Trinidad Pardo de Tavera

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Trinidad Hermenegildo Padro de Tavera y Gorricho (b. April 13, 1857- d. March 25, 1925) was a physician, member of the Philippine Commission, and founder of the Federal Party. He was also a consummate scholar, as well as a bibliophile and bibliographer. Pardo de Tavera was considered a man of vast learning and probably the most versatile of the Filipino writers of his time (except for Rizal). He wrote on many subjects, from medicine to paleography, linguistics, numismatics, cartography, history, metrical romances, education, and social problems.

Early Life

Pardo de Tavera's family came from the urban aristocracy of the time and his family's creole status entitled them to reside in Intramuros. His father was Felix Pardo de Tavera, Sr., a distinguished lawyer and member of the Ayuntamiento of Manila, and his mother was Juliana Gorricho, founder of one of the first banks in the Philippines and a member of the prominent real estate family that owned the Escolta. His brother was Felix Pardo de Tavera, Jr., who became a renowned physician and sculptor and his sister was the renowned beauty Paz Pardo de Tavera, married to painter Juan Luna and fondly called Chiching. Trinidad Pardo de Tavera studied at the country's leading schools, attending the Ateneo Municipal, the Colegio de San Juan de Letran where he obtained his Bachiller en Artes in 1873.

Don Joaquin Pardo de Tavera, his uncle, a Spanish lieutenant married to Gertrudis Gorricho and the young Trinidad Hermenegildo became so close that his uncle treated him as his own son. Because of his uncle, "Trini" as he was fondly called, was exposed to liberal ideas and beliefs. These ideas and beliefs would have a great impact on the career and profession Trinidad would take.

Because of his stubborn clamor for reforms in the colony, Don Joaquin Pardo de Tavera was wrongly implicated in the 1872 Cavite Mutiny. Together with Maximo Paterno, Antonio Ma. Regidor and others, they were deported to Agana, Guam in April 1872. Since he was a Pardo de Tavera, Trini had difficulty adjusting after the conviction of his uncle. Family friends started to stay away from the Pardo de Taveras for fear of antagonizing the friars and Spanish civil authorities. Young Trinidad endured the ostracism while taking up medical studies at the University of Santo Tomas.

Migration to Paris

After three years in Guam, Don Joaquin and other deportados received a pardon from Spain. Deciding that they have no future in returning to the Philippines. Don Juaquin and his wife decided to migrate to Paris start a new life. After they have settled, Don Joaquin arranged to have Trinidad, his brother Felix and their youngest sister Paz migrate to Paris. Trinidad was only eighteen years old when he left Manila for Paris. The Pardo de Tavera settled in Rue Pergolese.

Don Joaquin's Parisian house became the venue to a number of Filipino ilustrado like Jose Rizal, Juan Luna, Graciano Lopez Jaena, Pedro Paterno, Maximino Paterno, Valentin Ventura, Mariano Ponce, Felix Resurrección Hidalgo, and others. Trinidad Pardo de Tavera frequently participated in spirited discussion about freedom, liberty, and reforms with South American and Filipino expatriates.

It was in this Parisian salon that Paz Pardo de Tavera, youngest sister of Trinidad Hermenegildo, would met and later marry the famous painter, Juan Luna. On December 7, 1886, at the Civil Court in Paris, Juan Luna and Paz Pardo de Tavera were married.

Education and Career

He held a Doctor of Medicine degree from the Sorbonne and a diploma in Malay language from the Ecole Nationale des Langues Orientales Vivantes. He published books on subjects such as medicine and linguistics which were translated into German by Dr. Ferdinand Blumentritt.

Trinidad was also a member of the Societe Academique IndoChinoise in Paris while in 1889, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce named him as its delegate to represent the colony at the Universal Exposition in Paris. He was given responsibility of organizing and cataloging the country's exhibit. He was also a member of the Royal Academy of Languages of Madrid and the Royal Academy of Science. He was also conferred by the University of the Philippines the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.


By virtue of a royal commission in 1887 to study Philippine medicinal plants, he returned to Manila. In Manila he met Concha Cembrano y Gonzalez-Calderon, the grand daughter of his mother's friend, Doña Carmen Barredo. He immediately fell in love with the rich heiress and they were married in Manila in 1887.

For the next two years, he solely devoted his time and energy to his wife. He did not write any books or had a public life. Trinidad and Concha had three children, Carlos, Alfredo and Carmen.

