Renaissance: The arts during the Marcos regime

The extremely active, albeit exaggerated, Philippine contemporary art scene aside, one remembers an earlier golden period of art about 50 years ago, during the ascendancy of President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos and his First Lady, Madame Imelda Romualdez-Marcos.

Reading through the now antediluvian articles on art during the Marcos regime, one is struck by the creative flowering of several major artists in so many fields.  Despite the difficult political climate, the arts flourished to a remarkable degree, to an intensity unmatched in the past and perhaps in the present.

Madame Imelda Romualdez-Marcos had her mantra:  “The good, the true, and the beautiful.”

*unfinished*

“Bagnetized”: 3 days in Ilocos Norte

As with most things, it started with a call on the cellphone… from my dear friend Cindy R-V…

“Would you like to come with us to Laoag for 3 days?  Sept 10 – 12, Monday to Wednesday.”

“Can I get back to you, Cindy?  I have several things to check first…”

I studied my schedules and figured out ways to reconfigure everything just so I could “escape” with my friends to Laoag, Ilocos Norte.

“OK.  I can go.”

************************************

That late Monday afternoon, we all found ourselves at the “Cafe France” at the Centennial Terminal:  Cindy R-V, Naynay V, Raqui R-L, Evelyn H-R, and Pinky R.  Tata P sat with us while she waited for her flight to Bacolod.

The flight to Laoag on PR 228 was a pleasant and quick 55 minutes.  At the airport lounge, we were greeted by Imee’s staff who hung pretty red ribbons with innovative shell and coconut designs on us as a welcome.  We were whisked to a Coaster which took us in 20 minutes to our designated hotel, the “Plaza del Norte” in Paoay.

I did not expect much by way of accommodations because I had been visiting Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte on and off for the past 20 years and I was content with a clean room and a clean and functioning bathroom, no matter how basic ( of course that rule did not hold at the upscale Fort Ilocandia hotel ).  What mattered to me was that I was with good friends and that I would certainly have a wonderful time.

The “Plaza del Norte” hotel, all of 3 years old, was a completely pleasant surprise:  all white, clean, neat, spacious, and sprawling.  It had been a project of Bonget’s when he was governor of the province.  It certainly was of a new generation of hotels in Ilocandia.  My room, 105-B, overlooking the courtyard and swimming pool, was good-sized, clean, neat, and uncluttered, with a clean and well-planned bathroom.  I was happy with my accommodations, given my various interesting experiences with hotels in Ilocandia.  I knew I was in for a really good time.

Dinnertime was at the hotel’s “Cafe Ayuyang” and everybody opted for the all-you-can-eat Mongolian Grill ( although all of us went once and that was it ).  It wasn’t half bad for the limitless seafood and meats you could pile on, which were then cooked on a grill in the patio outside.  What I found interesting was that soumak ( a Persian spice which tastes mildly of Chinese “kiamoy” ) and cumin were included in the garnishes;  I put generous amounts knowing full well I would probably smell “Arabo” the next day ( well, periodic sprays of Annick Goutal’s “Eau d’Hadrien” took good care of that! ).  Kapampangan that I was, I had to make additional orders of “Bagnet” & “Kalderetang Kambing.”  The “Bagnet” was very well done and was enjoyed by everyone at the table.

We were already at the table when the other guests arrived.  Dulce R arrived, and so did Fe R-G.  They had driven up from Manila and it had taken them 9 hours.  Betsy & Co. would be arriving the next day for the D-Day ceremonies.    

( Cindy, her daughter Naynay, Cindy’s sister Raqui, Cindy’s sister-in-law Evelyn, Evelyn’s daughter Pinky are from the Miguel Romualdez line;  Cindy is his granddaughter.   Dulce is from the Vicente Orestes Romualdez line; she is his granddaughter by his first wife Juanita Acereda.  Daniel Romualdez Sr. of Pandacan, Manila and Trinidad Crisostomo Lopez of Leyte (( originally of Basey, Samar )) had 3 sons:  Norberto, Miguel, & Vicente Orestes ). 

( Fe Roa-Gimenez headed the personal assistants of Mrs. Marcos during the Malacanang years. )

After what seemed to be a long after-dinner chat with the R cousins, we retired to our rooms at 10:00 p.m..  I fell asleep quickly because I had not slept adequately the previous night.  We would also have to leave the hotel at 8:30 a.m. the next day for the 95th birth anniversary mass for the late President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos ( born 11 September 1917 ) at 9:00 a.m. at the old Batac parish church.

************************************

I was late for the departure time of 8:30 a.m.!  I was late!

