Today in History in 1867, Juan Crisostomo Soto, a poet, playwright, journalist, and revolutionary leader, was born in Santa Ines, Bacolor, Pampanga. Also known as “Crissot,” he is acknowledged as a pioneer who trail-blazed for Kapampangan literature.
Born to Santiago Soto and Marciana Caballa, Crissot was 2nd of the 3 children. Noticing his literary skill, his father had him trained in San Fernando, Pampanga under Vicente Quirino. Quirino was also a teacher to many influential Filipinos such as Jose Alejandrino, among others.
His passion for theater only heightened with the visit of a Spanish performing troupe in San Fernando. He attended all the performances and further honed his skill. Soon he studied at Letran but was not able to finish the program in 1884 as he wrote his version of “Romeo & Juliet,” entitled “Pamaquiasaua Ning Mete” (Wedding of the Dead). When he went back to Bacolor and worked for the colonial gov as a clerk, he translated some known western literary works in Kapampangan— “Faust,” “Lovers of Teruel,” & “La Mascota.”
Crissot finished his 1st original zarzuela entitled “Paninap Nang Don Roque,” as he went up the ranks of colonial gov service. At first, he did not support the Philippine Revolution vs. Spain in 1896, but upon seeing its just cause, he joined it in 1898.
During the Philippine-American War, he was under the command of generals Maximino Hizon, & Eugenio Blanco of Macabebe. Soon he was put under Gen. Tomas Mascardo. After fighting valiantly & having been severely wounded in Porac, he was promoted to captain.
The Americans held his father hostage for him to surrender. Upon capture, he was sentenced to death by firing squad for not revealing the whereabouts of Emilio Aguinaldo. However, due to maneuverings, he was released. He joined La Independencia as a journalist.
Under the American regime, he continued to work on his literary pursuits. He helped Luther Parker publish the English-Spanish-Pampango Dictionary in 1905. All in all, he wrote a novel, 49 plays (among these, the well-known “Alang Dios!”), short stories, poems, & columns.
In 1926, Kapampangan poets led by Amado Yuson paid homage to him by calling the Kapampangan form of Balagtasan as “Crissotan.” The 1st Crissotan was held at a house in Santa Cruz Manila that year hosted by the org Aguman Crissot (Crissot Association). (@indiohostorian)