Tag Archive: Battle of Lepanto

Three men fascinate me. Jose Rizal. Ernest Hemingway. Juan Luna. I suspect it is the wild side and mystery about each of these men that attracted me to them. 😉Like you admire them one second. And wish to mother them the next sec.







Back home, Juan Luna’s “Spoliarium” in the National Art Gallery is the highlight of any afternoon spent at the Museum. I’m glad this masterpiece was given ample space to view the obra maestro in all its glory. When my family went on a trip to Ilocos, a visit to the Luna Shrine was most definitely the highlight of that family holiday. When I heard there would be a lecture on Luna and his Art at the GSIS Museum, I thought it was a good idea to combine the lecture with a viewing of Parisien Life, that most controversial GSIS acquisition. When I learned Luna’s “Battle of Lepanto” hangs in the Senate Hall in Madrid, I knew I couldn’t leave Madrid without viewing it!




I sent an email to the Madrid Senado’s website if I may be allowed entry. 🇪🇸 There was an exchange of emails between me and Mercedes who was most kind and accommodating. We fixed a date and time, then she put me in a group of visiting Spanish ladies and apologized that the “tour” would be in Spanish. Bueno!





Of course, no photographs were allowed. We were ushered inside a hall with 4 murals of Spanish painters. One 1859 mural almost tempted me to cheat on Mercedes and take a photo with my iPhone. “La Coronacion de D. Manuel Quintana” (who is he?) by Luis Lopez Piqueo, huge at 428 x 561, is slightly bigger than Juan Luna’s Battle of Lepanto (350 x 550) which hangs on one wall along a narrow corridor. Mercedes was kind enough to open the meeting room across Luna’s mural just so I can have a good view of what I came for. She spoke lengthily about Juan Luna and why I’m so interested in seeing it. Unfortunately, she spoke in Spanish while all the distinguished-looking Doña Victorinas were eyeing me with new interest. 😊







Having seen what I came for, Mercedes invited me to stay on to visit the Senate Hall itself where she said I can take photographs. It looked more like a theatre! Then, we were led to the Library which was really, really awesome. There was this man reading old periodicals while we ladies roamed about with oohs and aaahs (a universal language, I soon learned). The lighting was bad if you ask me, but there were reading lamps. I sneaked a photo of the very Spanish-looking gentleman inside the library just as we were led out to visit another hall in the Senado. This time, it’s a more modern hall. On the way out, there were again paintings of contemporary Spanish painters. I saw one of Joan Mìro. And I dare not cheat on Mercedes again as she reminded everyone that photography is not allowed in these areas. Which is fine — I’m happy with my snapshot of the Spanish Señor inside the Library. 😉







As I thanked Mercedes for a lovely one hour tour of the Senado, she handed me books as souvenirs. Now, isn’t that muy bien? Ha sido un placer en Madrid Sendo. Muchas gracias, Mercedes!




How much do we know of the Luna brothers? Honestly? I simply know one is a painter, the other a General. Both are patriots. And both are friends and contemporaries of Dr. Jose P. Rizal. Many of us would think that knowledge is enough. Toinks!

Juan Luna Shrine in Badoc, Ilocos Norte

On our way from Laoag to Vigan, we passed Badoc, Ilocos Norte. This is the last town of Ilocos Norte. And this is the birthplace of the Luna brothers. The Juan Luna Shrine can be found here — a building made of brick housing the memorabilia and paintings of this patriotic, and very controversial painter.

Death of Cleopatra (Museo del Prado @Madrid)

Spolarium (now on display @National Museum of the Philippines)

Luna killed his wife and mother-in-law because of


So goes the story. Makes for a great headline.

The patriot who painted such classics and award-winning Spoliarium (Gold Medal, 1884, now on display at the National Museum of the Philippines), Death of Cleopatra (Silver Medal, 1881, Museo del Prado in Madrid), Parisian Life (another Silver Medal, 1889, GSIS Museum), Battle of Lepanto, Blood Compact (1886, Malacanang Palace), Una Bulakenya (1895, Malacanang Palace), among others. The patriot as a murderer? Says who?

Inside Juan Luna Shrine

The Tour Guide did not miss a beat telling and retelling this story. Sure, Juan Luna shot his mother-in-law and wife dead. We also just learned that he shot his brother-in-law Felix Pardo de Tavera too in the same incident, but this “lucky” fellow survived. Was it an accident or was this a crime of passion?

Most answers you’d find point to Juan Luna shooting his wife Paz in a fit of jealousy. The accused lover was a certain Monsieur Dussaq. Having settled in Paris after his marriage, I can only assume this Dussaq is one Frenchman. So, did Juan shoot his wife et al? All this after only 6 years of marriage. Our Ilocano Tour Guide has another version. Like Juan tried to force open the door to their home in Paris by shooting at the door knob, not knowing the mother-in-law was peeping through the keyhole with the wife right behind her. Quite a stretch………..if you ask me. But oh well, that’s the version. (*big yawn)

The couple had 2 children but one died in infancy. The surviving child, Andres, is also a painter and the architect who designed Arlegui House, the residence of ex-President Cory Aquino, and the San Vicente de Paul Church in San Marcelino Street. Many of his works were unfortunately destroyed during the Second World War.

Rizal as a Scribe? or a Sphinx?

Una Bulakenya (Used To Be On Display @Malacanang Palace, Now @National Art Gallery)

The Other Luna Brothers

Juan’s passion for the arts was influenced by his brother Manuel who was also a painter. A better one, if we were to believe Dr. Jose Rizal. From Badoc, Ilocos Norte, the Luna family moved to Manila where the brothers studied. Manuel and Juan traveled together to Spain where Juan had more art (painting) lessons while Manuel ventured into music and later claimed fame as a violinist.

When Juan was arrested for shooting his wife and later acquitted (on grounds of insanity), it was Antonio (yes, General Antonio Luna) who accompanied him from Paris to Madrid and finally to Manila. Both brothers were arrested for rebellion charges, and later released. Juan headed back to Spain, while Antonio remained and was later killed by the Kawit Batallion (another controversial story involving Emilio Aguinaldo, but that’s another story).

One unfinished, intriguing story involves the painting “Una Bulaquena” or Woman from Bulacan. The painting was inspired by a woman who was allegedly the one great love of Antonio Luna, though the other version cites Juan having courted her after losing/shooting Paz. A case of sibling rivalry? Who knows?

This photo shows how tall or short Rizal was..........

Juan Luna’s Distinguished Models

Not many of us know that Dr. Rizal actually posed as Datu Sikatuna in Juan Luna’s “Blood Compact”. In his silver award-winning painting “Death of Cleopatra”, our national hero actually posed in earlier sittings as a scribe complete with a headdress , making him look like a sphinx. Juan Luna himself posed as Marc Anthony in the same painting. Somehow, I can imagine how these men must have enjoyed all these sittings, horsing around, posing in costumes, etc.

The original Parisian Life painting used to hang here in Bahay Nakpil-Bautista in Quiapo

Then of course everybody knows Dr. Rizal was one of the 3 models in the GSIS-acquired “Parisian Life”. The other 2 gentlemen in the painting were Juan Luna himself and Ariston Bautista, in whose house this same painting hung for years. Errr, that is yet another story again.

But these men were not just models. They were our heroes. Patriots. Gentlemen-friends, if you may. Their love of country, passion for the arts and literature, intellect, perhaps even love of women must have bound them like blood brothers in a place far away from home and family, in an era marked by secret alliances and trysts, murder and heroism.

C’est la vie………..

Inside the Shrine @Badoc, Ilocos Norte

Exit Through The Backyard: More Paintings (Reproductions)