Imee’s efficient staff briefed us on the activities for the day.  We were assigned a “Grandia” van driven by a kind Manong Erwin, who worked for the mayor of Currimao town as well as the provincial governor’s office.  We finally left the hotel at 8:32 a.m..  According to Manong Erwin, Batac town was only 20 minutes away.  It was a wonderful sunny day and we drove through picturesque Paoay… we passed by an elegant Mediterranean-style villa by the lake and were told that it was Rudy Farinas’, further on was the road that led to the storied Ferdinand Marcos resthouse “Malacanang ti Amianan.”  We passed Paoay town proper, by the famous “earthquake baroque” church, and I noted that the town plaza had been improved from years ago ( there was a time when the tennis court at the back of the church was the major development ).  We were disappointed to hear that the “Herencia” restaurant, famous for its delish and cosmo “pinakbet” and “bagnet” pizzas ( think of Manang Biday meets Alice Waters ), had relocated.    

We were yacking about “those days” and before we knew it, we were already in Batac town.  Probably because the van had an identifying mark or something, the police and the barangay tanods waved us to the “VIP entrance.”  Make no mistake about it:  It was Marcos town and the profound affection and great esteem accorded to the late President Ferdinand Marcos was not only visible but palpable even to non-Ilocanos like us.  We drove into the Batac church patio, filled with various contingents waving flags and banners awaiting the arrival of the Marcos family, the de facto royal family of Ilocandia.  We alighted from the van and entered the church, which was already nearly full with various contingents as well — men, women, youth.  Cindy led us to a vacant pew in the middle of the church when an announcement was made that the first 5 pews were reserved for the guests of the Marcos family; the people occupying them immediately stood up and transferred.  We took the 5th pew on the left side — Cindy by the aisle and me by the other end.  In front of the first pew were the individual pews reserved for the Marcos family.  A lady in black and white whom no one recognized sat at one of the individual pews.

As I was wont to do, I took in the church interiors while waiting for the ceremonies to start.  Austere, Ilocano austere.  I observed that the Batac church did not yet have “Imee’s touch,” nor “Ma’am’s touch,” nor the faultlessly elegant “Irene’s touch.”  However, I noted a beautiful, elegant lifesize statue of the “Immaculate Conception” in the center niche of the main reredo;  it seemed to be the work of one of the famous Quiapo ateliers prewar.  On the right side ( the Epistle side ), there was an interesting, overpainted antique statue of “La Virgen con Nino Jesus” on a niche, possibly early 1800s or even mid-1700s.  I was seriously studying what was before me when the other live Virgin, the Madonna of Malacanang herself, finally appeared…

A growing hubbub at the church entrance signaled that The Eternally Beautiful One, the former First Lady Imelda Romualdez-Marcos, had finally arrived.  She glided up the aisle, resplendent in a deep red silk terno and her signature pompadour, amidst the characteristic flurry of security men, assistants, politicians, and media — just like the “old days.”  Whatever one thought of her, the lady simply had an amazingly potent and lasting megawatt star power.  The excited congregation clicked their cellphones endlessly.  As she neared our pew, the group stood up to greet their “Auntie Meldy.”  She was happy to see her relatives and associates and “beso-beso ed” one by one.  When it was my turn, she paused momentarily and gasped:  “Ay, anak ni Poling!  Kamukhang-kamukha!” ( “Poling” was Froilan Zialcita Romualdez, her first cousin, son of Manila mayor Miguel Romualdez )

The group laughed.  “Ma’am, hindi anak ni Poling ‘yan.  Si Toto Gonzalez iyan, kaibigan natin.”  they explained.

“Pero mukha kang Romualdez!”  she insisted.  “Toto Gonzalez!  Ikaw nga!  Bakit hindi ka na bumisita sa akin?  Ang saya ng kuwentuhan natin…”  I just smiled and nodded.  ( Long ago, Mandoy’s daughter Eliza told me that her Auntie Meldy enjoyed my company, intrigued as she was by my knowledge of the Manila families, the establishment, the Marcos circle, and also of the New York, London, & Paris social sets, the top jewelers, etc.  — in short, my knowledge of her world. )       

She sat down at the end of our pew and exchanged more pleasantries, unmindful of the scheduled ceremonies.  At the same time, a steady stream of people queued up to greet her.  Natural charmer that she was, she was unfailingly gracious to all.

Signaled by Atty. Eden Volante, Mrs. Marcos stood up from our pew to take her place in the individual pews in front.  She looked askance and gestured towards the lady in black and white ( whom no one recognized ) who continued to sit on one of the pews, seemingly oblivious to Mrs. Marcos’ arrival:  “Sino siya???” Mrs. Marcos asked.  Later during the mass, we all found out to our comic relief that the lady was none other than the lector.  Hahahah.    

