Epifanio de los Santos

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Epifanio de los Santos y Cristobal (7 April 1871— 18 April 1928) also known as Don Panyong, is a celebrated Filipino historian, scholar, musician, critic and legal counselor. He is considered to be the best critic and writer of the Golden Age of Literature of the Philippines.[Footnote this, please.] His biggest contribution was putting together a Filipiniana collection by gathering and interpreting Filipino literature.

The main thoroughfare in Metro Manila (which is also the location of choice of many Filipino revolutions, known as ”People Power”) is named after him.

Early Life

De los Santos was born on 7 April 1871 in Malabon, Rizal to Don Escolastico de los Santos and Doña Antonina Cristobal. His parents, a famous haciendero and an educated musician, respectively, made it possible for him to receive a good education. By the age of seven, he was receiving private instruction with Sr. Jose A. Flores in Manila. He had, from childhood, shown great interest in literature.


De los Santos attended Ateneo de Manila University, a school where his father was an alumnus. On 16 March, he received his degree in Bachelor of Arts with the honor of summa cum laude. He later pursued a career in law by enrolling in the Santo Tomas Law School in 1891. He obtained his license in 1898.

1898 Revolution

When war broke out, De los Santos and Jose Zulueta established the patriotic newspaper called La Libertad. The publication, however, was censored and eventually shut down by the government to eliminate large revolutionary activities. La Libertad was then revived in another revolutionary publication, La Independencia, headed by Antonio Luna. The paper hid the identities of their contributors to avoid the government's eye. De los Santos chose the pseudonym, “G. Solon”.

Other interests

Aside from being a contributing member of the Philippines' most well-known patriotic paper, De los Santos was also known to be a gifted musician, an excellent pianist and guitarist. He was also named one of the three outstanding guitarists of the Philippines, the two being Fernando Canon, another revolutionary hero, and Guillermo Tolentino, a sculptor. AS he had a background in the arts, he studied music and painting in his spare time.

De los Santos is also said to be one of the best prose writers in the Philippines, rivaled only by Marcelo H. del Pilar. His unique style made him the first Filipino to join the Royal Academy of Madrid.

Notably, he was also one of the Filipinos who successfully traced and distinguished the etymology of the Filipino language. His analysis of Tagalog and other dialects, such as Tingian, Ibilao, and Ita, also made him a multilingual philologist, rivaled only by the best known polyglot of the Philippines, Jose Rizal.

Life as a Governor

In the early 1900's, De los Santos was appointed as the district attorney of San Isidro, Nueva Ecija which was his father's hometown. He was later elected as the governor of Nueva Ecija in 1902 and was re-commissioned in 1904. He also represented the Philippines at the St. Louis Exposition.

He was later appointed as the prosecuting attorney (or fiscal) for the provinces of Bulacan and Bataan on 30 March 1906 and was re-appointed on 1 October 1907. He became the assistant director of the Philippine Census in 1918 when Governor-General Francis Burton Harrison appointed him to the said position.

Establishing the Filipiniana Collection

Throughout his life, De los Santos was an avid collector of Philippine art. As he toured Europe, he spent his time visiting museums and libraries. He later made copies of his findings, and interpreted and published them His fascination for Filipino arts and letters would later spur him to amass rare manuscripts and records, historical documents, and other relics that eventually turned his home into an art gallery of sorts. After his death, the government bought his collection, which heavily contributed to the formation of the National Library's Filipiniana section.

Later Life and Death

Because of his contributions to Philippine literature, De los Santos was made the director of the Philippine Library and Museum on 16 May 1925. He died in office on 18 April 1928, due to a stroke. He was 57.


De los Santos was a literary genius and accomplished collector of Filipiniana. On his death, he was mourned by the Filipinos as well as many Hispanic scholars across Europe, and the government wasted no time in acquiring his famed collection for display. In commemoration of his valued position as the head of the Philippine Library and Museum, all the directors after him were, by tradition, men of erudition.

Epifanio de los Santos Avenue

On 7 April 1959, Highway 54 in the province of Rizal was named Epifanio de los Santos Avenue after the famous librarian, in accordance with Republic Act No. 2140.

Epifanio de los Santos Day

There has been a growing movement in Filipino blogs to celebrate Epifanio de los Santos Day every 7th of April. On this day, people commemorate De los Santos by telling stories about him and his experiences.


  • “All of us here are servants of the reading public. I am the head of the servants and I must show that I know better than any of the servants where the materials are found. I want to show that our service here is efficient and that we are really working to serve.”


  • "Epifanio de los Santos.” [1] (Accessed on 22 June 2010).
  • "Epifanio de los Santos." Filipino Famous Artists. [2] (Accessed on 22 June 2010).
  • "Epifanio de los Santos Avenue." Filipino Librarian. [3] (Accessed on 22 June 2010).
  • Epifanio de los Santos Day." Filipino Librarian. [4] (Accessed on 22 June 2010).
  • "Eulogy: Epifanio de los Santos.” [5] (Accessed on 22 June 2010).
  • "Literature: Prose Writing." VisitPhilippines.org. [6] (Accessed on 22 June 2010).
  • "The Philippine revolutionary press, 1896-1900." Filipino Kastila. [7] (Accessed on 22 June 2010).



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