Today in Philippine History, July 27, 1872, Pantaleon Lopez was born in Pandacan

Sunday July 07, 2013 ()

   'Apo-apo' (1908), Lopez' only published work
   ("Apo-apo" (1908), Lopez' only published work)
On July 27, 1872, Pantaleon Lopez, a Tagalog dramatist, a prolific playwright was born in Pandacan (which was then a separate town from Manila). He was the second of two children of Felix Lopez, whose work was ferrying people across the Pasig River, and Pia de los Santos, who sold candles to add to the family income. He was only 12 years old when his father passed away. It was Felipe G. Calderon, a regular passenger of his father, who became his benefactor and assumed responsibility for his education.

When he came of age, the trader and propagandist, Jose A. Ramos, employed him through his guardian's recommendation. Later, allured by the theater, he became a member of the Compania Fernandez Chorus. The choirmaster doubted his ability and had to be bribed to include Lopez in the group's performances until Lopez eventually proved his competence.

Today in Philippine History, July 27, 1872, Pantaleon Lopez was born in Pandacan

Lopez married Pricila Ignacio, a chorus member whom he met on the stage in 1893. The couple engaged in buying and selling at the Quiapo market to eke out a living. Later, they established a successful transportation business, leasing carretelas, which enabled Lopez to perform with the Fernandez troupe. However, it was only in 1898 that he started thinking of writing plays himself.

His first play, "Masamang Kaugalian", a zarzuela in three acts, was staged in Teatro Filipino on January 31, 1901. This was followed by another three-act play, "Maling Pagsampalataya", which demonstrated the absurdity of believing in superstitions.

On March 7, 1903, his three-act zarzuela, "Ang Infierno", whose score was written by Hipolito Rivera and Leon Ignacio, debuted in Teatro Libertad. This was his most successful play. Another successful play, "Rosa", was shown not only in Manila but also in Tarlac, Pampanga, and the Tagalog provinces.

His other Tagalog plays are:

  • "Zarzuelang Tagalog (1903),
  • "Tindang Tagalog" (1906),
  • "La Independencia" (1906),
  • "Bagong Infierno" (1901),
  • "Asamblea", (1907)
  • 'Apo-apo' (1908), his only published work,
  • "Delingkente" (1908),
  • "Katubusan" (1909),
  • "La Perla" (1909),
  • "Aves de Rapiña" or "Ibong Manlulupig" (1909),
  • "Rizal en Capilla (1910),
  • "Dancing School" (1911), and
  • "Nena Pantoches" (1912).

Lopez wrote more than 20 plays before he died. His "Sintang Pinucao" was all but finished when acute tuberculosis caught up with him on September 22, 1912. The plays Nena Pantoches and "Ibong Manlulupig" were presented in Felicidad Theater, on Calle Principe, immediately prior to his demise. They were initially meant to generate funds for his medical expenses.

Besides acting, Lopez was an active singer in the San Ignacio Church choir in Intramuros for ten years. He was a tenor with a voice range comparable to that of Victorino Carreon and Nemesio Rata. He also played musical instruments such as the flute, the clarinet, and the violin.

By his wife Pricila, who often managed the business side of his presentations, he sired 10 children, among were Martin, who married Ciriaca del Prado; Pantaleon, a bass-baritone singer who married Asuncion Loanco, a mezzo-soprano singer; Maria; and Irinea, who married Vicente Ventura.


  1. CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine Arts Volume 6. Manila: Cultural Center of the Philippines, 1994 (via National Historical Commission).
  2. Manuel, E. Arsenio. Dictionary of Philippine Biography Volume 1. Quezon City: Filipiniana Publications, 1955 (via National Historical Commission).
  3. Magdalena Averin Manuel. Dictionary of Philippine Biography Volume 4. Quezon City: Filipiniana Publications, 1995 (via National Historical Commission).


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