Celebrating Philippine Independence in memory of Graciano Lopez Jaena from Jaro, Iloilo City
Today is our 123rd
independence day of the Republic of the Philippines—a country colonized by
Spain for 300 years and the United States for 45 years. We gained the nation’s freedomfrom the
Spanish rule on June 12, 1898. This is the bigger
I have the smaller
picture which I can share today. It is a landmark that tells so many bigger
picture behind it. It is just right
where I live two houses away from it in Calle Arguelles and Fajardo in Jaro,
Iloilo City. Everyday, I pass by it. It is a shrine. It says Graciano Lopez
Jaena. A shrine that many folks from Jaro may not notice driving and walking it
through everyday. ( PICTURES AND CAPTIONS OF THE SHRINE, BELOW).
Lopez is always
associated a family name with Iloilo. The wealthy Ilonggo family we associate
with ABS-CBN empire or the past Vice President of the Republic of the
Philippines. The magnificent mansions in Jaro are owned by the Lopezes. Jaena
is another Jaro family name. My Jaro landlord is a Jaen. It is interesting in
Iloilo because during the Spanish period,
the first letter of one’s town, say Jaro, should have the same letter in one’s
family name. Jaro with letter “J”, ex., Jalandoni, Javelosa,
Javellana or Jaena. ( Sta. Barbara town with Santillan, Sucaldito, Sobrepeña,
etc.) My great grandfather helped construct the ancient Jaro belfry but his
family name was not “J” so it was changed to Jutare.
Yet many Ilonggos may
only know Jaro main street artery as Graciano Lopez Jaena Street. Or perhaps
our town plaza is called the same name. Still many, I assume, the young ones
may have bleak idea who was Graciano Lopez Jaena.
I reckon, the bigger picture from the small picture of
an almost 60 sq meter space of the miniscule
shrine is-- Graciano Lopez Jaena was already
global during the 19th century. ( It was in 1879 which was written then as MDCCCLXXXVIII
or 19th century as the first
two digits, in case 18, is always one year ahead). It was a period in time that
there was no concept of such word “global” existed as we define it today. Somehow
global today in Filipino context means
What is interesting
is this, according to Wikepedia:”Of these three ilustrados Jose Rizal and Marcelo H. del Pilar, López Jaena was the first to arrive in Spainand may have founded the genesis of
the Propaganda Movement.I was blown away. To land first in Spain from Iloilo was amazing. I remember this was taught to us in high
school. But now, the meaning for me became bigger than life itself. While
Iloilo is host to many “firsts” in the Philippines, this one dates as far back
as the turn of the century.
Because the shrine has meaning greater than what we
see, today, we may have to reflect how we can preserve the sense of pride for
Jaro and Iloilo through our own home-grown hero.
Sadly, the shrine today has no sense of place. It is
home to dump trucks and is just an empty lot. Perhaps forgotten by time. But
yet history will not forsake itself. Some historical lapses in dates or details
may fall into the cracks, but the bigger picture of our memory and sense of
connection will linger and should remain nourished.This is when a smaller
picture will have meaning to create the whole big picture in our society.
Our fast lane
generation today is sometimes lost within the bigger picture which can be polarized with
the smaller pictures around us. What we see everyday is no longer novel to most
of us. As a designer, my former Italian mentor always reminded me to look at
our sorrounding pictures with our fresh eyes. Memory and inspiration is not too
far-fetched, it can just be in one’s neighborhood. In my case, it is just two
houses away where I live and I thought I must do something---even just writing
it today to celebrate the independence of our dear country, the Philippines.
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Graciano López Jaena(December 18, 1856-January 20,
1896) was a journalist, orator, revolutionary, and national hero from Iloilo,
thePhilippines, who is well known for his written
newspaper, La Solidaridad.
López Jaena, along with Marcelo H. del Pilarand José Rizal, as thetriumvirate of Filipinopropagandists. Of these three ilustrados,
López Jaena was the first to arrive in Spain and may have founded the
genesis of the Propaganda Movement.
His parents sent López Jaena to Jaro which had been
opened under the administration of Governor General Carlos María de la
Torre y Nava Cerrada. While studying at St. Vincent Ferrer Seminary in
Jaro, López Jaena served as a secretary to an uncle named Claudio López who was
the honorary vice consul of Portugal in Iloilo. His ambition of
becoming a physician, convinced his parents that this was the better course of
Jaena sought enrollment at the University of Santo Tomas but was
denied admission because the required Bachelor of Arts degree
was not offered at the seminary in Jaro. Instead he was appointed to the San
Juan de Dios Hospital as an apprentice. Unfortunately, due to financial
problems, he dropped out and returned to Iloilo to practice medicine.
this period, his visits with the poor and the common people began to stir
feelings about the injustices that were common. At the age of 18 he wrote
the satirical story "Fray Botod" which depicted a fat and lecherous
priest. Botod’s false piety "always had the Virgin and God on his lips no
matter how unjust and underhanded his acts are." This incurred the fury of
the friars. Although the story was not published, a copy circulated in
Iloilo but the friars could not prove that López Jaena was the author.
into trouble for refusing to testify that certain prisoners died of natural
causes when it was obvious that they had died at the hands of the mayor
of Pototan. López Jaena continued to agitate for justice and finally went
to Spain when threats were made on his life. López Jaena sailed forSpain in 1879. There he was to
become a leading literary and oratorical spokesman for Philippine reform.
Jaena pursued his medical studies at the University of Valencia but
did not finish the course. Once Rizal reproached Lopéz Jaena for not finishing
his medical studies. Graciano replied, "On the shoulders of slaves
should not rest a doctor's cape." Rizal countermanded, "The shoulders
do not honor the doctor's cape, but the doctor's cape honors the shoulders."
moved to the field of journalism. Losing interest in politics and academic
life, he soon enjoyed his life in Barcelona and Madrid. However,
his friends would forgive him these indiscretions due to his appeal with words
and oratory. Mariano Ponce who was another of the Filipino
propagandists in Spain observed, "... a deafening ovation followed the
close of the peroration, the ladies waved their kerchiefs wildly, and the
men applauded frantically as they stood up from their seats in order to embrace
noted, "His great love is politics and literature. I do not know for sure
whether he loves politics in order to deliver speeches or he loves literature
to be a politician."
addition he is remembered for his literary contributions to the propaganda
movement. López Jaena founded the fortnightly newspaper, La Solidaridad. When
the publication office moved from Barcelona to Madrid, the editorship was
succeeded to Marcelo H. del Pilar. A student will discover his talent in the
publication Discursos y Artículos Varios(Speeches and Various
Jaena died of tuberculosis on January 20, 1896, eleven months short
of his 40th birthday. The following day, he was buried in unmarked grave at the
Cementerio del Sub-Oeste of Barcelona. His death was followed on July 4 by
Marcelo H. del Pilar and on December 30 of José Rizal by firing squad,
thus ending the great triumvirate of propagandists. He died in
poverty just shy of two and a half years before the declaration of
independence from Spain byEmilio Aguinaldo. His remains were never brought
back to the Philippines.
honor, the Jaro Plaza has been renamed the Graciano López Jaena Park,
where there is also a statue of him.
Lopez Jaena Foundation Inc works to continue his legacy and supports
various public recognition of his life and works, such as the Dr. Graciano
Lopez Jaena Poetry Contest.
of DeMolay Chapter, a youth fraternal group for young men originating
in freemasonry, was founded around 1965 in Jaro, and named Graciano
Lopez-Jaena Chapter because Lopez Jaena was the first and
foremost Freemason from Jaro.