Originally authored on August 18, 2016
Whenever a tour is scheduled in Taal, Batangas, the visit to Ka Eryang’s historical house is a never miss. It is the home and sanctuary of the Philippine Revolution. It is more popularly known today as the “wedding gift house”, a gift by her husband Eulalio Villavicencio, a wealthy ship owner.
An illustrious Filipina, Gliceria Marella was born in Taal on May 13, 1852 from an affluent family Vicente Marella and Gertrudis Legaspi. At the age of 12, she attended the Sta. Catalina in Intramuros but had to stop when her elder sister died and she had to continue the responsibility of managing the family estate.
Four years before the Philippine-Spanish war erupted in January 1892, Eulalio went to Hongkong and delivered P18,000, from the family’s personal funds, to Dr. Jose Rizal to finance his subversive propaganda movements against Spain. In gratitude, Rizal sent an ivory dagger, as a keepsake to Dona Gliceria and propaganda pamphlets. Eulalio helped in disseminating leaflets and copies of La Solidaridad. It did not go unnoticed and the suspicious Spaniards accused Eulalio of being a filibuster for inciting rebellion. He was imprisoned in the Old Bilibid Prison in Manila when his association with the revolutionary movement was validated.
Eulalio was charged with sedition but Gliceria pleaded for her husband’s release in Manila. However, Spaniards bargained with Gliceria to reveal the secrets of Katipunan in exchange for the release of her husband. Steadfast in her patriotic ardor, Gliceria refused the offer despite the love for her husband. Eulalio was finally released in 1898 but died of illness due to his incarcerations.
The death of her husband incensed her passion for supporting the revolution against the Spaniards. Gliceria selflessly gave her fortune, time, effort, material aid, and leadership to the insurrectos in the struggle for freedom. She donated her ship SS Bulusan, the first warship made available to the revolutionaries. It was used in transporting Filipino soldiers, ammunition, armaments, and food supplies for the maintenance of the revolutionary forces to the Bicol and Visayas regions.
Gliceria was the founder of Batallon Maluya, led by General Ananias Diokno, also a Taalenyo. Ka Eryang continuously gave financial and moral support to the revolutionaries and converted her house into a headquarter where secret meetings took place. Leaders like Andres Bonifacio, General Miguel Malvar and General Eleuterio Marasigan discreetly frequented the place.
At the outbreak of Filipino-American War, Gliceria was initially subjected to a house arrest under suspicion of supporting rebellion, the whole family was sent to Manila and the Americans confiscated her properties. Moreover, the house-turned-headquarters was converted into an army hospital. For her patriotism and contributions to the Philippine Revolution, General Aguinaldo named Gliceria Madrina-General de las Fuerzas Revolucionarios or “Godmother-General of the Revolutionary Forces” in June 12, 1898.
Gliceria Marella de Villavicencio was a Filipino nationalist who fought against the Spanish and against the Americans in the Philippine Insurrection in 1899-1902. She died on September 25, 1929, leaving six children.
With the list of our unsung heroes falling to the seams, her name remains in the line-up of the less remembered. However, Taalenyos have long extolled her greatness. She may be gone, but never forgotten!
* – credits to the owner/s for the pictures