“Tirar la casa por la ventana”: The Filipino hosts and their entertaining

by Augusto M R Gonzalez III (Toto Gonzalez)

It would be his birthday and he had asked his 30 closest friends to come for “a little dinner.”  Because his parties are always such wonderful occasions, no one declined.  Since his place is outside the metro, he asked us to be there by 5.30pm.

Marivic and I decided to have a convoy, although I rode with her so we could chat during the long ride.  It was a Sunday afternoon, and traffic was mercifully light.  We left Makati at 2.30pm.  We arrived at 4.00pm, without really knowing that our invitation was for 5.30pm.  His numerous staff carried our things into the house.  We were assigned the big guest bedroom.  Marivic had brought her personal assistant Mary Jane to help her dress.  Our host was in his palazzo-style bathroom, he had just finished bathing and was getting dressed assisted by his valets.

Curious about the dinner party preparations, Marivic and I wandered around the vast “little house” and into the hotel-style kitchen where there was a flurry of activity.  The numberless, uniformed staff was busy and all over the place.  We met the new head chef of the family, a 40ish Filipino-American who had taken his culinary studies at Cornell, and had actually worked at Thomas Keller’s “The French Laundry” at Yountville, at Alice Waters’ “Chez Panisse” in Berkeley, and other top restaurants.  He was very friendly and although very busy, he took the time to explain the dinner menu to us as well as offered samples of the exquisite hors d’ oeuvres that would be served during cocktails.  Marivic and I happily accepted our de facto merienda and nibbled away at the savories.

It was already a big kitchen by contemporary standards (indeed a commodious house unto itself), and it could hold long tables where the chefs could prepare dozens of plated dishes for multicourse dinners.  One side was entirely covered by antique cabinets filled with wonderful antique glassware and chinaware.   But I was surprised at the fact that it was still insufficient space for a sitdown dinner for 36 pax, service ala Russe.  Hence, the preparation area for the dinner with table after table extended to the back hallways and the service areas of the big “little house.”  I even accidentally bumped lightly into a table with several exquisite, antique crystal decanters which were to be used for the wines that evening;  good thing nothing was damaged.

The countless staff rushed to and fro.  Easily 200 of them.

I completely understood and enjoyed the complicated dinner party preparations (as long as I am not the one giving/hosting the fabulous dinner), and so did my good friend, who must have witnessed, hosted, and experienced much more as a heiress, a member of one of the country’s richest and most hallowed families.

“You can’t entertain like this without staff, more staff, and lots of staff!!!”  I commented.

“That’s true.”

We wandered into the dark and cool dining room, with its long mahogany table elaborately set for 36 pax.  36 place settings on a proper linen damask tablecloth with linen damask napkins, silver chargers, multiple silver flatware, and multiple crystal stemware.  The center of the table was occupied by big porcelain decorations adorned with fresh blooms, various French porcelain vases bearing fresh roses, and interesting carved candles.  Three crystal chandeliers lit the long room discreetly.  The dinner would be a French degustation, service ala Russe.  Naughtily and merrily, and rather improperly, we looked for our places at the table and looked at the place cards of who else would be there.  “Opap,”  “Johnny,”  “Manny,”  “Arnie,”  “Helen,”  “Cora,”  “Patis,”  “Tito,”  “Gop,”  “Snooky,”  “Tonying,”  “Ingrid,”  “Raul,”  “Reynaldo,” et al.  What fun!!!

We enjoyed watching the elaborate “backstage” dinner preparations as it reminded both of us of how our families entertained back in those days…  It was “deja vu”…

I imagined that it was quite like a “Le Grand Couvert” of Louis XIV at Versailles…  or a dinner at Baron James de Rothschild at his rue Lafite townhouse in Paris…  or a dinner at the van der Luydens’ for the Duke of Saint Austrey in Edith Wharton’s novel “Age of Innocence”…  It was a production on the scale of Cecil de Mille or Sergei Bondarchuk…

“No one does it like this anymore…”  Marivic said.

“Tita Chito…  Tito Luis!!!  Even Mommy.  Even when we were in the US.  But when we returned…  she had tired of entertaining like this.”  she continued.  (Consuelo “Chito” Madrigal-Vazquez-Collantes, Arch Luis Maria Zaragoza Araneta, Maria Luisa “Ising” Madrigal-Vazquez.)

I recalled:  “We don’t do it like this anymore.  But I enjoyed it for some 35 years.  We did during the lifetime of my Lola Charing and then during Bro Andrew’s heyday.   He passed away in early 2006, and even then no longer during his last years…

“But I’m sure you and your M cousins still do it this way…”  I conjectured.

“Not really.  Oh, there’s always a lot of good food.  Tables set with good plates, glasses, silver.  Buffet.”  Marivic related.

“It’s 2015.  I wonder if anybody has the time to plan, execute, and host these affairs…”  I mused.

“One can have these elegant dinners catered.  But the true luxury is in having everything in your own house (or houses, as the case may be):  great food and wine, a large and efficient household staff, many sets of French and English china, crystal, and silver.  Beautiful linens.  Suitable after-dinner entertainment.  Old master, modern, and contemporary paintings, antique and contemporary furniture, Eastern and European rugs, flowers from the garden.  The works…”  I thought aloud.


“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.


Lunch out

Not only the good food, and the scintillating company, but the cool air, the trees, plants, flowers, and the colorful “koi” fishes in the various ponds that make dining at practically everyone’s favorite resto in distant Tagaytay, no matter how frequent, so pleasant…

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..


“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!!!

The fruits of summers past














































Beyond repair, beyond regret

Probably because of all the shit that had happened since, I no longer remember why we were there at the Gonzalez mausoleum at the Apalit Catholic cemetery, just the two of us, my uncle Brother Andrew and I, one sunny, breezy afternoon sometime in the early 2000s…  [ The venerable Brother Andrew Benjamin Gonzalez, F.S.C., 1940 – 2006, of the De La Salle / Brothers of the Christian Schools, longtime president of the DLSU De La Salle University in Manila ]

“You can just put my ashes [ half ] anywhere here… when the time comes.”  Brother Andrew declared, a detectable gulp in his voice, as he surveyed the extension to the right of the old mausoleum, where the younger members of the family, his generation, were buried.  “The other half will have to be with the Brothers in Lipa.”

“Well, why not just be interred wholly in Lipa?  Why be ‘chop-chop’ like a pig?”  I asked.

“Because none of you will visit me there, damn it!”  he scoffed.

I laughed.  “Of course we won’t, it’s too far!  Besides, how would you know, you’d be dead, six feet under the ground, or six feet over, whichever…”

“I know!”  he snapped with finality.

“Well, which half goes here and which half goes to the Brothers?  From your head to your tummy here, and from your ass to your feet to the Brothers?  Or the other way around?”  I asked jokingly.

