(1828 – 1895)

Businessman, Mason, Nationalist and One of the Cavite Mutiny



Together with farmers Gomes, Burgos, and Zamora, Crisanto Delos Reyes and his close friends Inocencio and Enrique Paraiso were charged as the principal “instigators and accomplices in the rebellion” of the Filipino soldiers at the Cavite Arsenal. Their hurried trial by the Consejo de Guerra or military tribunal culminated on February 15, 1872 with the comdemption of the three priests to die by strangulation and of De los Reyes and others to ten years of vanishment to a penal colony in Spain. Other prominent Filipinos like Basa and Regidor, were rounded up a few days later exiled to the Marianas the following month.


De los Reyes was a native of Quiapo, Manila, where he was born on October 25, 1828 to Gregorio De los Reyes, a prosperous lawyer and Dominga Mendoza, both of Chinese mestiso background. His father graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with degrees in Canon Law and Civil Law in 1826 and a Licentiate in Civil Law in 1828. Delos Reyes was orphaned of both parents when he was still a child. It was the loyal and compassionate family retainers who took it upon themselves to take care of him.


At a young age, Crisanto had shown an inclination for business. He had started as a tenedor de libros and his small income enabled him to become financially independent. He ventured into business by buying scrap metal from sunken ships and, after reconditioning them, he would sell them for a tidy profit. As his business prospered, he acquired a piece of land located at #7 Plaza de Servantes, Binondo, near the corner of Calle Analogue (now Juan Luna Street) near the Pasig river where he built a warehouse which he proudly called “ La Industria”. He became a docked at the port of Cavite as international trade between the Philippines and other countries had increased. By 1872, De los Reyes had become an affluent chandler in the port and province of Cavite.


Crisanto and his siblings had equally divided their inheritance which was the tile and brick factory left by their father, Gregorio. However, his sister, Dominga asked her brother Apolinario, to administer her share of business. Eventually, Apolinario who had always been frail and ill to run her sister’s share, asked Crisanto to manage the entire enterprise. Under Crisanto’s expert management the business prospered.


Aside from the business, Crisanto also owned a farm located at Calle Mendoza, Quiapo (known then as Barrio looban). He constructed a small house and supervised the extraction of essential oils from the fragrant Ilang- ilang flowers, which he exported to France. For his Almacen (warehouse), he provided it with various hardware materials from Europe, which made him the leading ship chandler in Cavite by 1872. De los Reyes also owned a cigar factory at the Calle Alix ( now Legarda Street) in Sampaloc.


Because of sad experiences during his early years, De los Reyes developed a deep aversion to any form of oppression. He did not fear the Spaniards, rather he despised their persecution and exploitation of Filipinos, especially the defenseless poor. In his clan, he started the honored tradition of not having the children spanked, except if they abused the servants and the underprivileged. He was one of the first Filipinos to join the Masonry, then a secret society sworn to opposed all types of tyranny, especially its Pandacan Lodge. He was actually a generous contributor to any organization, which promoted welfare of discriminated groups, such as the Filipino secular clergy, and most probably, the underpaid soldiers of Cavite who eventually mutinied on that fateful day in 1872.


In 1850, he married; Dorotea de los Reyes and by her, sired four children who reached the age of maturity: Juana born in 1855; Escolastica born in 1858; Manuel born in 1866; and, Teodoro born in 1867. When he served his exile, Dorotea was left alone to take care of the family businesses as well as their children. Her repeated please for her husband’s pardon fell on deaf ears.


From the Bilibid prison, De los Reyes, Inocencio, Paraiso and two other Filipinos, all in heavy chains, were put aboard Spanish frigate Chica on February 18,1872 enroute to Spain. The condemned reached  the Port of Cadiz five months later. The governor of the province decided to send them to the penal colony in Cartagena in Southeast Spain because it was better secured than the one in Ceuta in Spanish Morocco, where they were originally destined to serve out their sentence. In Cartegena, in Filipino exiles befriended the prisons officials and eventually one of them, Paraiso was made a supervisor. During the uprising of the Spanish Cantons in 1874, De los Reyes and his companions, taking advantage of the social turmoil, escape the Oran in French Algiers. They were assisted by local mazons until they obtained passports to France. They settled, in Port City of Marseilles, were De los Reyes established another chandlery enterprise as he had in Cavite.


In the meantime, a royal order on November 1874 granted a general pardon to the Filipino deportees in Marianas, on contained that they will never turn on their land of birth. De los Reyes and Inocensio applied pardon on the same year through the Spanish consul in Marseilles. On August 14,1876, the Minister of the Ultramar is finally ruled that the decree of 1874 applied to them also.


De los Reyes tarried in Marseilles for five more years in order to consolidate his business holdings there. He returned to the Philippines in 1881 and once again, took over his commercial interest to his wife had competently maintained during his long absence with the help of their eldest daughter, Juana.


His tireless wife died in 1888.Juana, his favorite daughter, followed her to the grave in 1892. heart broken by her death, he soon withdrew from the active management of his business, leaving it to his son, Teodoro. His health gradually deteriorated, and he died quietly in July 4,1895. Six days earlier, he had drawn up his last will with the help of his lawyer, Nomeriano Adriano, bequeathing a princely state to his heirs.


When the revolution broke out the  following year, de los Reyes named in emerge again as one of the foremost contributor to the patriotic cost. Soldiers were dispatched to his residence and arrest him, without knowing that he had already died. Inocencio, his loyal friend, did not elude similar dragnet. At the age of sixty three, he was executed as one of the thirteen martyrs of Cavite on September 12,1896. His lawyer, Nomeriano Adriano suffered the same fate as one of the thirteen martyrs of Bagumbayan on January 11,1897.


De los Reyes remains buried beneath the hallowed floor of the church of Our Lady Loreto in Sampaloc, Manila with only a simple marble tombstone mark on it.


Ruby Ann Vergara