Graciano Lopez Jaena
Lopez Jaena was born in Jaro, Iloilo on 18 December 1856 to Placido López and Maria Jacoba Jaena. Although his parents were poor, they were able to enroll him at the Colegio Provincial and later at the Seminario de San Vicente Ferrer to study Theology.
However, he did not want to become a priest, but a physician instead. His relative Claudio Lopez supported him financially so we was able to go to Manila to enroll at the University of Santo Tomas School of Medicine. Unfortunately, he was not accepted because he lacked the required preparatory course. He was advised to apply at the San Juan de Dios Hospital for apprenticeship. However, due to financial problems, he failed to finish the apprenticeship and returned to Iloilo after two years.
His short medical training was valued by the poor people in his town. While providing them medical service, he realized the miserable condition of Filipinos under the Spanish rule. He encouraged them to fight for freedom and equality. He distributed his satire "Fray Butod," which he wrote while he was in the seminary, to expose how Spanish friars were greedy, lazy, cruel, and lustful. This angered the Spanish friars as they knew the story was about them.
Lopez Jaena went to Negros Occidental then to Spain to evade arrest. He studied Medicine at the University of Valencia but did not finish the course. When Jose Rizal reproached him for not finishing his medical studies, Lopez Jaena 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."
He then moved to the field of journalism. He became popular because of his speeches and writings defending the Filipinos. He also wrote articles for different newspapers. In 1889, Lopez Jaena, Rizal, and Marcelo H. del Pilar launched the propaganda newspaper La Solidaridad, in which he was editor. His family sent him pensions to support him. However, they were threatened by Spanish authorities in the Philippines, so Lopez Jaena had to live in poverty in Spain.
In 1891, he returned to the Philippines under the name Diego Laura. His goal was to gain support from more Filipinos. When the Spaniards became aware of his presence, Filipino patriots smuggled him to a boat to Hong Kong, then he went back to Spain. There, he founded the newspaper El Latigo Nacional.
López Jaena died of tuberculosis on 20 January 1896.
- Lopez Jaena, Graciano. Fray Botod: A sketch. Translated and annotated by Encarnacion Alzona. Manila: National Historical Institute, 1994. pp. 195-219.
- Agoncillo, Teodoro. 1990. History of the Filipino People, 8th ed. Quezon City: Garotech.
- National Historical Commission of the Philippines. 2015. Graciano Lopez y Jaena (1856-1896). Accessed 19 April 2021. https://nhcp.gov.ph/resource/filipinos-in-history/martyrs/.
- Zaide, Gregorio. 1970. Great Filipinos in History. Manila: Verde.