A Family Tragedy

Paz marriage to Juan Luna has become problematic when Luna in a fit of jealousy or anger would physically harm Paz. Juan Luna also frequently accused Paz of having other men. He falsely suspected that a certain Monsieur Dussaq had an amorous relations with Paz and threatened that he would kill Paz if he ever caught her with another man.

Trinidad Hermenegildo, her brother Felix and their mother Doña Julian combined all their efforts in preserving the marriage but due to the increased physical abuse suffered by Paz, they decided that divorce was the only choice left.

In September 21, Doña Julian frantically telegraphed Trinidad Hermenegildo and Felix to immediately come to Paris to save their sister. The two brothers together with Antonio Regidor went to the house of Juan and Paz. Upon seeing Antonio Regidor and explaining that they have come to dicuss the terms of separation, Juan Luna was became angry and went upstairs alone. To defuse the situation, the two brothers together with Antonio went to a nearby cafe but before they were served, the maid came running and told that something terrible was going to happen.

Upon arriving at the house, Luna was now brandishing a revolver in the first floor while Paz, her daughter and Doña Julian are in a room in the second floor. When Trinidad, Felix and Antonio started to approach the house, Luna fired a shot that hit Felix in the chest. Then before Trinidad could rush to the house, he heard three shots. When Trinidad entered the second floor room, he found his mother and sister shot in the head, his mother dead and his sister barely alive but unconscious. Paz died on October 8 at 6:15 pm without regaining consciousness.

Luna then handed his revolver to the maid and was promptly arrested by the police. Charges were filed against Juan Luna and in February 8, 1893, the court released the following decisions:

  • Juan Luna is not guilty and that he is acquitted in any charges brought against him.
  • Juan Luna was ordered to pay a one franc fine
  • Juan Luna must pay Trinidad Pardo de Tavera and Felix Pardo de Tavera the sum of one thousand six hundred fifty-one francs and eighty-three cents, plus twenty-five francs for postage in addition to the interest of damages.

After his acquittal,Juan Luna, his son Andres Luna and her brother Antonio left Paris and went to Madrid.

Return to Manila

To escape the bitter memories of Paris, Trinidad and his brother together with their families left France. Felix and Doña Agustina Manigot settled in Buenos Aires while T.H. and his wife together with their sons, Carlos and Alfredo settled in Manila. In Manila, he joined the faculty of Medicine of the University of Santo Tomas and other governmental advisory boards.

When the 1896 Philippine Revolution broke out, T.H. Pardo de Tavera was spared from the similar fate shared by his uncle during the 1872 Cavite Mutiny. Unlike his uncle, his liberal ideas were not amalgamated to his official and scholarly work. His writings maintained a scholarly and intellectual discussion free of any liberal or reformist agendas or ideas. When fighting between Filipinos and Spanish forces broke out, he was commissioned as a major but he resigned from the army in April 1897. When the Americans declared war against Spain, Pardo de Tavera was one of the leading citizens in an consultative assembly seeking an alliance with the Filipinos against the Americans.

The American Period

In 1899, he launched the newspaper entitled La Democracia that advocated peace, the separation of the church and state, granting of autonomy to the Philippines and representation to US Congress and the eventual admission of the Philippines to the United States Union.

On 23 December 1900 he established the Federal Party and its adherents were called Federalista. He was joined by Jose Ner, Felipe Buencamino, Arturo Dancl, Angel Fabie, Teodoro Yangco, Florentino Torres and Cayetano Arellano. It was the first political organization to be recognized by the new colonizers. Pardo de Tavera at first enjoyed enormous prestige with the Americans. However one of the planks of the Federal Party was the immediate Americanization of Filipinos, which led to a very unpopular reception with the Filipino masses. Nevertheless 1 September 1901, Pardo de Tavera along with 2 Filipinos, Benito Legarda and Jose Luzuriaga were appointed to the First Philippine Commission, who won the confidence of Dean Conant Worcester, the most influential of the Commission members.

However Trinidad Pardo de Tavera's reputation greatly declined the more he advocated the amalgamation of the Philippines into the American federal government. He was the object of bitter criticism of the Nacionalista Party which advocated eventual Philippine independence. Gradually the party backed away from annexation in June 1904 upon seeing massive popular opposition. In anticipation of the elections of the first Philippine Assembly, the Federal Party changed its name to Partido Nacional Progresista. Hwever bereft of popular support, it was only able to win 16 seats, versus 32 seats for the Nacionalista Party and 20 seats for independent candidates. Repudiated by the electorate, Pardo de Tavera sensed that his time of public service was over. He resigned his membership in the Philippine Commission on 28 February 1909, and the Federal Party, according to his latter-day biographer E. Arsenio Manuel "virtually ceased to exist as a political organism."