After some time, Bonget ( Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. ) and Lisa ( Atty. Lisa Cacho Araneta-Marcos ) arrived with their security detail.      

The sprightly octogenarian Fortuna Edralin Marcos-Barba, the last surviving sibling of President Marcos, arrived, wearing a cheery printed red-and-white dress.  Mrs. Marcos greeted her affectionately with “beso-beso.”

Last to arrive was “Gov” Imee ( Maria Imelda Marcos ), looking morning fresh in white “abel” ( Ilocano woven cotton ).  No, Irene ( Irene Marcos-Araneta ) was not present.

*unfinished*

Filipino nary-tage, not heritage

“I don’t have any explanation why the Filipinos are like this…???” and Bambi threw her arms in the air.

After Bambi had spoken, there was an open forum and Mary, a Canadian, asked:  “Why don’t the Filipinos establish an organization that will maintain and conserve these historic structures … something like Britain’s ‘National Trust’?”

We all knew that we already had HCS Heritage Conservation Society, of which several in our group were members.  But funding so that it could have “teeth and claws” was an entirely different story…

It isn’t just those pine trees in Baguio which everyone is babbling about;  the overly emotional public outcry is probably the work of the dirty tricks department of a law or public relations firm in Manila.  The beautiful Baguio of old [ Session road, Burnham park, Baguio cathedral, the convents of various religious congregations, elegant mountain villas and gardens in the Leonard Wood area, Wright park, “Mansion House” the presidential summer residence, the original Baguio country club, the American Camp John Hay, etc. ] has long been ruined anyway by political greed, disorganized development, and multitudes of squatters from all over the country.  It isn’t like the SM group is committing the gravest sin removing those pine trees;  far worse atrocities have already been committed and even more are in the offing.  It’s sooooo much else all over the country and inside all of us…  Sooooo much of our national heritage has been destroyed, is still being destroyed, and will still be destroyed — all in the name of “progress.”  We Filipinos inherited the “disposable” mentality imposed subliminally by our American colonizers:  We throw everything away, including ourselves.  We have thrown our sense of national identity away in a frenzy of “globalization,” to the extent that our youth now want to emulate our black, Negro brothers — not even in their native Africa — but in hiphop Harlem in New York city, in the United States.

The problem with a lot of the Roman Catholic parish priests, specially those assigned to the heritage churches, is that they sincerely think that what they like for their parish churches is beautiful and suitable, when most of the time, it is exactly the opposite…

Very rare are the likes of Diocese of Cubao Bishop Honesto Ongtioco D.D. who engaged the services of patrician artist Rafael del Casal “carte blanche” to redesign the Immaculate Conception parish church to the Cathedral of Cubao.  Both Bishop Ongtioco and Mr. del Casal are gentlemen of uncompromisingly elegant tastes and their collaboration has been exceptional.  Combined with the generous funding of Captain Oca and the other benefactors, the result is an absolute artistic marvel unique in these islands [ except for the very few areas where Mr. del Casal was not involved ].

It’s the “Uglification of the Philippines,” and the average Filipino is powerless against it.  Poor guy.  What he thinks is beautiful is actually ugly by world standards.

Unless the Filipinos of culture and resources act — the intelligentsia, the culturati, and the plutocracy — there will be nary a trace of “Filipino heritage” — whatever little of it remains — in the near future.

Assumption-MRMF goes to Pila, Laguna

[ The Assumption-Mother Rosa Memorial Foundation charity tour of Laguna II:  13 August 2011, Saturday.  7:30 a.m. – 9:00 p.m., for the benefit of the poor students of the Assumpta Technical School in San Simon, Pampanga.  Organized by A-MRMF president Rosalie “Salie” Henson-Naguiat, former presidents Josefina “Nening” Pedrosa-Manahan and Jacqueline “Jackie” Cancio-Vega, and A-MRMF volunteer Augusto “Toto” M. R. Gonzalez III. ]

The tour group assembled at the parking lot of the Santuario de San Antonio church, Forbes Park starting at 7:30 a.m..   We left promptly at 8:00 a.m..

Because we were fetching Ayala Alabang residents, we dropped by the Shell gas station, southbound SLEX.  Many of us, Chichi Litton Laperal, Salie Henson-Naguiat, and I among them, went to “Starbucks” to buy coffee, pastries, and sandwiches, and of course, to use the bathrooms.  In a few minutes, AA residents Vina Alava-Pelaez and her son Zeke arrived and we proceeded to faraway Pila, Laguna.

