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Fernando Ma. Guerrero

A man so gifted in writing was Fernando Ma. Guerrero, son of highly educated parents: Lorenzo Guerrero, a notable painter and art teacher, and Clemencia Ramirez.

He showed signs of a genius in his youth with facility for language. His father hired for him a private tutor for home education. He pursued and obtained the Bachelor of Arts degree from the Ateneo Municipal, and the Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Santo Tomas.

He joined the staff of La Independencia, a revolutionary periodical, and wrote incisive articles and editorials in beautiful Spanish – making it the most dynamic and influential Newspaper. He was appointed secretary of the Supreme Court by General Antonio Luna. He wrote for La  Patria and established his own paper, La Fraternidad. At El Renacimiento he was made City Editor, then later Chief Editor. Through the sheer power of his editorials this paper became outstanding.

His love for literature knew no bounds. He must have had storms of ideas swirling in his fertile mind. He wrote both prose and poetry; his favorite theme was “eternal sadness of things.” He believes in “purifying nature, wrapping her in a garment of beauty to cover her deformities. True and supreme art is the most common perfect interpretation of the aesthetic emotion.”

Guerrero was the major lyric poet before and after the revolution, until the introduction of English literature in our schools. Known as the “Prince of Filipino lyric poets” in Spanish, he also played the flute and guitar.

In Spanish lyric poetry, he was unsurpassed by his contemporaries. His poetry, like a prism, sparkled with different color-tones; sometimes, it was musical like a tropical love song; sometimes, it was classically grand; sometimes, it was tinged with melancholia; sometimes, it was stirring with heroic grandeur.

Guerrero was above all a national poet. He felt and thought as a Filipino, lived as a Filipino and died as a Filipino. He loved the Philippines with passionate fervor, and in limpid and elegant Spanish, he sang the mountains and rivers, seas and forest, flowers and women, heroes and martyrs, and sunrises and sunsets of his beloved land.

Politics attracted him, too. He became the Leyte representative to the Malolos Congress, and was elected deputado to the Philippine Assembly in the year 1907. He authored the first labor bills in the Philippines- ensuring workmen’s compensation, and the right of employees to form labor unions. Due to his nationalism, he became Secretary of the Independence Commission.

Against libel suits filed by the American Constabulary, for a series of publication on documented abuses and killing in Cavite, Batangas, and Cebu, Guerrero win a court victory. Thus, El Renacimeinto rose to its greatest glory, which enhanced his popularity.

Crisalidas was the title of his book of poems considered by Enciclopedia Filipinas as one of the ten best books o the Philippines. He stood in the frontline of the local golden era of Spanish literature for four decades since 1890.

Fernando Ma. Guerrero – he came like a silent storm of brilliance, brightening the crown of dark night, when the country’s ship of liberty was sailing but began sinking. Or like a thousand flowers blooming in a riot of colors, as the country bide farewell to Spanish, as it faced its inevitable fate, and embraced the English language.

Thousand of colorful flowers wilted when he died on June 12, 1929, with his death meaningfully falling on the anniversary of the Republic.

Fernando María Guerrero (1873-1929) is one of the most outstanding Filipino poets, journalists, politicians, lawyers, polyglots and educators during the Philippine's golden era of Spanish literature, a period ranging from 1890 to the outbreak of World War II.

Fernando Ma. Guerrero

Musician, journalist, politician, and lawyer. Considered the greatest lyric poet in Spanish. Born in Ermita, Manila, on May 30, 1873. When the revolution broke out, General Antonio Luna invited him to join the editorial staff of La Independencia, the organ of the revolution. Thus, he fought for the Filipino cause with his pen. Died in Manila June 12, 1929.

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