Maximo S. Viola
Maximo Sison Viola (1857-1933) was a physician, municipal councilor, and a supporter of the Propaganda Movement. Maximo Viola was known as the man who saved for posterity and financed the printing of Jose Rizal's novel Noli Me Tangere.
Maximo Viola was born on October 17, 1857 in Barrio Sta. Rita, San Miguel, Bulacan. He was the only child of Isabel Sison from Malabon, Rizal and Pedro Viola from San Rafael, Bulacan.
Viola had his early education in San Miguel, Bulacan and completed a degree in Colegio de San Juan de Letran in Intramuros, Manila. He took his pre-medical studies at the University of Santo Tomas. In 1882, he sailed to Spain and studied Medicine at the University of Barcelona, where he met other Filipino students, notably Jose Rizal, with whom he developed a close friendship. In 1886, Viola obtained his doctoral degree in medicine from the University of Barcelona.
Viola was also supportive of other propagandists such as Marcelo H. del Pilar, whom he aided financially. He returned to Philippines in 1887 and lived a full life until he died on September 3, 1933.
Fellowship with Dr. Jose Rizal
March 1887, Viola played an important role in the life of Jose Rizal, he financed the publication of Rizal's first novel Noli Me Tangere, which original manuscript had already planned to be destroy by Rizal because of financial inability to pay its publication. Thus, the first 2,000 copies of the novel were printed. In deep gratitude, Rizal gave him the last galley proofs and the first published copy, “To my friend, Maximo Viola, the first to read and appreciate my work-Jose Rizal, March 29, 1887, Berlin.” - Rizal wrote.
On the same year, Viola and Rizal toured Germany, Austria, Hungary, and Switzerland where he personally met Ferdinand Blumentritt, one of Rizal’s foreigner friend and supporter. 1887, Dr. Viola returned to the Philippines and began his medical practice. In 1890, he married a native from San Miguel named Juana Roura, by whom he had five sons. However, two of them died in infancy.
June 1892, he had a reunion with Rizal in Manila and learned about his friend’s fate, with his association with Rizal he was included to the watch list by the Spanish authorities and the Spanish Guardia Civil subjected his home in Bulacan had to a thorough inspection.
In the peak of 1896 revolution, Viola went underground to escape the harassment of the Spanish authorities. He was also a Manila military prison and later in Olongapo during his imprisonment, he assist Dr. Fresnell, an American doctor who was unfamiliar with tropical diseases. Fresnell later helped him secure his freedom.
He was the president of Liga de Propietarios, who aided the owners of rice lands in San Miguel, Bulacan in opposing politicians who were courting the tenant’s votes at the expense of the landlords. When Manila Railroad line was being extended to Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija, Viola once again rallied the concerned landowners in preventing the prestigious British Company from taking over their land without appropriate reparations.
Dr. Maximo Viola treated his impecunious patients for free and often resorted to simple remedies so that they would not have to spend, he would disinfect common snakebites by using matchsticks instead of prescribing expensive solutions.
One of his hobby is designing and building furniture, in the 1920’s he proved his competence by winning awards for his furniture pieces displayed in several shows in Manila.
In the later years, Viola wrote memoirs of his friendship with Rizal, it came out in three parts in the Spanish newspaper El Ideal, in June to 20, 1913. The English version was done by A.R. Roces, one of the eminent writers and it was published in the Manila Times on the December 30 and 31, 1950 and January 1, 1951 issues.
On September 3, 1933, Dr. Viola, aged 76 died in Barrio San Jose in his hometown. Later, another house was constructed on the same lot where an heir of Pedro Viola lived.
In 1962, a marker in honor of Dr. Viola was installed in San Miguel, Bulacan.
- Almario, Virgilio S., et al. (1991). Filway's Philippine Almanac: Centennial Edition, Makati: Filway Marketing, Inc.
- Ancheta, Celedonio A. Jose Rizal's Life and His Complete Works. Diliman, Quezon City: National Bookstore, Inc., 1977
- Reyes, Raquel A.G. "Love, Passion and Patriotism: Sexuality and the Philippine Propaganda Movement, 1882-1892." Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2009.
- Zaide, Gregorio F. Jose Rizal: Life, Works and Writings. Reprint, Mandaluyong City: National Bookstore, Inc., 2005.