Conversations about: Justiniano Asuncion y Molo “Capitan Ting”, 1816 – 1901, painter

During one of those madly delightful and delightfully mad evenings high up on Ayala Avenue…

“See, even the ladies are happy to see you!!!”  Teyet declared as we walked through his “bibliothek” with its antique leatherbound books, ivory “santo” hands for wall sconces, and oil portraits of society doyennes plastered on the ceiling.  Finally, we had come upon the celebrated portrait of the beautiful Filomena Asuncion de Villafranca, painted by her uncle Justiniano Asuncion y Molo, sometime from the 1860s-70s, which conventionally hung on the wall just before his bedroom door.

In a gesture of overexcitement, “Filomena Asuncion de Villafranca” jumped off the wall and crashed to the floor.  Oh-my-God.  Jo Panlilio and I gasped in distress.

“See, even Filomena is excited to see you!!!”  Teyet declared.

Ever nonchalant, Teyet casually picked up the celebrated masterpiece, banged it on the wall before hanging it, and told “Filomena”:  “Behave!!!”

Some of the most beautiful and alluring mementos of 19th century Manila came from the hand of maestro Justiniano Asuncion.  The surviving oil portraits of the Asuncion ladies Romana Asuncion de Carillo, Filomena Asuncion de Villafranca, and of the Paterno ladies Carmina Devera Ignacio y Pineda, Teodora Devera Ignacio y Pineda, Dolores Paterno y Devera Ignacio, and Agueda Paterno y Devera Ignacio all speak of a long-gone Manila of affluence, grace, refinement, and elegance which in actuality coexisted with the greater truths of poverty, squalor, struggle, and desperation of the late Spanish colonial period.

While it was only natural that maestro Justiniano Asuncion painted the female members of his family, other portrait commissions came by way of extended family, as in the case of the several (Paterno) portraits commissioned by his maternal first cousin, Capitan Maximino Molo Agustin Paterno.  Justiniano’s mother, Maria de la Paz Molo, was a daughter of Ming Mong Lo, the progenitor of the rich and prominent Paterno and Asuncion families of Binondo and Santa Cruz.  The latter’s son and Maria de la Paz’s brother, Paterno Molo de San Agustin, married Miguela Yamson y de la Cruz.  Paterno Molo de San Agustin became a very successful entrepreneur and he laid the business foundations of the Paterno fortune.  One of their sons was the exceedingly Hispanized Maximino, who became “capitan” of barrio Santa Cruz and nearby barrio San Sebastian.  Maximino adopted the compound surname Molo Agustin Paterno and was followed by his siblings.  He had the fate of marrying three times and burying all his wives, all of whom were related by blood and belonged to prominent jewelry manufacturing and trading families of barrio Santa Cruz, Manila.  Capitan Maximino Molo Agustin Paterno y Yamson first married Valeria Pineda, then her paternal first cousin Carmina Devera Ignacio y Pineda, and last, Carmina’s younger sister Teodora Devera Ignacio y Pineda.  Teodora passed away in 1895, Maximino followed 5 years later in 1900.

[ Acknowledgments:  Santiago “Jack” Albano Pilar;  Jun Asuncion { descendant of Justiniano Asuncion };  Sonny Rayos { descendant of Leoncio Asuncion };  the estate of Adela Paterno y Devera Ignacio;  the estate of Teodora Devera Ignacio y Pineda. ]

21 Comments

  1. Ma-an L. Asuncion-Dagñalan said,

    April 3, 2015 at 5:17 am

    Hi Sir!

    Thanks for your reply! I didnt know that you replied (for almost a year) till I checked today.

    Anyway, I would like to give you an update — Ayala Museum is already schedule Justiniano’s exhibit for his Bicentennial celebration on September 2016. The book of Asuncion siblings and other Asuncion artists (like Raphael Asuncion) will launch on the openning of exhibit — this is written by Ma’am Alice Guillermo. I talked to my cousin about the exhibit and she suggested to launch first of the Asuncions before Justiniano’s since that was already written.

    I also made an FB (Facebook) page of Justiniano Asuncion but not updated though. Kindly check if you have time.

    Again, thank you for your reply.

    Have a great Holy Week!

    Ma-an

  2. gabriel asuncion said,

    July 14, 2013 at 3:59 am

    TITO BIMBO?

  3. March 28, 2013 at 3:20 pm

    “Some of the most beautiful and alluring mementos of 19th century Manila came from the hand of maestro Justiniano Asuncion. The surviving oil portraits of the Asuncion ladies Romana Asuncion de Carillo, Filomena Asuncion de Villafranca, and of the Paterno ladies Carmina Devera Ignacio y Pineda, Teodora Devera Ignacio y Pineda, Dolores Paterno y Devera Ignacio, and Agueda Paterno y Devera Ignacio all speak of a long-gone Manila of affluence, grace, refinement, and elegance which in actuality coexisted with the greater truths of poverty, squalor, struggle, and desperation of the late Spanish colonial period.”

