The Arellanos: Patriots, architects, photographers

HISTORY MATTERS - Todd Sales Lucero - The Freeman

This week on April 25 in 1888, Juan Marcos Arellano was born in Tondo, Manila, to Luis de la Cruz Arellano and Bartola de Guzman. While only architecture students in the country probably remember him and his contributions today, Juan Arellano was one of the most accomplished and prolific architects in our history. He is best known for the Manila Metropolitan Theater, the Legislative Building (which is now the National Museum of Fine Arts), the Manila Central Post Office Building, the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex, the Central Student Church (today known as the Central United Methodist Church), the old Jaro Municipal building and the Old Iloilo City Hall in Iloilo, the Negros Occidental Provincial Capitol, the Cebu Provincial Capitol, the Bank of the Philippine Islands Cebu Main Branch, Misamis Occidental Provincial Capitol Building, Cotabato Municipal Hall, and the Jones Bridge during the pre-war era. And while the Arellano family is a name very few Filipinos associate with deep historical significance and cultural contributions these days, they have made a mark in our history and deserve recognition.

The family’s roots trace back to Juan de la Cruz Arellano, marking the beginning of a lineage filled with notable personalities who have played major roles in shaping the nation. The surname Arellano is a by-product of the Claveria surname decree of 1849. The Arellanos used “de la Cruz” before the decree and the Arellano surname is found in the Catalogo Alfabetico de Apellidos.

One of the standout members of the family, Deodato Arellano, is celebrated for his role in the Philippine Revolution against Spanish rule. A student from Ateneo Municipal, Deodato was not just a scholar; he was a fighter. As one of the founders of the Katipunan, the secret society that fueled the revolution, he served as its first president. Even after stepping down from this role, he never stopped working for the cause, setting up councils in Bulacan to spread the revolutionary spirit.

A nephew of Deodato's, Juan Arellano, made his mark in a different field --architecture. Educated in America at prestigious institutions like the Drexel Institute and the University of Pennsylvania, Juan brought home a blend of neoclassical and eclectic design styles. He adapted these styles to include local Filipino elements, creating iconic buildings. These structures are not just buildings; they are symbols of Filipino pride and creativity.

Another family member, Arcadio Arellano, also followed a path in architecture and construction. After studying at Ateneo Municipal and the Escuela de Artes y Oficios, he built homes and landmarks for Manila’s elite. His works, including the Gota de Leche building and the home of Gregorio Araneta, showcase a preference for Filipino styles, setting him apart as a pioneer in his time.

Manuel Arellano, another of the Arellano brothers, ventured into the arts and became one of Manila’s top photographers. His photographs provide a window into the past, capturing moments of Filipino history and life. But Manuel was not just about images; he was also deeply involved in music and the arts, contributing to the University of the Philippines Conservatory of Music.

The contributions of the Arellano Family span generations, with each member bringing something unique to the table --be it in politics, architecture, or the arts. Their dedication has enriched the Philippines’ cultural landscape and continues to inspire Filipinos to appreciate and uphold our heritage.

Through their various roles and achievements, the Arellanos remind us of the impact one family can have on a nation’s identity and progress. They are a testament to the Filipino spirit of excellence and patriotism, leaving a legacy that continues to influence and inspire. As we read about their contributions, let’s remember the Arellanos not just as historical figures, but as a family deeply woven into the fabric of our nation.

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