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Dr. Ariston Bautista, the Doctor of Revolutionaries and Heroes

How one man used his wealth and knowledge to help the nation 
IMAGE Filipinas Heritage Library
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One of the lesser known heroes who also played a role in the revolution is Dr. Ariston Linpingco Bautista. He was a known physician, patriot, philanthropist, and patron of the arts, whose achievements and contributions to the Philippines have spanned several decades. In medicine, he should be remembered for discovering a treatment similar to paregoric, which helped end the cholera epidemic that plagued the country in the 1880s; but the country owes him a debt of gratitude for being the physician to our national heroes.

A known scholar who studied in Ateneo Municipal and University of Sto. Tomas, he had the means— thanks to the wealthy Bautista clan—to further his studies in Spain. He obtained the degree of Doctor en Medicina in 1891 at the Universidad Central de Madrid, where he wrote his thesis on the treatment of the abscesses of the liver of Filipinos.

After his graduation, he visited leading hospitals in Paris, Berlin, and Brussels. It was during this trip to Europe that he met Filipino propagandists such as Jose Rizal, Juan Luna, Marcelo H. Del Pilar, Pedro Paterno, and Graciano Lopez Jaena. When he was in Paris in 1889, he even stayed at the place of Jose Rizal, his former schoolmate. Luna actually gave the iconic painting Parisian Life to Ariston. 

It was the same group of ilustrados who founded the first Filipino Mason Lodge in Barcelona in 1889, for which Ariston took the name “Balagtas” after the renowned Tagalot poet. A bit later, in Madrid, he joined Solidaridad No. 53, the exclusively Filipino lodge and eventually, in Paris, he formed a Masonic triangle with Antonio Luna and Trinidad Pardo de Tavera. His network enabled him to get high-profile clients—some would say even Jose Rizal himself and Emilio Aguinaldo were among his patients.

He officially came back and practiced medicine in the Philippines in 1895. The Spaniards, however, already had Ariston in their radar,  and he was later arrested on charges of giving moral and financial support to Filipino rebels. He was held in Fort Santiago, where, as fate would have it, Jose Rizal would be one of his cellmates.

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While his friend was later executed, Ariston was luckier. He was spared execution, and, after his release, went on to become a member of the Consultative Assembly and a delegate of the Malolos Congress. In fact, he was one of the signatories.

After this brief but distinguished stint in politics, he realized that he had to go back to what he really loved: research and teaching. He taught at the Universidad Cientifico-Literaria de Filipinas and at the UP College of Medicine and Surgery, where he was appointed professor of clinical medicine and therapeutics, and later, head of the Department of Medicine and Surgery.

Aside from his medical and educational profession, he also dabbled in business. He was one of the directors of the Agricultural Bank and founding president of the Germinal Cigar and Cigarette Company. The wealth he amassed from these ventured allowed him to be generous to his friends and relatives, many of whom he sponsored to study abroad, including painter Fabian de la Rosa, surgeon Francisco Villaroman, and architect Juan Nakpil.

One of the National Artists for Architecture, Juan Nakpil, is actually the nephew of Ariston’s wife, Petrona. Nakpil’s family, including his father, Julian, and his mother, Gregoria de Jesus (who was herself Andres Bonifacio's widow, and was known as "Lakambini ng Katipunan), and their six children, all lived at Ariston’s house. Ariston and Petrona never had children but they treated the Nakpil children as if they were their own.

He spent his twilight years supporting theater groups and entertaining his friends in his home, which still stands in Quiapo at Calle Barbosa, now named Ariston Bautista Street.

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About The Author
Nicai de Guzman
Nicai de Guzman is the Head of Marketing of Rising Tide, one of the fastest-growing mobile and digital advertising technology companies in the Philippines. She also writes for SPOT.ph and Entrepreneur.com.ph.
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