Pedro Serrano Laktaw

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Pedro Serrano Lawtaw (24 October 1853-22 September 1928) was a 19th-century reformist, Mason, and renowned lexicographer and educator. He is also known as the only Filipino tutor in the service of a Spanish king.

Early Life

Pedro Serrano Laktaw was born on 24 October 1853 in Kupang, Bulacan. His father was the lexicographer Rosalio Serrana, and his mother was Juana Laktaw, who from early on fostered a love of language and literature on their sixth child.

Pedro Serrano Laktaw obtained his degree of "maestro elemental" at the Escuela Normal Superior de Maestros in Manila and began his teaching career in 1877 in San Luis, Pampanga. It was in Pampanga that he studied the local literature and folk traditions. His study entitled "Folklore Pampango" was included by Isabelo de los Reyes in the landmark book "El Folk-lore Filipino" and exhibited at the Exposicion Filipina held in Madrid in 1887.

Involvement in the Propaganda Movement

Moving back to his home provice of Bulacan, he became a director of a Malolos school. It was at this time that he joined activiely in civic causes. Together with Marcelo H. Del Pilar, Mariano Crisostomo, Jose Gatmaitan, Mariano Ponce, he formed a benevolent association called Caja de Jesus, Maria y Jose to give scholarships to indigent children. Together with Ambrosio R. Bautista, Deodato Arellano, Marcelo H. del Pilar and Doroteo Cortes, he helped form a Comite de Propaganda to extol democratic principles and expose friar abuses.

Pedro Serrano Laktaw also co-authored with Rafael Enriquez and Marcelo H. del Pilar other satirical works, such as Dasalan at Toksohan, and Pasion dapat ipag-alab ng Puso ng taong babasa. This group continued to finance the publication of La Solidaridad, even when Marcelo H. del Pilar left Manila for Barcelona to escape arrest.

In 1887 he was awarded a government scholarship to study at the Escuela Normal of Salamanca, Spain. He took up postgraduate studies at the Escuela Normal in Madrid. He achieved renown as a teacher and was hired as a private tutor to the Prince of Asturias, who later became King Alfonso XIII. He was acclaimed as the only Filipino tutor in the service of a Spanish king.

In 1889 he compiled the first modern lexicography of the Tagalog language Diccionario Hispano-Tagalog to much notice. He issued the follow-up volume "Diccionario Tagalog-Hispano" in 1914.

Masonic Activities

He was attracted by the ideals of fraternity and enlightenment and he was recruited into Freemasonry, joining on 1 April 1889 the Lodge Revolucion in Barcelona, Spain with Graciano Lopez Jaena, Jose Rizal, Mariano Ponce, Marcelo H. Del Pilar, Jose Alejandrino, Antonio Luna and Juan Luna. This lodge was later renamed to Solidaridad No. 5. The Masonic grandmaster Miguel Morayta of the Spanish Gran Oriente Español designated Pedro Serrano Laktaw and Antonio Luna to establish Freemasonry in the Philippines. Returning to Manila in 1890 he helped found other Masonic lodges throughout the country. Working with an early Masonic recruit Moises Salvador and Jose A. Ramos, who was based in London, he established the first all-Filipino lodge called Nilad, which became the motherhouse of all lodges. It was officially recognized by the Gran Oriente Español the following year, with Jose A. Ramos designated as head and Serrano as its first secretary. His Masonic name was Panday Pira, a legendary cannon maker of the 16th century.

In Manila he was arrested for his masonic proselytizing and later released by Governor-General Ramon Blanco y Erenas. For having renounced the Masonic movement, he was expelled from the organization on 16 April 1893. Thereafter he wrote for España Oriental and Revista Catolica de Filipinas. In the second half of the Philippine Revolution he resumed his propagandistic career, writing articles for El Heraldo de la Revolucion. He continued writing nationalistic articles under the American regime, for other organs such as Ang Bayan, Ang Kapatid ng Bayan and Kalayaan.

He cemented his reputation as a lexicographer and grammarian when he pulished Diccionario Tagalog-Hispano in 1914. Together with his earlier volume Diccionario Hispano-Tagalog, the two books were described as the only lexicographical studies of scientific value by an American linguist Leonard Bloomfield. His Estudios Gramaticales Sobre la Lenga Tagalog was published posthumously published in 1929 and today he is remembered as one of the spelling reformers of the Tagalog language, along with Jose Rizal and Trinidad Pardo de Tavera.

Pedro Serrano Laktaw married Roberta Buison in 1887 by whom had 13 children, including Rosalio, Jr., Pedro, Isidro, Jose, Manuel, Consuelo, Balbino, Hermenegildo, Pedring, Teresa, Patricio. He died on 22 September 1928 and was buried in Mandaluyong, Rizal.


  • "Folklore Pampango" in Isabelo de los Reyes "El Folk-lore Filipino" vol, 2, 1889
  • "Ang Sikap Magulang" Dula, 6 yugto. Limbagan Santos y Bernal, 1908
  • "Diccionario Hispano Tagalog". Establecimiento Tipografia La Opinion. 1889
  • "Ang Kamatayang Kristiano ni Dr Rizal" ni Pio Pi. Tinagalog ni Pedro Serrano Laktaw. Manila Imprenta de El Mercantil, Dec 1909
  • "Los Dialectos Secretos en Filipinas," in "Cultura Filipina", vol. 1, no 6, Sept 1910
  • "Diccianario Tagalog-Hispano". Manila: Santos y Bernal, 1914.
  • Estudios Gramaticales Sobre la Lengua Tagalog." Imprenta de Juan Fajardo, Manila 1929.


  • CCP Encyclopedia Volume 7. Manila: Cultural Center of the Philippines, 1999.
  • Manuel, E. Arsenio. Dictionary of Philippine Biographies Volume 2. Quezon City: Filipiniana Publications, 1955.
  • Minutes of the Katipunan Meeting. Manila: National Historical Commission, 1978.
  • Hernandez, Viveca V. "Ang diksyunaryo at gramar ni Pedro Serrano Laktaw : isang pagsusuring panglinggwistika". Diliman, Quezon City: Cecilio Lopez Archive of the Philippine Languages and the Philippine Linguistics Circle, 1993
  • John N. Schumacher. "The Propaganda Movement, 1880-1895: the creation of a Filipino consciousness" Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press.



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