“It doesn’t matter.  Some here, some there…  Just do it, please!”  he requested, his eyes wide with sarcasm and scorn for his wisecracking nephew.

“OK!  Whatever turns you on, Brother.”  I shrugged.

“OK.  Where do we go to eat now?  I had a lousy lunch!  I’m hungry!”  and off he stomped back to the car.

And with that query, we left the Gonzalez mausoleum at the Apalit Catholic cemetery.


Some five years later in January 2006, Brother Andrew passed away of severe diabetic complications.  That afternoon, my lawyer brother, his Korean wife, and I were enjoying the delights of the 168 mall in Divisoria for the first time.  All those cheap and cheerful goods!!!  At 4:30 p.m., my brother received a text message that Brother Andrew was finally dying at the De La Salle University hospital in Cavite.  We immediately decided to return home to get organized.  As we were driving along Quezon avenue in front of the Santo Domingo church at around 5:30 p.m., we received another text message that he had already passed away.  I sighed, then continued looking at all the nice fake watches I had bought which I forthwith decided I simply couldn’t wear and would have to give away to our male employees…  The guy’s dead anyway, what could we do about it?!

By that time, he had messed up family matters so badly — with not a little help from youknowwho, youknowwhotoo, and youknowwhoelse — that some of us, including yours truly, had simply eradicated him from our lives.  Probably because of divine intervention, I managed to visit the dying man a few times in the hospital and actually be cordial, as if nothing bad had happened at all, which the poor man happily interpreted as “reconciliation” [ which it really wasn’t, it would take a longer time, but what do you do with a dying man? ].  We were still able to talk about some important things, but not all, before he finally “kicked the bucket.”


It’s 2010 and I’m a very different person, sometimes unrecognizable even to myself.  Gone are the kindness, innocence, generosity of soul that everyone who had known me in childhood could attest.  Essentially.  Then I finally realized, contrary to what I had been taught and had believed in all my life, that goodness has no place in this world where one must kill, in all ways, to survive.  The danger is that the difference lies deep inside:  the cynicism, sarcasm, vengefulness, darkness of the soul…  although visible are the tired eyes, the sagging cheeks, the droopy smile, the weatherbeaten look of it all.  I think evil of everyone, bolstered by the fact that I’m usually proven right as time passes.  I prefer the Stepmother to Cinderella, Maleficent to the Three Good Fairies, Odile to Odette, Tosca to Violetta.  They’re more fun!!!

What’s the point of visiting the dead family members during All Souls’ Day anyway???  Why all the pretenses???  Why visit the dead when the living detest and even loathe each other?  What family?  Are you to be considered family when you’re only all too willing to destroy the entire superstructure just to feed your sense of self-entitlement, simply because you feel outdone and disenfranchised by so-and-so, because you’re named so-and-so, the supposed favorite of so-and-so?  What legacies?  Are misunderstandings, arguments, quarrels, and protracted wars among family members considered legacies???  We might as well be all dead if that’s the case!!!

Last week, my sister made arrangements for the Apalit parish priest to say an anticipated All Souls’ Day mass at the Gonzalez mausoleum at the Catholic cemetery;  she was the only one who attended.   A few days later, my eldest brother, still hip and groovy from the non-trad 1970s, called my younger brother so that they and their families could make the trip to the mausoleum at the cemetery.  What for???  Did they ever care for those traditions when they were still there?  Why make a show of it now, now that it’s gone, for good???  What for???  As for me, I told them pointedly that since we could no longer have the traditional Capampangan breakfast at the old house in Sulipan / Capalangan, the least they could do would be to cart me off to the Pen, the Shang, or the Sofitel Plaza for breakfast, brunch, or lunch.  “Antonio’s” Tagaytay would be nice.  Other than that, please do not bother me with your inanities, I told them.

SHIT.  Sartre would agree.

Conversations about: Simon Flores y de la Rosa, 1839 – 1904, painter

From around 1850 to 1900, a talented artist was busy painting all those stately portraits of — well, not all, but mostly — ugly and fat, or ugly and thin, rich Pampango dons and donas, senoritos and senoritas, in mostly vertical but also curiously horizontal modes [ “memento mori” ].  When not busy with portrait commissions, he was occupied painting murals in several Pampanga churches like Bacolor and Betis.  His name was Simon Flores y de la Rosa and he was from Paco, Manila and he had married a Pampanguena named Simplicia Tambungui y Pineda from Guagua town [ what an authentic “Queni” surname, you can’t get more Capampangan than that!!! ].

Almost every “bahay na bato” mansion of a “principalia” family in every town of Pampanga had an oil portrait or a painting by Simon Flores.  Predictably, the greatest numbers were in the old, principal towns of Bacolor, Mexico, Guagua, and San Fernando.

There were predictably many Simon Flores portraits and paintings in the capital town of Bacolor.

One of the earliest known works of Simon Flores, dated “20 de Mayo 1862,” painted when he was all of 23 years old,  is the still-extant portrait of Olegario Rodriguez aka “Incung Luga” [ o 1806 – + 1874 ], patriarch of the still-flourishing Rodriguez clan of Bacolor, when the subject was “56 anos.”  Olegario Rodriguez was depicted wearing the European black coat with tails, embroidered “nipis” shirt [ of “pina” or “jusi” fabrics ], and trousers of a “principalia,” seated on a Biedermeier-style armchair, with his arm resting on a grooved marble top table, which 128 years later until the lahar flows of 1991, still stood in the center of the “sala” of his own house.  The portrait is with Rodriguez descendants in Manila.

A noteworthy and famous pair of Simon Flores portraits, the spouses Jose Leon Santos and Ramona Joven y Suarez, both of Bacolor, now hang in the “sala” of the “Museo De La Salle” in Dasmarinas, Cavite, created by their great great grandson Jose Maria Ricardo “Joey” Yaptinchay-Abad Panlilio.  One vividly remembers the comic story of Joey Panlilio, as related by his grandmother Luz Sarmiento de Panlilio, of how her husband Jose “Pepe” [ Joey’s grandfather ], an aristocratic bon vivant who always preferred the very latest in lifestyle fashions, “thoroughly disliked and was frankly embarrassed by those old, outmoded paintings” during the prewar and relegated them to obscure corners in the ancestral home in Bacolor, installing fashionable, framed large photographs and hand-colored “foto-oleos” in their place.

In the Buyson-Angeles ancestral home, the most social residence in Bacolor prelahar, hung a Simon Flores portrait of the distinguished patriarch, Julian Buyson y Cunanan of Baliuag, Bulacan.

