Friday, January 18, 2013

Filipino Martyr: Marcela Marcelo-Lugo

(1869 – 1897)
“Woman General of the Revolution”
Marcela Marcelo, also known as “Selang Bagsik” (Ferocious Sela) and “Henerala Sela”
(General Sela), hailed from Malibay, formerly a part of Palanyag, but now of Pasay. Born in 1869,
she married Quirico Lugo of Aguho, Pateros and bore him a son.
Jorge Sandejas Cristobal, in his article “Pasay City’s Unsung Heroine,” which appeared in
the Philippine Free Press, dated May 13, 1961, wrote that Marcelo was a kapitana (captain), and
that she was treacherously killed in the Battle of Zapote Bridge. However, this is erroneous, since
that battle took place on February 17, 1897, or a month before the Battle of Pasong Santol
(Dasmariñas), which occurred on March 21, 1897.
Cristobal also wrote that Marcelo was married and was a member of an upper – class
family with a betel nut farm (Pasay was famous for its betel nuts).
She was reported to be a very brave fighter, one who would not flinch in the face of the
Spanish onslaught. Her husband was said to have been captured by the Civil Guards. She did not
utter a word nor took any action while her husband was being led away. It was also believed that
she entrusted her son to the care of her sister, then headed a group of Filipino rebels that raided
enemy trenches. Because of her bravery, the enemy feared her.
It was her picture, a woman with flowing hair, that was drawn in the certificates of
members of the “Veteranos de la Revolucion” kept in a small notebook by Ramon Abad (code name
“Magtanggol”) a Katipunero from Imus. In it was found written “March 21, 1897, in Pasong Santol
the woman, Marcela Marcelo was killed.”
In Malibay, Pasay City, an elementary school was named after her. Also, in the plaza of
Malibay is a bust of Marcelo fronting the C. Jose Street, the principal road in that place. The bust
was unveiled on July 1, 1962. It was dedicated by the Kapisanang Diwa ng Malibay, with these
 Born here in
Malibay on 1869
Led and fought
During the time of
The Revolution and was killed
In Pasong Santol
Imus, Cavite in 1886.
Note that the date of her death was 1896, which should be 1897.
Research shows that there is an alley in Sta. Cruz, Manila, which was declared as early as
October 13, 1916 to be known as “Taga Malibay” (from Malibay) in memory of a certain “Generala,”
which turned out to be Marcela Marcelo. Unfortunately, this particular alley has long been
According to Carlos V. Ronquillo, private secretary of General Emilio Aguinaldo, in his
book, Some Minutes of the Revolution of 1896 – 97, page 176:
“One of our platoons was led by a woman of great courage: a middle aged married woman
who had a child, a woman from Pasay (if we were not mistaken), who was always in the heat of the
battle, with no weapons but a bolo. She died a heroine when the Spanish trenches were taken in
Pasong Santol. This action so frightened the Spaniards that they ran and was driven by the
infantry and Tagalog volunteers... Because of this the enemy was expected to retaliate.”
Page 122 further mentions the death of Marcelo in the Battle of the Batteries in Pasong
“No wounded on the first day of battle except for the 15 to 12 dead, including the woman
– hero, the one from Pasay who led the platoon to rush the centre.”
However, there is also one Martin F. Vinago, who wrote in 1928 that Marcelo was “Shot in
the forehead by the withering fire of the enemy. She was standing, with her luxuriant hair flowing
down in the line of defense while exchanging fire with the enemy and giving commands to her

Soriano, Rafaelita. Women In Revolution. Quezon City: Printon Press, 1995.
Pasay City History: TNL Vertical Files
Historical Bulletin, 1971 p. 393


  1. am grateful for the attempt to recover pieces of possible information on Marcela. Our historiography must be more alert & community based so we may not lose memory of our own struggles.

  2. Comment above by Lorenzo Bautista of Penuel School of Theology and Asian Theological Semnary