Unearthing the Rich Legacy of Mariveles: The Story of The De Leon Clan, Barangay San Carlos and Its Founding Heroes

Mariveles in 1900s

"I am Pocholo De Leon Gonzales, son of Avelina De Leon Gonzales and Luis Gansit Gonzales, natives of Mariveles. I grew up on Jose Sarreal Street in the Barangay of San Carlos in Mariveles, Bataan. Ever since I was a child, I always asked myself, 'Who is San Carlos?' I thought he was a saint.

Unknown to many natives of Mariveles, Barangay San Carlos was not named after a saint or any church figure. It was named after the founder of Barangay San Carlos, Mayor Dr. Carlos “Carling” Lara Sarreal. Mayor Carling was the one who established Barangay San Carlos, situated in the center of Mariveles Town, during the time the Bataan Export Processing Zone or BEPZ was also being constructed in 1969. Dr. Carling was elected as the Mayor of Mariveles in 1967, and from then on, the town evolved from a 5th Class Municipality to a 3rd Class Municipality.

Pocholo  De Leon Gonzales (Baby) with GrandFather Amado Velez De Leon Sr., Great Grand Father Emilio Advincula De Leon with Alain De Leon and Boy De Leon Cesar.

Dr. Carling's excellence and greatness were inherited, as his grandmother was none other than the revered and recognized Mother of the Katipunan and Revolution of Mariveles, Bataan, Agatona De Leon. Agatona De Leon was the sister of Ignacio De Leon, from whom the De Leon clan in Mariveles originated. Ignacio De Leon married Julia Advincula and had a child, Emilio Advincula De Leon. Emilio, known as Milyong, had three wives: first, Socorro Delgado, second, Zuela “Chelay” Velez, and third, Celerina “Nena” Batungbakal Mandocdoc. From his marriage to Zuela, they had children: Amado Velez De Leon, Virgina Velez De Leon – Riego De Dios, and Lolita Velez De Leon Cesar. Amado was the father of my mother, Avelina De Leon Gonzales.

Mayor Carlos "Carling"  Lara Sarreal

Agatona had a first husband from the Gonzales lineage, but he passed away early. They were blessed with two children: Melchor Gonzales and Esteban Gonzales. Esteban Gonzales was my great-grandfather. He married Juana Bautista, and their child was Leoncio Gonzales. Leoncio married Marina Gansit, and they had my father, Luis Gansit Gonzales, who became the Municipal Administrator of Mariveles during Mayor Jessie Concepcion's term. Ace Jelo "AJ" Concepcion, one of the youngest mayors of Mariveles, was their child. Thus, my mother and father are third cousins from the De Leon lineage.

My Mother Avelina De Leon Gonzales and Luis Gansit Gonzales

Esteban Gonzales and Melchor Gonzales were recognized heroes of the Katipunan in the town of Mariveles. They attended the meeting to create a document called the “Acta ng Katipunan.” They signed the document with their own blood and vowed that no matter the hardship or punishment, they would not reveal the rules and doctrines of the Katipunan.

The beginning of the Revolution in Mariveles was set on May 31, 1898. They agreed that after the third sound of the drum, known as the “Signal for the Dawn of Freedom,” and called the “Day of Uprising.”

Marina Gansit and Leoncio Bautista Gonzales

This revolution was the easiest, fastest, least bloody battle, and the most successful in the history of Mariveles. In this event, the greatness of Agatona De Leon, known as “Cabesang Tonang,” was recognized. She became a symbol of the Mother of the Katipunan of Mariveles, Bataan, and led the liberation of our beloved town against the cruel and exploitative Spaniards. She was the only woman who led, fought, and shouted “Charge, my brothers!” which signaled the start of the revolution in the Town of Mariveles. She later remarried a well-known Gobernadorcillo from the town of Imus, Cavite, named Julian Sarreal. The bloody yet successful chapter of our town's history is called the “Copo De Mariveles” or Mariveles Coup d’etat.

Esteban De Leon Gonzales with grandson Napoleon Viray and Fernando Gonzales Viray

Cabesang Tonang was also one of the first to promote the Aglipayan religion or Iglesia Filipina Independiente (Aglipay Church) due to the enslavement and torment of Filipinos by the Spaniards, along with the families of the heroes of the “Copo de Mariveles” in 1898.

The children of Cabesang Tonang served as leaders of our town after the revolution. Among them were Melchor Gonzales and Esteban Gonzales. Esteban Gonzales served as the Town Judge and became the Mayor in 1908 during the American period.

 He also started the first Elementary School in Mariveles.

The eldest child of Agatona with her second husband, Julian Sarreal, was Jose De Leon Sarreal, Sr. (after whom Jose Sarreal St., in San Carlos, is named), belonging to one of the affluent families in Mariveles. He was a businessman before entering politics. He was appointed as “Kapitan Municipal” or Mayor in 1898. He became the thirteenth (13th) Mayor of Mariveles and served for six years.

Cabesang Tonang's grandson was Carlos Lara Sarreal, who became the seventeenth Mayor of Mariveles. He served three terms from 1968-1979. He was born on November 4, 1936. Mayor Carling established the Mariveles Water District and the Mariveles Town Market. Here, it is evident that the legacy or 'Pamano' of Cabesang Tonang truly runs in the blood of the generations that followed her. It can be said that Agatona De Leon is truly the real mother of San Carlos and the town of Mariveles.

As a descendant of Agatona De Leon, my only desire and aspiration for the present and future of this town, especially for the Youth, is to not forget the history and the sacrifices and love of “Cabesang Tonang” to achieve our Freedom and to embody patriotism and love for our origins and the heritage of history.

Long live Barangay San Carlos! Long live the Town of Mariveles!"