The rich, Chinese mestizo-dominated town of Guagua, Pampanga was burned to the ground during the war.  Most of the imposing “bahay na bato” mansions of the town’s richest residents, both the Chinese and the Spanish mestizos — David, Limson, de Mesa, Valenzuela, Velez, Rodriguez-Infante — lining the plaza were destroyed, and with them, what was surely a fine group of portraits and paintings by Simon Flores, for his wife, Simplicia Tambungui y Pineda, was a native of Guagua town.

There were also several Simon Flores portraits and paintings in the town of San Fernando.  For starters, around 1875, three prosperous, landowning and trading Quiason y Cunanan brothers, Cirilo, Lucio, and Pablo, commissioned imposing family portraits from the artist.  The most beautiful and elegant of the three was the one of the Cirilo Quiason family.  Cirilo was painted with his wife Ceferina Henson y David, their second son Aureo, and third son Jose.  It was painted in 1875 and Simon Flores charged 50 pesos a head in gold coins, totaling 200 pesos.  Simon Flores sketched their faces in their home, brought their clothes to his house, and in a month he presented the finished painting to them.  It was in poor condition when it was sold in the early 1980s by the Quiason descendants to Governor Jaime C. Laya on behalf of the Central Bank of the Philippines.  On the other hand, Lucio or Pablo Quiason was depicted with his wife, daughters, and even mother-in-law in a rather cramped composition.  It is now in the Leandro V. Locsin collection and was expertly repaired by the restorers of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.  The third Quiason family portrait is believed to be lost or to have been destroyed during the war.

In Porac town, Simon Flores painted the Spanish mestizo patriarch and wife of the rich Gil-Castellvi family [ whose present-day family members are the beautiful actresses and handsome actors Rosemarie Gil, Mark Gil, Michael de Mesa, and Cherie Gil ].  The portraits were lost postwar.  In the “capilla” chapel of the house was Flores’ “La Virgen Maria,” his interpretation of an Italian Madonna.  It was acquired by the architect-collector Luis Ma. Araneta who hung it over his bed;  it was acquired from Araneta in the early 1980s by the ubercollector Paulino Que.

In the town of Mexico were many portraits and paintings by Simon Flores.  I will never forget the Simon Flores portrait of the buck-teethed Saturnino Hizon y David, dressed in a blue and white striped “pina” barong;  I could never get over his buck teeth which could have used the services of a good orthodontist.  He married three times because he was widowed twice:  first to Maria Cuison, then to Adriana Tizon, and finally to Cornelia Sison.  His third wife was also painted by Simon Flores.  The portraits, expensively restored, are now with Hizon descendants in Manila.  Saturnino Hizon y David and his three wives had many children and many descendants.  I remember seeing his very beautiful and exquisitely chased silver “platilla para buya” / “buyera,” marked “S H D ,” in the bedroom of an important Makati collector.

Also in Mexico town, Simon Flores painted a diminutive full-length portrait of the long-haired — as in floor length — Miguela Henson in front of her Isabelina-style dresser.  It is now in the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas collection.  I was always amused by the little portrait of Miguela Henson since she looked so much [ almost a carbon copy! ] like my Mommy’s good friend, Tita Belen Henson-Lazatin Garcia-Diokno [ a pioneering Filipina psychiatrist ], who, somewhere along the way, must be a relative of  Miguela Henson through the Hizon-Henson-Lazatin line of Mexico town.

In the town of Santa Ana, Simon Flores painted the pretty Andrea Dayrit.  Her portrait hung in the 1840s Dizon house, famous in its time for its late Neoclassical and English Regency architectural details.

In Arayat town, Simon Flores painted the Spanish mestizo hacendero Jose Berenguer y Flores and his wife Simona “Munit” Linares y Reyes;  they are with Berenguer descendants in Manila.  He also painted the Spanish mestizo hacendero Lino Cardenas Reyes of Arayat and his wife Raymunda Soriano of Malabon.  “Capitan Lino” and “Capitana Munda” Reyes were famous in their time during the 1880s – 90s for their “fiestas” — elegant meals [ “desayuno,” “almuerzo,” “cena” ], “bailes,” and gambling — which lasted for weeks on end where the Spanish mestizo elite of Pampanga and Manila were invited [ remnants of their affluent life like Limoges china, Baccarat crystal, and silver “paliteras” toothpick trees in the form of birds amidst shrubs are still with Reyes descendants in San Francisco, USA ].  The Simon Flores portraits were destroyed when the Reyes-Soriano house in the poblacion burned down in the great fire that devastated Arayat in 1928, when all of the “bahay na bato” mansions lining its “Calle Real” were turned to ashes.

Adjacent to Arayat, in Candaba town, Simon Flores painted two doyennes of the “principalia” landowning class:  the severe-looking Severina Ocampo de Arroyo and the corpulent Quintina Castor de Sadie, nicknamed “Fat Woman from Candaba.”  They were in the collection of technocrat banker Manuel “Manoling” Martinez Dizon but he sold them to the Central Bank in the early 1980s because he wanted to concentrate on contemporary Filipino art.

In the southernmost town of Apalit, in the affluent barrio of Sulipan,  Simon Flores executed several portrait commissions from the richest families in that town.  In the Escaler-Sioco house, there was a pair of portraits of Matea Rodriguez y Tuason wearing a black “traje de mestiza” with considerable jewelry and her second husband Juan Arnedo Cruz y Tanjutco wearing a silver encrusted “salakot.”  There was a portrait of her elder daughter Sabina Sioco y Rodriguez [ 1858 – 1950 ] as a young lady wearing a “traje de mestiza.”  The three portraits disappeared in the early 1970s and presumed stolen and sold;  they were supposedly brought to the Escaler hacienda in Barrio Cansinala, Apalit  but they disappeared while in transit.  There was also a portrait of the Sioco progenitor Josef Sioco aka “Joseng Daga” [ 1786 – 1864;  father of Maria de la Paz Sioco y Carlos de Arnedo, Sabina Sioco y Rodriguez de Escaler, and Florencia Sioco y Rodriguez de Gonzalez who spawned the 3 richest families of Apalit in the 1800s ] in his 40s by an early painter, thought to be by Severino Flavier Pablo of Manila;  it is with Gonzalez descendants in Manila.  In the Arnedo-Sioco house, Flores painted the two daughters Maria Ignacia “Titay” [ 1872 – 1964 ] and Ines [ 1876 – 1954 ] as children wearing “traje de mestiza” in the 1880s.  It disappeared in the mid-1960s and presumed stolen and sold.  In the Gonzalez-Sioco house, there was a portrait of the matriarch Florencia Sioco y Rodriguez [ 1860 – 1925 ] as a young lady wearing a “traje de mestiza.”  The portrait was destroyed when the house was bombed by the Americans on 01 January 1942.

The Families of Old Cavite

[ I wonder if I can get dear ol’ Ipe Nazareno to help me with this… ]




Two of the most popular Bautista descendants are former Senator Ramon Revilla Sr. and Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr..










