Today in Philippine History, June 3, 1876, Jose Palma was born in Tondo, Manila

Saturday June 02, 2012 ()

On June 3, 1876, Jose Palma, famous poet who wrote the lyrics of the Philippine national anthem, was born in Tondo, Manila. He was the youngest child of Don Hermogenes Palma and Hilaria Velasquez.

Palma continued his studies at the Ateneo Municipal after he finished his primera enseñanza in Tondo. It was while in Ateneo when he started composing verses. One of his earliest works was "La cruz de Sampaguitas" which he composed in 1893, the same year when he fell in love with Florentina Arellano. Their relationship, however, was cut short by the girl's parents who did not approve of him.

   Jose Palma
   (Jose Palma)

Palma busied himself with his literary pursuits. In 1894, he joined the Katipunan but did not join his comrades in the battlefield when the revolution broke out.

In 1899 when the Philippine-American War erupted, he finally joined the revolutionary forces of Colonel Rosendo Simon and fought under the command of Colonel Servillano Aquino in the encounters in Angeles and Bambang. Since he could not physically cope up with the difficulties of war, he often stayed in camps and entertained the soldiers with kundiman. He joined the staff of the Tagalog section of the revolutionary newspaper, La Independencia. This provided him to fire his patriotic sentiments and wage battle against the Americans in a manner that he was not able to do in the battlefield.

Palma and his colleagues in the newspaper often amused themselves with songs and poems while resting in camps or other places during their marches away from the pursuing American forces. It was during one of their breaks in Bautista, Pangasinan when Palma's poetic spirit produced the poem "Filipinas" that fitted the music of the "Marcha Nacional Filipina" of Julian Felipe. "Filipinas" was published in Spanish in the first anniversary issue of La Independencia on September 3, 1899 as follows:

FILIPINAS
(Letra para la Marcha Nacional)

I

Tierra adorada
Hija del sol de Oriente
Su fuego ardiente
En ti latiendo esta,
!Patria de amores!
Del heroismo cuna,
Los invasores
No te hallaran jamas

II

En tu azul cielo, en tus Auras
En tus montes y en tu mar
Esplende y late el poema
De tu amada libertad.
Tu pabellon, que en las lides
La Victoria ilumino,
No vera nunca apagados
Sus estrellas y su sol

III

Tierra de dichas, del sol y de amores,
En tu regazo dulce es vivir.
Es una Gloria para tus hijos,
Cuando te ofenden, por ti morrir.


In late 1899, American forces finally captured the revolutionary press. Left with nothing to do, Jose Palma and his brother, Rafael, who was also a staff of the La Independencia, returned to Manila. They collaborated with Juan Abad in setting up another newspaper Laong-Laan, which, however, did not last long after American authorities found some of its contents subversive and briefly detained Jose Palma.

On September 3, 1901, El Renacimiento was established with Rafael Palma as editor and invited Jose Palma to write a column for the paper. Jose Palma wrote the columns Vida Manileña under the pen name Esteban Estebañez and Cuartilla Licerarias using the name Juventino. Palma used other pen names like Ana Haw and Gan Hantik for his poems and short stories that appeared in publications such as El Comercio, La Moda Filipina, La Patria, La Union and Revista Catolica. Among Palma's poems were the following:

  • La purificacion de Maria (1895),
  • Kundiman (1898),
  • En la ultima pagina del Noli Me Tangere (1898),
  • La cruz de sampaguitas (1893),
  • De mi jardin (1900),
  • En la hamaca (1900).

On February 12, 1903, at a young age of 27, Jose Palma died, leaving a small collection of poems that historian and writer J. C. de Veyra described to have "distinctive quality".

To honor him, his brothers, Manuel and Rafael Palma and his friend and fellow acclaimed poet, Cecilio Apostol, published a collection of his poems from 1893 to 1901 under the title Melancolicas in 1912.

References: (All via the National Historical Commission of the Philippines)

  1. Baja, E. A. Our Country’s Flag and Anthem,1928.
  2. Manuel, E. Arsenio. Dictionary of Philippine Biography Volume 1. Quezon City: Filipiniana, 1955.
  3. Zaide, Gregorio F. Documentary Sources of Philippine History Volume 9. Manila: National Bookstore, Inc., 1990.


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