AGUEDA C. ESTEBAN
A Heroine of the Philippine Revolution
Agueda Esteban, a heroine of the Philippine Revolution, was born on February 5, 1868 in
Binondo, Manila. She was the second child of Ambrosio Esteban of Ligao, Camarines Sur (now
annexed to Albay) and Francisca de la Cruz of Cainta, Rizal who after their marriage established
their residence in Binondo. Her parents were blessed with several children, but only three of them
Young Agueda obtained her early schooling from a matron, “Maestrang Bulag,” as she was
popularly called, who owned a little store selling ikmo leaves and hitcho (tobacco). It was in this
place that Agueda, her brother and sisters were taught.
Their family, a poor one, could not afford to defray Agueda’s educational expenses and so
she was placed under the patronage of Doña Vicenta de Roxas who enrolled her in Arrabal’s
Escuela de Niñas a girl school in Binondo. She excelled in many subjects and earned the
admiration of her teachers, parents and Doña Vicenta. Her school activities were published in the
newspaper, La Oceania.
When young Agueda reached womanhood, she was courted by Mariano Barroga of Batac,
Ilocos Norte, who was working as mayordomo in the household of Don Francisco Roxas (son of
Doña Vicenta de Roxas), they got married and by the time the Revolution broke out in 1896 they
had three children, namely Catalina, Adriana and Anastacia.
Her husband was a member of the Katipunan and was given the symbolic name “Tungkod”
(cane or post). He joined the insurrectos in San Juan del Monte, Montalban, and Marikina. When
he transferred his station to Tangos, Cavite, he brought along his family from Manila.
Agueda joined her husband in the struggle to free the country from colonial rule and,
inspired by his patriotic spirit she would journey to Manila to buy saltpeter, copper, lead and other
materials needed by the revolutionary army in making bullets and ammunitions. She did not mind
the hardships of going up and down the mountains of Haligue, Mapagtiis, Pangwagui,
Magtagumpay, Mainam, Naghapay, Mendez Nuñez, Magwagui, Amadeo, Talisay, Tagaytay range,
Sugay and Kabangaan. She and her family lived quietly in Cavite (Tangos), until the Truce of Biakna-
Bato ended the first phase of the revolution.
When the Republic was established in Tejeros (now General Trias), under the council of
Magdalo, Agueda made a living by selling meat at the plaza of Naik, then the capital of the rebel
movement. One day, while she was selling, she saw a hammock being carried past her stall and
wanting to know who was inside, she ran towards it and lifted the linen that covered the man being
conveyed to the tribunal. She saw the “Supremo” curled up and covered with blood. Desirous of
knowing what happened to Bonifacio, she approached a soldier whom she knew and softly asked
him about the incident. The soldier was surprised and apparently frightened, ran away. A few
minutes later he returned and told her secretly that any one mentioning the name of the
“Supremo” would be meted the pena de la muerte (death penalty).
When the Spaniards took the town of Maragondon, Tungkod and his family were among
the many that left Maragondon for Talisay, Batangas where Agueda’s youngest daughter
(Anastacia) died and was buried in the fields. The rebels had hardly reached Talisay when the
Spanish soldiers met them. They climbed the mountains of Tagaytay once again and there learned
that Aguinaldo was letting them take advantage of an amnesty granted by the Spanish government.
Major Tungkod refused amnesty and instead continued propagating the doctrines of the Katipunan
in Cainta. Again, Agueda’s help was solicited in the buying of materials for making gunpowder and
When the second phase of the Revolution started, Major Tungkod was assigned to the
command of Coloned Antonio Montenegro of Zone 3, comprising Manila and suburbs. Major
Tungkod was promoted to lieutenant colonel and was ordered by General Artemio Ricarte to
recruit volunteers in Manila. It was at this time that Agueda gave birth to Salud.
At the height of the Filipino-American War, Agueda served as courier between her
husband in Manila and General Ricarte in San Francisco de Malabon, Cavite. All the secret papers
on war strategies were entrusted to her, especially those concerning planned attacks against enemy
strongholds. Her secret activities were never discovered. Being a woman, she was never looked
upon with suspicion by the authorities.
On July 1, 1900, together with General Ricarte, Lt. Col. Tungkod and Agueda were caught
and imprisoned at Calle Anda. The grenades she used to carry, which were as big as the native
oranges of Tanauan, Batangas, were confiscated when a house-to house search was made
On February 16, 1901, Lt. Col. Tungkod, together with Artemio Ricarte and Apolinario
Mabini and other leaders of the Revolution, was deported to Guam. His wife Agueda was left
behind with their four children, Catalina, Adriana, Miguel and Salud. Though used to hardship, she
could not take care of all of them and so had to leave her three elder children at the Hospicio de
San Jose, taking only Salud to stay with her. On a goodwill basis, she ventured into selling jewelry
to help her family until Lt. Col. Tungkod returned from exile. When he died in November 1902, she
was left again heavy with child. When she gave birth, she named him “Artemio” in honor of
Agueda constantly communicated with Ricarte who was then exiled in Hong Kong. From
her he learned that the followers of Lt. Col. Tungkod still desired to resume war against the United
States and so he came home secretly and stayed in Agueda’s house for a while. When news of his
revolutionary activities reached the Americans, they captured Agueda on the pretext of her being
an encubridore de rebelion (concealer of the rebellion) together with her son Artemio, but she was
later freed on the bail and forbidden to go out of Manila. When she went to Antipolo to took for
means of livelihood, she was captured by a saddled constable and imprisoned, but not for long
because Attorney Kincaid defended her. Shortly after, her son Artemio died.
In 1910, she visited Ricarte after he was exiled for the second time to Hongkong after
serving six years imprisonment in Manila. He had been exiled because of his refusal to sign on oath
of allegiance to the United States. She became the wife of General Ricarte in May 1911 and from
1910-1951 lived there with her daughter, Salud, first, on the little island of Lemah at the mouth of
the harbor and later in Kowloon.
When the British government removed all political exiles from Hongkong after the
outbreak of World War I, the Ricartes had to be shipped to Shanghai and from that Chinese city, to
Japan. They reached Moji and from there they proceeded to Kobe, Nagoya , Setocho and Aichikin.
In 1921, they moved to Tokyo, where the Ricarte earned a living teaching Spanish at the
Kaigai Shokumin Gakko (Overseas Craftsmen Schook)
In April, 1923, they transferred to Yokohoma where they established their permanent
residence. They lived comfortably at their home at 149 Yamashita-cho, Yokohama-where they also
established a profitable karihan (restaurant). They lived there for eighteen years, together with
their children and grandchildren.
They returned to the Philippines and stayed in Manila during the Japanese occupation. In
1944, ill health claimed the life of our heroine.
Hilario, Soriano, Women in the Philippine Revolution. 1995
Quirino, Carlos. Who’s Who in Philippine History. Manila : Tahanan Books, 1995.
Villaroel, Hector K. Eminent Filipinos. Quezon City : Textbook Publishers, 1965.