“El Pequeno Viejo.” “The Little Old Man.” They used to call him that. Even when he was a boy he already looked like an old man.
Augusto Beda Arnedo Gonzalez. Beda for short, after Saint Bede of the Benedictines. He was the eldest son of the industrialist Augusto Diosdado Gonzalez y Sioco and his second wife Rosario Lucia Arnedo y Espiritu, both of Sulipan, Apalit, Pampanga.
The boy learned how to smoke a cigarette at the age of 8 from his cousin Tirso Arnedo Ballesteros at the old Arnedo mansion in Sulipan. He thought that was the reason why he only grew to be 5’3″.
His brothers, on the other hand, grew to be tall men. Melo [ Ermelo Efren Arnedo Gonzalez ] became 5’9″, Hector [ Hector Argeo Arnedo Gonzalez ] rose to be 6’1″, and Macarito [ Macario Diosdado Arnedo Gonzalez; later Brother Andrew Benjamin, F.S.C. ] grew to be 5’10”.
But he had two other brothers, Heraclio [ Heraclio Julio Arnedo Gonzalez ] and Macario [ Macario Domingo Arnedo Gonzalez ] who did not go beyond 1’0″. That was because they died soon after they were born.
And he was certainly taller than his eldest and only [ full ] sister, Mina [ Marina Arsenia Arnedo Gonzalez ]. She was at most 18 inches tall. She grew older but her body did not. However, she was very intelligent and articulate. She could even be absolutely disagreeable. She was like a “Thalidomide” baby, with deformed arms and legs, because her father Lolo Bosto [ Augusto Diosdado Gonzalez y Sioco ] was rich enough to buy a cutting edge diabetes medicine from Switzerland that had not been laboratory tested extensively.
Their youngest half brother Cristeto [ Cristeto Florencio Escaler Gonzalez ] from Lolo Bosto’s first marriage to his first cousin, Lola Maring [ Marina Escaler y Sioco ], was also deformed like her because of the same cutting edge diabetes medicine. His arms and legs were also malformed. However, he was intelligent. And he had passions to boot. He was still a man, after all. My Daddy told me a few times that although Cristeto was small, he was sufficiently endowed to shame other full grown men: “Ah no, he was NOT small down there!!!” Bwahahah!!!