Remembering EDSA for Epifanio de los Santos

Nowadays, mention EDSA and you’ll get grunts about the heavy traffic, and perhaps, hear about recollections about the People Power Revolution that occurred 34 years ago as of today.

Formerly known as Highway 54, the road that stretched from Monumento all the way to the rotunda in front of the  SM Mall of Asia was renamed to commemorate Epifanio de los Santos, a national hero, whose contributions have been forgotten.

Epifanio, son of the famous musician (of their time) Antonina Cristobal y Tongco, made his mark in history as a man well-loved and respected by his fellow Filipinos for his efforts in uplifting the Filipino nationalism.

In contrast to other Filipino national heroes, Epifanio, or Don Panyong to his friends, became a hero without spilling blood. His acts of heroism came in the form of intellectual triumphs and enthusiasm for the potential of each Filipino.

In his own words, “We Filipinos are the most promising people in the world. We have unheard of possibilities. There never has been a people similarly situated. Here we are in the Orient, with our Oriental thoughts and sentiments, but living amidst a civilization more Western than was ever known in the East. The Philippines is the only country where East meets West. The Filipino is a true cosmopolite. From him the world may expect something new and distinctive.

Because of his fervor for Filipino history, he traveled the Americas, Europe, and many parts of Asia to locate and retrieve hard to find Philippine documents.

Epifanio was a rare genius. He excelled in multiple areas such as law, music, poetry, research, painting, philosophy, translation, ethnography, antiquarian, and writing. His literary ingenuity inspired and pushed the Real Academia Espanola to open in the Philippines.

As a writer under the pen name “Solon,” Epifanio wrote in La Independencia, the periodical organ of the Philippine Revolution against Spain, which was founded by General Antonio Luna.

Recognizing his passion for politics, Epifanio ran and won as the governor of Nueva Ecija in 1902 and 1904. 

Epifanio suffered a stroke in office and died on the 18th of April, 1928. He was just 57. His death was lamented by many, both by his fellow Filipinos and foreigners. 

About 30 years after, under RA No 2140, Highway 54 was renamed to Epifanio de los Santos Avenue on April 7, 1959 to commemorate one of the most renowned Filipino scholars.

As we celebrate the EDSA Revolution Anniversary, a special non-working holiday, or as we traverse the EDSA road, let us honor the Epifanio by remembering his great deeds and passion for Filipinos.

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Rayan Ramos