    I’m not sure, but I seem to remember: The portrait of Romana Asuncion de Carillo is in the Leandro V. Locsin collection. The portrait of Filomena Asuncion de Villafranca is in the Dr. Eleuterio M. Pascual collection (now under the stewardship of his nephew Atty. Midas Marquez). The portrait of Carmina Devera Ignacio y Pineda is in the Paterno collection. The portraits of Teodora Devera Ignacio y Pineda and Agueda Paterno y Devera Ignacio are in the Jaime C. Laya collection. The portrait of Dolores Paterno y Devera Ignacio is in the Leandro V. Locsin collection. Don’t take my word for it, please confirm.

    The legendary painting of the “Nuestra Senora de la Paz y Buen Viaje” Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage or simply Our Lady of Antipolo which Justiniano Asuncion was supposed to have painted while kneeling down in reverence, once in the AERA Arsenio Escudero-Rosario Adap collection, is now at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Collection.

    Good luck with your research.

    Toto Gonzalez

  4. March 28, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    Hello,

    I am Ma-an L. Asuncion-Dagnalan. My father is Justiniano P. Asuncion and my grandfather was Justiniano R. Asuncion (co-founder of Upsilon).

    In this connection, I would to ask if where I can find the remaining paintings of Capitan Ting? I am planning to make a book of him and hopefully I will be able to launch it on his 200th year (because he was born on Sept. 26, 1816), and to build a gallery which I’ll name it “Capitan Ting”.

    This goal will be made possible with the help of my relatives, people who know him, and my future advisers in UP Diliman (Masteral Program in Arts Studies major in Museum Studies).

    Thanks in advanced and looking forward for your help,
    Ma-an

  5. C. Perez said,

    August 31, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    Romana Asuncion Carrillo was my great great grandmother. Her daughter, Josefa, married Engracio Quintos and they had 7 children, one of whom was Isidra, She married an American soldier. His name was Ernest Criss. They had 5 daughters, one of whom was my mother… and today, one of my daughters is an artist… graduated magna cum laude from UP Fine Arts 10 years ago. She is starting to make a name for herself as a painter and a sculptor.

  6. Ricardo Ramirez Asuncion said,

    June 15, 2012 at 7:35 am

    My name is Ricardo R, Asuncion an.d my dad is Gabriel J. Asuncion, older brother of Rafael (tio Paeng) Asuncion. Tio Paeng had an oil Painting of my mother on a canvas, 10″x14″.

  7. Jun Asuncion said,

    November 3, 2011 at 10:19 pm

    To Arturo Asuncion,

    Some pictures of Justiniano Asuncion, the master painter??? You mean there are some more extant photos of him?!? Where are they and who owns them? Please send me some of these. This is sensational!

    We can trace your roots if you would send me the names of your parents and your grandparents. P?lease visit also Bulan Observer re Asuncion’s History for some backround infos.

    I hope to hear from you soon, Arturo!

    jun asuncion

  8. Arturo Asuncion said,

    October 22, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    Dear Jun,

    I am Arturo G. Asuncion. My parents are from Cavite. I saw some pictures of Justiniano Asuncion and they resemble my late father. Maybe we are related somehow.

  9. jun asuncion said,

    July 30, 2011 at 9:23 am

    To Cathy Deleon,

    I haven’t met Auri yet though hope she will discover someday the entries about the Asuncions in Bulan Observer.

    Thanks and please extend my best regards to her.

    jun asuncion

  10. Cathy Deleon said,

    July 26, 2011 at 2:56 am

    Jun Asuncion, have you met Auri Asuncion Yambao? She’s the daughter of the late Rafael “Mang Paeng” Asuncion, the grandnephew of Justiniano Asuncion. Do you still hold those yearly grand family reunions?

  11. Enrique Bustos said,

    September 10, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    According to the Blog of Jun Asuncion http://bulanobserver.wordpress.com/

    Filomena Asuncion de Villafranca is the daughter of Leoncio Asuncion

    Paintings by Justiniano Asuncion that was lost during world war II

    Justiniano Asuncion produced life-sized paintings of San Agustin, San Geronimo, San Antonio, and San Gregorio Magno which were kept at the Sta. Cruz Church before the Pacific War. These precious canvases were destroyed when the Japanese bombarded the church in February 1945 the four paintings were typical of the taste of the period. These works were done in the trompe l’oeil tradition, offering occasional distractions upon devotees who would look up now and then to wonder whether the adornment of the Saints’ robes were real or painted

    Justiniano Asuncion painted a self-portrait It was kept in the house of one of his descendants in Malate, a southern district of Manila, which saw heavy damage not only during the battle for the liberation of the city in 1942, but also during two subsequent fires that leveled many houses to the ground.

  12. July 29, 2010 at 11:33 am

    Jun:

    Thank you very much!!! The information about Justiniano Asuncion’s family and descendants is just too valuable.

    It would be an honor to be included in your blogsite’s blogroll.

