BACOLOR The heirs of Juan Crisostomo Soto (Crissot), Sapni nang Crissot Literary and Cultural Foundation Inc. and Bacolor local government commemorated the 156th birth anniversary of the Father of Capampañgan Literature in a simple rites at his monument in Bacolor, Pampanga on Friday, Jan. 27.

Crissot (1867-1918) was playwright, zarzuela director, theatre actor, librettist, novelist, poet, writer, co-founder of newspapers Ing Alipatpat, and Ing Emangabiran, and a journalist.

A National Historical Commission marker installed in 2012 said Crissot translated Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere and El Filebusterismo and joined the Philippine Revolution against Spain in 1896 and against America in 1898.

He was recognized by the Philippine Centennial Commission in 1999 as among 100 Filipinos who helped build the nation through arts and culture.

Soto was born on January 27, 1867, in Barrio Sta. Ines in Bacolor. His first literary work "Ing Pamaquiasaua ning Mete" was inspired by Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. This was followed by about 50 zarzuelas, and many poems, novels, short stories, comedies and essays.

He took an active part in the 1898 revolution under the command of General Maximino Hizon of Mexico and General Eugenio Blanco of Macabebe, and later under General Tomas Mascardo.

During Aguinaldo's retreat to the North as the American forces were advancing, Soto was captured by the Americans and he was sentenced to death by musketry for refusing to divulge Aguinaldo's whereabouts.

After his release, Soto engaged himself in journalistic pursuits by writing and serving as editor of newspapers in Pampanga and Manila.

He helped found the pioneer newspapers in Pampanga, like "Ing Emangabiran," "Ing Alipatpat" and "Ing Balen."

Soto died of a heart attack on July 12, 1918 in Manila.

His remains were immediately brought to Bacolor and were buried at the Bacolor Catholic Cemetery.

On August 2, 1919, the "Aguman 33," a gathering of actors who acted in Soto's zarzuelas, raised funds and built a monument to his memory. It has become a fixture in the landscape of Bacolor, being among the first landmarks to be unearthed after the town was practically sunk in lahar in 1995.

In 2012, the local government of Villa de Bacolor restored it together with other monuments in the town. The National Historical Commission of the Philippines re-fabricated and re-installed the old National Historical Institute historical marker which was also sunk in lahar in 1995, together with its original base.