FATHER GREGORIO CRISOSTOMO Y LUGO
Priest and Patriot (1860-1918)
Father Gregorio Crisostomo y Lugo was the older brother of Mariano Crisostomo y Lugo, Propagandist, Katipunan member, revolutionist and Delegate of Bulacan province at the Malolos Congress. Gregorio and Mariano were nephews of Marcelo H. del Pilar1, one of the leaders of the Propaganda movements. Their parents were Maria Lugo and Guillermo Crisostomo, both of whom came from wealthy clans of Bulacan.2
Gregorio was born in the sitio of Atlag in the town of Malolos, Bulacan on 17 November 1860.3 For his primary instruction he studied under the famous teacher Jose A. Flores of Laguna. According to one biographer, Gregorio continued his studies at the Colegio de San Juan Letran, and moved to the University of Santo Tomas for his tertiary education, eventually obtaining a degree in Theology4, in answer to a calling for the priesthood. However, according to another source, he attended the Seminario de San Carlos in Manila from 1883 to 1887, and in 1894, became a “coadjutor” or assistant parish priest in the parish of San Francisco de Malabon (now General Trias), Cavite.5
As nephews of Marcelo H. del Pilar, Gregorio and Mariano were bound, sooner or later, to fall under his influence. They joined him in his advocacy for political reforms for the country, Mariano, through the Propaganda movement led by del Pilar and Jose Rizal, disseminating its ideas and distributing propaganda materials in his hometown and elsewhere. Later, Mariano joined the Katipunan, and headed its local chapter in Malolos, was eventually arrested by authorities for subversive activities and thrown in jail, gaining release only after the Pact of Biak-na-bato was signed by the Filipino revolutionists and the colonial government in December 1897. Mariano rejoined the Revolution when it was officially resumed by Aguinaldo in 1898.
No less idealistic and involved in the emancipation of their countrymen, Gregorio as a Filipino secular priest naturally identified with the aspirations of the Secularization and Filipinization movement (earlier led by the martyred Filipino priest Fathers Jose Burgos). Gregorio himself he later got first-hand experience of what it was like to suffer for his being a Filipino secular priest and a relative of del Pilar.
His first mission as a priest was said to have been in Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija, where his superior was Fr. Jose Fuentes6, or Fr. Jose de la Fuente, but it is not clear exactly when Gregorio served under him since he was a seminarian until 1887, while according to one account Fr. Fuentes served in the Cabanatuan parish in the following years: 1875-1879; 1884-1886, and 1891, and that he (Fuentes) died in February 18917.
Gregorio reportedly failed to get in the good graces of Fr. Fuentes, and was also suspected by the Guardia Civil. The latter harassed him once by trying to stop a procession he organized, but Gregorio foiled the attempt, resulting in his being transferred to the parish of Boac, Marinduque. Due to his policy of charging the parishioners only minimal church fees, it did not take long for him to be removed again, but instead of transferring him to another parish, he was sent back to the seminary, where he was under suspension for nine days.8
After his suspension, he was said to have been sent either to Rosario, Batangas9, or Ibaan, Batangas, where his situation came to a head in 1891.10 He was arrested and imprisoned at the seminary, together with Fr. Ricardo Gatdula, a fellow coadjutor at Ibaan parish (and most probably his classmate at the San Carlos Seminary, since Gatdula studied there during the same period –1883-188711). Gatdula had earlier implicated Gregorio of having recruited him to the secret meetings organized by local leaders who were supporters of the Propaganda movement and its anti-friar campaign. Gatdula alleged that it was Gregorio’s task to disseminate anti-friar materials (such as leaflets and pamphlets) furnished by his Propagandist brother, Mariano.12
By this time, the Katipunan had spread to Morong, its ideals gaining popularity with the native populace, attracting even the local guardia civil, which attacked the town hall in October 1896. The rebellious guardia civil, knowing perhaps of Fr. Gregorio’s his reformist stance, asked him to be their leader13. However, because he was newly released from prison, he refused their offer and persuaded them, instead, to end their rebellion, thus proving his loyalty to the colonial government.
