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About Mena Pecson Crisologo
MENA PECSON CRISOLOGO
Popular Ilocano Writer and Politician
A popular Iloko poet and dramatist, Mena Crisologo, the son of Januario Crisologo and Eusebia Pecson, was born in Vigan, Ilocos Sur on November 11, 1844. He was married to Felipa Florentino, the sister of the poet Leona Florentino, by whom he had a daughter, Juana. Crisologo had an amiable character that made him well liked by his fellow Ilocano and, later, his comrades in the Philippine Revolution. He graduated from UST with a degree in Civil and Canon Law and practiced law in Vigan. Working also as a Diocesan Notary of Nueva Segovia, he defended the native clergy against the friars. In 1872, he founded the town of Salcedo, Ilocos Sur. He joined the Candon Rebellion in 1895, was caught, tortured and almost executed.
Crisologo represented Ilocos Sur in the Revolutionary Congress convened in Malolos, Bulacan on September 15, 1898. He was one of the signers of the Malolos Constitution. President Emilio Aguinaldo himself appointed him to the Congress.
During the American period, Crisologo served as the first provincial governor of Ilocos Sur in 1901. It was during his term that peace and order in the province was restored. In appreciation of his work, the government sent him as member of the commission of governors to the International Exposition held in St. Louis, Missouri in 1904. During his short stay in the United States, he met with the American President to whose attention he, together with other Philippine government officials, brought the country’s problems.
Governor Crisologo’s initiative bore positive results. The modernization of Ilocos Sur became one of the important agenda of the colonial authorities. During his term, which ended in 1904, Crisologo was instrumental in initiating development and infrastructure projects. He also spearheaded the launching of industrial and commercial establishments.
In the field Ilocano literature, Crisologo’s work, “Nagtacneng a Panagsalisal” (Noble Rivalry), is considered a classic, comparable to “Florante at Laura” of Francisco Balagtas. In the Ilocos, his poems, comedies and zarzuelas were, for a time, the popular fare in gathering at fiesta time. His plays usually focused on historical or contemporary issues and were played in Vigan between 1908-1915.
After he ceased to be governor, he devoted his attention to the popularization of the Ilocano language and literature. He also organized local orchestras and bands, to the delight of his musically minded former constituents. Most importantly, he introduced the Ilocano counterpart of the balagtasan, the Tagalog poetical contest, in which the victor was acclaimed “Prince of Ilocano Poets.”
His death at the age of 83 on July 5, 1927 marked the rebirth of the Ilocano’s awareness of their excellence in the musical and literary arts. For them, to remember Mena Crisologo during annual fiestas is to immortalize the “great Ilocano soul” in him.
- CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine Art Volume 7. Manila: Cultural Center of the Philippines,
- Gwekoh, Sol H. “Mena Crisologo-Ilocano Dramatist,” The Manila Times, July 15, 1966.