Graciano Lopez Jaena: Ilonggo National Hero and Press Freedom Fighter
Dr. Graciano Lopez Jaena (December 18, 1856 – January 20, 1896), who hailed from Jaro, Iloilo was a Filipino writer and journalist in the Philippine Revolution and the forerunner of the fight for press freedom and his efforts were geared to conserve and preserve the ideas and ideals of press freedom as a precious legacy.
He was recognized as the “Prince of Filipino Orators” who wrote great and striking articles in the infamous newspaper La Solidaridad and one of the illustrious members of the magnificent triumvirate of Filipino propagandists (Lopez Jaena-Dr. Jose Rizal-Marcelo H. del Pilar). At the age of 18 he wrote the satirical story “Fray Botod” which depicted a fat and lecherous priest.
As first editor and founder of La Solidaridad, a fortnightly newspaper published by Filipinos in Barcelona, Spain, Lopez Jaena and his fellow journalists of the time were engaged in gigantic struggle for political, economic and social reforms in the country. The geniuses of the three libertarians fused into one mighty reform movement that shook our people from centuries of lethargy and apathy, gave new vitality and dynamism to Philippine patriotism and aspirations for liberty and kindled the revolutionary ideals for democratic reform and the final emancipation of the Philippines.
In point of time, Lopez Jaena with his scintillating pen and dazzling eloquence started the pre-revolutionary reform movement in Madrid, Spain in 1880 as Rizal arrived in 1882 and Del Pilar in 1889, thus adding fire and force to the historic movement.
Today, Lopez Jaena Day is a special non-working holiday in Iloilo every 18th of December as a tribute to the great Ilonggo propagandist with a commemorative celebration held in Jaro Plaza now known as the Dr. Lopez Jaena Park. A statue is also built on the same park to honor the hero.
The Order of DeMolay Chapter, Graciano Lopez-Jaena Chapter, was founded in 1965 in Jaro, Iloilo City named after Lopez Jaena, the first and foremost freemason hailing from Jaro.
*photo and some text sourced from wikis