Fathers of the Philippines

Published June 18, 2022, 1:00 PM

by Jules Vivas

To commemorate Father’s Day, let us honor some of the pioneers of various fields of excellence in the country

Fathers are creatures of essential momentum, propelling not only households but society itself.

There are those considered the foundation of the family and, in the bigger picture, pillars of mankind. The term father, after all, is synonymous with the words progenitor, creator, visionary, and inventor.

In honor of fatherhood, we remember and celebrate the trailblazers who have improved the lives of Filipinos and furthered their fields of expertise to greater heights.

Andres Bonifacio (1863-1897)

Father of the Philippine Revolution

One of the founders and later the Kataastaasang Pinuno (Supreme President) of the Kataastaasan, Kagalanggalangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan (KKK) or the “Katipunan” movement, which won the independence of the Philippines from Spain. He was the first to leap toward freedom. Having helped the country break free from the first colonial rule, Andres is one of the most memorable figures in Philippine history.


Francisco Balagtas (1788-1862)

Father of Philippine poetry

The Filipino litterateur and poet from the Spanish colonial period is widely considered one of the greatest literary laureates for his impact on Philippine literature. His defining work is the epic, Florante at Laura. He is greatly idolized in the country that the term for “Filipino debate” in extemporaneous verse is named after him—Balagtasan.

The guiding light of a father proves to be the brightest star in the sky.


Jose Nepomuceno (1893-1959)

Father of Philippine movies

Otherwise known as the “founder of Philippine cinema,” Jose produced the first Filipino silent film titled Dalagang Bukid in 1919, which featured national artist Atang de la Rama. He established his own film house Jose Nepomuceno Productions, and directed Un (El) Capullo Marchito (A Wilted Rosebud), Ang Tatlong Hambog (The Three Humbugs), and Anak Dalita (Child of Sorrow), to name a few.

He is also credited for discovering various famous Filipino actors and actresses such as Rogelio de la Rosa, Leopoldo Salcedo, Carlos Padilla Sr. and Jose Padilla Jr., Fernando Poe, Rosa del Rosario, Lucita Goyena, Elsa Oria, Corazon Noble, Rosario Moreno, and Mila del Sol.


Ildefonso Pael Santos Jr. (1929 – 2014)

Father of Philippine landscape architecture

Ildefonso, popularly known as IP Santos, was recognized as a national artist for architecture in 2006 for his outstanding landscaping of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, Bantayog ng mga Bayani, Manila Hotel, Rizal Park, and many other distinguished landmarks.


Damián Domingo y Gabor (1796 – 1834)

Father of Philippine painting

One of the most sought-after artists in 19th-century Philippines, Damián Domingo started his craft with miniature portraits, religious imageries, and illustrations of native costumes. The Chinese Filipino mestizo is highly regarded in Philippine history for establishing academic courses in Filipino art. He made art more accessible in 1821, after establishing a school for artists in his residence in Tondo, Manila—a huge leap for the discipline in the country. The Tondo-born painter, likewise, oversaw the growth and development of art as the director of the first official Philippine art academy.


Antonio Molina (1894-1980)

Father of Philippine impressionist music

The Filipino composer, conductor, and music administrator was named a national artist for his services to music. He is also known as the Claude Debussy of the Philippines due to his use of impressionist themes in music. Molina is credited with over 500 compositions.


Anacleto del Rosario (1860-1895)

Father of Philippine science and laboratory

A leading chemist in the Philippines during the Spanish era, Del Rosario invented the formula for producing a pure kind of alcohol from tuba in a nipa palm. The formula won him the first prize during the World Fair in Paris in 1889. Known as the first homegrown scientist of the Philippines, he became the first director of the Manila City laboratory. His position led him to jumpstart science and technology in the Philippines by increasing the standards for quality control on essential items and investigation of natural resources


Ramon Valera (1912-1972)

Father of Philippine fashion

From the ’30s to the ’70s, Ramon dazzled Manila by revolutionizing and modernizing Philippine motifs. His prominence stems from his “magical seminal innovations” on the Philippine terno, as noted by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts. Considered the dean of Philippine Fashion, he was the first designer bestowed with the national artist for fashion honor in 2006.


Dioscoro Siarot Rabor (1911-1996)

Father of Philippine wildlife conservation

Dr. Dioscoro S. Rabor with wife Lina Florendo-Rabor

The world-renowned ornithologist, zoologist, and conservationalist, Joe Rabor, led more than 50 wildlife expeditions in the Philippines. He also authored 87 scientific papers and articles, described 69 new bird taxa and several mammal species, and brought public attention to the endangered status of the Philippine Eagle.


Father Victor Badillo (1930-2014)

Father of Philippine astronomy

Instrumental in establishing the first astronomy club for amateur astronomers in the country, the Philippine Astronomical Society (PAS), Father Victor Badillo’s is a huge name in the astronomical community. He was a key figure in the creation of the Astronomical League of the Philippines (ALP), a general society for professional and amateur astronomers and astronomy enthusiasts. Both organizations continue to operate, taking a lead role in developing astronomy. He was a prime mover in promoting astronomy to the public through lectures on space science and observations of celestial objects. For his dedication to improving the state of astronomy in the Philippines, asteroid Badillo 4866 was named after him.