Anyone who either grew up in Metro Manila or have been living here for quite some time have at least experienced both the highs and woes that the Epifanio de los Santos Avenue, known to Filipinos as EDSA, has to offer in terms of everyday commuting or holiday road tripping.
For foreigners who wish to visit the Philippine’s busy metropolis, a quick research will tell them that EDSA is a limited access circumferential 23.8-kilometer freeway that will take you around the capital, Manila. In addition, it is the main channel that will guarantee even a neophyte driver or anyone unfamiliar to the roads of the big city that they can find their way around six (6) of the National Capital Region’s (NCR) seventeen (17) local government units from south across north: Pasay, Makati, Mandaluyong, San Juan, Quezon City to Caloocan City.
Everything about EDSA can easily be looked up online or anyone who has been living in the metro for a long time. However, two interesting questions that a culture enthusiast might ask are, why is it called, “EDSA” and not any other name? Who was Epifanio de los Santos?
Filipinos know Epifanio de los Santos as a national hero, but not everyone knows the things that made the man highly respected and deeply loved both by his contemporaries and even by the past and present generations who knew of his contributions to the cultural history of the country.
Here are 25 things to know about the man behind EDSA’s name.
1. Epifanio de los Santos was born in Malabon, Manila, but spent the best of his childhood memories in Rizal, Nueva Ecija.
2. His mother, Antonina Cristóbal y Tongco, was a famous musician during her time.
3. As a student, he was an excellent performer. He obtained a summa cum laude from the Ateneo Municipal de Manila, when he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree.
4. He was awarded a professorship in music, an unexpected turn since he initially devoted some time for painting before discovering his flair for the musical art form.
5. De los Santos also earned a law degree in the University of Santo Tomas, and he later on topped the bar exams in 1898.
6. Epifanio became interested in gathering plant and flowers in his father’s hometown in Nueva Ecija, a hobby that helped him develop his collecting instinct that will later on manifest in his brilliant works as a historian and collector.
7. According to his father, he looked like a simple boy and nobody in the community thought that he would someday become a literary man.
8. Epifanio was a romantic man, according to anyone who knew him. He once made a beautiful portrait of a friend, Rosa Sevilla, and composed a melody dedicated to her.
9. Epifanio de los Santos was known as Don Panyong (Don Pañong) by his friends and contemporaries.
10. Don Panyong married twice, with both his sons from the first and second marriages made their own names in the field of history and engineering, respectively.
11. Don Panyong himself was a noted Filipino historian, respected by many Filipinos and foreign scholars.
12. He was also a genius, having mastered several expertise as: art and literary critic, jurist, prosecutor, antiquarian, scholar, archivist, painter, poet, musicologist, musician, philosopher, philologist, translator, bibliographer, editor, journalist, publisher, ethnographer, researcher, biographer, civil servant, and a hero of the Philippine revolution.
13. His excellence was also recognized in the writing community when he was considered as one of the best Filipino writers in Spanish.
14. He was a recognized literary genius and it was for this reason that the Real Academia Española opened its doors to the young native scholars of the country.
15. Don Panyong used the pen name, Solon, when he wrote for the revolutionary paper, “La Independencia” in 1898.
16. He was a polyglot, fluent in several major languages like English, Spanish, French German, and even tribal Philippine’s Tingian, Ita, and Ibalao.
17. Don Panyong travelled across Europe and Asia and even in the Americas to search for rare Philippine documents from museums and library archives around the world. In fact, he was able to bring home paintings and sculptures of Juan Luna, Fernando Amorsolo and works of other famous Filipino artists, writers and historians.
18. He became the first democratically elected provincial governor when he won as the governor of Nueva Ecija in 1902 and 1904.
19. Don Panyong was appointed as the Director of the Philippine Library and Museum by the Governor General Leonard Wood in 1925.
20. Three years later, he died in office on April 18, 1928.
21. The Philippine government offered a tribute to a stately funeral; Local and even foreign scholars who knew Don Panyong and his works, lamented to the loss of, as they described it, “Great among the Great Filipino Scholars.”
22. After Don Panyong’s death, his treasured collections had to be maintained and protected. By the virtue of the Philippine Clarin Act and negotiations with his two widows and families, they were bought by the Philippine government for P 19,250.00.
23. He grew up in the Rizal Province, and the residents of the said region urged the government to name the present EDSA after a Rizaleño.
24. Major historical organizations like the Philippine Historical Committee (presently known as National Historical Commission of the Philippines), the Philippine Historical Association, the Philippine Library Association, Association of the University and College Professors, and two the Philippines’ famous Rizaleños, Eulogio Rodrigquez Sr and Juam Sumulong, supported the move to rename the freeway from Highway 54 to Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (Avenida Epifanio de los Santos).
25. Epifanio de los Santos was born on the 7th of April, 1871. On the same date in the year 1959, Republic Act No. 2140 was passed, renaming the avenue as EDSA to honor the genius slash hero.
Filipinos in the past greatly valued and offered their entire lifetime for their beloved country. Epifanio de los Santos used his genius and expertise to make it easier for generations of today to identify themselves as a product of a proud and rich nation both culturally and historically.
The question now is, are we living our lives proudly and honoring our country just like how the great heroes in the past did?