Dinosaurs and extinction

[ Dear Readers:  This is a post about our deceased family members which I have to write.  It will most probably not interest you.  You may spare yourselves the trouble.   😛 ]

08 October 2010, Friday, 2200 hours.  Yes, I’m not ashamed to admit it, I’ve been influenced by “contemporary thinking”:  I’ve junked the whole “All Souls’ Day” tradition of the family.  Call me the “weak link” or whatever, but I don’t see why I have to be the “Old Faithful” geyser of the family, a quaint relic of the past, when my siblings and my nephews and nieces are out in Phuket, Bangkok, Bali, Singapore, Shanghai, Boracay, Baguio whooping it up and not being where they should be in the first place.  You see, I didn’t believe in a family autocracy [ operative word:  “didn’t”;  now I believe in an oppressive dictatorship! ], but I do believe that as a responsible, duty-bound adult member of a tradition-bound family, you know where you should be at certain occasions throughout the year.  No questions.  After all, you’re not a 6 year old child and neither are you the golden retriever nor the Jack Russell that has to be told what to do.  Or are you???

Death has become trivialized in these contemporary, “e” – everything times.  We have negated it to the point that it comes as a total shock when it comes, although it barely stops us for a minute these days.  Our usual reaction is a shrug of resignation.  It wasn’t the case for those who came long before us.  For them, death was a central point of life as well as its ultimate destination, and it was celebrated with Hispanic pomp and circumstance during “Todos los Santos” and “Semana Santa”…

I grew up at a time when 02 November of every year meant all of us getting up very early [ 4:30 – 5:30 a.m. ] in order to leave the city at 6:30 a.m., to arrive in time for the 7:30 a.m. All Souls’ Day holy mass at the Gonzalez mausoleum at the Apalit Catholic cemetery.  The big come-on was the big Capampangan breakfast which followed at the old house in barrio Capalangan.

It was a time when we observed quarterly or more visits to the family burial ground to remember, pray for, and weep for Lola Charing who had passed away on 18 May 1977.  Those were the last days of death as a gothic and Victorian experience, when black dresses, sheer black veils, formal ecru barong tagalog with black armbands, pants, and shoes, long rows of funeral sprays [ the more “important” the sender, the more costly the flowers and the florists, the better ], and endless eulogies were de rigueur for the funeral rites of traditional families.  It has unraveled and modernized since, with the “cuerpo presente” reduced to a brief “ashfall,” white as the new color of mourning, chic buffets by chichi caterers, and even “house music” thrown in for “atmo”…

In those days, we brought beautiful flowers, lit tall candles, and said heartfelt prayers for our deceased family members.  We remembered them with fondness even with all their shortcomings, idiosyncrasies, and eccentricities.  We honored and loved them, even if we had never even met them.


The dinosaurs and the dates of their extinction:

Florencia Sioco viuda de Gonzalez, “Eciang,” 1860 – 1925.  My paternal grandfather’s mother.

Ysidora Espiritu viuda de Gonzalez, “Orang,” + 1975.  Lola Charing’s maternal aunt.  Delightfully eccentric character.

Augusto Gonzalez y Sioco, “Bosto” / “Titong,” 1887 – 1939.  The fortune he accumulated allowed three generations, now going on the fourth, to live well.

Rosario Arnedo viuda de Gonzalez, “Charing,” 1903 – 1977.  Dearest Lola Charing.

Marina Gonzalez y Arnedo, “Mina,” + 1974.  Tita Mina was Daddy’s eldest sister and she was deformed.

Augusto Beda Gonzalez y Arnedo, “Beda,” 1932 – 1990.  Daddy.

Ermelo Gonzalez y Arnedo, “Melo,” 1933 – 2001.

Hector Gonzalez y Arnedo, “Hector,” 1937 – 1988.

Macario Domingo Gonzalez y Arnedo, 1938.

Macario Diosdado Gonzalez y Arnedo, “Macarito” / Brother Andrew Benjamin Gonzalez, F.S.C., “Brother Andrew,” 1940 – 2006.

Pilar Reyes y Quiason, “Pilar” / “Pil,” 1933 – 2002.  Mommy.

Monina Gonzalez y Gala, “Minnie,” 1964 – 1991.  As Brother Andrew said:  “Too bad, Minnie would have been very rich!”

Household staff:

During Tito Melo’s funeral in June 2001, his niece Ave Gala-Blanco asked me who were the “strange names” in some of the gravestones.  I quipped a line still memorable to Ave and the Gala cousins:  “We’re like the Egyptians, we’re buried with the slaves!”  😛

Alejandra Ochengco y Padilla, “Andang,” +1969.  “Imang Andang” had been working in the Gonzalez-Sioco household since the early 1920s.

Natalia Padilla, “Talia,” + 1976.  Ate Talia, the “mayordoma.”

Leodegaria Nuqui, “Garing,” + 198_.  Dearest Ate Garing, the cook.

