Monday, October 20, 2008


It was somewhere in Binondo where he was born on October 29, 1866. His father was a revenue inspector, his mother from a prominent family in Ilocos Norte. At the age of eight, he entered the Ateneo de Manila where he nurtured a great interest in literature and chemistry. In 1883, with highest honors, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree.

At the University of Santo Tomas, he endeavored in long hours of research. His paper, Dos Cuerpos Fundamentales De Quimica, was awarded first prize in a university competition. At the University of Barcelona, he earned the Licentiate in Pharmacy. He was conferred the Doctor of Pharmacy degree in 1890 at the Central University of Madrid.

While a student in Europe, he joined the Propaganda Movement and under the pen name Taga Ilog, he published editorials and articles which portrayed the evils of Spanish rule in Solidaridad. Supposedly, For a time in 1891, he single-handedly produced the issues of La Solidaridad.

In 1894, he was summoned back to Manila by his mother. He came home and worked as a professor and director of a laboratory in Manila. He didn't join the Kapitupunan; thinking it was premature to organize a revolution, but he was nonetheless arrested for complicity in the revolution mainly due to his advocated liberalism. After his release from prison, he left for Belgium where he studied military strategy under General Leman, a Belgian war hero.

In 1898 -- although the Filipinos still remember his traitorous acts against the revolution began by Bonifacio two years prior that drove the final nail in Rizal's coffin -- he joined Aguinaldo's forces to help the Americans banish the Spaniards from the archipelago when the United States declared war against Spain; hence, emerged General Antonio Luna.

Subsequently, Dewey's true interest for the Philippines became apparent; thus, barely a year after proclaiming their "independence," the Filipinos found themselves fiercely fighting the American forces -- superior to them in armaments and military training. At almost every encounter, the Filipinos lost, though on December 18, 1899, the Filipinos struck a single victory: General Licerio Geronimo defeated General Lawton in San Mateo.

Ultimately, it was General Antonio Luna's emotional immaturity that facilitated what could be the Filipinos' most shameful and tragic defeats.

He was so enraged by the unbecoming conduct of one of his subordinates, General Mascardo, that he left the battlefield taking with him his artillery including the cavalry and his men. This he did to teach Mascardo a lesson. But the lesson proved disastrous to the Filipinos.

General Gregorio del Pilar was almost alone in holding back the superior American forces. And without the much-needed artillery and men, the Americans overwhelmed the Filipino defenses. When General Luna returned from Guagua, Kalumpit had fallen to the hands of
General Arthur MacArthur and his men.

In the end, he was remembered as having said, "If they kill me, wrap me in a Filipino flag with all the clothes which I was dressed at the time and bury me in the ground ... I will die willingly for my country." Ironically, his death was not caused by the enemy but by his countrymen -- at the hands of Aguinaldo's henchmen, allegedly -- as what happened to Andres Bonifacio.

In Talking History: Conversations with Teodoro Agoncillo, when asked if General Antonio Luna ought to be hailed a hero, Agoncillo opined:

Luna was the leader of the revolution against Spain? Puñeta! Since when? Since when did Luna fight against the Spaniards? He never fought against the Spaniards. As a matter of fact, Luna was a traitor to the revolution of 1896. Luna not only did not join the revolution of 1896, he was a traitor! Nagturo yan a! Nagturo!!! As a matter of fact, I do not consider Luna a hero. How did he become a hero? He never won any battle, papaanong sasabihing hero yan?

* * *

Please note:
I very much appreciate my articles and photos appearing on fellow bloggers' sites, popular broadsheets, and local broadcast news segments, but I would appreciate even more a request for permission first.
Thank you!




Labels: ,

posted by Señor Enrique at 8:15 AM


Blogger BCS said...

VERY interesting, Señor Enrique... haven't read nor heard this much about Antonio... I have photographed his birthplace last month and I'm planning on posting an entry on it soon (after I run out of "Then and Now" materials). I'll surely include a link of this post of yours on it. :)

October 20, 2008 10:47 AM  

Blogger JayAshKal said...

"He was made a Master Mason in Spain and was among those who revived Lodge Solidaridad 53 in Madrid. He assisted Dr. Trinidad Pardo H. deTavera and Dr. Ariston Bautista in founding a “triangulo” in Paris under the auspices of Logia Solidaridad. He later commissioned Pedro Serrano Laktaw to secretly organize Masonic Lodges in the Philippines to strengthen the Propaganda Movement."

A very interesting post and comment by T Agoncillo, just wondering why he was:

"Arrested in the Philippines in 1896as a rebel, and together with his brother Juan Luna, he was banished to Spain during the tumultuous 1896 Revolution."

Nice post Eric, wondering what was that old building in the photo?

