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Today in History

February 27, 1858

MANILA, Feb. 27 – On February 27, 1858, Pedro A. Paterno, the so-called peacemaker of the Revolution against Spain, was born in Sta. Cruz, Manila.

Belonging to a wealthy family, Paterno studied at Ateneo de Manila and afterward at the University of Salamanca. He likewise enrolled at the Central University of Madrid where he completed his law degree.

Like other Spanish-educated illustrados, he joined the second period of the Revolution and became a prominent figure in the First Philippine Republic.

Paterno's greatest contribution to the country was his role as a mediator in the Pact of Biak-na-Bato on December 14, 1897 which led to peace agreement between the Spaniards and the Filipinos, an account of which he published in 1910.

Although the agreement did not last long, it afforded General Emilio Aguinaldo the opportunity to buy arms and ammunition to plot another uprising. Without the Pact which Paterno successfully negotiated, the tide of events would have turned adversely against freedom-loving Filipinos.

Owing to his prestige as a lawyer and a statesman, he was chosen as President of the Malolos Congress, which met in inaugural session at the Barasoain Church in Malolos, Bulacan on September 15, 1898.

After his capture by the Americans in Benguet in 1900, he became involved in the pacification campaign. He was among the most prominent Filipinos who joined the American side and advocated the incorporation of the Philippines into the United States.

Ardently serving the cause of the propaganda movement by means of his prolific pen, Paterno wrote the first Filipino novel written in Tagalog, "Ninay" which depicted the customs and traditions of the people and was published in 1885, two years ahead of Dr. Jose Rizal's novel "Noli Me Tangere."

He wrote the first Filipino collection of poems in Spanish, "Sampaguitas y Poesias Varias" (Jasmines and Poems), published in Madrid in 1880.

Paterno also contributed a lot in Philippine literature. His work "El Cristianismo en la Antigua Civilization Tagalog" achieved so much admiration and recognition.

He died of cholera on April 26, 1911 at the age of 53.

Also on this same day in 1899, Pedro T. Orata, educator and known as the "Father of Barangay High Schools," was born in Urdaneta, Pangasinan.

After the liberation in 1945, Orata made high school education accessible for Filipinos through his efforts in building public high schools in every barangay in the Philippines.

He began this project by transforming a roofless church into the first community high school outside the provincial capitol in Pangasinan. He thus became instrumental in the creation of the Barrio High School Movement.

He organized the Pangasinan Provincial East High School, the first public high school outside of a provincial capital, which became the model for the present day barangay high school.

The school is now known as Urdaneta City National High School.

He received the 1971 Ramon Magsaysay Award for community service.

Some of Dr. Orata’s contributions to the public school system are the democratic method of school supervision, making use of cheap resources to alleviate the barrio economy, converting schools to educational complexes with laboratories, libraries, among others. (PNA)

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