Chapter Three
3. A Stranger is in Town

Andres BonifacioSome writers, consider the courtship of Gregoria de Jesus as indicative of Bonifacio's lack of sustained intensity during the four years from the founding of the Katipunan in 1892 to the outbreak of hostilities in late August of 1896. The fact, however, is that Bonifacio frequented Kalookan to further the cause of the revolution and not primarily to get a second wife. Here he found the descendants of the fishermen of Aromahan, now turned farmers groaning under a hundred years of peonage and ready to rise in arms given proper leadership.

Although the poblacion was accessible from Manila by tramway and railroad, the rest of Kalookan was wilderness. Here, Bonifacio had friends who were familiar with cogon-covered Kalaanan and the hinterlands of Balintawak, Kangkong and Pugad-Lawin. Here were Katipuneros "Andres Bato" (Andres Bolinao) of the Poblacion and Lorenzong Lupa (Lorenzo Name) of Maypajo, both of whom would later distinguish themselves in battle and lay down their lives as a final sacrifice.

Here were his recruits from the local ranks: Mariano Maglilong, later to become a colonel in the New Katipunan, Captains Silverio Baltazar, Mariano Galler, Victorio Lanuza and Candido Jacinto Galauran who, with their followers, could be depended upon to protect the Supremo and his aides as long as they were on Kalookan soil. Emilio Jacinto, Bonifacio's secretary and the original Boy General of the revolution, in fact lived in Kalookan where he had a number of relatives. [Dr. Fausto J. Galauran claimed that his family originally had the surname "Jacinto" but that his grandparents had it changed to Galauran when Emilio Jacinto was being hunted by the Spanish authorities. The Jacintos now living at the corner of A. Mabini and E. Jacinto Sts. in Sangandaan are descendants of Emilio Jacinto's cousins. One of them, Alejandro Jacinto, recalls tales of Emilio Jacinto's stay in their old house in the same location.]

That Bonifacio, a single, full-blooded male would fall in love with the town beauty was inevitable. He came to Kalookan with his comrade-in-arms Teodoro Plata in time to witness a Santacruzan where Teodoro's cousin Oriang was Reina Elena. Plata introduced the widower to his cousin, and a love story that would end in tragedy unfolded in a month associated with the blooming of flowers.

People who saw Bonifacio in Kalookan handed down to their children the impression that he was taller, heftier and fairer of complexion than the ordinary Indio of his time. The man who would win the heart of Gregoria de Jesus was also the leader who had organized thousands of his countrymen into an army that would shake an empire to its very foundation.

That army, Bonifacio's Sons of the Country, was not as foolhardy as is generally believed. True, his troops were mostly armed only with lances and hacking knives, but he had 14,000 of them in the Manila area alone. With the element of surprise on his side, he could easily overwhelm a better-armed but smaller adversary.

When Oriang became Bonifacio's bride in March of 1893, she was immediately inducted into the Katipunan and was made its Muse with the title of Lakambini. But she was not to be merely a beautiful inspiration to the freedom fighters. As wife of the Supremo, she was entrusted with the seal of the Society and its secret lists of recruits and supporters. From the dainty, sheltered daughter of doting parents, she became, by marriage, the country's top woman rebel. The girl who graced religious festivals with her delicate beauty now literally held in her hands the safety and security -- indeed the very lives -- of thousands of her husband's followers.

No better hands could have held such tremendous responsibility. For Oriang was of sterner stuff than her deceptively frail body would reveal. Behind her were the guts, the valor and tenacity of the fishermen who took refuge at Aromahan to escape oppression, and the independent spirit of the farmers who cleared the hilltop of Kaloogan and resisted the agents of the Maysilo Estate for well over a hundred years. In her hands, the secrets of the Katipunan were safe.

The betrayal, as it turned out, occured elsewhere.