Friday, May 16, 2014

10-ft high statue of Epifanio delos Santos unveiled in hometown

SAN ISIDRO, Nueva Ecija – A 10-feet high statue of revered former governor Epifanio delos Santos was unveiled here yesterday morning by local officials and private citizens in honor of the great academician,  artist, poet and politician after whom Edsa was named.
         The iconic statue, made of cement and painted bronze, was opened to the public following a morning Mass at San Isidro ng Magsasaka parish church during its feast in front of the Plaza delos Santos and just across the historic town hall.

          The monument was a pet project of the 1958 class of the General de Jesus Academy High School led by its president, Dr. Romeo Lorenzo.

          Lorenzo, younger brother of former fourth district Reps. Victorio Lorenzo and Julita Lorenzo-Villareal, said the statue was a fitting tribute to delos Santos, more popularly known as Don Panyong, considered one of the most illustrious Novo Ecijanos in history.

          “This is in fact long overdue and we should be proud of him, the first democratically elected governor of Nueva Ecija,” Lorenzo said.

          The event was graced by relatives and granddaughters of Delos Santos among them former press undersecretary and now Manila Bulletin vice president for public relations Carmencita “Ching” delos Santos-Suva, Angelita delos Santos, Julieta delos Santos and Yolanda delos Santos, Mayor Cesario Ileto Jr., Vice Mayor Gerry dela Cruz, Councilor Larry Jimenez and municipal administrator Napoleon  Ocampo among others.

          Funding for the project was sourced from the municipal government and a cash donation from Santos-Suva.

          “I thank this class for recognizing my lolo,” Santos-Suva said, recalling that the library put up by his grandfather was often visited by past presidents, including Emilio Aguinaldo and Manuel Luis Quezon.
She said they are planning to put up a museum in his honor.

          Considered a genius in his time, Delos Santos, whose first name Epifanio  was drawn from the word “epiphany” (divine manifestation),  has excelled in no less than 28 professions.

          He was born April 7,1871 in Malabon as the only child of Don Escolastico delos Santos and Dona Antonina Cristobal.

Delos Santos graduated with a degree in Bachelor of Arts at Ateneo de Manila as a summa cum laude and finished his law course at the University of Sto. Tomas, emerging as bar topnotcher in 1898.

He was an academician and scholar, bibliographer, artist, biographer, civil servant, critic, essayist, ethnographer, journalist, historian, jurist, librarian, linguist and polyglot, monographer, musician, novelist, paleographer, philanthropist, philologist, philosopher, poet, researcher and revolutionary leader all rolled into one.

          He was the first Filipino to have been elected Novo Ecijano governor  in 1902. He was reelected in 1904.

          He was also associate editor of the revolutionary newspaper La Independencia in 1898 with the pen name Solon. As publisher, he published Tagalog Literature and the “Confidential Letter of Dr. Jose Rizal” among others. 

          In 1900, he was named district attorney of this town and in 1904 was designated provincial fiscal in Bulacan and Bataan.            

          He was known to have built the largest collection of books and antiquities in the country, including 2,000 book titles, many of whom were extraordinary.

          Epifanio died of cardiac arrest on April 28,1928 in Manila at the age of 57.

In recognition of his contributions to arts, culture and the country’s history, the 23.8-kilometer Highway 54 passing through six cities and 17 towns in Metro Manila was named Epifanio delos Santos Avenue (Edsa) by virtue of Republic Act 2140 on April 7, 1959.

          Edsa is now considered the most historic highway where two People’s Power revolutions were staged, first in 1986 and second in 2001 which led to the ouster from Malacanang of sitting presidents Ferdinand Marcos and Joseph Estrada, respectively.

          Filipino and foreign experts have heaped praises on Delos Santos.   

          Claro M. Recto described him as the foremost literarian in the Philippines while American historian Austin Craig called him as the island’s best writer in literature.

          “Powerful intelligence, a formidable receptacle of culture and gifted with words,” said Jaime De Veyra, resident commissioner to the US House of Representatives, in reference to Delos Santos. (Manny Galvez)    

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