JAVIER.  In the early 1980s, Victoria Desbarats de Burke – Miailhe [ Mme. Edouard Frederic Francois Miailhe of Bordeaux, France ], accompanied by Placido “Don” Escudero Jr., traveled to the Kawit church, perused the 1800s birth registry, and came across her ancestress named Eustaquia Javier.  Eustaquia Javier seemed to be a sister of Bonifacio Javier, ancestor of Claudia Marasigan [ y Javier ] de Escudero, matriarch of the Escudero-Marasigan clan of San Pablo, Laguna.  Victoria Miailhe recalled that according to her mother, the Escuderos of San Pablo, Laguna were the only living relations of the Desbarats de Burke family, formerly of Manila.



The Gonzalezes of Cavite City (the only “Doble Zeta” Gonzalezes of Cavite City) are all descendants of Alfonso Moreno de Arco (a Spanish naval officer from Sevilla) and Leonora Tan Siateco (a Chinese mestiza from Sangley Point in Cavite Puerto). Their marriage produced one child — a son named Lorenzo Gonzalez.  Lorenzo took the surname of his godfather (it was a habit of some families to have their children take the surname of their godfathers — like Jose Rizal, whose father was really a Mercado).

Lorenzo Gonzalez married Josefa Jacobe — also a Spanish-Chinese mestiza.

The Gonzalezes had 9 children.  Among the children were: Lorenza, Concepcion, Fraternidad, and Natividad.  Among their relations in Cavite City were the Osorios (among them, Natividad Osorio who married Francisco Aguinaldo whose children included Frannie Aguinaldo, wife of Ramon “RJ” Jacinto) and the Tironas (among them Francisca Tirona-Benitez whose children included Senator Helena Z. T. Benitez).

Lorenza married Jose Basa of the patriotic Basa clan.  Their children included Tomas (who migrated to the U.S.), Jose (whose daughter, Lorraine, is married to Mark Puyat), Josefina (who is the widow of newsman Bing Torres who, in the 1970s, was editor of the Manila Bulletin and the Times Journal and president of the National Press Club), and Teresa (wife of Gaizka Garamendi whose children include equestrienne Teresa Garamendi-Hernandez [wife of Ayala Land executive Javier Hernandez] and Anna Garamendi-de Venecia [wife of Mark de Venecia who is the son of Oscar de Venecia]).

Concepcion married Julian Cacha also of Cavite Nuevo.  Their daughter, Virginia Cacha-Montano, was the first lady of Cavite (wife of Cavite’s longest serving Governor, Delfin “Empin” Montano who was the son of Senator Justinano Montano of Santa Cruz de Malabon [now known as Tanza, Cavite] and his wife Ligaya Nazareno of Naic, Cavite).

Fraternidad Gonzalez was a spinster.  She was an educator who, until her death in the 1960s, was the Dean of the Philippine Women’s University.

Natividad married Dominador Nazareno (a nephew of Ligaya Nazareno-Montano).  The Nazarenos had 5 children.  Among them were Antonio, Dominador Jr., Arturo, Mario, and Corazon.  Antonio (or Tony) was married to Victoria Vizcarra Amalingan.  They were avid art collectors and lived in North Forbes with their 5 children — among whom are Antonio Jr. (now married to Cristina Aurelio Oben daughter of Rey Oben and Tessie Aurelio [the family that owns Wallem Shipping; Rey Oben was the son of the Dean of the UST Faculty of Law in the 1940s-1960s while Tessie Aurelio was from the family who owned Hotel Aurelio]), Cathy (now married to Ramon Victor Cojuangco Rivilla — son of the late Luis Tirso Rivilla and his widow, Lourdes Cojuangco-Rivilla), Rita (formerly a producer for Fox TV and NBC TV; one of the first Filipinas to win an Emmy Award), and Marv (married to Joao Feria Miranda — son of Chuki Feria-Miranda [daughter of the writer Dolores Stephens]).

Dominador Jr., a former congressman from Cavite City, now resides in the United States with his family.  He is married to Foederis Alonso Arca.

Arturo is married to Encarnacion “Girlie” Cuyegkeng — daughter of the late Dr. Alfonso Cuyegkeng and Trinidad Casas-Cuyegkeng (the Casas-Cuyegkengs were an old Ermita family whose roots trace back to Biñan, Laguna as they were relatives of the Mercados of Biñan).  Mario was married to Piat “Pearlie” Crisologo — daughter of the late Floro Crisologo (Congressman of Ilocos Sur) and Carmeling Crisologo (former Governor of Ilocos Sur).

OSORIO [ with one “s” ].





VIRATA [ originally BAUTISTA ].

According to family members, the original family name was Bautista.  Sometime during the 1896 revolution, a forebear changed the surname to Virata, taking the name of the character King Virata from the Indian epic “Mahabharata.”

Leonides Sarao Virata married Marie Theresa Gallardo Lammoglia and they have two children:  Luis Juan Virata [ married Elizabeth Torres Cu-Unjieng ] and Giovanna “Vanna” Virata.

Leonides S. Virata was one of the most distinguished men of his generation.

Cesar Enrique Aguinaldo Virata.  He became the prime minister during the Marcos administration.

Cesar Aguinaldo Virata is a nephew of Leonides Sarao Virata.  Cesar’s father Enrique Topacio Virata [ married to Leonor Aguinaldo ] was the elder half-brother of Leonides Sarao Virata.














Dominador Nazareno (a nephew of Ligaya Nazareno-Montano) married Natividad Jacobe Gonzalez.  The Nazarenos had 5 children.  Among them were Antonio, Dominador Jr., Arturo, Mario, and Corazon.  Antonio (or Tony) was married to Victoria Vizcarra Amalingan.  They were avid art collectors and lived in North Forbes with their 5 children — among whom are Antonio Jr. (now married to Cristina Aurelio Oben daughter of Rey Oben and Tessie Aurelio [the family that owns Wallem Shipping; Rey Oben was the son of the Dean of the UST Faculty of Law in the 1940s-1960s while Tessie Aurelio was from the family who owned Hotel Aurelio]), Cathy (now married to Ramon Victor Cojuangco Rivilla — son of the late Luis Tirso Rivilla and his widow, Lourdes Cojuangco-Rivilla), Rita (formerly a producer for Fox TV and NBC TV; one of the first Filipinas to win an Emmy Award), and Marv (married to Joao Feria Miranda — son of Chuki Feria-Miranda [daughter of the writer Dolores Stephens]).

Dominador Jr., a former congressman from Cavite City, now resides in the United States with his family.  He is married to Foederis Alonso Arca.