October 20, 2008 11:55 AM  

Blogger Dennis Villegas said...

Quite controversial, I'm just a little uneasy on Ambeth and Prof. Agoncillo, though...Well, everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion......nevertheless enlightening... enlightening...I still believe to this day that the greatest hero ofthe revolution was Apolinario Mabini...

October 20, 2008 1:30 PM  

Blogger ka tony said...

Hi Eric,

Thanks for your blog on the occasion of General Antonio Luna's birthday. A well respected general by the enemy, the Gringos. Mabini, Mascardo & Gregorio del Pilar violently decisive foe, but respected by them as the ablest general of the revolution.

Antonio Luna was one of the writers of the Pilipino propaganda paper La Solidaridad. Other writers were...

a) M.H. del Pilar (pen name - Plaridel)
b) J.Rizal (Laon Laan)
c) Mariano Ponce (Tigbalang)
d) Antonio Luna (Taga-Ilog)

Three writers were writing in Spanish, while M.H.del Pilar was writing in Tagalog, for del Pilar wanted to capture the Pilipino masses & sympathetic to arms struggle. Misunderstanding between del Pilar & Rizal, the latter stopped contributing to La Solidaridad, which compleated two years of existence. Luna, who was partial to Rizal, also quit. Undependable Lopez Jaena, who can't work without being payed & altered between collaboration with the Spaniards & indifference, latter also quit.

Luna was a well to do ilustrado, who had not joined the Revolution of the Masses in 1896. In fact he revealed to the Spaniards the existence of the Katipunan, besides Father Mariano Gil of Tondo. It was only in 1898, he joined Aquinaldo who appointed him Commander in Chief for Central Luzon.

Luna was more of a war strategist, together with his trusted good friend, Jose Torres Bugallon. The jelousy & rumors of the "Cavite Mafia" under Aquinaldo that Luna wanted to take over the presidency & planned coup d'etat, lead to Luna's murder. Assassination, planned by "El Presidente" & to be executed by Gregorio del Pilar, which didn't materialized because of timing & past heated incident between Luna & Buencamino. If you want to learn more about Gregorio del Pilar as "the hatchet man" please check...

Best regards Eric,
ka tony

October 20, 2008 1:43 PM  

Blogger Sidney said...

Of course I am even more interested when there is a link with Belgium.
I pretty amazed there are so many links between the Philippines and Belgium... Dr. Rizal in 1890, The San Sebastian Church in Quiapo, the many Belgian Sisters and Brothers and now Luna.

October 20, 2008 4:03 PM  

Blogger EM said...

Never thought about that controversy. It sure wasn't there during our history subjects in high school. But then again, history is not my best forte... i probably had my imaginings turned on during that discussion.

It's quite enlightening though. Should I tell my kids? hehe... they only know Jose Rizal.

October 20, 2008 8:06 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Oh, great, BCS! Let me know as well so I could link that post to this one. Many thanks!

October 21, 2008 8:38 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Hi Mario,

No doubt Antonio Luna was a man of high intellect; however, his emotional quotient was rather unimpressive.

From what I've read, the women he was courting while in Madrid liked Rizal instead, and this incensed Luna to no end; that in the end, other than reveling the existence of the Katipunan to the Spaniards, he was also guilty of bearing false witness against Rizal.

In the end, I wonder how the Masons regard him to this day.

The old building in the photo is part of Binondo Church.

October 21, 2008 8:43 AM  

Blogger nutart said...

this sure is an interesting post about Gen. Luna, eric! Thanks again!

As I recall from my history profesor, Luna was quite a professional soldier in his time. Of course, this earned him a lot of enemies. Gregorio del Pilar daw was just overrunned because of his lack of the knowledge of military strategy. The Tirad Pass was considered a wrong place to be in kaya maybe Gen Luna would have (to my understanding) been able to avoid this carnage if he was the leader of the soldiers. But then talagang with such a volatile temperament daw, he just couldn't make his colleagues understand the necessity of planning.

Interesting too that the Masonic movement has made history what it is. The US is just full of the Masonic movement! So has France to my recall!

October 21, 2008 8:45 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Another author who had pointed out Antonio Luna's foibles is Margarita Hamada in her book, "Swatting The Spanish Flies," Dennis. This, by the way, is another intriguing book that questions the hero-designation of a number of our illustrious personalities.

October 21, 2008 8:46 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

"A well respected general by the enemy, the Gringos."

Lol ... love that assessment, Ka Tony! The power of brevity as they say :)

Thank you for filling in the blanks and most especially for sharing with us the URL to your post that will cast more light on this subject matter.

Maraming salamat, Ka Tony!