During the drive, I [ in my capacity as A-MRMF volunteer co-organizer and guide ] gave the tour group a precis of our day, what we would see, what would be noteworthy / important, what we could forego.  I explained that our biggest problem with the A-MRMF charity tours was that there was always so much to see, wherever we went, because that was just how beautiful our country, the Philippines, was.  We had only listed Pila, Nagcarlan, Liliw, and Majayjay towns in Laguna as our destinations for the day but we actually wanted to bring them further to Magdalena, Pagsanjan, Lumban, Paete, and Pakil towns, which were equally interesting and wonderful destinations.

I explained to the tour group that Pila was already a flourishing and important Malay settlement by the time the Spaniards arrived in 1571.  Pila, Laguna in its present form began in the early 1800s when the “fundador” / founder Felizardo de Rivera transferred the previous town in Pagalangan, nearer Laguna de Bay, to his Rivera family’s hacienda de Santa Clara, located on higher ground, organized a town plaza with a church, municipal hall, “principalia” houses [ all Rivera relations ], and donated the outlying properties to the poor townsfolk.

Because Laguna province was where national hero Jose P. Rizal was from,  we asked his descendant Atty. Ramoncita “Minney” Ver Reyes [ great granddaughter of his eldest sister Saturnina Rizal de Hidalgo ] about him as well as other places in Laguna, aside from his hometowns of Calamba and Binan, that figured in his life.  She acceded and regaled us with Rizal family stories.  It was from those spontaneous discussions with Minney that A-MRMF hit upon the idea of organizing a “Rizal tour” featuring places associated with Rizal, both in Manila and in Laguna.

It was an entirely pleasant and chatty drive through Calamba, Los Banos, Bai’, Calauan, and Victoria towns to historic and elegant Pila, Laguna and we arrived promptly at 10:00 a.m. as scheduled.

Manuel Rivera house.  We met up with our generous hostess in Pila, Filomena “Monina” Rivera.

Pila church.  What money and taste, and taste and money, could do.

Pila museum closed on weekends!

We proceeded to the Teodoro Alava house along the town plaza.

After the Teodoro Alava, we proceeded to the Lorenzo Rivera house,to the immediate left of the municipal hall, also along the town plaza.  We marveled at the several lovely, albeit sad, Holy Week processional images in the prayer room of the house.

We rode the coaster the short distance to the Paz Rivera-Madrigal house.

There was a beautiful, fruit-laden, “santol” tree which looked like a Christmas tree!!!

What was fun about these A-MRMF tours was that there were several instances of pleasant surprises, even for us volunteer organizers.  There were, inevitably enough, beautiful things that we saw for the very first time!!!

Lunch at the Manuel Rivera house at 12:00 p.m. courtesy of Monina Rivera.  Traditional Pila food:  “Malaking isdang talakitok na may mayonesa,” “Ginataang maliit na hipon na may kamias,”  “Lechong kawali na may sarsang atay,” “Ensaladang Pako na may kesong puti at lilang bulaklak na may sarsang suka, bawang, at paminta,” and steamed rice.  “Minatamis na saba” stewed plantain bananas for dessert.  “Dinuguang baboy at puto” for merienda.

On to Nagcarlan.  1:30 p.m..  It was a delightful drive through ricelands and forests and a thousand shades of green, flowing rivers, cascading streams, and gurgling brooks with mountain fresh water… beautiful Philippines!!!

Nagcarlan underground cemetery.  There were novena prayers for the their “Santo Entierro’s” upcoming feast day.  There was an amiable lady guide who accompanied us to the underground crypt and explained its history.  It reminded us all of the catacombs in Rome.

Despite the rainy season, it was quite dry in the underground crypt.

Zeny, the A-MRMF secretary, took pixes in the underground crypt and there were “white shadows” in the pixes.  Spooky!

As the tour group was leaving the Nagcarlan underground cemetery, we came across a vendor in his tricycle selling “santol” fruits of the big “Bangkok” variety for the unbelievable price of Php 10.00/xx per kilo, or just about Php 2.50/xx each!  They were practically free!!!  Nobody could resist and the “santol” vendor’s stock was bought out and everyone returned to the coaster, happy with their heavy haul!

On to Liliw for the famous footwear shopping.

The slight rains and drizzles did not deter the tour group at all — they simply unfurled their umbrellas and soldiered on! — from heading to the main shopping street and sampling Liliw’s justifiably famous footwear market…

“Badong.”  Buy Filipino!!!  Many of us treated themselves to a pair or 2, even 3 or 4, pairs of nice-looking, reasonably-priced, everyday, casual footwear.