Arturo is married to Encarnacion “Girlie” Cuyegkeng — daughter of the late Dr. Alfonso Cuyegkeng and Trinidad Casas-Cuyegkeng (the Casas-Cuyegkengs were an old Ermita family whose roots trace back to Biñan, Laguna as they were relatives of the Mercados of Biñan).  Mario was married to Piat “Pearlie” Crisologo — daughter of the late Floro Crisologo (Congressman of Ilocos Sur) and Carmeling Crisologo (former Governor of Ilocos Sur).













Acknowledgments:  John Sidel:  “Walking in the Shadow of the Big Man:  Justiniano Montano and Failed Dynasty Building in Cavite 1935 – 1972” in the book “Anarchy of Families” edited by Alfred W. McCoy.  ADMU Press;  Chuchi Constantino;  Marie Theresa “Bebe” Lammoglia-Virata, Luis Juan L. Virata;  multi-awarded journalist and the former Press Secretary during the Ramos and the Estrada administrations Rodolfo “Rod” T. Reyes;  Atty. PAN.

The Families of Old Binondo, Manila

by Augusto M R Gonzalez III (Toto Gonzalez)

The Chinese had been trading with the various, prosperous settlements of these Malay islands — the great kingdom of Tondo [ which spanned present-day Tondo district all the way northwards to much of Central Luzon;  Rajah Lakandula was a grandson of the Sultan of Brunei, his mother was a daughter of the sultan;  Rajah Lakandula is listed in the genealogy of the royal family of Brunei ], Maynilad, Namayan, Ternate, Bai’, Butuan Karaga, and others — for ages, not only centuries.  Eons before the Portuguese explorer Fernao de Magalhaes / Fernando de Magallanes / Ferdinand Magellan and the Spanish “conquistadores” found themselves sailing into these islands in 1521, the Chinese traders had long been principal players in the prosperous economies of the early settlements.  The great kingdom of Tondo, Maynilad, Namayan, Ternate, and Bai’ were principal settlements of the northern island.  The early Malay cultures of the natives in those places were by no means primitive as the written accounts of the early Spanish invaders would have readers believe:  In reality, there were developed languages [ as proven by the Laguna copperplate inscription ca. 900 A.D. at the National Museum ], numerical systems [ there was actually a term for “million” ], written literature [ as proven by the Laguna copperplate inscription ca. 900 A.D. ], oral traditions, and even various forms of art;  there were costumes, materials, and accessories ascribed to every social class;  there was spirituality, animistic communion with nature, perceptions of the unseen, belief in the afterlife;  there were systems of government, laws and sanctions, social classes, etc.;  even sexuality was advanced in the sense that there were specific tools [ penis rings, etc. ] and practices to enhance the sexual act.  Butuan Karaga [ and its satellite Surigao ] in Mindanao, in particular, was an advanced and magnificent Southeast Asian culture, as proven by archaeological artifacts, specially ritual goldware and jewelry, of such high quality and sophisticated execution that compare favorably with similar specimens from the world’s earliest civilizations.

When the Spaniards took over Rajah Sulayman’s palisade of “Maynilad” in 1570 and established the walled city of Intramuros, they isolated the potentially troublesome Chinese residents in a ghetto called “Parian” just outside the walls “extra muros.”  In 1594, Governor-General Luis Perez Dasmarinas established the settlement of Binondo [ originally “Minondoc” ] just across the Pasig River for “los Sangleyes” Chinese immigrants who had converted to Catholicism.  During that time, the Spaniards forced Chinese immigrants to convert to Catholicism or be deported, or worse, be executed [ or massacred ].  Because there were hardly any women coming from China, the Chinese immigrant converts took to marrying native women, thus creating the “mestizo de Sangley” Chinese mestizo [ half-breed ].  It was in Binondo where the “mestizo de Sangley” Chinese mestizo community rose with unparalleled wealth and influence, and like their Chinese trader forebears, continued to play a leading role in the economic life of the islands from the Spanish colonization onwards for four hundred years until the present time…


TUASON  [ originally SON TUA ].  During the British Occupation of Manila from 1762-64, a prosperous Chinese trader named Son Tua voluntarily or involuntarily assisted the Spaniards, led by Governor-General Simon de Anda, with his resources — financial, manpower, and logistical — in fighting and resisting the British invaders.  Son Tua later adopted the Christian name of Antonio Maria Tuason.  As a reward, he was given a large “encomienda” land grant by the Spaniards which comprised the vast area of present-day Diliman in Quezon City and the Marikina valley [ urban legend has it that as a reward for his anti-British services, the Spaniards gave Tuason all the land he could cover on horseback in one day, but he was so brilliant and shrewd that he stationed horses at several points so he could cover a far bigger swathe of land;  however, the current Tuason descendants debunk that myth with more logical theories ].  Antonio Maria Tuason was awarded a “mayorazgo” noble estate with a tradition of primogeniture and his family was elevated to the Spanish “hidalguia” nobility — the only Filipino family to attain those signal honors.  Two hundred years after the Chinese patriarch’s passing and his descendants are still members, if not principal players, of the country’s plutarchy [ plutocracy and oligarchy ].

Jose Severo Tuason married Teresa de la Paz.

Gonzalo Tuason married Isabel Gil de Sola [viuda de Agustin Westernhagen].

PATERNO [ originally MING MONG LO,  PATERNO MOLO DE SAN AGUSTIN ].  According to Pedro Alejandro Paterno [ whom serious Filipino historians tend to take lightly, but let’s give him the benefit of the doubt, since it is his family anyway ], the Paterno clan progenitor was Ming Mong Lo, a Chinese “apothecary” [ herbalist?  “albulario”? ] from the mainland who settled in Binondo and married a Tagala of aristocratic lineage — she was supposed to be descended from the “Maguinoo of Luzon,”  the ruling Malay dynasty before the arrival of the Spaniards in 1570.  THAT was according to Pedro A. Paterno.

The facts:

Ming Mong Lo or Joseph Molo and his wife Anastacia Michaela _____ had _____ children:  Silverio, Juana, Pedro, Alejo, and Paterno, surnamed Agustin.

Paterno Agustin married Miguela Yamson y de la Cruz [ Michaela Yapson y de la Cruz ].  Miguela was the daughter of Juan Yapson and Maria de la Cruz.  It was Maria de la Cruz who was listed as a descendant of Rajah Lakandula;  it was through her that Pedro A. Paterno was descended from the pre-Spanish Malay royals of Tondo and Maynilad, the “Maguinoo of Luzon.”  Paterno and Miguela had nine children:  Matea, Paz, Anastacio, Feliciano, Lucas, Tomas, Maximino, Martina, and Juana.  It was Maximino who first assumed the complete surname Molo Agustin Paterno, then his siblings followed.


Mariano Roxas and Ana Maria de Ureta had three or five children.

