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How Juan Luna killed his Wife and Mother-In-Law

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Juan Luna, a member of the Propaganda movement and one of the most famous artists in the Philippines. That is how history describes the so-called "hero painter". He is the author of the prestigious "Spoliarium" which won a gold medal at the Exposicion de Bellas Artes (Madrid Art Exposition, May 1884). But behind his successes, a dark tragedy envelops Juan Luna's life. He killed his wife and father-in-law.

December 8, 1886, feast of the Immaculada Concepcion. 29-year-old Juan Luna is married to Paz Pardo de Tavera, who was only 21 years old at the time. The Pardo de Tavera are prominent Spaniards in the Philippines so at first Paz's mother Juliana Gorricho was not willing to marry her only daughter to an Indian artist. But John showed that he was worthy of his son, which he later agreed to. The uncle of sophisticated and outspoken Paz is Joaquin Pardo de Tavera, the sister of his mother Juliana. His brothers are doctors and propagandists Trinidad and Felix Pardo de Tavera.

The first years of the two were happy. They were blessed with two offspring, Andres or Luling (born September 9, 1887), and Maria de la Paz or Bibi (born June 24, 1889). Because Paz has a family of his own, he and his wife decided to separate and move to Paris, France, specifically to Villa Dupont, 28 rue Pergolese. Paz's mother, Doña Juliana, lived with them in Paris, who was responsible for some of the couple's expenses. The following year, 1891, Juan's younger brother Antonio Luna stayed at the Pasteur Institute.

Juan and Paz's happy married life was gradually replaced by a series of tragedies and sorrows. In March 1892, their youngest daughter Bibi passed away due to illness. A few weeks later, the news reached Juan that his father, who was in the Philippines, had passed away. In July 1892, their eldest son Andres fell ill while Paz had an asthma attack. The year 1892 seemed very difficult for Juan Luna's family. Paz and Andres left Paris for Mont Dore for treatment. Grieving the loss of his son, John blames his wife for the incident. She forbade her husband to do posture or make-up. When John heard that his wife had bought an eyebrow pencil, he punched her in the face. He also forbade Paz to wear any color other than black. John began to be violent toward his wife.

Also in Mont Dore, the path of Paz and Monsieur Dussaq, a friend of the Pardo de Tavera family and Juan, who is suspected to be his wife's lover, met. Paz praised Dussaq in a letter to his wife Juan. Here John's anger towards his wife intensified and his abuses worsened.

John is jealous of Dussaq. He often threatened his wife, Paz. On September 5, 1892, John beat his wife and tore some of her clothes. Due to the incident, Paz left their home on September 10, and he went to 25 Mont Thabor Street for a temporary stay. John followed Paz but lost sight of his wife. Instead of being married, he saw the jealous Dussaq at the entrance of a building. This further strengthened John's belief that his wife and Dussaq had a relationship. Juan followed his threat to his wife on September 11, where he hit Paz with a cane in the back. It was here that Luna's mother-in-law Juliana intervened. Juliana talks to her eldest son Trinidad to mediate with the couple and protect Paz. Luna, on the other hand, threatened to shoot the family. It was here that Trinidad convinced the family to end the marriage of the two.

The morning of September 22, 1892. Trinidad arrived at Villa Dupont, the home of Luna and Paz in Paris. It immediately went to Paz's room. After Trinidad arrived, Felix Pardo de Tavera came next to visit his sick nephew Andres. A family friend from London Antonio Ma also arrived that day. Regidor. Juan and Antonio Regidor are left below, while brothers Trinidad and Felix are upstairs. Juan's head started to heat up so the brothers and Antonio Regidor decided to leave the house first. They went to the nearby cafeteria. Because the Pardo de Tavera mother and daughter were afraid of Juan Luna, they decided to run away and follow the cafeteria. But before they could get out, Luna blocked them at the door and then fired a gun. In fear of Doña Juana and Paz, they climbed upstairs again and hid in the toilet. Trinidad and Felix heard the sound of gunfire so they immediately returned to Luna's home. They were even shot by the furious Luna. Felix wounded John followed his wife and father-in-law upstairs, and then he found them hiding in the toilet. Luna pointed a gun at Doña Juliana in the head and fired. Old Pardo de Tavera died instantly. John next shot his wife. Paz survived the bullet but died eleven days later. Each clan has a different version of what happened. According to Luna, the door was locked then and the mother and daughter did not open Luna according to Felix and Trinidad's order not to talk to Luna first. Unable to open the door, Luna fired the door lock and hit her husband and father-in-law with a gun. This tragic tragedy was witnessed by their son Andrew. The Paris newspaper reported the crime in Luna's home. Whatever the version of what happened in Villa Dupont, only one thing is certain: Juan Luna's wife and father-in-law died from his own hands.

Luna was temporarily detained in Paris. Five months after the tragic tragedy of the Luna family, the court acquitted Juan. In just one day of trial, the court dropped all cases against Luna because only the defense of honor occurred, the crime of passion. In the end, Juan was only paid 40 francs for court documentation. Five days after Juan's acquittal, he left, with his son Andrew, Paris, and went to Madrid to live there. Andres Luna later became an architect here in the Philippines. He was appointed architect of the city of Manila from 1920 to 1924. One of Andres' projects was the Crystal Arcade Building built-in 1932.

The Pardo de Tavera family strongly denied that Paz and Dussaq had a relationship. The family hates Juan Luna because of the incident. They did not get justice for the murders of Doña Juliana and Paz. Luna's brother-in-law Trinidad Pardo de Tavera later became a historian, doctor, and politician in the Philippines. He covered Juan Luna's faces with black marks on any photos of the Pardo de Tavera family with him.


Source and Reference

[1] Chua, Xiao (December 7, 2012), XIAOTIME, 7 December 2012: ‘Love Story’ ng mag-asawang Juan Luna At Paz Pardo De Tavera

(Retrieved from https://xiaochua.net/tag/juan-luna/)

[2] Limos, Mario Alvaro (June 18, 2019), The Darker Life of Juan Luna: A Tale of Jealousy and Murder

(Retrieved from https://www.esquiremag.ph/long-reads/features/life-of-juan-luna-a00293-20190618-lfrm)

[3] Ocampo, Ambeth (February 14, 2012), Love that kills

(Retrieved from https://opinion.inquirer.net/23057/love-that-kills)

[4] Ocampo, Ambeth (October 16, 2020), Juan Luna’s crime of passion

(Retrieved from https://opinion.inquirer.net/134495/juan-lunas-crime-of-passion)

[5] Reyes, Rachel (March 13, 2018), Juan Luna’s toxic masculinity

(Retrieved from https://www.manilatimes.net/2018/03/13/opinion/analysis/juan-lunas-toxic-masculinity/385866/)

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