“Arabela’s” cafe.  All of us just had to visit this famous Liliw landmark of good food and cosmo bohemian chic.  Some of us managed to have a drink and a bite.  After all, one can never go to Liliw, Laguna and NOT visit “Arabela’s” cafe!

Liliw church.

Leaving the church, Ane Miren [ Ugarte-Aboitiz ] de Rotaeche-Dowdall, Nening Pedrosa-Manahan, Minney Reyes, and I were charmed by a small, 8 year old boy selling packets of edible young “pako” ferns for Php 10.00/xx each and, wanting to encourage his hard work and entrepreneurship, we bought all of his stock.

As we were getting ready to leave Liliw, an assiduous male vendor of “kesong puti” from Santa Cruz town kept on offering his goods:  2 luscious, tempting pieces traditionally wrapped in banana leaves and shards of tree bark for Php 100.00/xx.  They compared favorably in size and density to those of UP Los Banos’ dairy products store at Php 55.00/xx per piece of similar size.  His efforts were not in vain as the ladies Nening Manahan, Ane Miren Dowdall, Salie Naguiat, et. al., kept on buying 1 or 2 as they boarded the coaster.  He was soon followed by an equally assiduous male vendor of fresh-looking, fragrant “longganizang Lucban”:  1 string of 12 pieces for Php 100.00/xx.  His efforts were not in vain either as the ladies Nening Manahan, Chichi Laperal, et. al. kept on buying 1, 2, even 3 or 4 strings of “longganizas” as they boarded the coaster.  The ladies kept on buying “kesong puti” and “longganizang Lucban” until the stocks were finally sold out.  The 2 vendors must have been happy with their big sales for the day!

On to Majayjay.  It was another delightful drive through forests with a thousand shades of green, cascading streams, and gurgling brooks with mountain fresh water…  how beautiful the Philippines is!!!

Majayjay, up in the mountains of Laguna, was the Baguio, the de facto summer capital during the Spanish era.  Spanish officialdom and clergy liked to spend some time in cool Majayjay every now and then, usually staying at the Majayjay convent and in the better houses.

Majayjay is the ancestral town, “seat” if you will, of the old Ordoveza family of Laguna.  As early as the late 1500s, their progenitor Lorenzo Pangutangan, who waxed rich from shipping, trading, and financing, was already established in a big “bahay na bato” there.  At some point in the 1600s, the surname Pangutangan was hispanized to Ordoveza.

Ordoveza descendants Vina Gala Alava-Pelaez and her son Zeke were delighted to visit their ancestral hometown for the first time.

We arrived at the ancient, historic, and incomparably beautiful Majayjay church.  We arrived just a few minutes before the 5:00 p.m. anticipated Sunday mass.  I pointed and emphasized to the group the important, 1600s-1700s bas-reliefs of the Immaculate Conception, with the attributes of Mary in her litany [ “Tower of Ivory,” “House of Gold,” “Ark of the Covenant,” “Gate of Heaven,” “Morning Star,” etc. ], the Crucifixion of Jesus with Mary and John, and on the opposite wall, another of the Crucifixion with many figures.  I also pointed to the magnificent baptismal font of carved stone [ of Philippine “adobe” or Chinese granite ], probably from the 1600s.  Also splendid were the still-original main altar and the 2 side altars [ in marked contrast to the reconstructed ones of Liliw, Nagcarlan, Pila, Lumban, and Pagsanjan towns ], in hybrid Neoclassical style dating from 1800 at the earliest, albeit repainted and regilded with metal leaf.

Everyone admired the very old “kalachuchi” frangipane trees just outside the side portal of the church.  The whorled and gnarled roots reminded Minney Reyes of a scene from Dante’s “Inferno.”

[ I quietly remembered with a smile the A-MRMF tour of Laguna I in 2009 when Regina “Giging” Jalandoni-Garcia easily took hundreds of pixes during that memorably happy trip. ]

On to Lumban.  4:45 p.m..

Shopping.

“Step-Rite,” Pagsanjan.  Buy Filipino!!!  Again, many of us treated themselves to a pair or 2, or even 3 or 4, pair of nice-looking, reasonably-priced, everyday, casual footwear.

“Aling Taleng’s” ‘halo-halo,’ Pagsanjan.  “Tumbong” was the distinctive ingredient.

We finally left Pagsanjan town at 7:40 p.m..  We encountered heavy traffic along Santa Cruz, then Los Banos, and Calamba.  Our return to Makati was delayed.

Because we were dropping off AA residents, we dropped by the Caltex gas station, northbound SLEX.  AA residents Vina Pelaez and her son Zeke  got off there and we proceeded to Forbes Park, Makati.

