Dr. Galicano Apacible, patriot and
propagandist, was born on June 25, 1864
in Balayan, Batangas, the youngest of the three children of Don Vicente Apacible and Catalina
He first enrolled at the town's public
school and then transferred to the
private school of a licensed teacher. Kanoy, as he was fondly called, was eight years old when he completed
his preparatory course. There was no high school in Balayan and so he went to
Manila where he enrolled at the private
school of Benedicto Luna. From there he enrolled at the Colegio de San Juan de Letran.
Kanoy and his elder brother Leon, lived
in a boarding house at 15 Anda Street, in Intramuros with their relative, Jose
Rizal, under whose charge the young Kanoy was placed. When Rizal moved to
another boarding house - that of
Antonio Rivera on Santo Tomas Street (later Postigo Street) also in Intramuros
- Galicano and Leon followed him. In Riivera's boarding hodse, they organized a
student orchestra called estudiantino, where Kanoy was a flute player. Under
the leadership of Rizal, the group also organized a secret society called El
Compaņerismo, whose main objectives were mutual protection, and civic and
patriotic education. Although El Compaņerismo faded out, the ideas that Rizal
inculcated remained in the hearts and minds of the members.
When Kanoy was about to finish his
secondary course, he asked his mother what course she wanted him to study. He
preferred law. but his mother wanted him to take up medicine because his
brother Leon was already studying law. A dutiful son, he enrolled at the University
of Santo Tomas. Because of the antiquated teaching method and, above all, the
humiliating treatment shown by the Dominican professors to their Filipino
students, many of his classmates chose to
continue their studies abroad. Apacible
himself had a fight with one of his friar professors. For that, he had to leave
the university. He had already completed the fifth year of the medical course
when he sailed for Europe.
He finished his Bachelor of Arts degree
at the Institute of Tarragona and his Licentiate in Medicine and Surgery at the
University of Barcelona in November 1889. He studied at the Universidad Central
de Madrid for his doctorate in Medicine.
While in Spain, Apacible was president
of a political society called Asociacion Filipina Solidaridad en Barcelona. He
was also one of the founders of La Solidaridad.
He made man) trips to France, beckoned
not only by the delights of Parisian life but by the hospitals which gave him
opportunities to practice his French as well as his medicine. During the Universal
Exposition in 1889, he joined Rizal, T.H. Padre de Tavera, Antonio Luna and
many other Filipinos who were in France at that time. They had many discussions
over the best ways to improve the situation in the Philippines. One of the
questions they discussed was what language should be adopted if the Philippines
were to be independent.
As he journeyed back to his native
land, he learned that his family was
under persecution by the Spanish government; that his brother Leon, a judge of
the Court of First Instance. had been exiled to Lepanto; and that Rizal had
been arrested and deported to Dapitan. It was rumored that, upon his arrival,
he too would be arrested and imprisoned.
He stopped in Hongkong and stayed with
Rizal's family. He had exhauted his funds, so he had to borrow a hundred pesos
from a fellow passenger, Alejandro Amechazurra of Manila. When his mother learned about this, she immediately sent a
messenger with the full amount in
payment and a letter of thanks to be delivered to Mr: Amechazurra upon his
arrival from Hongkong. It was his mother's practice, which she inculcated among her children, to pay debts promptly
with out waiting for the creditor to demand payment.
Apacible stayed in Hongkong for more
than a month. In December 1892 he received instructions from his family that
the situation in Manila was no longer dangerous for his return.
Upon his arrival, he found that he was
under suspicion for his political activities in Spain and on account of his
being a Freemason of the 33rd degree, a
fact which he never denied. At the time of the outbreak of the Revolution,
Apacible and the governor of the province of Batangas, Leandro Villamil, were
friends. The governor called hint to be
at his side to prevent him from aiding or communicating with his friends. The governor did this because he
knew all the while where his friend's
sympathies lay with his compatriots on the battlefront.
In order to escape the reprisals that
were commonplace under the bloody rule of Governor Camilo Polavieja, Apacible
applied for a position on board the British S.S. Zafire that regularly
Journeyed from Manila to Hongkong. He was immediately accepted as they were in need
of a physician.
After making a few voyages, he resigned
and settled in Honkong. He served as an adviser to the Alto Consejo de los
Revolucionarios (High Council of the Revolutionists). From Hongkong he wrote to
Mabini: "I am working exclusively for our dear Motherland.. expoxing my
life and abandoning all my personal interests. I wish for no reward except the
satisfaction of helping in securing our freedom.
I hope that the government and public
opinion will always do me jusrice; if not, it matters little to me; there will
always remain the inner satisfaction of having worked disinterestedly and
according to my
While in Hongkong, he was named
chairman of the Comite Central Filipino (Filipino Central Committee) based
there. He was sent to Tokyo as a special agent to secure arms and ammunition
for the revolutionaries. While there he met leading figures such as Marquis
Ito, Count Okuma and Dr. Sun Yat Sen. The latter was his closest companion as
they were both working for the freedom of their countries.
In 1899, he was sent to the United
States along with Rafael del Pan as delegates of the revolutionary government.
They tried to seek the intervention of the American government in their
endeavor to make peace with Spain.
He was in Hongkong when General
Aguinaldo was captured by General Frederick Funston in Palanan, Isabela. The
committee was dissolved, and in 1903, Apacible returned to Manila and practised
medicine. He worked at the San Lazaro Hospital from 1906 to 1907 when he was
elected governor of Batangas. He occupied this position until he was elected
Assemblyman in 1909 and reelected in 1912. In 1911, he became vice-president of
the Nacionalista Party and a member of its Executive Committee. From 1917 to
1922, he was Secretary of the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources,
but resigned due to ill health.
He went back to Hongkong and, after
seven months there, he returned a healthy and happy man with no official tasks
to preoccupy him. In 1944, he met an accident and the period of enforced
physical inactivity that followed impaired his health. He became weaker and weaker.
Three years after his accident, he lost his sight, although his mind remained
clear. He succumbed on March 22, 1949 and was interred at the La Loma Cemetery