MANUEL ARTIGAS Y CUERVA                 

(1866-1925)

 

 

Manuel Artigas y Cuerva, biographer, bibliographer, historian  and journalist, was born in Tacloban, Leyte, on October 15, 1866, to  Miguel Artigas y Rodriguez, a native of Cadiz, Spain and Soledad  Cuerva y Molina of Bulacan. His parents originally settled in Baler.  They moved to Leyte in 1860, in the company of Soledad's father who was an officer in the artillery corps of the Spanish army.

 

Manuel's father died in Albay in 1874 and was buried there. His  mother then sold all their properties in Leyte and moved to Manila.  She deposited the proceeds of the sale, together with a sum won in a  lottery, with Russel, Sturgis and Co. This American investment firm,  however, went bankrupt and so the Artigas family was left in a preca rious financial condition.

  

Despite this setback the orphaned family managed to settle in Manila. Manuel was first sent to the Colegio de la Immaculada Concepcion and then transferred to the Ateneo Municipal as an alumno interno de beca. He was admitted to the University of Santo Tomas  where he studied medicine for three years. He later enrolled at the  Colegio de San Juan de Letran and in 1883, after passing a competi tive examination, was admitted into the government service.

  

An ambitious man, Manuel denied himself the pleasures of a social life and isolated himself inhis room toiling and laboring. Day and night he was to be found with pen in hand writing on various aspects of Philippine history. Among his significant works are:  Manual de empleado;  El Municipio Filipino; Historia Municipal de Filipinas desde los Primeros Tiempos de la Dominacion Española hasta nuestros Dias-Manila; El Procedimento Administrativo y la Jurisdiccion Centencioso-Administivo y la Jurisdicion en Filipinas-Manila; Diccionario Tecnico-histerico de la Administracion de Filipinas-Manila; El Faro Administrativo; Historia de las Revoluciones Filipinas; Biblioteca Nacional Filipina-Manila; El Parlamento Filipino-Manila; La Primera Imprenta del Filipinas-Manila; Glorias Nacionales;  EI General Antonio Luna Nevicio-Manila; Resenas Historica dela Universidad de Santo Tomas de Manila; La Civilizacion Filipinas-Manila; Reseña Historica de la Provincia de Leyte- Manila; Historia de la Instruccion Publica en Filipinas; Bibliografia  Medico-Famtaceutica, these and many other articles were published in  numerous periodicals and journals.

  

In 1907, he was appointed assistant librarian in the Philippine Section of the American Circulating Library. Through his initiative, Act No. 1849 creating the Philippine Public Library was passed by the  Philippine Assembly. In 1919 he was appointed curator of the Filipiniana division, and after passing the librarians' examination on  September 7, 1911, he was designated chief of the division. On June 12, 1915, he was named acting chief of the Philippine Library, and  in 1921, designated as acting director. The collection of Philippine  books in the library increased from 829 volumes in December, 1907  to 20,744 volumes in December 1914 when he completed the first  half of his term.

 

Artigas was a member of the: Real Sociedad Economica de Amigos del Pais, during the Spanish regime of the Philippine Academy; of the Comite Organizador del Tercer Centenario de la Imprenta en Filipinas held on August I, 1909; of the Junta Oganizadora Ejecutiva de las Fiestad del Tercer Centenario de la Real y Pontifica Universidad de Santo Tomas; of the executive Board of Asociacion Historico-Geografica de Filipinas and of the Academia de la Lengua Filipina. In 1915, he was made an honorary corresponding member of the Real Sociedad Geografica de Madrid, and in 1916 the same honor was accorded him by the Real Academia de la Historia, and the Academia Hispano-A mericana de Cadiz.

 

After a lingering illness, Artigas died of heart disease in Manila on

April 2, 1925. He was survived by his wife Luisa Losada y Mijares by whom he had 12 children. He left his family nothing but his books. Since he had to publish them himself, little was left of the family's resources. Thus his wife had to go into dressmaking to support herself and her children: Artigas may have died poor, but his works constitute a valuable inheritance.

 

 

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