I HAD the opportunity to revisit the Ilocos Region again and this time around, I was able to visit some sites which I missed before. One of them was the Juan Luna Shrine. We learned in school that Juan Luna is one of our most renowned and greatest of Filipino painters of all time who lived circa the time of Jose Rizal. There was not much information about him. So being introduced to him once again was a walk through time and history.

Juan Luna y Novicio was an Ilocano born in Badoc, Ilocos Norte on October 23, 1857. His family moved to Manila and he studied at the Ateneo de Manila with a Bachelor of Arts degree but had a passion for the arts and drawing. Although he graduated as a sailor at the age of 17, he took drawing lessons in the Academia de Dibujo y Pintura.

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His vigorous brush strokes impressed his drawing teacher and encouraged him to go to Spain to further his studies. His first art exposition was in Madrid and was so impassioned when his Death of Cleopatra won a silver medal that from then on, his passion for painting heightened. This earned him a pension scholarship at the Ayuntamiento de Manila.

In May 1884, he shipped the large canvas of the Spolarium, his most celebrated piece, to Madrid for the year's Exposición Nacional de Bellas Artes. He was the first recipient of the three gold medals awarded in the exhibition and Luna gained recognition among the connoisseurs and art critics present.

Filipino and Spanish nobles organized an event celebrating Luna's win in the exhibition. That evening, Rizal prepared a speech for his friend, addressing the two significant things of his art work, which included the glorification of genius and the grandeur of his artistic skills.

Luna developed a friendly relationship with the King of Spain and was later commissioned by the Spanish Senate to paint a large canvas which was called the La Batalla de Lepanto (The Battle of Lepanto).

He moved to Paris in 1885 where he opened his own studio and befriended Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo. A year after, he finished the piece El Pacto de Sangre (The Blood Compact) in accordance with the agreement he had with the Ayuntamiento of Manila. It is now displayed in the Malacañang Palace.

In 1887, Luna once again traveled back to Spain to enter in that year's Exposition two of his pieces, the La Batalla de Lepanto and Rendicion de Granada (Surrender of Granada), which both won in the exhibition. Graciano Lopez Jaena, another notable hero in Philippine history, delivered a congratulatory speech for his triumph.

With elements of Romanticism, Luna's paintings show the influence of Delacroix, Rembrandt, and Daumier. Luna painted literary and historical scenes, some with an underscore of political commentary. His allegorical works were inspired with classical balance, and often showed figures in theatrical poses.

Juan Luna married Maria de la Paz Pardo de Tavera 1891 and the couple settled in Paris. They had one son, Andrés, and a daughter who died in infancy. Luna was fond of painting his wife. Reproductions are found in the Juan Luna Shrine in Ilocos Norte. Luna was a passionate man and he was frequently jealous of his wife. He accused Paz of having an affair with a certain Monsieur Dusssaq.

In a fit of jealousy and moment of incontrollable passion, he mercilessly shot his wife and mother-in-law and wounded his brother-in-law, Felix, in 1892. He was arrested and murder charges were filed against him.

It is believed that the Queen Regent of Spain, Maria Christina of Austria was the second Queen consort of King Alfonso XII of Spain and was Queen Regent of Spain during the minority of her son Alfonso XIII and during the abeyancy of the throne before his birth, from 25 November 1885 – 7 May 1902. Biography:Known...intervened through her emissaries on Luna’s behalf. She was said to have been enamored with Luna and pleaded that he was “an artistic genius we cannot afford to lose.” It was through her influence that Luna was finally acquitted on February 8, 1893. The courts deemed it a crime of passion.

After an absence of 20 years, Luna moved back to the Philippines in 1894 returning during the Philippine Revolution of the Cry of Balintawak.

Unfortunately, on September 16, 1896, he and his brother Antonio Luna were arrested by Spanish authorities for being involved with the Katipunan rebel army. He was pardoned by the Spanish courts on May 27, 1897 and was released from prison and he traveled back to Spain were he rejoined Dr. Jose Rizal, Marcelo H. del Pilar and Graciano Lopez Jaena.

In 1898, he was appointed by the executive board of the Philippine revolutionary government as a member of the Paris delegation which was working for the diplomatic recognition of the República Filipina in 1899. Luna was named a member of the delegation to Washington to press for the recognition of the Philippine Government.

Maria Christina of Austria was the second Queen consort of King Alfonso XII of Spain and was Queen Regent of Spain during the minority of her son Alfonso XIII and during the abeyancy of the throne before his birth, from 25 November 1885 – 7 May 1902.-Biography: Known...Upon hearing of the death of his brother Antonio who was in Hongkong in exile, he immediately flew to the British colony in December of 1899. With the many stresses that enveloped Juan Luna’s passionate life, he suffered a heart attack and died there.

I was glad to hear more about the life of our national hero, the passionate Juan Luna. The Luna ancestral home serves as the shrine that honors Juan Luna. The shrine is a two storey building of red brick (which is a characteristic of most Ilocos structures) reconstructed in 1977 by the National Historical Institute.

This house is the birthplace of two brother heroes Juan Luna and General Antonio Luna. In this Luna House, we see reproductions of the masterpieces created by Juan Luna himself.

The Spoliarium, which is his greatest work, followed by the Blood Compact, La Battala de Lepanto, People and Kings and Parisian Life and many other notable works. A tour around the shrine gave me a better picture of Juan Luna more than what I learned in history books years ago some of it edited I believe. While his passion and genius gained for him global renown, geniuses and heroes too can succumb to crimes of passion.