The Secret of Paula Herrera, from Tiaong to Tayabas circa 1891
“In 1891, WHEN my great great grandmother Paula Cerrada Herrera was arrested, her arms tied behind her elbow-to-elbow, and made to walk all the way from Tiaong to the town of Tayabas escorted by four guardias civiles, she was no ordinary peasant even if she could neither read nor write.”
After reading this first sentence of Angela Stuart-Santiago’s engrossing Revolutionary Routes: Five Stories of Incarceration, Exile, Murder and Betrayal in Tayabas Province, 1891-1980, the innocent reader falls into a beautiful trap. After all, who wouldn’t be curious to find out what sin, or crime (is there a difference?) Paula committed 120 years ago that deserved all 50 years of her aching body to walk for about 30 kilometers and to be imprisoned for about 67 “harrowing” days?