The Philippine Revolution of 1896 cemented the place in the annals of history many of the country’s most recognized heroes. However, there many unsung heroes, especially women, of the revolution whose contributions to the cause remain largely unrecognized. One of these unsung heroes is Marcela Marcelo, who came to be known as Selang Bagsik.
Marcela was a native of Malibay, (which used to be a part of Parariaque until 1898 but is now under Pasay City), and was born in 1869 to a well-to-do family owners of a betel nut farm. She eventually married Quirico Lugo of Pateros and had one child with him. Marcela’s husband was captured by the Guardia Civil, an event which eventually prompted Sela to take up arms herself and join the revolution.
It is important to take note that during this time, Parariaque was the headquarters of Spanish Gobernador General Camilo Garcia de Polavieja hence the intense campaign of the Spanish government against Filipino revolutionaries in the area. Sela was forced, together with other townsfolk of Malibay, to move to Cavite, which was under the control of General Emilio Aguinaldo. It was only a matter of time before Sela herself took the lead.
Sela was formidable in battle thus earning her the name of Selang Bagsik. She herself led Filipino soldiers in attacking Spanish trenches. Carlos V. Ronquillo, the secretary of General Aguinaldo, took note of how she was armed with only a bolo during battles. Due to her contributions in the revolutionary cause against the Spanish colonial master, she was elevated to the rank of generala and led her platoon in several skirmishes against the enemy, famously in the Battle of Perez Dasmaritias.
While she was standing on top of the trenches and giving orders to her platoon during crossfire, she was hit by a bullet on her forehead. Up until her last breath, Selang Bagsik dedicated her life to the fight for the liberation of the nation from colonizers.
Selang Bagsik’s courage during the Philippine Revolution was honored by her comrades in the Katipunan by using her image, a woman with flowing hair and leading the fight against the enemies, in the certificates of the members of the Asociacion de Veteranos de la Revolucion.
Hilario Soriano, Rafaelita, ed. Women in the Philippine Revolution. Quezon City: Printon Press, 1995.
Licuanan, Patricia B., ed. “Cover Story.” Philippine Journal of Education, February 1998.
Torrevillas, D. “Women Power: rocking the Cradle to Freedom.” In Cavite: Glorious Chronicle of the Century, edited by Roy Iglesias, 75. Cavite: Cavite Centennial Committee, 1998.
Ms. Marian Kate Tenorio