Who is Rafael del Pan?

rafael del pan
@indiohistorian | Rafael del Pan: portrait by Juan Luna

Today in History in 1863, June 17, Rafael del Pan — lawyer, an adviser to Apolinario Mabini, journalist, statesman, and 1st Filipino criminologist – is born in Intramuros Philippines. He was born to Jose Felipe del Pan (a Spaniard) and Amalia Garcia Fontela, a Filipina.

Context: He began his formal schooling in Spain at the young age of 7, but went back to Manila to pursue his Bachelor of Arts in 1880. He studied at the Universidad Central de Madrid (now La Universidad Complutense de Madrid in 1884 and gained his Licentiate in Jurisprudence. @indiohistorian

His passion for the rule of law was seen in his graduate thesis, “Los efectos jurídicos de la Ignorancia de Derecho” (The legal effects of the ignorance of the law) on which Del Pan was conferred the Doctorate in Jurisprudence.

He became juez de paz for Intramuros for 2 terms and served as substitute fiscal in 1891. He headed La Oceania Española as editor-in-chief, one of the most influential broadsheets in Spanish Philippines. He also campaigned for Philippine representation in the Spanish Cortes (legislature).

When Spanish Gov. Gen Eulogio Despujol exiled Jose Rizal, his colleague, to Dapitan, Del Pan criticized the move and made his opposition to the friars known. In 1898, he became president of the Junta Revolucionario, a Filipino student-led organization in Madrid.

He was appointed 1st Philippine Republic ambassador to the U.S. after Felipe Agoncillo, presenting a petition to the U.S. Senate signed by 2,000 Filipinos, expressing the nation’s desire for independence. This influenced the passage of the Philippine Organic Act in 1902 granting representation.

Among other things: He translated Francisco Balagtas’ “Florante at Laura” in Spanish, Jose Rizal’s “Mi Ultimo Adios” in English (sent to U.S. Congressman Henry Allen Cooper who drafted the Cooper Bill a.k.a. Philippine Organic Act of 1902) and opposed Philippine statehood under the U.S.

Rafael del Pan opposed the Federalista Party in the Philippines and was one of the Nacionalista Party’s founders. He was also a founding member of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce in 1903. The Del Pan Bridge in Manila is named after him.

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