Back at Santuario de San Antonio, Forbes Park.  9:45 p.m..  Because of the heavy traffic we encountered along Santa Cruz, Los Banos, and Calamba, we were 45 minutes behind our scheduled arrival in Makati.

Every A-MRMF tour is able to send a poor, deserving child [ or even 2 ] to the Assumpta Technical School in San Simon, Pampanga for free for a year.

As we always say, to have been able to send a poor child to school for a year, to have been able to see wonderful places, to have shared a day of adventure, joy, and laughter with happy and generous spirits, to have had a whale of a time in the process, there is no better deal in life!!!

Titans of Taste: Lindy and Cecile Locsin

There are many rich, even superrich, Filipinos.  But only a few of them have style, and even fewer still have the high style which compare to their peers in New York, Paris, and London.

Architect Leandro “Lindy” Locsin and his heiress wife Cecilia “Cecile” Araneta Yulo along with their friends personified Filipino high style.

Lindy and Cecile kept a close circle of friends — Jimmy and Maribel Ongpin, Ting and Baby Paterno, and Manolo and Rose Agustines.

Titans of Taste: Luis Ma. Araneta

He already had good taste even as a child, which wasn’t surprising considering that his family lived in the most beautiful residence along aristocratic Calle R. Hidalgo.

Titans of Taste: Arturo de Santos

If the adage “Money can buy everything” is true then Arturo de Santos certainly bought everything…

The Families of Old Tondo, Manila

Tondo, Manila is the place furthest from Social Manila’s mindset [ with the possible exception of the hugely popular 168 mall where even Madame Imelda Romualdez-Marcos shops for amusing nonconsequentials ].  But the place has an ancient, eminent, even venerable history…

The ancient, great kingdom of Tondo spanned what is now present-day Tondo district all the way northwards to much of Central Luzon.  Before the Spanish colonization of these islands in the late 1500s, the kingdom of Tondo, by its sheer size and economic importance, dominated the lesser ones of Maynilad, Namayan, Ternate, and Bai’.  Rajah Lakandula, the great lord of the kingdom during the Spanish invasion of 1570, was a grandson of the Sultan of Brunei, his mother was a daughter of the sultan.  To this day, Rajah Lakandula of Tondo is listed in the genealogy of the royal family of Brunei.

On 18 August 1900, the American Edith Moses, the wife of Commissioner Bernard Moses, wrote:  “Tondo is a quarter as near like Chinatown as you can picture it.  It is the dirtiest and most crowded part of Manila, but in spite of that fact some of the richest Filipino families reside there.”

ABREU.  Flaviano Abreu married Saturnina Salazar, a very rich Chinese mestiza heiress, and they resided in a large “bahay-na-bato” on Calle Sagunto [ later Calle Santo Cristo;  present-day Santo Cristo Street ].

CABANGIS.  The Cabangis family owned the entire island of Balut in Tondo.  Tomas Cabangis was an “ilustrado”;  he was with Jose Rizal and the other “ilustrados” in Spain during the 1880s.

DE BELEN.  Eugenio de Belen and his wife Maximina Meneses, “Capitan Genio” and “Capitana Simang,” lived in a three-storey “bahay na bato” which fronted three streets in front of the Tondo church.

DE SANTOS.  Although the very rich de Santos family were famous for being landowners with vast rice “haciendas” in the tens of thousands of hectares in Nueva Ecija, their clan progenitor was the 1700s Spaniard Prudencio de Santos, a Spanish army officer who settled in Manila and acquired a wide swathe of what is now the present-day Divisoria entrepot in Tondo.  [ There is an extant oil portrait, copied from a daguerreotype { which was in turn copied from an early portrait }, of the Spaniard Prudencio de Santos by the great artist Fabian de la Rosa, dated 1931, from the once highly-distinguished but sadly dispersed Dr. Arturo de Santos Collection;  it is now in the Atty. Jose Maria Trenas Collection ].

[ The parents of Roman Santos y Rodriguez, founder of Prudential Bank, were Hilarion Santos of Manila and Marta Rodriguez y Tuason of Bacolor, Pampanga.  According to archival records, the original surname of Hilarion Santos was actually “de Santos.”  There is a possibility that he could have been descended from the de Santos family of Tondo. ]

LOPEZ DEL CASTILLO.

The Lopez del Castillo are descended from the Cabangis family.

MANOTOK.

MENESES.

PANTANGCO.

The Spanish-Chinese mestiza Mercedes Pantangco y Simon married Macario Rufino y Santos — descendant of an Italian immigrant named Ruffino — and they had seven children:  Manuel, Ernesto, Vicente, Ester, Rafael, and two more daughters.  Macario passed away early, leaving Mercedes to raise her children singlehandedly.  She sent her sons to study at the De La Salle College and her daughter to the nearby Saint Scholastica’s College.

