Sixto Lopez was born on 6 April 1863, oldest son of his parents Natalio Lopez and Maria Castelo, in Balayan, Batangas. After receiving his primary education from a public school in his hometown in 1875, his parents sent him to study at the Ateneo Municipal in Manila, where he completed his elementary education. He also studied under the tutelage of Dr. Cipriano Gonzales in 1880. After that, Lopez continued his studies at the Colegio de San Juan de Letran in 1882 and finished his secondary education at the University of Santo Tomas.
Connection with Jose Rizal
Sixto Lopez and Jose Rizal in Europe (Colorized), c. 1891, Presidential Museum and Library
Lopez read Jose Rizal’s works, Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. He showed interest in his friend’s work and became an avid supporter, privately giving financial aid to Rizal and his work. Lopez also privately circulated Rizal’s books in the country.
The local Spanish authorities became suspicious of his activities and raided his home in Balayan. Letters and a copy of the Noli Me Tangere were seized, evidence to which the Spanish authorities proved that Lopez indeed had participation in a plot to overthrow the Spanish colonial regime. However, Lopez eluded arrest by taking refuge in Manila, in the house of Jose Guido.
Lopez as a Propagandist and Revolutionary
In 1896, Lopez was in England when he learned about the Philippine Revolution. He began to dedicate his time as a propagandist, issuing press statements and articles to various European papers. He aimed to tell the truth about the condition of the Philippines under Spanish rule, which later earned him the admiration of the English and other foreigners.
Felipe Agoncillo and Sixto Lopez w/ two other Filipino representatives, while inspecting a map, c. 1898,
Courtesy of Arnaldo Dumindin
When Emilio Aguinaldo, then de facto president of the Philippine Revolutionary Government, reconstituted the Hong Kong Junta into the Comite Central Filipino on 23 June 1898, Lopez and Antonio Regidor were designated as correspondents for England. The Committee’s purpose was to direct all propaganda campaigns abroad, take charge of diplomatic negotiations with other countries, and purchase and ship arms when necessary.
Sixto Lopez (standing) and Felipe Agoncillo (seated), c. 1898, Frank Leslie’s Popular Monthly (via Hathi Trust)
Lopez also served as Felipe Agoncillo’s secretary when they went to the United States for diplomatic negotiations. He wrote to U.S. Secretary of State John Hay on 5 January 1899 requesting for Agoncillo to be given an audience on behalf of the Philippines. The request was ignored, but it did not deter Lopez and Agoncillo’s determination to urge the U.S. government to hear them. They attempted five more times, appealing to the U.S. government that they were still allies and that the Treaty of Paris should not be ratified by the U.S. Senate.All their letters were ignored. This was, as the Malolos Constitution was being drafted, ratified and promulgated, inaugurating the First Philippine Republic on 23 January 1899.
Lopez during the Philippine-American War
When the Philippine-American War broke out on 4 February 1899, Lopez went to Boston, Massachusetts informing the American people of the current situation of the Filipinos in the war. With the sponsorship of American anti-imperialists such as Erving Winslow, William Lloyd Garrison Jr., and Fiske Warren, Lopez tried to ignite American public opinion on the matter. He wrote and published numerous articles to the American press advocating for Philippine independence. He was even able to persuade some influential Americans, such as future U.S. Supreme Court justice Louis Brandeis.
Even as not all of Lopez’s siblings supported Philippine independence, the Americans still arrested three of Sixto Lopez’s brothers without charge on 13 December 1901, while he stayed in Hong Kong to campaign for the Philippine cause.
Lopez later went back to Manila in 1903 with Fiske Warren to see for himself the conditions of the Filipinos fighting against the might and superior armaments of the American forces. However, the American colonial administration barred his return, and deported him two months later for refusing to take an oath of allegiance to the United States. Lopez went back to Hong Kong to regroup with the other Filipino dissidents there.
Lopez became an alien to his own country because of his unwavering conviction that the United States had occupied the Philippines illegally, since its people have clearly expressed its will to self-determination. He was able to return, for a while, in 1915 as an alien, hence he was not able to stay long. Sixto only came back for good in 1946 when the Philippines achieved its independence from the United States, and had become an internationally recognized republic. Lopez retired to private life, tending to his farm in Balayan, Batangas, where he died on 3 March 1947.
Cinco, Maricar. Batangas town’s hero and Rizal’s friend. Philippine Daily Inquirer. Accessed February 23, 2022. https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1003530/batangas-towns-hero-and-rizals-friend
De Ocampo, Esteban A. The First Filipino Diplomat (1859-1941). Manila, Philippines: National Historical Institute, 1978.
Eyot, Canning. The Story of the Lopez Family: A Page from the history of the War in the Philippines. Boston, Massachusetts: James H. West Company, 1904.
Sixto Lopez. “A Filipino Independence Leader Denounces U.S. Intervention,” SHEC: Resources for Teachers, Accessed February 23, 2022. https://shec.ashp.edu/items/show8]
Sixto Lopez (1863-__) Revolutionary Propagandist. Filipinos in History. National Historical Institute.
Sixto Lopez Historical Marker. National Historical Commission of the Philippines. Accessed, February 23, 2022. https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1qwQzRw8BUsOLOy0pYIS8N2p5oYrNBKPa