Iloilo City pays tribute to Graciano Lopez Jaena


By Mariela Angella Oldave

Iloilo City is commemorating today the 167th birth anniversary of one of its most illustrious sons, Graciano Lopez Jaena, a key figure in the Philippine revolution against Spanish rule.

The city’s celebration, guided by Proclamation 52 series of 1986, designates December 18 of each year as Graciano Lopez Jaena Day, marking this day as an official public holiday in both the City and Province of Iloilo.

Under the theme “Honoring the Most Noble Son of Iloilo City,” a simple ceremony will be held this morning at the Graciano Lopez Jaena Shrine in Jaro Plaza.

Dr. Randy Madrid, a professor from the University of the Philippines Visayas, will be the guest speaker.

Special Assistant to the Mayor Mathilde Trenas said in an interview three days before the celebration that the event will include the usual flag-raising ceremony, wreath-laying activity, and a solemn volley fire and taps, with the participation of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

She highlighted the importance of celebrating this day annually, stating, “Graciano Lopez Jaena is an Ilonggo who brought honor to Iloilo, that is why we are celebrating it [his birth anniversary] every year.”

Born on December 18, 1856, in Jaro to Placido Lopez and Maria Jacoba Jaena, Lopez-Jaena played a pivotal role in challenging Spanish rule alongside Dr. Jose Rizal and Marcelo H. del Pilar.

His satirical work, “Fray Botod,” which portrayed a fat and lecherous priest, drew the ire of the friars, leading him to depart for Spain in 1879.

In Spain, Lopez-Jaena founded and edited “La Solidaridad,” a newspaper aimed at galvanizing Filipinos to demand independence. His passionate and nationalistic speeches garnered attention and connected him with like-minded compatriots, including Rizal and del Pilar.

His tireless efforts for freedom were embodied in a speech before Spanish officials in Madrid on April 27, 1883, where he personally conveyed his demand for Philippine independence.

On January 20, 1896, Lopez Jaena succumbed to tuberculosis and died at the young age of 39.

As Ilonggos celebrate his legacy today, the enduring resonance of Lopez-Jaena’s commitment to truth takes on renewed significance, especially in the face of modern challenges posed by rampant misinformation and disinformation in the current climate. The event serves as a reminder of the continued importance of upholding the principles for which he so passionately fought for.