Antonio Luna y Novicio (October 29, 1866 - June 5, 1899) was a Filipino pharmacist and general who fought in the Philippine-American War. He founded the Philippines's first military academy.
Antonio Luna was born in Urbiztondo
. He was the youngest of seven siblings of Joaquin Luna and Laureana Novicio, both from wealthy families of Badoc
, Ilocos Norte
. His older brother, Juan Luna
, was an accomplished, prize-winning painter who studied in the Madrid Escuela de Bellas Artes
de San Fernando.
His early schooling was at the Ateneo Municipal de Manila
, where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1881. He went on to study literature and chemistry at the University of Santo Tomas
, where he won first prize for a paper in chemistry titled Two Fundamental Bodies of Chemistry
. On the invitation of his brother Juan, he continued his studies in Spain, obtaining the degree of Licentiate in Pharmacy from the University of Barcelona
. He pursued further studies and in 1890 obtained the degree of Doctor of Pharmacy from the Universidad Central de Madrid
In Spain, he contributed to the La Solidaridad
periodical, published by the reformist movement of the elite Filipino students in Spain. He wrote a piece titled Impressions
which dealt with Spanish customs and idiosyncrasies under the pen-name "Taga-ilog". He was active as researcher in the scientific community in Spain, and wrote a scientific treatise on malaria titled El Hematozoario del Paludismo (Malaria)
, which was favorably received in the scientific community. He then went to Belgium
, and worked as assistant to Dr. Latteaux and Dr. Laffen. In recognition of his ability, he was appointed commissioner by the Spanish government to study tropical and communicable diseases. In 1894, he went back to the Philippines and worked in the civil service as a chemist. Like José Rizal
and other leaders, he was in favor of reforms rather than independence as goal to be attained. Because of his participation in the reform movement, he was charged with illegal association and was deported to Spain in 1897, where he was imprisoned at the Carcel Modelo
in Madrid. On his release, he went to Belgium and studied military tactics and strategy under General Gerard Leman
. He returned to the Philippines in 1898.
Philippine-American war and death
At the outbreak of the Philippine-American War, he was appointed by General Emilio Aguinaldo as Chief of War Operations on September 26 1898 and assigned the rank of brigadier general. He saw the need for a military school, so that he established a military academy at Malolos and recruited former officers of the 1896 revolution for training. He proved to be a strict disciplinarian and thereby alienated many in the ranks of the soldiers. An example of this occurred during the "Fall of Calumpit" wherein Luna ordered Tomas Mascardo to send troops to beef up his defences. However, Mascardo ignored orders;an angry Luna left the frontlines to confront Mascardo. When he came back, Americans already defeated his defenses by the Bagbag River. He fought gallantly at battles in Bulacan, Pampanga, and Nueva Ecija against the better equipped US forces. In the battle at Caloocan, the Kawit Battalion from Cavite refused to attack when given the order. Because of this, he disarmed them and relieved them of duties.
On June 2, 1899 he received a telegram from Aguinaldo, ordering him to proceed to Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija for a conference the next day. When he arrived at the Cabanatuan Catholic Church convent on June 5, the designated venue, Aguinaldo was not there. As he was about to depart, he was shot, then stabbed to death by Aguinaldo's men at the stairs of the convent. He was hurriedly buried in the churchyard, after which Aguinaldo relieved Luna's officers and men from the field.
The demise of Luna, the most brilliant and capable of the Filipino generals, was a decisive factor in the fight against the American forces. Subsequently, Aguinaldo suffered successive, disastrous losses in the field, retreating towards northern Luzon. In less than two years, Aguinaldo was captured in Isabela by American forces led by General Fudston, and later made to pledge allegiance to the United States.
- Zaide, Gregorio F. (1984). Philippine History and Government. National Bookstore Printing Press.
- De Guzman, Maria Odulio .(1967). The Filipino Heroes | National Bookstore Printing Press
- Alberto S. Albeda Jr. The Nation