Born October 29, 1866
Died June 5, 1899
Dela Fuente, Maria Rizza Belle
Manalac, Genevieve Kristine
Perez, Clarizza Rae
Quebrar, Maria Lovelyn Joyce
Santos, Erizza Rose
Antonio Luna is commonly presented in history classes as a war general who fought for the country's freedom during the time of Spanish colonization but little did we know that Antonio is actually one of the first Filipino Doctors of Pharmacy. His contributions in the military as a strategic and tactical general is as valuable and excellent as his contributions to the scientific field. This paper aims to explore the scientific yet heroic life of Antonio Luna. This paper shows how a person recognized by his power and conviction could be Science’s aficionado.
Tags: Name of Scientist, profession, contributions, awards
A. Personal life
Born on October 29, 1866, Antonio Narciso Luna Y Novicio was the youngest of the seven children of Joaquin Posadas Luna and Laureana Ancheta Novicio. The former worked as an inspector of revenue under the Spanish government and it was during this time that he met the latter who came from a wealthy family. It was in Ilocos that they first had their children; Numeriana, Manuel, Juan, Jose, Joaquin, and Remedios. However, Antonio was born by the time they migrated to Binondo, Manila to live as merchants.
Jose R. that Antonio Vivencio, a Filipino historian, narrated in his book The Rise and Fall of Antonio Luna the life that Antonio Luna had. Vivencio (1972) mentioned that Luna was raised far from a cry baby and at the age of six years old he already knew how to read, write, and to use the four basic operations in arithmetic. He later attended high school in Ateneo. As a student, aside from his academic and inclination in chemistry, Antonio was also interested with poetry. At the age of fifteen, he wrote the poem La Estrellas de mi Cielo (The stars of my heaven) dedicated to the students of La Concordia College. Excelling with almost everything that he does, he graduated with high honors from his Bachelor of Arts degree. He later on enrolled in the University of Sto. Thomas to take up advanced pre-pharmacy subjects because of his interest in Chemistry.
Antonio did not only excel academically because along with his brothers, he engaged in sports activities as well. He learned military tactics from Don Martin Cartagena, a retired Spanish Cavalry Major, and also developed skills in handling a sword, fencing and marksmanship. He also got musically inclined having the mandolin, guitar and piano as his instruments.
One particular event that had a great impact on his life was the rebellion headed by his uncle, Adriano Novicio. This led to the imprisonment of his father and brother Jose but was eventually released. Given the permission to study abroad after witnessing the said event, Antonio went to Spain to continue his course on chemistry but also became active in several nationalist movements.
Antonio together with Rizal, became part of the Indios Bravos which aims to show their pride as Filipinos. Using the pen name Taga-Ilog, he also contributed articles to La Solidaridad a newspaper that sought to bring political and societal awareness to Filipinos. He would later compile his articles into a book entitled Impresiones.
Despite Antonio’s demanding academic life and involvement with several nationalist movements, Antonio still had the time to fall in love. He was first enchanted by a young woman from Madrid. Antonio pursued her and was convinced the feeling was mutual on both sides. They continued to see each other until Antonio knew about her fascination on bulls. As a man of letters and science, it was something he could not understand. For him it was out of character, she had become someone far from the sweet and tender girl he met. Soon after, another woman caught Antonio’s attention - Nelly Boustead. Antonio and Nelly met through their common friend De Tavera. Get-togethers were often celebrated at De Tavera’s house and there Antonio had the opportunity to pursue Nelly but things got complicated because of Jose Rizal. Antonio found out that Rizal was also pursuing Nelly. Things got rough to the point that Antonio even challenged Rizal in a fencing duel just to resolve the matter. As a man, Antonio valued his friendship more with Rizal and gave way for him. Antonio even gave the prize money he received from a writing contest regarding compiled biographies of prominent Filipinos to Rizal. Consequently, Rizal left a testament to Jose Basa stating that if anything happens to him, he leaves the care of his publication, the El Filibusterismo, as well as its proof reading to Antonio Luna.