Antonio Roxas married Lucina Arroyo and they had fifteen children,  twelve sons and three daughters.  According to their grandson Felix Roxas y Fernandez and great great grandson Salvador Araneta y Zaragoza, twelve of the Roxas-Arroyo family sat together on one dining table during meals in the paternal home on Calle San Vicente which fronted Chino Velasco’s bazaar [ the rich and influential Chinese businessman Mariano Velasco Chua Cheng Co ].

Mariano Leon Roxas y Arroyo married Carmen Arce.

Their daughter, Rosa Roxas y Arce, married the Spanish mestizo Jose Zaragoza y Aranquizna of San Isidro, Nueva Ecija, the son of a Spanish auditor of the Tobacco Monopoly.  Jose Zaragoza and Rosa Roxas had five children:  Natividad married Demetrio Tuason y de la Paz;  Salvador married Carolina Tuason y Gil de Sola;  Elias married Rosario Velez y Rodriguez Infante;  Carmen married Gregorio Araneta y Soriano;  Margarita married Carlos Preysler y Gonzalez.

Felix Roxas y Arroyo married Cornelia Fernandez.

He was the first Europe-trained Filipino architect;  he designed many famous churches, buildings, and residences during his professional prime:  Santo Domingo church [ Intramuros ];  San Ignacio church [ Intamuros ];  Pedro Pablo Roxas y de Castro residence [ Calle General Solano, San Miguel ];  Rafael Enriquez y Villanueva residence [ Calle San Sebastian, Quiapo ].  Felix and Cornelia had a son, Felix, and a daughter, Lucina.  Felix Roxas y Fernandez married Carmen Moreno Lacalle;  he became a longtime Mayor of Manila.  Lucina Roxas y Fernandez married Enrique Brias de Coya.

Felipe Roxas y Arroyo married Raymunda Chuidian.

He was a painter of note.  He lived and died in Paris, France.

Juan Roxas y Arroyo married Vicenta Reyes.

They were the parents of Francisco L. Roxas y Reyes, one of the 13 Martyrs of Bagumbayan in January 1897.

Rafael Roxas y Arroyo married Victoriana Manio.

Rafael married Victoriana Manio of Calumpit, Bulacan and settled there.  They had several children:  Fr. Manuel, Josefa, and Ana, et. al..  Josefa “Pepita” Roxas y Manio became famous in her time because King Norodom I of Cambodia fell in love and proposed marriage to her at a ball given in his honor by the Arnedos in Sulipan, Apalit, Pampanga.  King Norodom I gave Josefa a “granada de oro” a pomegranate-shaped jewel and he gave her sister Ana a “concha” a conch shell-shaped jewel.  Both pieces were set with diamonds, rubies, emeralds, sapphires, and pearls;  both bore inscriptions from Norodom I to the recipient [ Ana’s was inscribed:  “S.M. { Su Majestad } El Rey de Cambodia a la Sta. Ana Rojas” ];  judging from their late Victorian design, the jewels seemed to have been purchased from the prestigious “La Estrella del Norte” on the Escolta in Manila.

It is also thought that the various Roxases in Bulacan are actually descended from Rafael Roxas and Victoriana Manio.

Andres Roxas y Arroyo married Eleuteria Punzalan.

Andres settled in Calauan, Laguna because he managed the “Hacienda Calauan” of his cousin, Jose Bonifacio Roxas y Ubaldo, which devolved to the latter’s only son, Pedro Pablo “Perico” Roxas y de Castro.  [ “Hacienda Calauan” was inherited by Pedro Pablo Roxas’ daughter Margarita Roxas viuda de Eduardo Soriano. ]

*Encarnacion Roxas.  It is thought that Encarnacion Roxas — the “camarera” caretaker of the “Nuestra Senora del Santisimo Rosario de La Naval de Manila” at the Santo Domingo Church and the chairperson of the canonical coronation committee in 1907 —  was a sister of the famous Roxas y Arroyo brothers and was one of the three daughters of Antonio Roxas and Lucina Arroyo of Binondo.

[ Antonio Roxas was a brother of Domingo Roxas de Ureta who married Maria Saturnina Ubaldo and had three children — Margarita, Jose Bonifacio, and Mariano who spawned the present-day Roxas-de Ayala-Zobel-Soriano clan. ]


Jose Damaso Gorricho, a quartermaster of the Spanish army, married Ciriaca de los Santos of Imus, Cavite.  Her fortunate marriage to a Spanish army man paved the way for the hardworking Ciriaca to start a business by supplying “zacate” hay for the many horses of the Spanish cavalry in Intramuros;  she became known as a “zacatera.”

As her “zacate” business flourished, Ciriaca de los Santos de Gorricho purchased land across the Pasig River from Intramuros where she could grow the “zacate” hay she supplied to the cavalry.  Years later, urban development fortunately sprawled to that particular stretch of Gorricho land which eventually became the Escolta, the premier commercial district of Manila.

At the prime of their prosperous lives, Jose Damaso and Ciriaca de Gorricho owned both sides of the Escolta, from the Puente de San Gabriel all the way to Calle Soda.

Jose Damaso Gorricho and Ciriaca de los Santos had several children:  Juliana, Gertrudis, Josefa…


The Pardo de Tavera are, like the de Ayala, an aristocratic Spanish family.  Both venerable families can trace their lineages to the “Reconquista” of Ferdinand and Isabella and even way beyond;  both families are related by blood and marriage, however distant, to the most aristocratic as well as the royal Spanish families like the Alba, Medinaceli, et. al..

The nobleman Julian Pardo de Tavera and his wife Juana Gomez Artucha arrived in Manila from Spain in 1825.  Eschewing the Pardo de Tavera tradition of eminent careers in the judiciary, Julian became a lieutenant in the Spanish army.  Julian and Juana Pardo de Tavera had four children:  Felix, _____, _____, and Joaquin.

The two Pardo de Tavera brothers married two de Gorricho y de los Santos sisters, the daughters of the industrialist Jose Damaso Gorricho and the highly successful entrepreneur Ciriaca de los Santos:  Felix Pardo de Tavera married Juliana de Gorricho;  his younger brother Joaquin Pardo de Tavera married Gertrudis de Gorricho.

Felix Pardo de Tavera married Juliana de Gorricho and they had three children:  Trinidad Hermenigildo “Trini” / later “T.H.” [ married Concepcion “Concha” Cembrano Kerr y Gonzalez-Calderon ], Felix [ married Agustina Manigot ], and Paz “Chiching” [ married Juan Luna y Novicio ].

Joaquin Pardo de Tavera married Gertrudis “Tula” de Gorricho and had three children:  Eloisa [ married Daniel Earnshaw ], Beatrice [ married Manuel de Yriarte ], and Joaquin [ married Paz Azaola ].

*Years before Joaquin Pardo de Tavera married Gertrudis de Gorricho, he had 2 “hija natural” from a lady in Bicol.  One of them, Macaria “Nena” Lopez, married a Spanish soldier _____ Madrigal and became the mother of the tycoon Vicente Madrigal y Lopez, who married Susana Paterno y Ramos of Manila.  Thus, the Madrigal-Paterno are also of Pardo de Tavera descent.



