JOSE CLEMENTE ZULUETA

(1876 - 1904)

 

 

  On November 23, 1976, Jose Clemente Zulueta, a distinguished Filipino bibliographer, was born in Paco, Manila. His parents were not known because his mother died five days after his birth and his father, when he was still a child. He was adopted by a kindhearted couple, Agustin de la Rosa and Juliana Estrada, who gave him parental care and education.

 

  He took a course in History in the old College of San Antonio de Padua and eventually transferred to the Ateneo Municipal, where he obtained his Bachiller en Artes. He organized a study group among his friends, and every night he expounded on philosophy, arithmetic and algebra, ethics, rhetoric and poetry.

 

  He studied law at the University of Sto. Tomas and frequented the entresuelo meetings of young students in Intramuros before the revolution of 1896. Cecilio Apostol, Fernando ma. Guerrero, Rafael Palma, Jose Abreu and  others also converged in his room and talked of literary and patriotic activities.

 

  In the university, he achieved literary celebrity as a weaver of exquisite Spanish verses. His poem “Afectos a la Virgen,” which Don Epifanio de los Santos highly commended for its poetical grace, was awarded 3rd prize in 1985 with a “lirio de plata” (silver lily) by the Academia Bibliografico Mariana, of Lerida Spain. It was published in Revista Catolica de Filipinas, VII, no. 5 March 1, 1986.

 

  The Revolution of 1896 to him was a laboratory for his historical theories. He wanted to observe the event from the viewpoint of both camps. He presented himself to Governor-general Camilio de Polavieja to ask permission to cross the lines of battles and witness for himself the struggle of close range. The governor general issued a pass which enabled him to move between the camps freely.

 

  He was with a caravan that trekked to the north when the Revolutionary Government was being moved to safer ground. He had lost his resolve at impartiality and now sided with the Filipino cause.

 

  He established the newspaper La Libertad, on June 20, 1898, the first number of which was dedicated to Colonel Pacheco. After its initial publication, it was stopped by the Revolutionary government and the printing press was seized. He joined the staff of La Independencia, founded by General Antonio Luna. In his writings, he used M. Kaun as penname.

 

  He resumed his studies in 1899 after the American army occupied Manila. He took the 1902 bar examination together with Manuel Quezon, Sergio Osmeña, and Juan Sumulong. Afterwards he and don Modesto Reyes established in Manila a newspaper, La Union, suppressed by General Elwell S. Otis because it was considered anti American.

 

He joined the faculty of Liceo de Manila to teach subjects on Philippine and World History. He was librarian at the Centro Artistico and Club International  which sent members on fellowship grants to the United States. The first to receive such grant was the city engineer, Santiago Artiaga.

 

  When the Philippine Commission decided to participate in the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, he was chosen to collect the art and literary materials for exhibition.

 

  When he was still with the Exposition Board, Act 688 was passed by the Philippine Commission on March 17, 1903 authorizing the appointment of collecting librarian for the Insular Government:

 

  Civil Governor Taft named him the collecting librarian. He left on April 29, 1903, for Marseilles, proceed to Barcelona and Madrid, where he presented his credentials to the American Minister in that capital. He worked in the Biblioteca Nacional and in the Museo Biblioteca de Ultramar, which had its origin from the materials exhibited during the Exposicion General de Filipinas. He discovered a rich collection of papers and documents among which gave importance to Gov. Valdez y tamon’s work on Plazas, Fuerzas Castillos y, Presidios in Philippines in 1839.

 

  He found in Biblioteca de la Real Academia de la Historia the unpublished work of Fr. Francisco Ignacio Alcina’s Relacion. At the King’s College, he saw the Vocabulario Tagalo, dated, 1585, in manuscript compiled by Fr. Domingo de los Santos, printed in Tayabas town in 1703. Zulueta came back to Manila on July 30, 1904. As required by law, he wrote a report entitled Fuentes Historicos de Filipinas in June 1904. He was one of the early Filipino historians who advocated the interpretation of t he Philippines  from the Filipino point – of – view.

 

  He died in Manila on September 10, 1904, at the young age of 28.

 

  The Philippine government purchased the Zulueta collection for P17,000 from his widow Doña Paz Natividad and kept it the National Library. This priceless collection vanished in smoke during the liberation of Manila in February 1945.

 

 

 

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