(1862 – 1913)

Delegate to the Malolos Congress




Born in Malolos, Bulacan on February 3, 1862, Mariano L. Crisostomo was a lawyer and a member of the historic 1898 Malolos Congress. His parents, Guillermo Crisostomo and Maria Lugo, were both from fairly prosperous families. Marcelo H. del Pilar, the famous propagandist, was his uncle.

Crisostomo attended a local school. He completed his secondary education at the Colegio de San Juan de Letran, where he also acquired his Bachelor of Arts degree. Thereafter, he enrolled at the University of Santo Tomas, taking up law while training at the “law office” of his uncle Marcelo Ambrosio R. Bautista, Isidro Moreno, and I. Fernando Rios, and working as clerk at the Tondo Court of first Instance. Upon finishing his law studies and passing the bar examinations, he engaged in private practice, and then served as assistant registrar of deeds at a branch of the Audiencia in Manila. His government promotion came fast. After a year, he was appointed as a judge in the province of Cebu. Later he became registrar of deeds in Misamis province, serving as such up to 1896.


Meanwhile, he began to be involved in political activities. He joined the “Caja de Jesus, Maria, y Jose,” an organization founded by del Pilar, Mariano Ponce, Pedro Serrano Laktaw, and others to help indigent but deserving students and, more important, to fight “intellectual myopia” in Philippine society. This organization was superseded by the “Caja de Propaganda,” country and aided the Propaganda Movement in Spain by, among others things, raising funds to subsidize the publication of its mouth pieced, La Solidaridad.


The later 1880’s and the early 1890’s were times of social and political ferments in the country. The ilustrados were advocating political reforms, even as the seeds of national liberation were slowly being planted in the minds of many by the ideas of Dr. Jose Rizal. In 1892, the year Rizal was banished to Dapitan by the Spanish government, Andres Bonifacio established the Katipunan, an offshoot of the La Liga Filipina which, unlike the government. Two years later, Crisostomo joined the subversive organization. He himself headed one of his local branches, whose membership encompassed not only his home province of Bulacan, but Nueva Ecija and Pampanga as well. As a leader, his duty was to campaign for the Katipunan and to recruit as many members as possible. Although it was a hard and dangerous task, he performed it well without fear of dire consequences. When he returned to Manila, after fulfilling his assignments in the southern provinces, he was arrested and imprisoned by the Spanish authorities.


Fortunately, following the signing of the Pact of the Biak-na-Bato in December 1897, he was released.  The pact, however, was soon dissolved in owing to infractions committed by both sides. Thus, General Emilio Aguinaldo made the clarion call to renew the struggle for absolute freedom from Spanish colonization, Crisostomo, along with thousands of other revolutionaries, heeded the summons.  He served as Auditor in Isidro Torres’ army, actively participating in military actions in Macabebe, Pampanga. Subsequently, he was designated general secretary of the Universidad Literaria Filipinas (later renamed Universidad Cientifico-Literaria de Filipinas), when it was established in October 1898.


The highlights of his political career occurred in that same year, when he served as a delegate to the Malolos Congress, which drafted the Philippine Constitution in November. Later, he accepted his nomination as a member of the seven-man revolutionary Supreme Court, which was headed by Apolinario Mabini as Chief Justice.


In February 1899, the American replaced the Spaniards as the enemy of the Filipinos when war walked out between erstwhile allies with the shooting of a Filipino soldier by an American sentry in San Juan del Monte. Although the Filipinos tried gallantly to hold out as long as they could, they eventually gave up after General Aguinaldo was captured in 1901 by the Americans with the aid of their Filipino collaborators. Realizing they had no other recourse but to work for reforms within the new order itself, most of them heeded the call to surrender once it was made by the victors.


Crisostomo was among those who joined the new regime. He became Bulacan’s provincial fiscal for three years, from 1901 to 1904. He subsequently resumed his law practice and engaged in newspaper works, establishing his fellow Bulaceños a paper he named Plaridel. He served as its director, and wrote for it in his native Tagalog as well as in Spanish. His local influence grew. Consequently, he was lured twice into running for public office, losing however, each time, to his opponent. He likewise engaged actively in business, particularly in nipa production. Aside from organizing Bulacan’s Liga Agraria, and the association of nipa producers, he co-founded the Liceo de Manila.


Crisostomo was 28 when he married his fiancé, Filomena Lopez, in February 1890. They had several children. He died on May 11, 1913 at the age of 41.




Leonisa A. Rocillo