The rich Vicenta Reyes married Juan Roxas.  They were the parents of Francisco L. Roxas y Reyes, one of the 13 Martyrs of Bagumbayan in 1896.

Capitan Francisco “Kikoy” Reyes married Macaria “Kayang” Baptista.

Francisco Reyes y Baptista married Adriana del Rosario [ of the family that owned “Funeraria Paz” ].  Their daughter Marina del Rosario Reyes married the architect Pablo Antonio [ honored as a National Artist for Architecture ].

Generoso “Ochong” Reyes y Baptista married Trinidad de los Reyes y Tanquintin [ granddaughter of Crisanto de los Reyes y Mendoza ].  They had two daughters:  Maria Trinidad “Neneching” de los Reyes Reyes [ married Jaime Valera, brother of top couturier Ramon Oswalds Valera ] and Carmen “Mengay” de los Reyes Reyes [ married Vicente Cecilio Reyes ].

Inocencia “Enchay” Reyes y Baptista married Rafael Filomeno Roces y Gonzalez and they had eleven children, ten sons and one daughter:  Francisco, Rafael, Rafael, Inocencia, Alejandro, Luis, Jose Miguel, Marcos, Alfredo, Joaquin, and Jesus.

Carmen Reyes y Baptista married Abelardo Icasiano.

Nicanor Reyes y Baptista [ Sr. ] married Amparo Mendoza y de Leon.  They had children, among them Nicanor Jr. [ married Josephine Sumulong Cojuangco ] and Lourdes [ married Aurelio Javellana Montinola Jr. ].


Balbino Mauricio y de Jesus was an ancestor of the Roces family.

There is an extant “letras y figuras” painting of “Balvino Mauricio” which depicts his Calle Anloague mansion.  His house was supposed to have been the model for Capitan Tiago’s residence in Jose Rizal’s novel “Noli Me Tangere.”

ROCES.  Alejandro Rozes y Gonzalez of Gijon, Asturias, Spain married Florentina de Leon;  after Florentina passed away, he married Severa Mauricio y de Jesus of Binondo, Manila [ sister of Balbino Mauricio y de Jesus ].

Alejandro Roman Domingo Roces y Mauricio married Maria Filomena Gonzalez and they had 11 eleven children:  Filomena [ married Benito Legarda y de la Paz];  Alejandro [ married Antonia Pardo ];  Rafael [ married Inocencia Reyes y Baptista ];  Marcos;  et. al..

Filomena Roces y Gonzalez married Benito Legarda y de la Paz and they had several children:

Alejandro Roces y Gonzalez married Antonia Pardo and they had seven children:  Rafael;  Antonia [ married _____ Prieto ];  Ramon;  Mercedes;  Filomena [ married _____ Verzosa ];  Isabel;  and Joaquin.

Rafael Filomeno Roces y Gonzalez married Inocencia Reyes y Baptista and they had 11 eleven children, 10 ten sons and 1 one daughter:  Francisco, Rafael, Rafael, Inocencia, Alejandro, Luis, Jose Miguel, Marcos, Alfredo, Joaquin, and Jesus.

Marcos B. Roces married Maria Teresa Prieto.

[ There was another Alejandro Roces from Gijon, Asturias, Spain who settled in Iloilo and married Francisca Ortizo.  Alejandro Roces was the progenitor of the Roces de Iloilo. ]

SY CIP.  According to the oral history of the Sy-Quia family, the first Sy Quia [ Vicente Ruperto Romero Sy Quia + 09 January 1894 ] arrived from Amoy, China with his cousin, Sy Cip.  Sy Quia did business between Manila and Vigan, Ilocos Sur;  he married Petronila Encarnacion of Vigan in 1853.  His cousin Sy Cip chose to settle in Cagayan.  Sy Cip’s descendants found their way southwards to Binondo, Manila where they became successful traders.


Ildefonso Cosiam Tambunting.


Claudio Teehankee.

A Teehankee married a Yutivo lady, thus linking the prominent intellectual family to one of Binondo’s great merchant families.




Mariano Velasco Chua Chengco.

The three-hectare family compound with several mansions still exists in China.  The mansions are highly unusual because the materials used — the ipil, kamagong, molave, tindalo / balayong hardwoods and the terra cotta roof tiles — were imported to China from Las Islas Filipinas, notably Basilan island, which was the Velasco family’s copra plantation.

Mariano Velasco Chua Chengco owned “Bazaar Velasco,” one of the first and largest of Filipino department stores during that time.  [ The current “Plaza Fair” department store is a descendant of “Bazaar Velasco.” ]  Mariano was prominent in the wealthy circles of the city, be it the Chinese, the Spanish mestizo, or the Spanish peninsular.

Mariano’s palatial, block-long residence fronted three streets:  Calle Azcarraga, Calle T. Alonso, and Calle Soler.

Jose Velasco.

On a contemporary note, a Ting daughter-in-law of Mariano Velasco Chua Chengco was one of the early financiers of the SM ShoeMart department store [ turned mall empire ] of taipan Henry Sy Sr..


CARLOS PALANCA TAN GUIN LAY.  Chinese immigrant;  no blood relation to Carlos Palanca Tan Quien Sen;  he became a godson of the latter.


Lau Cheng Co was the owner of the biggest “carroceria” / “carruaje” dealership in Manila before the advent of the automobiles.  He was rich and counted Andres Soriano Sr. and Carlos Palanca Tan Guin Lay as his friends.  He was a collector of beautiful things and his Binondo residence was filled with French furniture, Chinese furniture, Meissen and Nymphenburg German porcelain, Bohemian glass, English silver, and other prized objects.  Unfortunately, everything was destroyed during World War II.


From “Lola Grande!” by James B. Reuter, PhilStar, 10/18/08:

“”The original “Lola Grande” was Cornelia Lau Chang Co, born in the Chinese area of Binondo, in old Manila, in 1820. She married Tomas Ly Chau Co, who came to the Philippines with the last wave of Chinese immigrants in the 19th century.”

“Tomas died. Doña Cornelia had to provide for her family of five children, alone. She started a business, making grass mats—tampipis—and other products of palm frond—buri. She supplied these to small retailers.”

“She was methodical, hard-working, efficient, excellent in mathematics. She began transporting unhusked rice, from the producing provinces in Central Luzon to Manila. She became a licensed transporter of rice — a consignado — the fifth ranking consignado of rice from Pangasinan to Manila.”