In January 1923, he was appointed as director of the Philippine Library and Museum. Also during that year, he formed the Philippine Library Association and became its first president.

After serving in various government positions, Trinidad Hermenegildo Pardo de Tavera died in his sleep on March 25, 1925.

Books and Publications

In 1884, his "Medicine a l'Ile de Lucon (Archipel des Philippines)" published in the Parisian Journal de Medicine.

His linguistic articles include:

  • Antiguos alfabetos filipinos
  • El sáncrito en la lengua tagalog
  • La nueva ortografia de la lengua tagalog: la K y la W
  • Consideraciones sobre el origen de los nombres de los números
  • Etimología de los nombres de las razas

His articles, especially Contribucion para el estudio de los Antigous alfabetos filipinos caused a stir among linguists and Filipino nationalists in Europe. Aside from these, he published Biblioteca filipina which many considered as a landmark book in Philippine bibliography.

T.H. also edited, annotated and published Fr. Juan Plasencia's study of the Tagalog society and a map of the Philippines drawn by Fr. Pedro Murillo Velarde. He also expanded his knowledge by studying the Tagalog language and developing theories along the line of approach now know as gluttochronology . In 1892 and 1893, he published a book on Philippine medicinal plants, printing, and printmaking in the Philippines. In 1895, he made a booklet on basic health and popular medicine.

His granddaughter Mita Pardo de Tavera donated all his papers to the Rizal Library of Ateneo de Manila University. They are now housed in Pardo de Tavera Special Collections Archives.

In September 2005 Dr. Serafin D. Quiason, former chair of the National Historical Institute and former director of the National Library, delivered a lecture on "Pardo de Tavera: A Character Sketch and His Legacy to Philippine Scholarship and Librarianship."


Nick Joaquin wrote in "A Question of Heroes" that after the defeat of the Spanish colonial government Pardo de Tavera became a virulent advocate of everything American. Joaquin described him as " a man who came to loathe both the Malay and the Spaniard in himself so intensely he became the first of the sajonistas (Anglo-Saxonists) and, as a member of the Philippine Commission of the 1900s, fought for the implantation of English in the Philippines, in a virulent desire to uproot all traces of Spanish culture from the islands. For good or evil, Trinidad Pardo de Tavera, whom we hardly remember, was one of the deciders of our fate."

(“un hombre que llegó a odiar tan intensamente lo que tenía de malayo y de español que se convirtió en el primero de los 'sajonistas' y, como miembro de la Comisión Filipina en los primeros años del siglo XX, luchó por la implantación del inglés en Filipinas con un deseo virulento de erradicar toda traza de cultura hispana de las islas. Para bien o para mal, Trinidad Pardo de Tavera, a quien a penas se le recuerda, fue uno de los determinantes de nuestro destino.”) (Jose Rizal: July 19, 1861-December 30, 1896 in A Question of Heroes, Makati: Museo Ayala, 1977)

Cultural historian Resil Mojares wrote in "Brains of the Nation": "He was the turn of the 20th century, the country's most eminent man of science, the most ardent apostle of modernity. While Pardo's statue is ritually conceded, he is, by and large, unread and unstudied. Even in his own time, he was a figure rather distant and cold. He remains so to Filipinos today."

The eminent nationalist historian Teodoro Agoncillo simply remarked that "Pardo de Tavera should have been shot for his betrayal of the Revolution".


  • Resil Mojares, "Brains of the Nation". Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2006.
  • Nick Joaquin, "A Question of Heroes". Makati: Ayala Museum, 1977
  • Alfred McCoy, "Anarchy of Families". Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1994
  • Quirino, Carlos. Who's Who in Philippine History. Manila: Tahanan Books, 1995.
  • E. Arsenio Manuel. Dictionary of Philippine Biography, vol. 1, pp. 317-350. Quezon City: Filipiniana Publications, 1955.

External Links

  • Biblioteca filipina Biblioteca filipina of T.H. Pardo de Tavera integrated with the James Robertson's Bibliography of the Philippine Islands and Aparato bibliografico de la historia general de filipinas Tomo II of Wenceslao Retana. An online publication by Accessed 5 September 2009



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