Anything Under the Sun
The other side of Graciano Lopez Jaena
What has been often stressed of Graciano Lopez Jaena whose birthday is December 18 (an official holiday in the city and province of Iloilo), is that he was anti-Spain and anti-Catholic. But was he really so?
Let us see. This Ilonggo national hero severely criticized the abusive colonial Spanish officials in the Philippines. When he was in Spain, he edited La Solidaridad -- the organ of the Propaganda Movement whose leaders were Dr. Jose Rizal, Marcelo H. del Pilar and himself. They fiercely fought for reforms in the Philippines. For this, history marks Lopez Jaena as Anti-Spain.
But let us listen to his stirring oration on February 25, 1889 at the Ateneo de Barcelona, Spain: "I, as a patriot, a Spaniard first of all, because I love Spain, I ought to rouse here, so that it may be revealed, the mysterious veil of letters and obstruction that explain why the Philippines does not advance and progress".
Here although Lopez Jaena castigated the Spanish colonial officials in our country for hiding the truth about the Philippines to the high Spanish officials in Spain, how can he be Anti-Spain when he loved Spain?
So, what he really hated was not Spain -- but the abusive colonial officials exploiting the hospitable natives. In fact, he must really have loved Spain because he chose to die there.
Moreover, the Propaganda Movement is a peaceful endeavor of the Filipinos in Spain for reforms thru peaceful means -- not by violent means thru force of arms.
Next, he was not anti-Catholic. In the same speech in Barcelona, Lopez Jaena said: "The conflict between friars and the Filipinos is unwavering. It is not a conflict of religion against religion; it is not a struggle of the native country against the mother country; it is a struggle for life, for survival; one side defending exploitation, the other fighting for their right to lead a modern life, to lead a free life, to lead a democratic life."
Here, he emphasized that he was not against the Catholic religion -- the state religion under Spain. What he was really against were the abuses of the Spanish friars -- whom he criticized in his tract Fray Butod -- but not the Catholic religion whose creed he imbibed during his tutelage under Fray Francisco Jayme at the Colegio Provincial de Jaro and his student days at the Seminario de Jaro.
Therefore, in reality, Lopez Jaena was not anti-Spain nor anti-Catholic. He was actually a very, very pro-Filipino as manifested further in his other speech: "Filipinas, I salute you with the invocation of hope on the lips. Look at her, the blue sky is her mantle, the most beautiful sky in the world embellished with resplendent stars, is her crown. He who has not seen those islands of Oceania has not seen one of the most beautiful regions of the earth".
This is the true side of our hero, Graciano Lopez Jaena. He was merely a fierce pro-Filipino.