After resigning from La Solidaridad, he formed a masonic group and continued to read books about military techniques to prepare for the impending Philippine revolution. He also formed a fencing school having Fabian dela Rosa as an instructor and Apolinario Mabini as one of the students.
Antonio Luna also displayed a wide-range of capabilities in terms of military techniques. When the Filipino-American alliance was forged to bring down the Spaniards, Antonio devoted his body and soul to the revolution. But problems arose as the Philippine Revolutionary Army recruited any willing, able, and courageous man into battle. The rich who were recruited, started to grab the higher ranks, and as a highly cultured man, Antonio came up with a solution to deal with the problem. He trained and disciplined those who were being recruited so they would learn to earn the rank that they wanted. That same year in October, he established the military academy in Malolos to execute his plan.
Despite struggles within the academy due to constant fights, lack of military science and late receiving of salary, Antonio Luna maximized the potentials of the Filipino soldiers by lecturing them of the proper use of terrain to their advantage. Moreover, he imposed discipline equally among his members, not caring about blood-bound relationships. In one occasion, when his brother, Juan, violated a military order, Antonio had him sent to jail. He was armed with the belief that revolution was to succeed at any cost.
Amidst the crisis of war, Antonio Luna’s love for his mother prevailed. He often wrote her letters informing her of his condition, and convincing her to take care of herself and her children. Antonio wrote in his last will that “I leave whatever I own to my mother. Should I be killed, enshroud me with a Filipino flag with the same clothes in which I died and bury me in the ground…I would die gladly for my country, for our independence...!”
Because of his manifestation of loyalty to the ideals of the Republic, Antonio was promoted to Lieutenant General and later, to Assistant Secretary of War. In the absence of the Secretary of War, Mariano Trias, Antonio temporarily took over his position. Advocates for Antonio to be Premier and Secretary of war increased in number when the Paterno cabinet resigned.
Mabini and other prominent figured supported the formation of the new cabinet headed by Antonio Luna, believing that he has the strong leadership to confront the Americans and fight for the country’s own independence. However, Antonio’s opponents assumed that they would lose control of the Republic and planned to assassinate him. They lured him to Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija and assigned soldiers to block every possible escape route.
On June 5, 1899, the plan was executed at the town convent under the signal of Captain Janolino of the Kawit battalion. Using his bolo, the Captain struck Antonio several times in the head. The other soldiers backed him up and shot Antonio again and again. He fell and died on the convent grounds at the age of 32 (Vivencio,1995).
B. Academic and Professional Career
Villamor (1992) recounts the life of Antonio Luna. As said in his book, Luna learned his first letters at six years old. He attended the private school of Maestro Intong. There he learned how to read and write the alphabet and perform arithmetic operations such as counting, adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing whole numbers. He also memorized by heart the Doctrina Cristiana (Catechism of the Christian Doctrine) written by Rev. Astete. This was a subject required to be taken in public and private schools in the Philippines.
In 1874, already eight years old at that time, Antonio transferred to Ateneo Municipal de Manila ran by Spanish Jesuit Fathers. Advancing his years of study in this institution, he showed his inclinations towards literature and chemistry. According to his professor Fr. Francisco Sanchez and some of his former classmates, Antonio frequented the library and the laboratory. He offered his service to catalog the new books in the library so he could read what he wanted. He also volunteered to clean the apparatuses in the laboratory for him to learn their mechanism and how they operate.
He completed his course of study leading to his Bachelor’s degree in Ateneo Municipal de Manila obtaining the highest grades in final exams, as shown in the certificates of promotion kept by ex-Senator Luna in his house in San Fernando, La Union.