Fr. Gregorio nevertheless reverted to his anti-government stance when, as parish priest of Tanay, he joined the Katipunan rebels in assaulting the town center on January 29, 1897. Discarding his priest’s habit, he courageously manned the lantaka (native cannon) against the enemy troops (anticipating the image of the Filipino Catholic priest turned armed revolutionary of the martial law period). Fr. Gregorio and his fellow rebels were, unfortunately, routed, captured and thrown in jail,14; Fr. Gregorio himself was detained as an incommunicado at the Convent in Tanay.15 He was released in March 1898, on account of the efforts of Fr. Remigio Muñoz, his superior at Tanay parish, who, citing his mediation of the guardia civil uprising at Morong the year before, had convinced the Archbishop to negotiate with the Governor General.16
He was serving at Concepcion, Malabon17, when the Filipino-American War broke out in February 4, 1899. Once more, he answered the call to serve the nation by rejoining the army and taking to the battlefield. As the war wore on, it took its toll upon the revolutionary army, causing intrigues and division among the leaders or different units, often over territorial jurisdiction and exacerbated by regionalism or varied backgrounds. One such intramural transpired between the Bulakeño unit, to which Fr. Gregorio belonged, and the Caviteños, which resulted in his arrest by Lazaro Makapagal, a trusted aide of General Emilio Aguinaldo, in September 1898.
He resumed his commitment to the revolutionary cause upon his release, once again taking to the battlefield. He was later acclaimed by the revolutionary newspaper La Republica Filipina, for his courageous service to the country, to wit:
“There you will see him in moments of danger, just like the least soldier, defending a trench, mingling with the masses; or helping one of the wounded. There you will see him barefoot digging trenches when the enemy is not harassing them, sharing with the crowd their frugal meal and stirring up with his moral and material collaboration, the spirit of those around him.”18
With Malabon eventually falling into the hands of the Americans, Fr. Gregorio was captured and imprisoned in San Isidro, Nueva Ecija for refusing to take the oath of allegiance to the American flag. He also refused to leave the priesthood in spite of the pressures upon him to do so19, believing, perhaps, that there was no difference between being a good priest and being a patriot.
Events following his release would seem to show that he continued to support the struggle for Philippine independence, for, in October 1900 he was arrested together with Fr. Osmundo Lim and Ambrosio Marasigan, municipal head of Paombong, Bulacan. Accused of secretly supporting the guerrillas by way of “money, information, and sympathy”, he was subsequently fined P1,000 and imprisoned at hard labor for 18 months, working “the roads, with his feet in chains.”20
After his release, he resumed pastoral work at the parish of Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija and was also given charge of 14 other churches in the province. Apart from this, he devoted himself to farming and was even named head of a farmers group.21 He shared the profits yielded by the produce of his farms in Bulacan and Nueva Ecija (in Santa Rosa and Cabanatuan), helping the veterans of the Revolution and the Filipino-American War, and donating his estate to the government, on the condition that this be used in building a hospital, an asylum for the insane, a maternity clinic22, as well as for subsidizing publics schools23.
He died on February 16, 191824.
1 E. Arsenio Manuel, Dictionary of Philippine Biography, Vol. 1 [Quezon City: Filipiniana Publications, 1955] p. 138.
3 Isayas R. Salonga, Mga Ulirang Pilipino [Maynila: I.R. Salonga, 1948], p. 26.
5 Regalado Trota Jose, Curas de Almas, Volume 4 [Manila: The Author and UST, 2008], p. 89.
6 Salonga, p. 26.
7 Jose, p. 127.
8 Salonga, p. 26.
9 Ibid., pp. 26-27.
10 Schumacher, p. 43.
11 Jose, p. 143.
12 John N. Schumacher, S.J., Revolutionary Clergy, The Filipino Clergy and the Nationalist Movement, 1850-1903 [Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1981], p. 43
13 Salonga, p. 27.
14 Schumacher, p. 58.
15 Salonga, p. 27.
16 Schumacher, op. cit.
17 Op. cit.
18 Schumacher, p. 125.
19 Salonga., p. 27
20 Schumacher, p. 130.
21 Salonga, p. 28.
22 Bureau of Lands, Annual Report of the Director of Lands [S.l.: Bureau of Lands,1938], pp. 34-35. (http://quod.lib.umich.edu. June 23, 2010]
23 Salonga, p. 28.
24 E. Arsenio Manuel, Dictionary of Philippine Biography, Vol. 4 [Quezon City, Filipiniana Publications, 1995] p. 137.