LOPE K. SANTOS

(1879 - 1963)

 

 

A scholar, poet, novelist, journalist, labor leader and public servant, Lope K. Santos is remembered today as the Father of Pilipino Grammar. Mang Openg, as he was familiarly known to his friends and admirers, was born on September 25, 1879 in Pasig, Rizal to Ladislao Santos, a native of Pasig and Victoria Canseco, a native of San Mateo, Rizal.

 

Much later, when asked why he used “K” for middle initial instead of “C” from Canseco, he said “Matuwid ang aking ginawang ito sapagkat may hilig ako sa mga letrang katutubo na talagang pam-Pilipino.”

 

His father was accused of being a rebel since copies of Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere and some copies of the Kalayaan, the organ of the Katipunan were found in his possession. They dragged him to a convent in Cavite and tortured him by the water cure. Still unsatisfied, they tied him up on a bench and beat himmercilessly.

 

He studied at the Escuela Normal Superior de Maestros, the Escuela de Derecho and obtained his Bachelor of Arts at the Colegio Filipino.

 

In 1898, when his mother was about to die, she told him to look for Simeona Salazar and told him, “Kung buhay pa si Mona (Simeona), sa kanya ka pakasal.”

 

From San Pablo, he and his sister Isabel returned to Manila to look for Simeona Slazar. Finding her, he pressed his suit. The belle of Pulong Mayaman in Paco married him on February 10, 1900 in the Catholic Church on San Marcelino. Their marriage was blessed with five children.

 

His love for Tagalog began when he won the dupluhan, the poetical joust at the time. This developed further when he went into journalism and became editor of different Tagalog publications starting in 1900.

 

As a poet, his style is smooth, melodious, imaginative, and full of substance. A prolific writer in both prose and poetry, Mang Openg wrote many novels and poems. He was crowned Paham ng Wika in recognition of his literary stature and works.

 

His Balarila ng Wikang Pambansa is the basis for the grammar of the Pilipino language. His Banaag at Sikat, the first Tagalog sociological novel, won him the title of Pillar of Philippine Literature.

 

He was the first editor of Muling Pagsilang, sister publication of El Renacimiento, and founder of the first Filipino national weekly Sampaguita.

 

He sought to propagate a national language through organized lectures, cultural societies which he founded all over the country, and also as head of the department of national language in leading universities.

 

He was named by President Manuel L. Quezon as the director of the Surian ng Wikang Pambansa.

 

He was governor of Rizal from 1910 to 1913. From 1918 to 1920, he was appointed the first Filipino governor of Nueva Viscaya. By befriending the head-hunting tribes he succeeded in minimizing their barbarism. He also established settlements and prepared the inhabitants for self government. As an appointive senator for the 12th district, he authored the law creating Bonifacio Day and championed the cause of labor with his introduction of several measures designed to better the workers’ working conditions.

 

Once, he and his wife visited the tomb he ordered made for himself. Upon viewing the place he said to Mona, “Kung maaari sana lagyan mo ng ilaw sa loob upang makapagbasa at makapagsulat ako.”

 

He was operated on for an illness of the liver, and he had already premonitions about his death. One of his last words were:

 

“Nararamdaman kong malapit na… ang huling oras ko… at ang aking ikinalulungkot ay papanaw ako nang hindi alam kung ano ang magiging wakas ng Wikang Tagalog… Kung ito ang talagang magiging wikang pambansa.”

 

He died on Labor Day, May 1, 1963 at 2:55 a.m.

 

 


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