In 1881, when he finished his Bachelor’s degree in Ateneo, as shown by his college diploma, he enrolled in advanced subjects preparatory to the study of Pharmacy in the University of Santo Tomas in Manila. It was then the only institution of higher learning in the Philippines. In 1885, the university held a contest for the best papers in science in honor of the cardinalship of Rev. Fr. Ceferino Gonzalez, who was a prominent alumnus of UST. Along with other thirteen students, Antonio submitted his paper into the competition. His paper entitled Dos Cuerpos Fundamentales de la Quimica (Two Fundamental Bodies of Chemistry) won the first prize.
After taking the first two years of his course in UST, Antonio (with the blessing and invitation of his brother Juan Luna) went to spain to continue his course in Pharmacy. He entered the University of Barcelona to advance his knowledge on the said course yet Antonio remained active on writing political and literary essays for the newspaper La Solidaridad.
Despite his involvement with several political groups, Antonio obtained his licentiate in Pharmacy in 1888. He then moved to Madrid to pursue a higher degree in the same course. At 1890 Antonio finished his doctoral degree at Universidad Central de Madrid and became the first Filipino with a doctoral degree in Pharmacy.
To further pursue scientific and cultural studies, he went to Paris for postgraduate studies. He assisted Dr. Lateaux in the Histological and Bacterial Laboratory, and Dr. Laffon in his Laboratory of Medical Analysis. There his dedication to bacterial studies and applied chemistry was well nourished as he was also under the supervision of Professor Swarst from Ghent. He was also able to compare notes with other foreign experts (who would later become expert bacteriologists) such as Drs. Kitasato, Buchner, Metchinkoff, Roger and Roux.
Antonio also contributed scientific articles to journals such as El Siglo Medico, La Farmacia Española, La Ilustracion Filipina, and La Revista Farmaceutica. The most recognized and significant of his scientific articles was the El Hematozoario del Paludismo (TheMalaria Hematozoa) which was a 45- page article published in El Siglo Medico in 1893. The article was positively reviewed by Dr. Pineau in Bulletin de Chimie and by Dr. Alberto Pulido in Boletin de Quimica Y Farmacia. (Santiago, 1994, 90-102)
In 1894 Juan and Antonio went back to Manila and set up a fencing studio. Aside from sports, Antonio’s inclination towards science never ceased as he competed with six other candidates to fill the post of Director and Professor of Chemistry in the Municipal Laboratory. Antonio got the post and worked as a chemist. Months after his appointment, Antonio was able to publish articles such as Notas Bacteriologicas Y Experimentales Sobre la Grippe (Bacterial and Experimental Notes on Influenza), and Memoria Sobre El Analisis de las Aguas Termales de Sibul which was a comprehensive study of the thermal waters of the springs in SIbul, San Miguel, Bulacan.
With the outbreak of the Katipunan Revolution, Luna was accused of being a member of the revolutionary group and was sent to Spain as a political exile in 1897. Due to the plea of his brother Juan, the case was dismissed and Antonio got out of prison. As he stayed in Spain, he read books about military tactics and guerilla warfare. He further studied military science in Ghent, and Belgium under the combat expert General Leman. (Villamor, 1992)
At his return to the Philippines, Luna was appointed Chief of the Armed Forces of the First Philippine Republic in 1898. He then later established a Military Academy at Malolos to train the recruits under his supervision. Although Antonio was caught up with the hype of the revolution, he was still able to nurture his love for science. He taught chemical analysis and its practical applications at the Universidad Cientifico Literaria (which is known today as the Scientific and Literary University of the Philippines). Furthermore, Antonio still had the time to be the publisher of the newspaper La Independencia. He was also promoted numerous times as Director of War, Lieutenant General, and later as Assistant Secretary of War due to his immense military skills. Antonio was also eyed as the next Premier and Secretary War before being assassinated on 1899.
Before his involvement in the Propaganda Movement and other revolutionary movements, Luna was an active scientific researcher. He was a widely recognized pharmacist known for his studies on contagious diseases. He was an expert chemist, undertaking the first environmental researches in the Philippines. And he also studied Philippine forensic science. (Alejandrino, 1949)
In 1893, he presented a scientific treatise in Madrid entitled El Hematozoario del Paludismo (The Malaria Hematozoa), a 45-page experimental study on Malaria. Luna’s paper explored and illustrated the pathology of malaria. According to Filipino historian Manuel Artigas y Cuerva (1910), it received the “warmest congratulations of eminent men in the scientific world.”
El Hematozoario del Paludismo
Luna specifically studied the subject of malaria since it was a disease common in the Philippines where the Spanish Government has commissioned him for a scientific mission. The prologue was written by Don Alberto Pulido, an esteemed academician. He praised Luna’s work as highly interesting and he was astounded by the ease which Luna tests and synthesizes data as well as be updated with the latest techniques in handling bacteriology experiments. (Luna, 1893, 9-11)
Luna (1893, 13-21) describes in the first part of the history of malaria and the studies that had been done by different scientists in the field. Malaria was originally taught to be caused by microorganisms floating in the atmosphere. Several Italian and German scientists had published reports on a certain bacteria as cause of malaria. Scientists then began to lean on the theory that malaria was caused by a type of parasite although the specific type of parasite was not discovered until 1880 by Charles Laveran. Luna further reviewed and mentioned other researches on malaria and he was anxious of what he might find in the waters of the Philippines.
In Part 2, Luna (1893, 22-28) depicts other experimental studies and results on malaria. He illustrates the effects of malaria such as melanemia, and he discusses the use and properties of quinine bark as treatment. Hematozoa were considered as the main culprit in the spread of malaria and this was backed by several quantitative analyses by different researchers, including Laveran’s himself.
The third part (Luna, 1893, 29-35) is Luna’s technical review of the physical characteristics of the hematozoa based on his and others’ observations. The parasites’ movement, color and parts were described and illustrated. A discussion on the parasites’ processes and response to stimuli were included.
According to Luna (1983, 36-40), the fourth part identifies the methods and procedures when experimenting with the parasites. Luna demonstrates full understanding of these methods due to his time in the Pasteur Institute and working with Elie Metchnikoff,one of his mentors and a pioneer researcher on the immune system.
Luna’s own results from experiments with the malaria parasite are discussed in Part 5. Antonio Luna (1983, 41-45) describes coloring the flagella using different chemical solutions to determine certain properties and reactions. He sought the help of Jose Luna, a doctor in the Municipal Service of Manila, to send blood samples of malaria patients from the Philippines for examination. He concluded that the physicians in the Philippines to use his study for reference, and that there is a lot more to study about the pathology of malaria.
Antonio then went to parts of France, Belgium and Germany. In Paris, he became an assistant in the Pasteur Institute’s Laboratory of Histology and Bacteriology under Doctor Latteux. In Ghent, he joined Doctor Laffon’s Laboratory of Medical Analysis. He also worked with other esteemed professors during his travel in Europe. He also contributed to scientific magazines such as La Revista Farmaceutica, La Farmacia Espanola, Siglo Medico and La Ilustracion Filipina.
Dr. Vallejo (2010) told that because of his achievements in Madrid, he was commissioned by the Spanish government to study the bacteria in contagious diseases and he went back to Manila.
In Manila, he was appointed the Chemist Expert of the Municipal Laboratory of Manila after he took a competitive test for the position. He studied the bacteriology of Pasig River and the study showed that its water is unfit for drinking. He published a report on “the rectification of the quantitative and qualitative analysis of the waters of Sibul.”
As the Chemist Expert of the Municipal of Manila, Luna made notable contributions to public health as he undertook the one of the first environmental science research in the Philippines. (Vallejo, 2010) He is recognized to have analyzed preserved products imported into the Philippines. He found Pasig River unfit for drinking after making bacteriology studies on its waters. He studied the practicality and feasibility of using human blood as evidence in judicial proceedings. He made a report on “the rectification of the quantitative and qualitative analysis of the waters of Sibul”, which suggested the therapeutic and medicinal qualities of the hot sulfuric spring. The Sibul springs remain a prime tourist attraction today for its medicinal properties.