    You bet we’re “seizing the day”!!!

    Cheers!!!

    Toto Gonzalez

  13. Jun Asuncion said,

    July 28, 2010 at 11:28 pm

    Toto:

    Sure, you have the permission!

    Sincerely, I admire your works, you’re full of passion for the fine things in the Philippines, in the world.

    May I also ask for permission to include your site in Bulan Observer’s blogroll?

    Let’s continue with our search.

    Thanks and carpe diem!

    jun asuncion

  14. July 28, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    Don:

    OK. I will make it a point to look at it closely when I go to the National Gallery of Art / National Museum. I hope they haven’t changed the frame.

    Toto G.

  15. Don Escudero said,

    July 28, 2010 at 10:58 am

    Toto:

    It’s an oil in mostly brown tones with the frame in dark wood with gold-leaf beads lining the inner edge, if I remember correctly. It was the one on loan to the National Museum gallery, if it’s still there.

  16. July 28, 2010 at 3:36 am

    Jun:

    Like Sonny Rayos, a descendant of Leoncio Asuncion, it’s wonderful to come across Jun Asuncion, a living, breathing descendant of Justiniano Asuncion!!! You and Sonny are living proofs that Justiniano and Leoncio Asuncion did exist and were not merely fantasies or fairy tales of art historians. Through you and Sonny, I can connect more effectively with them, in a way I never could with mere biographies and monographs or even in the presence of their masterpieces in museums and in rich collectors’ houses.

    It’s different with living and breathing people…

    Jun, you have a great article on the Asuncion family in your blog. May I have permission to quote certain portions, specially the genealogy, in the “Conversations about: Justiniano Asuncion, 1816 – 1901, painter” and “The Families of Old Santa Cruz, Manila” posts of this blog?

    How wonderful to meet you, even just online. Thank you very much.

    Cheers!!!

    Toto Gonzalez

  17. Jun Asuncion said,

    July 27, 2010 at 9:35 pm

    To Toto and Don:

    It’s amazing to learn from other people a few details about my great-great grandfather Justiniano Asuncion. My big thanks then to Mr. Toto Gonzalez for this great site and to Don Escudero for sharing this anecdote.

    I was as young boy then when my father, Andres Asuncion, Sr. used to tell stories about his grandfather Justiniano, the Molo family, Sta. Cruz, etc. But as any young boy, I wasn’t very much set to knowing these “old” stories. Only now I have realized the importance of studying our roots. Yes, If only I could ask my father, he would gladly start all over again. But with 85 he went away to join them forever.

    My own personal question was, what made Don Zacarias, a son of Justiniano travel at that time down the deeper south of Luzon, to a remote town Bulan, Sorsogon. Indeed, he became Jefe del Pueblo there from 1898-1900, but I don’t think that it was his initial motive. And did Justiniano ever visit his son in Bulan earlier than 1898? In any case, Don Zacarias founded his own family and one of his children, Adonis Asuncion, also became town mayor of Bulan in the 1940’s. He was my grandfather. So politics is in the veins of the Asuncions but art and sciences seem to be the dominant ones.

    If anyone among your readers know any story about Don Zacarias or Adonis Asuncion I would be very glad if he or she would share it here. I’m in search of any detail that I could add to that small part of the whole puzzle.

    Thank you.

    jun asuncion

  18. July 27, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    Don:

    There are two paintings of “Nuestra Senora de la Paz y Buen Viaje” in the Central Bank collection attributed to Justiniano Asuncion. I have long wondered which one was your Lola Charing’s…

    Toto Gonzalez

  19. Don Escudero said,

    July 27, 2010 at 11:05 am

    One day in the seventies Luis Araneta came to visit my grandmother and while on the staircase, gasped upon seeing an oil of the Virgin of Antipolo. “Oh my God,” he exclaimed. “It really exists!”
    He then went on to explain that legend had it that Justiniano Asuncion had tried to do an oil of Nsta. Senora de la Paz y Buenviaje but couldn’t get ir right until he painted it while kneeling. Nobody had seen the painting for the longest time so people thought the story apocryphal. “Lindy Locsin has the watercolor study”, said Don Luis.
    “That explains why Lindy offered me my pick of his collection in exchange for this painting,” Lola said. She went on to recount how she found the painting face down on the floor of an old bodega of a furniture dealer in prewar Manila and offered to buy it from the owner who gave it to her. She declined Lindy’s offer for sentimental reasons and was embarrassed to exchange it for anything in his collection because it was in such bad shape. Soon after, though, Lola got Jun Gonzales to restore the painting, which now hangs in the National Gallery after it was sold by Lola to the Central Bank collection to finance the completion of her museum building.

  20. July 26, 2010 at 3:50 am

    Jun:

    Ha ha ha!!! She might just jump out of her portrait!!! 😀

    Toto Gonzalez

  21. Jun Asuncion said,

    July 25, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    She would behave if she would see me!

    Jun Asuncion


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