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The First Selfie in Negros Island

Gil Lopez, 1909, in what would eventually be known as Hacienda Faraon.
Between the the years of 1901 to 1911, Gil Lopez, grandson of Basilio and Sabina Lopez of Jaro, Iloilo, embarked on a gargantuan task of clearing large parts of land in Northern Negros in order to make way for a sugarcane plantation.  Working alongside his father, Eugenio, and uncles, Marcelo and Claudio, Gil Lopez mixed the mundane tasks of moving earth with his artistic pursuits.

Gil Lopez, born in 1870, was a multi-talented Negrense gentleman of the of the 19th century.  Unknown to most Negrenses, Gil also had his part in the 1898 Negros revolution, of whose central figures were General Aniceto Lacson and General Juan Araneta.  Gil was also a general, leading a large contingent of bolomen under the overall command of General Araneta.

It can be said that the Lopez gentlemen find their destinies in three streams, namely business, politics, and the arts.  Gil Lopez, apart from being the low key revolutionary general, was also a talented violinist and composer.  Following the Negros revolution against Spain, Gil co-wrote (with his wife Albina Hofilena Lopez) "Binangon", a celebratory march.

Gil was also an enthusiastic and skilled amateur photographer in a time and place where photography was very rare.  In the years when he was clearing close to 1,200 hectares of land, Gil methodically recorded the progress using a box camera.  These are known today as the "Faraon pictures".  In most of the shots of the earth moving process, the shadow of Gil as photographer is visible on the foreground.

Then of course, there is the obligatory selfie.  Long before the term selfie was coined, Gil Lopez, thinking perhaps like a millennial, posed in front of the camera with a steam powered Fowler tractor behind him.  The photo is dated about 1909.  Proof that the mind of a Negrense often precedes what is later on known as "modern day habit".


Lloyd Tronco is an Artist/Writer/Entrepreneur and the mind behind Digitalhacienda.com .  His interests in writing revolve around Ilonggo and Negros culture.

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