The siblings Ernesto, Vicente, Ester, and Rafael Rufino — the acronym EVER — established a flourishing chain of cinemas which started a business empire that diversified to banking and real estate development.

SALAZAR.  The Chinese mestiza Saturnina Salazar inherited a great fortune from moneylending by her industrious Chinese father Silvestre Salazar, known as “Nor Beteng” to all of Divisoria.  She married Flaviano Abreu and they lived in a large “bahay-na-bato” on Calle Sagunto.  Their elder daughter Guadalupe “Neneng” Abreu y Salazar became the second wife of Felipe “Ipe” Buencamino y Siojo [ Sr. ] of San Miguel de Mayumo, Bulacan.  Ipe and Neneng had two sons:  Philip and Victor.  Philip married Mary Romero;  Victor married Dolores Arguelles.  Vic’s and Loleng’s elder son Philip Arguelles Buencamino Jr. married Zenaida “Nini” Aragon Quezon, daughter of President Manuel Luis Molina Quezon and First Lady Aurora Molina Aragon;  their younger son Victor Arguelles Buencamino Jr. married Blesilda “Blessie” Ocampo of Old Quiapo.

PEDRO SY-QUIA Y ENCARNACION.  The affluent migrant businessman Vicente Ruperto Romero Sy Quia [ + 09 January 1894 ] of Am Thau, Amoy, China married Petronila Encarnacion of Vigan, Ilocos Sur in 1853.  Their second son Pedro Sy-Quia y Encarnacion married Asuncion Michels de Champourcin y Ventura of Bacolor, Pampanga in the 1870s and built a large, palatial “bahay na bato” in Tondo [ the Sy-Quia-Michels de Champourcin property was expropriated during the American regime and was converted to the Tutuban Railway Station;  the original facade survives as the present-day Tutuban mall in Divisoria ].  Pedro and Asuncion had three sons:  Pedro Jr., Gonzalo, and Leopoldo [ surnamed Sy-Quia y Michels de Champourcin ].  Pedro Jr. married Caridad Arguelles Cruz;  Gonzalo married Ramona Vargas;  Leopoldo married Maria Chanco.

TIOCO.

TRINIDAD.

The 19th century Filipino master painter Antonio Malantic, whose surviving works are very few, was famous in his time for his portraits of wealthy Tondo residents such as the families mentioned above.

Acknowledgments:  Ramon N. Villegas, Victor Abreu Buencamino Sr., Victor Arguelles Buencamino Jr., Manuel Buencamino, Arch. Miguel Noche, Dr. Taddy Buyson Gonzales, Vicente Roman Santos Santos, Richard Tuason-Sanchez Bautista, Atty. Jose Maria P. Trenas, Mia Cruz Syquia-Faustmann, Arch. J. Antonio Gonzalez Mendoza, multi-awarded journalist and the former Press Secretary during the Ramos and the Estrada administrations Rodolfo “Rod” T. Reyes.

The Families of Old Bicol

[ I wonder if I can get dear ol’ Sonny Tinio — Filipiniana scholar par excellence Manuel Imperial Tinio Jr. — to help me with this… ]

CENTENERA.

ESCUDERO.

FUENTEBELLA.

GARCHITORENA.

IMPERIAL.

According to the patrician historian Martin Imperial Tinio, Jr.:

“The Imperial oral tradition says that the family is descended from 2 brothers shipwrecked in the San Bernardino Strait in the early 17th century and landed in Manito. The story is probably true a most of the land in that town belongs to the Imperials. They eventually moved down to Daraga, Albay and one is said to have migrated to Baao in Camarines Sur. Luis Dato, a UP historian said that he saw a baptismal record of an Imperial in Baao Church dated 1635. When I was going to work on the Imperial Family Tree in the 1990s, the church records were no longer available as the whole church had been burned. The present records we have of the Legazpi Imperials date from the 1790s, same as that of those in Naga. I’m still working on trying to connect all the Imperials in the country, including the ones in Ilocos and Aklan. I have already connected the ones in Batanes, who were originally from Naga. Incidentally, the Imperials in all the provinces were already cabezas in the late 1700s. My great-great-grandfather, Don Sinforozo Imperial became Gobernadorcillo of Daraga in 1850 and Gobernadorcillo of Legazpi in 1852. All his sons became officials of Legazpi and Albay towns in the late 19th century, while his daughter, Theodora, married Gen. Ludovico Arejola, the commander of the revolutionary forces in Camarines Sur.”

