Aurelio Valenzuela Tolentino (October 13, 1867 – July 5, 1915) was a Filipino playwright and dramatist whose works at the turn of the 20th century depict his desire to see Philippine independence from its colonizers. Born in Santo Cristo, Guagua, Pampanga, he was the third and youngest child of Leonardo Tolentino and Patrona Valenzuela. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Colegio de San Juan de Letran, and read law at the University of Santo Tomas. Later in his life, Aurelio moved to Tondo, Manila where he became a court desk official. In Tondo he met Andres Bonifacio, one of the founders of Katipunan and eventual leader of the Philippine revolution against Spain, which he would eventually become an early member of. He, together with Andres Bonifacio and Macario Sakay founded the Teatro Porvenir, a theater company where they themselves are actors, where they show their nationalistic and patriotic sentiments. He accompanied Bonifacio in their search for a secret headquarters in the mountains of Morong province (now Rizal) in preparation for the start of the Philippine Revolution. He was arrested shortly after the start of the war and was detained for nine months. He continued to support the cause for Philippine sovereignty after his release and even became one of the signatories of the Declaration of Independence in 1898.
When Spain ceded the Philippines to the United States, Tolentino formed Junta de Amigos, a secret organization composed of former Katipuneros to fight for independence from the Americans. Later, he attempted to re-organize the Revolutionary Army, but was unsuccessful in part due to the surrender of Emilio Aguinaldo. This led Tolentino to shift his focus from warfare to propaganda. He edited several anti-US newspapers in Tagalog and Kapampangan, some of which were closed down by the American authorities. On May 14, 1903 his now famous verse drama, Kahapon, Ngayon at Bukas, premiered at Manila's Teatro Libertad. The script called for tearing of the American flag, which was seen by some Americans in the audience. After the show, he was promptly arrested for sedition and rebellion. He was pardoned in 1912 by Governor General W. Cameron Forbes partly due to pressure from Washington. After his release, he continued to write for theater; among his later works included "Ang Bagong Cristo", a proletariat interpretation of the story of Christ. He also founded the first worker's cooperative in the Philippines, Samahang Hanapbuhay ng Mahihirap, as well as El Parnaso Filipino, a school for the promotion of Tagalog literature.
He died on July 5, 1915 in Manila. He was buried in the city's North Cemetery. His remains were transferred to his hometown in Guagua in 1921, where it is interred under a commemorative monument. The Little Theater of the Cultural Center of the Philippines was named after him.
In popular culture
- Portrayed by VJ Mendoza in the 2013 TV series, Katipunan.
- Barcelona, Noel Sales. "Aurelio Tolentino and His Play Kahapon, Ngayon, at Bukas". Bulatlat.com. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
- Tantingco, Robby. "Guagua and Aurelio Tolentino". Sunstar. Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
- "Birth anniversary of revolutionary hero Aurelio Tolentino". Manila Bulletin. 13 October 2007. Retrieved 31 May 2012.[permanent dead link]