Pantaleon Lopez

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Pantaleon de los Santos Lopez (27 July 1872 – 22 September 1912) was a Tagalog actor, playwright, and musician who penned more than twenty zarzuelas in his lifetime. His most popular work is Inferio, a zarzuela in three acts.

Early life and education

Lopez was the youngest of the two children of Felix Lopez and Pia de los Santos. He was born on 27 July 1872 in Pandacan, which was then a separate town from Manila. His mother was a candle vendor while his father was a boatman on the Pasig River who died when Lopez was only twelve years old.

Felipe G. Calderon was a regular passenger of Lopez’s father and became his benefactor after his father died. Calderon sent him to school and supported his application to work in the store of businessman and propagandist Jose I.Ramos.


File:LopezPantaleon ApoApo.jpg
Pantaleon Lopez's only published work which he wrote in 1908.

Lopez started his career in the arts as a chorus singer in the Compañia Fernandez. The choirmaster doubted his ability and had to be bribed with one peso and fifty centavos a night to include Lopez in the group’s performance.

It was in 1898 that Lopez began to write and produce Tagalog dramas. His first play, Masamang Kaugalian, was staged on 31 January 1901 in Teatro Filipino. The music used in this three act play was composed by a certain Remigio of Pandacan. It was followed by Maling Pagsampalataya, a zarzuela in three acts about people's behavior with regard to superstitions.

In 1902, Lopez produced Ang Infierno which would later become the most popular among all his dramatic works. The music used in the first act was composed by Hipolito Rivera while Leon Ignacio composed the music for the remaining two acts. The play was staged for the first time in Teatro Libertad on 7 March 1903. Included in the cast was Tomasa Alvarez, Socorro Basilio and Florentino Ballecer.

In 1903, Lopez staged Rosa in Manila, other Tagalog provinces, and in the towns of Pampanga and Tarlac. The zarzuela in four acts was received warmly by patrons due to its husky humor and tragic ending.

His other works include:

  • Zarzuelang Tagalog (1903)
  • Tindang Tagalog (1906) – advocated protection and patronage of Filipino products
  • La Independencia (1906)
  • Bagong Infierno (1907) – rehashed version of Ang Infierno
  • Asamblea (1907) – in commemoration of the First Philippine Assembly
  • Delingkwente (1908)
  • Katubusan (1909) – for Katubusan cigars and cigarettes
  • La Perla (1909) – for La Perla biscuits and products
  • Ave de Rapiña or Ibong Manlulupig (1909) – a fantasy-musical zarzuela staged in Teatro Angel in Singalong, Manila. Lopez was brought to the Paco Police Station after staging the play, but was freed after interrogation.
  • Rizal en Capilla (1910) – a dramatization of Fr. Pio Pi’s La Muerte Cristiana del Doctor Rizal (1909)
  • Dancing School (1911)
  • Nena Pantoches (1912) – last play finished before his death
  • Sintang Pinucao – unfinished

Lopez wrote more than twenty plays in his lifetime. However, his only published work is Apo-Apo which he wrote in 1908. When he was not acting in his plays, he was the director.

Lopez formed his own theater company during his early years in the acting business. It was composed of actors Maxima Gonzales, Petrona Polintan, Jorge Poblete, Hermogenes Ilagan, the Peñas brothers Filomeno, Mateo, and Eulogio, Florentino Ballecer, Casiana de Leon, and Tomasa Alvarez.

Family and personal life

Besides acting, Lopez was an active singer in the San Ignacio Church choir in Intramuros for ten years. He was a tenor with a voice range comparable to that of Victorino Carreon and Nemesio Rata. He also played musical instruments such as the flute, the clarinet, and the violin.

Lopez met his wife Priscila Ignacio during his early years in theater as a corista (chorus player) and the two were married in 1893. They had ten children. His wife acted as takilyera (ticket seller) during the staging of his plays. Aside from the income from their stage productions, the couple supported themselves by operating a number of horse-drawn carriages.

Lopez died in 1912 from tuberculosis. Two of his works, Ibong Manlulupig and Nena Pantoches, were staged to help pay the family’s expenses incurred due to his illness.

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