JAUCIAN.  The Jaucian family were originally from Jaro, Iloilo.  They transferred residence to Bicol because of their increasing involvement in the “abaca” hemp export business.

According to Martin I. Tinio, Jr.:

“The Jaucian Family is descended from Domingo Jaucian a sangley cristiano who was baptized in Molo in 1801, the same year that Domingo Consing, progenitor of the Consing Family of Molo was baptized. The parish priest at that time was an Araneta, said to be the progenitor of the Araneta clan.

Domingo’s presumed grandson, Mariano,(I still haven’t really determined the connection as I haven’t completed my research of the Molo baptismal records) migrated to Daraga, Albay and married a Bicolana. Accompanying him were his cousins and in-laws who founded the Anson, Locsin and Yulo families of Albay. These families intermarried among themselves for almost a century, just as they did in Iloilo. Mariano’s grandson, Cirilo, became the richest man in Bicol at the turn-of-the-century and was called ‘The Abaca King’ of Bicol. He was the first Capitan Municipal of Guinobatan in 1894, when the title of Gobernadorcillo was changed to that upon the promulgation of the Maura Decree of 1893. In the confidential report to the Alalde Mayor or Provincial Governor of the parish priest regarding the qualifications of the candidates for the election of gobernadorcillo in the late 1880s, the current parish priest stated that Balbino Jaucian, youngest brother of Cirilo, was the richest man in Daraga. He served as gobernadorcillo for 2 terms and refused to serve another. Andres, another brother who migrated to Libmanan, Camarines Sur, also became the biggest landowner and the richest man in that town, the largest in the proince after Naga. He also became Capitan of Libmanan. The Jaucian family was the biggest landowning family in Albay and was considered the richest in Bicol until the mid-20th century.”

JORDANA.

URSUA.

Acknowledgments:  Filipiniana scholar nonpareil Martin Imperial Tinio Jr.;  former Press Secretary during the Ramos and the Estrada administrations Rodolfo “Rod” T. Reyes.

The Families of Old Vigan, Ilocos Sur

FLORENTINO.  The Florentino family was renowned among the old Vigan families — even after the emergence of the Donato, the Sy-Quia, and the Quema families in the early 1800s — to have the grandest landholdings in the forms of rice lands, tobacco plantations, and virgin forest lands stretching tens of thousands of hectares from Ilocos Sur to Aparri.

The family also produced the lady writer Leona Florentino.

Another famous descendant of the Florentino family of Vigan was National Hero Jose Protacio Alonso Rizal, who descended directly from the Mercado-Rizal of Calamba [ and Binan ] and the Alberto-Alonso y Realonda of Binan, Laguna.  His grandmother was a Florentino de Vigan.

ANGCO.

Justo Angco.

The Chinese mestiza heiress Estefania Angco y Resurreccion married Gregorio Sy Quia y Encarnacion in the 1870s.

The 1830s Angco residence survives to this day as the Syquia mansion museum.

ENCARNACION.

ROSARIO.

FAVIS.

Asterio Favis y Flandes of Vigan, Ilocos Sur married the heiress Ramona “Monay” Gonzalez y Morales of Bautista, Pangasinan.  They had four children:  Beatriz, Asterio, Cecilia, and Teresa.  Beatriz married Beda Juan Medina Gonzalez;  Asterio married Remedios Jalbuena Ledesma;  Cecilia married Jose Gonzalez Gomez;  Teresa married _____ Olbes.

VILLANUEVA.  The poetess Ursula Villanueva.

SINGSON.  Among the most prominent descendants of this family was Vicente Singson Encarnacion, who was a prominent, multimillionaire businessman in Manila PreWar.

Governor Luis “Chavit” Singson.

DE LEON.

CRISOLOGO.  Governor Floro Crisologo.

ACOSTA.

FILART.

DONATO.  The family fortune was founded by an industrious Chinese “panadero” baker, Don Ah Toh, from where the present family surname was derived.

SY-QUIA.  The affluent migrant businessman Vicente Ruperto Romero Sy Quia [ + 09 January 1894 ] of Am Thau, Amoy, China married Petronila Encarnacion of Vigan in 1853.  Their son Gregorio Syquia y Encarnacion married the Chinese mestiza heiress Estefania Angco y Resurreccion.

The heiress Alicia Syquia y Jimenez married Elpidio Quirino who became the President of the Philippines in 1950.  The old family residence survives to this day as the Syquia mansion museum.

QUEMA.  Enrique Quema was the patriarch of the family and he was originally from _____, Ilocos Sur.  He married Teresa Crisologo of Vigan.

« Older entries