Marina Dizon-Santiago: Secretary of the Katipunan Women’s Chapter

Originally authored on August 27, 2016

All it took was a family bloodline. Marina was the daughter of Jose Dizon, an active associate of Andres Bonifacio who was one of the thirteen revolutionary martyrs of Bagumbayan. She was also the cousin of Emilio Jacinto. Having grown and honed under a family of patriots and nationalists, an inner awareness in her was sparked and had eventually led to her conviction.

Marina was born on July 18, 1875, in Trozo, Tondo. At a tender age of eight months, her mother, Roberta Bartolome died. She was raised by her aunt, the sister of her father, Josefa Dizon, mother of Emilio Jacinto. She was enrolled at a private school that was led by Maestro Timoteo Reyes and later studied at a public school under Aniceta Cabrera. Marina was a student of the arts, music, painting, and modelling. She later became an accomplished singer. More so, she was the guitarist and violinist of the Trozo Comparza Band. Initially, Marina wished to be a teacher although discouraged by her father.

 

Marina joined the Katipunan in July 1893, a year after the society was organized. Like her first cousin Emilio Jacinto, she first became a mason and was a member of Logia de Adopcion, the organization of women masons who served as the “lookout” of the Katipunan. Emilio then brought her to the house of Restituto Javier in Oroquieta for initiation where on the same night, along with Josefa and Trinidad Rizal and their nieces – Angelica Lopez and Delfina Herbosa became new members of the Katipunan. Gregoria de Jesus, the young wife of Andres, joined them in the formation of the Katipunan women’s chapter. Marina acted as the secretary of the chapter.

Like other women, Marina’s resourcefulness and ingenuity was very useful in providing a safe front for the secret gatherings and meetings of the revolutionaries. She organized various projects, led in initiation rites for women, and helped raise funds to finance various activities. In her autobiography written in 1948, she wrote: “Be cheerful. Do not show fear of impending uprisings, be prepared to be left orphans and widows someday. Be brave and carry on.”

In 1894, Marina married Jose Turiano Santiago, a childhood friend who was also a member of Katipunan. At the outbreak of the revolution, they fled their home and she burned all the vital documents in her keeping to prevent the Spaniards from learning more about the organization.

Her father Jose Dizon and husband Jose Turiano were imprisoned. However, Marina was spared by the Spaniards but was kept under strict surveillance. In January 11, 1897, one week after the execution of the 15 Martyrs of Bicol, her father was executed as one of the 13 Martyrs of Bagumbayan. Fearing for her husband’s fate, Marina sold all their belongings to raise money to bribe the husband’s guards.

Jose Turiano was finally released in September 1897. He then established an accounting firm, but after the failure of the Pact of Biak-na-Bato, the American occupation in 1899 forced them to transfer residence to Meycauayan, Bulacan, and later on moved to Tarlac after the hostilities. Marina decided to leave for Bamban, leaving her husband behind. Soon after, Jose Turiano followed and slipped unnoticed to Manila where he found work as an accountant. Not long after, he was suspected as a revolucionario and an order for his capture was issued by the Americans. He avoided arrest by fleeing to Hongkong to join the revolutionaries in exile. Marina had to stay to raise their family.

Jose returned and joined her until the Japanese occupation. Marina was widowed when her husband’s war activities resulted in execution by the Japanese.

In the twilight years of her life, she lived with her daughter Luz Santiago-de Bleza in 2444 Angat Street, Juan Luna, Gagalangin, Tondo. She died on October 13, 1950.

History has shown Filipino women to be steadfast and unyielding. Despite the numerous obstacles in their path, their determination enabled them to fight for freedom not only for themselves and their families, but also for the motherland.

* – credits to the owner/s for the pictures

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