EPIFANIO DELOS SANTOS

(1871 - 1928)

 

 

Epifanio delos Santos y Cristobal was the first Filipino member of the Spanish Royal Academy in Madrid.

 

He was born on April 7, 1871, in Malabon, Rizal, the only son of Escolastico de los Santos and Antonia Cristobal. His father was an educated and wealthy hacendero, and ardent student of history and a product of Ateneo de Manila his mother attended school at the Colegio de la Consolacion, and was a finished player of the harp and other musical instrument.

 

He had his early education under maestro Jose Flores, a noted private tutor. He enrolled at the Ateneo de Manila where he obtained after six years a Bachelor of Arts with excellent grades and notable marks in many subjects. Upon leaving Ateneo where he spent time in painting, he concentrated of some time in music. The arts fascinated him, but when he transferred to University of Santo Tomas it was to up law which he finished in march in 1898.

 

In his diverse studies, he became acquainted with German, French, and Greek literatures.

 

With the outbreak of the second phase of Philippine revolution, he and Jose Clemente Zulueta published in 1898 the news paper libertad in Malabon. Later, he became an associate editor of La Independencia, the first revolutionary periodical, and a contributor of El Renacimiento, La Democracia, La Patria, and Malaysia.

 

In April 1900, he was appointed a the district attorney for San Isidro, his father’s hometown in Nueva Ecija. After a brief stint as the Provincial Secretary, he has elected in 1902 as Governor of Nueva Ecija. Two years later, he left as a member of the Philippine Honorary Commission for the Saint luis exposition, and from there, he went with Pardo de Tavera to Paris. After wards he traveled alone through England, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Italy in which during this travels, his time was spent in quest of rare Philippine documents and objects of arts in big museums in the great European Universities.

 

On his return, he resume his duties as governor of Nueva Ecija. Then, in 1906, he moved to Malolos where he was the provincial Fiscal for both Provinces of Bulacan and Bataan. In the next 19 years, that he held his position, he conducted extensive researches on Philippine History and Literature and enriched his Filipiniana collection thereby establishing his reputation as a historian and bibiliographer. Owing to his well known, scholarship, he was designated by Governor-General Francis Burton Harrison as technical directo of the Philippine Census of 1918.

 

In 1909, he published algo de prosa,  a collection of stories and sketches. His other books are Tagalog Literature, Confidencial letter of Dr. Jose Rizal, The Tagalog Theater, Musical folklores of the Philippines, Criminality in the Philippines (1903-1908), Fraudes ElectroralesY Sus Remedios. And the Biographies of Trinidad H. Pardo de Tavera, Marcelo H. del Pilar, Andress bonifacio, Emilio Jacinto, and Ignacio Villamor. He translated Balagtas’ Florante at Laura, into Spanish and clarified the story of Filipino folk music and Tagalog Theater. He also made an important contribution by writing a biographical account of notable Filipinos.

 

On May 16, 1925, he was appointed as a director of Philippine Library and Museum by Governor Leonard Wood, succeeding Dr. T. H. Pardo de Tavera who died on March 26 of that year, and in his capacity distinguish himself as an efficient public servant.

 

One day a reader went to the library to read something on Concepcion Bagay, the first Filipino Cartographer. He approached Don Epifanio and told him what he wanted. Knowing perhaps that the visitor was unfamiliar with the Filipiniana Division, Don Epifanio went personally to look for materials he needed and readily handed them to the visitor. The library employees were amazed at the ease and exactness with which he pulled out the bundles that contain the desire information. He was asked why he did not ask his clerks to look up the materials. He answered:” all of us here are servants of the reading public. I am the head of the servant and I must show that I know better than any of the servant where the materials are found. I want to show that our service here is efficient and that we are really working to serve.”

 

He was a great conversationalist, sometimes even forgetting his meals because of prolonged discussion with a fiend or a visitor. In his office, everybody was treated fairly, whether he be a division chief or messenger.

 

As a historian, he was sincere and impartial in his approach, research, and writings. He monographs, essay and lectures are considered a real contribution to the Philippine History. He was, according to Cecilia Apostol, the first of 2 best Filipino writers in Spanish prose, the other being Marcelo H. del Pilar. Unlike many critics of other prestige, his motive was “ to build rather than to destroy”.

 

He married twice. His first wife was Ursula Paez of Malabon and the second was Margarita of Malolos. Only one of his children inherited his fashion for history and ability as a researcher. He was Jose P. Santos, a son of his first wife, who became a distinguish historical writer, biographer and collector.

 

On April 18,1928, Don Panyong died in Manila, a victim of cerebral attack.

 


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