JOSE SEVILLA

(1879 - 1946)

 

 

  Jose Sevilla y Tolentino was a Tagalog folklorist, novelist, dramatist and grammarian. He was the son of Ambrosio Sevilla, a Spanish Endecia Militar, and Silveria Tolentino from Bulacan. His mother worked in the La Dicha factory of a cigar maker. Although his father was an army man, his journalistic predeliction was latent in their family; he was a grandnephew of Padre Mariano Sevilla, one of those exiled to Guam as an aftermath of the Cavite Revolt of 1872.

 

  He was born in Tondo, Manila on October 29, 1879 and studied in the school conducted by his uncle Catalino Sevilla. Before the Revolution broke out, he was enrolled in the Escuela Normal in Intramuros. He apprenticed in a watch repair shopand in a dental clinic, but these jobs not suit him. He found employment in a printing press.

 

  He did not participate in the first pace of Revolution but during the Filipino-American War of 1899 to 1901, he served the artillery corps under the command of General Urbano Lacuna.

 

  A hunchback and of small stature, he really was not suited for soldering. He continued his studies and obtained in 1904 a Bachelor of Arts. Working in the printing press awakened him to the possibility of writing and propagating Tagalog literature.

 

  In April 1906, his brother Maximo Sevilla started the publication Filipinas and asked him to edit a section called Buhay Flilipinas. Here, he began on April 3, 1908 the serial publication of his novel Mga Imbi.

 

  Since his Filipinas did not prosper, he joined Metralla, editing its Tagalog section Punglo. Later he edited Malayang Manggagawa, published by Jose Turiano Santiago.

 

  His journalistic sorties were erratic, but his novels flowed, interpersed with drama productions. No student of literature has however assessed his works.

 

  After he had written his Tagalog novels, his interest in Tagalog grammar developed. He also familiarized himself with other languages through his association with Pedro Serrano Laktaw. His Ang Aklat ng Tagalog saw published in 1923 with Paul R. Verzosa as a joint author. In 1932, he studied in the Manila Philological School directed by Verzosa.  He taught Tagalog at the Philippine Lyric Academy and National Universityin 1940. He coined a number of words as his contribution to Tagalog vocabulary; a few of them, such as bantayog and balagtasan have been accepted.

 

  He was married to Francisca de Jesus, daughter of Timoteo de Jesus and Gregoria de Jesus (who were second cousins), by whom he had three children who all died in their infancy. He headed the Language Research branch of Kalibapi Office during the Japanese occupation, and died of tuberculosis a year after World War II.  

 

 

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