Santiago A. Fonacier was born in Laoag, Ilocos Norte on May 21, 1885. He took his elementary education in his town and secondary education in a high school accredited by the University of Santo Tomas and the Liceo de Manila. He studied for the priesthood in a seminary of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente and was ordained priest in 1902.
After his ordination, he taught for two years. However, being inclined towards journalism, he left teaching and founded and edited Spanish periodicals, among them La Lucha, which survived from the 1900’s to 1941. Thereafter, he became a reporter of La Democracia and El Grito del Pueblo. He did translations into Ilocano of Rizal’s two novels, Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo.
In 1912, Fonacier was elected to the first Philippine Assembly as representative of the first district of Ilocos Norte. He served in full his four-year term. In the following election, 1919, he ran and won as senator for the first senatorial district, composed of the provinces of Abra, Batanes, Cagayan Valley, Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte and Isabela.
Aside from being an assemblyman and senator, he served the government as a member of the Board of Regents of the University of the Philippines, the Philippine Independence mission to the United States, the Institute of National Textbook Board, and served as a military chaplain.
Fonacier was one of the original followers of Msgr. Gregorio Aglipay, the famous Filipino clergyman and revolutionary who founded the Iglesia Filipina Independente as a renegade Catholic sect free from the jurisdiction and rules of the Roman Catholic Church and the Vatican itself. He succeeded Aglipay.
Bishop Fonacier died at the age of 92 on December 8, 1977. He was married to Carmen Jamias with whom he had eight children.
Date of Issue: May 21, 1985