Benito Nuqui, “Bito” / “Bits,” + 1999.  Dearest Pare Bits.  He started out as the personal “barquillos” maker of Lola Mary Arnedo [ Lola Charing’s sister ] in the Arnedo-Sioco household in the late 1930s.

Aurea Rodriguez, “Baluga,” + 195_.  She was an Aeta from Zambales who liked to sleep in the kitchen near a stove with live coals.


Just wait until I junk Christmas and Easter altogether.  And while I’m at it, my Christianity and Roman Catholicism as well.  Throw in my crappy family for good measure.  That will be the day.   😐   😐   😐




  1. Mari Hizon said,

    December 7, 2010 at 8:35 am

    I remember seeing Tita Mina for the first time in one of the birthday parties of either Claude or Minnie. I must have been about 6 or 7 years old. She was seated in her usual wheel chair. To my young and innocent mind, I could not understand what I saw. I was very bothered! Scared even! I had never seen a deformed human being. I went home! I did some mind processing. Thankfully lola was there to help me with the “processing”. I saw tita Mina a couple of times more after and everything was OK na.

  2. Mari said,

    November 20, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    *trekking. Mind, eyes and fingers were not coordinated! Ha! Ha!

  3. Mari Hizon said,

    November 20, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    Oo nga. I do not remember tracking to Apalit for Elyboy. In my mind, when someone dies in your family, automatic sa Apalit.

  4. November 20, 2010 at 12:32 pm


    Hi there!!! No, I didn’t forget Elyboy in the “roll call.” It’s just that he wasn’t interred in Apalit. His remains are with his Masangkay in-laws in Paranaque. 🙂

    Toto G.

  5. Mari Hizon said,

    November 19, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    You forgot Elyboy in the roll call.

  6. ino manalo said,

    November 12, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    Dear Toto

    Thank you for the kind words though I must admit I have never thought of being blue blooded as one of my virtues!

    By the way, I now have a little house in Bohol and if you can survive not having air-conditioners and television you are most welcome to come and visit with me.

    We are setting up a puppet theater and would love you to see this.

    Hope things work out for the best for your family.

    Warm regards


  7. November 12, 2010 at 12:35 pm


    Of course, you’re right.

    The problem is I don’t know how I can reconfigure the wordpress.com page to reverse the order of incoming comments…

    Can anyone here please help?

    Toto Gonzalez

  8. November 12, 2010 at 12:35 pm


    Of course, you’re right.

    The problem is I don’t know how I can reconfigure the wordpress.com page to reverse the order of incoming comments…

    Can anyone here please help?

    Toto Gonzalez

  9. Cathy de Guzman said,

    November 12, 2010 at 9:31 am

    Dear Mr. Gonzalez:

    I earlier suggested that the more current postings should be on top of the list instead of wayyyyyyyy down below.

    Please consider.

  10. November 11, 2010 at 8:18 am

    Cathy is that YOU. Hope to see you on Sunday for the CCP fashion cavalcade of INNO. Haven’tseen you in years……

  11. November 11, 2010 at 8:17 am

    The DEAD live once more when WE TALK about them.This is how I chat with my parents during UNDAS………

  12. November 11, 2010 at 7:26 am


    Thank you.

    You’re right about the “Current Events” section of this blog… it hasn’t been updated in a while. It’s also become such a chore for everyone to scroooooll down. Why not post something interesting to get it going again?


    Toto Gonzalez

  13. November 11, 2010 at 7:07 am


    How wonderful to hear from you!!!

    Yes, we’ve really had our share of “bad times.” But older friends, even those whom I know lead gilded lives, assure me that life is like that: sometimes good, sometimes bad.

    Friends, this is my distinguished friend Victorino “Ino” [ with only one “n,” please ] Manalo, banker, philanthropist, Filipiniana scholar, and heritage advocate. He is a Negrense blueblood, a great grandson of the legendary industrialist and hacendera Enrica Alunan de Lizares of Talisay, Negros Occidental.


    Toto Gonzalez

  14. Cathy de Guzman said,

    November 11, 2010 at 6:03 am

    You write very well, Sir: your choice of words are so elegant.

    I share the same sentiments with you. The Filipino traditions do not resonate with the younger generation anymore. How sad. Keep on writing. And please update the Current Events section. They are not so current anymore!

  15. Ino Manalo said,

    November 11, 2010 at 12:09 am

    Dear Toto:

    How unfortunate that sad things have happened in your family. It can be so painful as it literally hits you so close to home.

    As for visiting the graves of our loved ones on Nov 1, I have always pointed out that we should really go the weekend before or after. Just think about it, the population is growing and every year more and more people are traveling on the same roads to the same places all on the same day.

    No need to stress yourself. The point is to visit, it doesn’t matter when exactly. Especially if your family doesn’t have a custom of meeting up after.

    Take care


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: