in prison and when he was released in Hong Kong. They tied the knot in 1911.
After living for some years in Hong Kong, they were forced to move from one country to another and had to take odd jobs to survive. They moved to Yokohama, Japan in April 1923 and soon built a cafe ‘Karihan Luvimin’ which became an important meeting place for Filipinos in Japan.
In 1935, Manuel Quezon visited them to invite Ricarte to go home in time for the inauguration of the Philippine Commonwealth, but he refused to return if the country was under American rule. He was represented by Agueda at the ceremony.
The family returned to the Philippines in 1943 upon the offer of the Japanese who promised the Philippine independence earlier than 1946. Unluckily, as World War II went on, she was separated from her husband who left for Baguio in November 1944. She died in April 1945 while she was on her way to join him in the mountains of Northern Luzon. She was 70 years old.
Palafox, Queenie Ann J. Our Founding Mothers, Lest We Forget. Manila: National Historical Commission of the Philippines, 2012. Accessed on June 7, 2020 from http://nhcp.gov.ph/our-founding-mothers-lest-we-forget/.
A Biography of Agueda Esteban (1868-1945). Manila: NHCP Museums, 2018. Accessed on June 7, 2020 from https://www.facebook.com/notes/nhcp-museums/a-biography-of-agueda-esteban-1868-1945/487562804973089/
Pasion, Kristoffer. Agueda: A Tribute. Tumbler. Accessed on June 7, 2020 from https://indiohistorian.tumblr.com/post/170743665310/agueda-a-tribute-imagine-her-in-the-bustling
Agueda Esteban and Artemio Ricarte with two women (presumably his daughters), undated photo courtesy of Ma. Luisa D. Fleetwood.
Ms. Alve Mosura