Juan Crisostomo Soto

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Juan Crisóstomo Soto
27 January 1867 – 12 July 1918
Place of birth: Santa Inés, Bacolor, Pampanga
Place of death: Pampanga
Father: Santiago Soto
Mother: Marciana Caballa
First Spouse: Julia Amaida
Second Spouse: Rosario Palma

Juan Crisóstomo Caballa Soto (27 January 1867 – 12 July 1918) was a Filipino poet, dramatist, journalist and newspaperman. He was also known as Crissot, the “Father of Pampango Literature.”

Early life and education

Soto was born in Santa Inés, Bacolor, Pampanga to Santiago Soto and Marciana Caballa. His father was from a middle-class family and owned rice fields while his mother was a seamstress. He had two younger siblings. His father worked as a clerk in the town tribunal and eventually became Bacolor’s alguacil mayor (head peace officer).

At first, Soto was taught by private teachers Cirilo Hernández and a certain Ciano Sampaña. Later on, he enrolled in the school of Agapito Layog. At the age of 14, however, he was sent to San Fernando to attend the school of Vicente Quirino.

After graduating, Soto enrolled in the Colegio de San Juan de Letrán and studied philosophy, Latin and theology. However, his passion for poetry and theatrical plays prohibited him from finishing with a degree. He went back to Bacolor before the school year was over and wrote a Pampango version of the Shakespeare play, Romeo and Juliet. His version was entitled “Ing Pamaquisawa ning Mete” (“The Marriage of the Dead”).


Soto’s first attempt in producing a play failed. Yet, he did not go back to college as he fell in love with the girl who played Juliet in his play. His father did not approve of the relationship and instead he was wed to Julia Almaida in 1891. His next works were all Pampango adaptations from Spanish plays, namely: Ing Marino, Ding Mipalsinta Teruel, Fausto and I Neron Ampon Ding Gladiadores.

Soto was obliged to work as a clerk and later on, as assistant warden of the provincial prison to make ends meet. He was promoted warden after the former warden had been killed when the prisoners revolted. He held this position until the first months of the Revolution in 1896.

As Revolutionary

It was Francisco Makabulos that introduced Soto to the Katipunan. Once in the organization, the poet worked with Maximino Hizón in building the organization’s chapter in Pampanga. Later on, he enlisted himself as a volunteer in the Spanish government’s forces to be able to score arms and ammunitions for the revolutionary movement. When the Spanish government learned about his secret mission and his safety was compromised, he left his chapter and joined the Katipunero force organized by Tomas Mascardo.

Soto was active during the second stage of the Revolution and was shot twice in action, first in Porac then in Floridablanca. He was promoted to captain for his heroic work. Meanwhile, he contributed his writing skills to the revolutionary paper La Independencia when the said periodical was set up in San Fernando. He joined the guerilla forces at the time the Americans finally took over Pampanga but he was captured by American soldiers while visiting some relatives in Bacolor and was imprisoned in a convent in Guagua. It was during his imprisonment that he wrote Sigalut.

After being released from prison, Soto continued to write plays while also writing for the periodicals El Liberal and La Publicidad. The playwright helped Luther Parker in writing An English-Spanish-Pampango Dictionary together with Modesto Joaquin. In 1906, he edited the Pampango publication Ing Imangabiran, where his only novel, Lidia, appeared serially. The said serial was published in book form but all of its copies were burned. The wealthy woman who bought all of the copies was believed to be the same woman being referred to in the novel.

After Ing Imangabiran’s publication ended, he found himself editing the paper Ing Balen. Later on, he became editor of Ing Alipatpat, the publication he founded together with Pascual Gozún and Félix Galura. The paper’s first issue appeared on 3 November 1917. It was in this publication that his Pampango translation of José Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere appeared. However, the playwright died a year later, so the paper ceased publishing, leaving the translated work unfinished.

Soto used the pen names Crissot, Rubí, Natis Balén, Lacan Batbat, Vitaliano in his verses and Julio Septiembre in his articles.

List of literary works

Most of Soto’s works have remained unpublished and most of those that were preserved were written during the American period.

  • Ing Pamaquisana ning Mete
  • Ing Marino
  • Ding Mipalsinta Teruel
  • Fausto
  • I Neron ampon ding Gladiadores
  • Sigalut
  • Balayan at Sinta
  • Delia
  • Ing Tulisan
  • Alaya
  • Rizal qng Capilla
  • Ing Panim nang D. Roque
  • Metum azerla qng Burac
  • Julio Agoo
  • Cabucas ing Culungan ding Mamulang
  • Ing Paniurang Sitang
  • Aduang Uma
  • Putu at Panara
  • Cacutud a Buac
  • Ding Amazonas
  • No. 10,000
  • Pelas, Zafiro, Rubi
  • Alang Matatag qng Mayuyut
  • Ing Apu ning Maclac
  • Ing Culasisi nang Gari
  • Ding Atlung P.P.P.
  • Ing Sultana
  • Alang Dios
  • Angelita
  • Azucena
  • Ing Mestiza
  • Ing Violetang Lili
  • Ing Loro ning Gobernadora
  • Ing Dalaga
  • Ing Colegiala
  • Fe, Esperanza, Caridad
  • Ding Atlung Pagas
  • Inmorteli
  • Qng Labi na ning Talaga
  • Puti’t Pula
  • Ing Sundang ning Maluca
  • Kiki-riki
  • Ing Pitaca nang D. Blas
  • Ing Singsing a Bacal
  • Ing Anac ning Katipunan
  • D. Pascual Conting Terac
  • Ing Caviteña
  • Nanutang Male Cu
  • Ing Chateau Margaux
  • Lidia – a novel
  • Mimilagro tin angina unay a Ladawan ni Ntra. Sra. De Lourdes – religious writing

Family and personal life

Soto married twice. By his first wife Julia Amaida, who died in 1903, he had six children. He remarried on 24 January 1910, this time to Rosario Palma, with whom he had four children.

Soto’s maternal grandfather, Sixto Caballa, was also a local poet who participated in poetical debates known as karagatan. The debate is now called Crissotan in Soto's honor.


  • Manuel, E. Arsenio. Dictionary of Philippine Biography, Volume 1. Quezón City: Filipiniana Publications, 1955.
  • “Central Luzón and NCR: Juan Crisóstomo Soto.” Unsung Heroes of the Philippines Revolution - MSC Communications Technologies, Inc.. (Accessed 8 June 2010).



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