What Are the Writings of Graciano Lopez Jaena?

Graciano Lopez Jaena was a famous 19th century Filipino author and political activist. His writings span multiple media, but they generally concern social justice issues in his home country of the Philippines and an ardent desire to see it free from Spanish rule. Lopez Jaena’s writing career was cut short at the age of 40, when he died of tuberculosis.

Originally planning to become a doctor, Lopez Jaena was rejected by the University of St. Thomas, though he later found an apprenticeship at a local hospital where he learned some medicine. Funding soon ran out, however, and his family had nothing to offer by way of monetary support. According to the University of Vienna, it was then that Lopez Jaena started treating the local poor and was struck by the squalor and injustice all around them. At 18, he wrote an incendiary piece called “Fray Botod,” in which he showcased the hypocrisy and corruption of a local priest. Soon Lopez Jaena’s written work began attacking local political officials and calling for reform. Pressure from authorities eventually forced the young author to relocate to Spain, where he moved into a career in journalism. His work included acting as first editor of the propaganda newspaper Solidarity, as well as producing a published anthology of his speeches and articles. Other notable literary works included “The Daughter of the Friar” and “Hope.”

It is possible that Lopez Jaenas’ death by tuberculosis ultimately allowed him to cheat the executioner. In the coming months, two of his fellow Filipino propagandists, Marcel H. del Pilar and Jose Rizal, met their ends by firing squad. Two years later, the Philippines gained independence from Spain.