October 21, 2008 8:50 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I wonder why there weren't many books by Belgian explorers, traders and military officers/observers on Philippine history, Sidney. I had just found two more by the French. There has got to be more Belgian-Filipino connection besides those that you've mentioned.

October 21, 2008 8:55 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Hi EM,

I've got a feeling that in due time your kids will have the interest in them to explore our history. When I was in high school, there were so much bout our history that were never brought up; thus, in my old age, I've become a student ... and enjoying it :)

October 21, 2008 8:57 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

"Interesting too that the Masonic movement has made history what it is. The US is just full of the Masonic movement! So has France to my recall!"

Fascinating, Bernadette. Thank you for sharing.

As for Luna, his high intelligence could have been a source of exasperation for him, too, when unable to convey his thoughts or opinions to those of less caliber, so to speak. But then again, there were reports of his use of cruel words that cut deep wounds.

But in the end, it was his betrayal of the revolution that makes him unpopular.

October 21, 2008 9:04 AM  

Blogger ka tony said...

Hi Eric & Bernadette,

"But in the end, it was his betrayal of the revolution that makes him unpopular."

Antonio Luna's betrayal of the 1896 revolution, which he rejected & denounced was because of his "creole status" in the class society, "creoles" loyalty was with Spain. Though he was arrested by the Spaniards for his involvement in the said revolution. Luna was incarcerated & tortured in the Model Prison in Madrid, Spain. Freed through the intercession of a Spanish government official.

While in Spain, he opened a school of fencing & pistol shooting "Sala de Armas" Luna was an excellent fencer & a sharpshooter. With his violent temper, he challenged anyone who he had arguments to a duel, offering the opponent weapon of his choice, this happened in a misunderstanding with Rizal. The news of the coming of the Americans in Manila Bay & their destruction of the Spanish fleet, brought Luna back to the Philippines.

As a chemist, Luna in 1898, was the Director of the Municipal Laboratory. His accomplishment was an analysis of the Sibul Springs sulfuric mineral water. With recommendation from Felipe Agoncillo, Luna presented himself to Aquinaldo, in July 1898 & was appointed brigadier-general.

Luna's "unpopularity" was his violent temper, for being a disciplinarian & his effort to destroy the "regional leadership" of the Cavite Mafia. Also Luna only associated with "elite creole" officers of the revolution, like; Torres Bugallon, Mayor, Sityar, Queri, Blardoni & Bedel, to name a few. Luna & Bugallon establish a military school & training camps for their soldiers. He also was thinking of converting into troops for the Republic its Spanish prisoners of war, for the sake of warfare & war strategies to fight the common enemy, the Gringos!!!

After General Antonio Luna's assassination, Apolinario Mabini told "El Presidente" Aquinaldo of his mortal enemy, "...Luna was a lively fiery genius who saw his plans frustrated by lack of necessary support and whose every act revealed an honorableness and patriotism united with a zeal and energy equal to the circumstances"

Ito ang mga tinatawag na "kung" sa ano mang kasaysayan ng isang bansa...
Kung hindi pinapatay si Bonifacio, na isa rin "middle class" subalit hindi ilustrado o creole, siguro ay tayo ang pangunahing bansa sa Asia. Ang idelohya, pamahalaan at prinsipyo ni Bonifacio ay para sa masa, pang Pilipino at para sa mga Pilipino. Mabibilang sa daliri lamang sa bawat siglo ng mundo ang mga taong pinanganganak na tulad Bonifacio...

Mao Zedong, Dr. Ernesto Che Guevara at Fidel Castro!!!

...ito naman ay aking kuro-kuro
Salamat Eric at Bernadette,
ka tony

October 21, 2008 3:34 PM  

Blogger JayAshKal said...

Filipino Freemasons today regard all these outstanding Filipinos as great irrespective of their foibles.

It should be noted here that Aguinaldo, Bonifacio and the Lunas; not to mention Rizal and numerous others; are all Masons.

I guess the concept of equality, liberty, fraternity as well as the very liberal concept (back then) of religious and political tolerance is what attracted these men to Masonry.

Obviously, not all those who profess to be Masons are "good", one is only as good as one practises his beliefs: whether a Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, etc.

October 21, 2008 4:56 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Again, many thanks for the additional details, Ka Tony! Much appreciate it!

It's truly sad to surmise that class prejudice, in the end, did us in as a nation :(

October 22, 2008 8:34 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Thank you for sharing with us your insight, Mario!

You're right! there is good and bad in all of us.

October 22, 2008 8:35 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


About Me

Name: Señor Enrique
Location: Manila, Philippines

View my complete profile

This is a Flickr badge showing photos in a set called Flickr Badge. Make your own badge here.
Señor Enrique Home
Designed by The Dubai Chronicles.
All rights and lefts reserved.