Philippine Revolution and Philippine-American War
Antonio Luna is a very important Philippine hero merited by his contributions for the Philippine Independence. According to Dizon (1957), he wrote articles for La Solidaridad, the Propaganda Movement’s newspaper, where he criticized Spanish customs in his column entitled Impresiones. However, he declined the offer to join the revolution against Spanish occupation insisting reform was a better path to tread.
He studied military science under Belgian General Gerard Mathieu Leman. He then started to take active part in the Independence Movement where he was appointed by Emilio Aguinaldo as the Director of War under the republican government. He saw the need to discipline and train the volunteer soldiers and so he established the first military academy in Malolos, the Academia Militar, which gave comprehensive practical and theoretical training to recruits.
The outbreak of the Philippine-American War saw Luna go into seven major battles at La Loma, Caloocan, Pulilan, Calumpit, Apalit and Sto Tomas in just 4 months. As ammo and personnel began to dwindle, he was the first to suggest the move to adapt guerilla warfare which, according to former President Marcos, incorporated the ideas of Mao Tse Tsung and Che Guevarra. He also implemented the Luna Defense Line, a three-tiered defense line to delay the advancing Americans from Caloocan to Pampanga. In his book La senda del sacrificio, General Jose Alejandrino (1949), Luna’s friend and confidant, narrates Luna’s time as general, arming the Luna sharpshooters, men from a disbanded regiment who were both daring and decisive, and the Black Guard, 25 elite soldiers who attacked enemy camps by surprise.
The assassination of Luna was a major factor in the defeat of the Philippines against the Americans. Even opposing generals paid tribute to the military genius; Gen. James Franklin Bell went so far as to say that Luna “was the only general the Filipino army had.” (Marcos, 1968)
D. Awards and Recognition
General Antonio Luna, who fought for the country has contributed things beyond the battlefield. (YourDictionary, n.d.) He contributed on the field of science as a chemist, histologist, bacteriologist, and pharmacist. These contributions paved the way for him to receive several awards and recognitions.
According to Dr. Vallejo (2010) General Luna won first prize for his paper in Chemistry entitled Dos Cuerpos Fundamentales de la Quimica (Two Fundamental Bodies of Chemistry), which he won back in college where he studied literature and chemistry in the University of Santo Tomas. His doctoral thesis entitled El Hematozorio del Paludismo was also published in 1893. He was able to work at the Pasteur Institute and be trained in medical chemistry. He became a contributor to the leading Pharmacy journals of the day. Luna took the examination for Chemist Expert of the Municipal Laboratory of Manila, got high ratings, and was given a grant in 1894 to study tropical and communicable diseases and bacteriology of these contagious diseases.
He was also accounted for the first environmental science research in the Philippines, which included a) Bacteriological studies of the Pasig River water, and proved that the water from the river is not suitable for drinking, b) therapeutic and chemical properties of Sibul Spring water, and c) the first study on Philippine Forensic Science, and proved that human blood can be used as an evidence to solve criminal cases and judicial proceedings.
As a revolutionary hero, as told by Jose (1972), General Luna received recognition from the First Republic of the Philippines. He was awarded a medal for gallantry and valor in action. Inscribed on it were battles where he had distinguished himself: La Loma, Kalookan, Pulilan, Kalumpit-Bagbag, Apalit, Rio Grande, and Santo Tomas.
General Antonio Luna in his Military Uniform
General Antonio Luna at the Municipal laboratory
The Luna brothers; Antonio (left) and Juan (right)
Students of the Luna brothers dueling in their fencing studio
A clipped picture of General Antonio Luna with his co-writers in La Independencia
The death marker of General Antonio Luna in Nueva Ecija
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