On October 24, 1853, Pedro Serrano Laktaw, a philologist and journalist, a teacher and patriot was born in Kupang, Bulacan, Bulacan. He was a boyhood companion and schoolmate of Marcelo H. Del Pilar.
Laktaw has a distinction as the only Filipino appointed one of the tutors to Prince of Asturias, who later became King Alfonso XIII, when the Prince was about 6 or 7 years old.
Laktaw is said to have been the only Filipino to obtain the degree of Maestro Superior from the Superior Normal School at Salamanca and the degree of Maestro Normal from the Central University of Madrid. Years before leaving for Spain-or about the year 1877-he had obtained the title of Maestro Elemental from the Escuela Normal Superior de Maestros in Manila, an institution controlled by the Society of Jesus of the province of Aragon, and had after graduation from that school, taken to the profession of teaching with an enthusiasm that knew no bounds.
Maestro Serrano Laktaw’s humble efforts as a teacher had first carried him to different parts of Luzon. He taught in San Luis, Pampanga; Malolos, Bulacan; and Binondo, Manila. It was as a teacher of the municipal school in Binondo – on what was then Calle de Jolo, now Juan Luna street – that Serrano Laktaw spent some of his best years and acquired quite an educational fame. He returned to this school after he came back from the Peninsula, and during the years that he was in charge of it he took under his benign tutelage numerous boys who later became prominent.
Notably, Laktaw, who also took part of the propaganda movement, along with Marcelo H. Del Pilar, Doroteo Cortes, Deodato Arellano, helped the Comite de Propaganda extolling democratic principles and exposing friars’ abuses. The Comite based in Manila, helped finance the publication of La Solidaridadin Spain.
Toward the end of 1891, he was charged with having clandestinely introduced subversive separatist propaganda into the country and with having allied himself with Germans, Englishmen, and other European nationals in the Philippines to promote revolutionary ends; was arrested and thrown into prison. To no avail did he defend himself. It was not until a new Captain-General, Don Ramon Blanco y Erenas arrived, that his case was reconsidered and his release subsequently granted. He resumed his propagandistic career, writing articles for El Heraldo de la Revolucion. He continued writing nationalistic articles under the American regime, for other organs such as Ang Bayan, Ang Kapatid ng Bayan and Kalayaan.
He also became a well-known lexicographer and grammarian when he published Diccionario Tagalog-Hispano in 1914. Together with his earlier volume Diccionario Hispano-Tagalog, the two books were described as the only lexicographical studies of scientific value by American linguist Leonard Bloomfield.
Laktaw, who published his Estudios Gramaticales Sobre la Lengua, is remembered now as one of the spelling reformers of the Tagalog language, along with Jose Rizal and Trinidad Pardo de Tavera.
Pedro Serrano Laktaw was married to Roberta Buison in 1887 with whom he had 13 children. Suffering from an intestinal ulcer, Laktaw died on September 22, 1928.
- Pedro Serrano Laktaw, The Philippine Magazine, Volume 33, Number 7, July 1940
- Philippines News Agency archives