“Gradually she was able to acquire rice lands in Pangasinan. She bought and sold raw sugar. She started a faraderia, a simple process of producing raw sugar crystals. She sold these, in quantity, to British and American export companies. She built houses in Metro Manila, in Santa Ana. She established an orphan asylum — the Asilo de Huerfanos — for the children of those who died in the great cholera epidemics of 1882 and 1889. A tiny little woman, she was far ahead of her time.””


The Yu Cheng Co family descends from the Chinese wife of the clan progenitor Yu Tiao Qui.

According to the Yuchengco descendants, from the 1850s to the 1890s, the patriarch Yu Tiao Qui owned most of the commercial real estate in Santa Cruz district, as well as the entire end of Calle Gandara there.

Enrique Yuchengco married his first cousin _____ Tiaoqui.

Dr. Luisa, Vicencia, Dr. Aurora, and Ambassador Alfonso Yuchengco.  Luisa finished her medical studies at the University of Shanghai.  Vicencia “Vic” is a very successful entrepreneur who engaged in several businesses;  she helped her father Enrique establish the family’s insurance business.  Aurora is a medical doctor in Hong Kong.  Alfonso finished his M.B.A. at Columbia University.


The Tiaoqui family descends from the Filipina wife of the clan progenitor Yu Tiao Qui.

[ Aurora “Oyang” Tiaoqui married Alfredo Rizal Hidalgo, son of Saturnina Rizal de Hidalgo, the eldest sister of the national hero Jose Rizal.  Their daughter, Lourdes “Lulu” Tiaoqui Hidalgo, married Vivencio “Vencio” Tinio.  Lourdes and Vivencio’s daughter, “Lisa” Hidalgo Tinio, married Francisco “Jun” Madrigal Bayot Jr., a descendant of Ming Mong Lo, the Paterno clan progenitor.  Their marriage illustrates a commingling of old Chinese-Filipino and Spanish-Filipino clans — Tiaoqui/Yuchengco, Rizal, Hidalgo, Tinio, Madrigal, Paterno, and Bayot. ]

YU TI VO.  The Yutivo hardware business was established by 3 Yu first cousins:  Yu Ti Vo, Yu Tiong Cuan [ an adopted son ], and _____.

Yu Khe Thai.  Yu Khe Thai was the eldest son of Yu Ti Vo by his first wife.  Yu Khe Thai inherited the leadership of the Yutivo hardware business from his father, Yu Ti Vo.

Yu Khe Thai had 2 elder sisters who married 2 Sycip brothers.  Anna Yu married Washington Sycip and Helen Yu married David Sycip.

Yu Khe Jin.  Yu Khe Jin was the eldest son of Yu Ti Vo by his second wife;  he was the younger half-brother of Yu Khe Thai.  He observed that many decisions in the family business were being made by the 2 Sycip brothers-in-law of his elder half-brother Yu Khe Thai, so he challenged the latter for the leadership of the hardware business.  Yu Khe Thai relinquished the leadership of the business to him.  As a result, Yu Khe Jin’s descendants are the ones who inherited the Yutivo hardware business, not those of Yu Khe Thai’s.

ONGPIN.  Roman Ongpin y Tanbensiang was a leader of the Chinese community.



According to Antonio Casas Cuyegkeng:

[ This article is based from childhood stories, documents from the files of Dr. Jose Cuyegkeng, as provided by Ms. Mary Cuyegkeng Fontanilla, and the book “The Life and Family of Guillermo A. Cu Unjieng” by and from correspondence with Ms. Josephine M. T. Khu. ]

CU YEG KENG (Antonio Cuyegkeng) or Kenga (as he was commonly known) was from Cuoshang (or Cushang, in the local pronunciation) village, the same village as the Cu Unjieng’s, was located in Jinjiang (or Chinkiang in the old spelling) county of Fujian province.  However, Shandong (or Shantung in the old spelling) province is reputed to be the ultimate origins of those bearing the Cu surname. Jinjiang County no longer exists because the local administrative units were reorganized in the 1980s and 1990s.

In the late 1890’s, Taigong as Guillermo Cu Unjieng was commonly known, who would have been in his late 20’s and quite well-established, could have brought Kenga with him to Manila (Taigong could have been brought to Manila by Cu Yeg Keng’s father, then Taigong later returned the favor and brought Kenga to Manila on the former’s return from a trip to China).  Kenga was in his mid-teens (a normal age for Chinese boys to be brought over to the Philippines).

Kenga was not an immediate cousin of Taigong, but a distant relative–about five times removed. Kenga was a relative from the same village, who was about 13 years younger than Taigong.  It is clear from the middle Chinese character “YI” of Cu Yeg Keng’s name that, Cu Yeg Keng is one generation below Taigong, whose middle Chinese character is “YUN”. Taigong is from the 19th generation, while Cu Yeg Keng is from the 20th generation of males in the village.

Considering that Taigong went back to China to get married in 1890 and the succeeding trips were already in the 1900s, Taigong was about 33+ years of age when he brought Kenga to Manila.  Kenga would, then, have been a little over 20 years old.  Therefore, Kenga was born around late 1870’s.  His mother was Ong O Ken.

Kenga managed the Cu Unjieng and Company up to the late 1920’s.   Kenga, as well, had set up his own textile and other goods business, which Kenga operated under his personal name, Cu Yeg Keng Trading.  Cu Yeg Keng Trading, which was engaged in the textile business, was located at 127 Nueva St., Manila.

In 1929, Cu Unjieng and Company expanded thru the merger with Cu Yeg Keng Trading and Khu Yek Chiong Company, owned by Guillermo’s oldest son, Yek Chiong, with Cu Unjieng and Company as the surviving entity. However, the merger collapsed a year or two after it occurred. Or, at least, Khu Yek-chiong withdrew from the merger at that time. Indications are that Cu Yeg Keng Trading also withdrew from the consortium. While Cu Unjieng and Company operated until the Japanese occupation, but not thereafter, Cu Yeg Keng Trading continued on after the war.

Kenga suddenly collapsed, probably from a heart attack, and died on October 11, 1948 at the maternal house of the Chinese family, believed to be in 259 – 261 Juan Luna St., Binondo, Manila.  He would have been about 73 years old,

In the Extra-Judicial Settlement of the Estate of Antonio Cuyegkeng, the second son of the Chinese wife, Chua Sac, Cu Uh Khun (Florentino), was named administrator of Cu Yeg Keng Trading, as the eldest son, Cu Uh Po (Manuel), had already died.

At the time of Kenga’s death, Cu Uh Po (Manuel) was survived by this wife, Lim Chong Goan, and sons Leoncio and Inocencio Lim Cu.  Leoncio had an only child, Gilbert Uy Cuyegkeng.

Kenga and his Chinese wife, Chua Sac, had eight (8) children, four (4) boys and four (4) girls.  Cu Uh Khun (Florentino) was followed by Lourdes Chua Cu, married to Benito P. Lim; Cu Uh Chua (Andres), married to Rosita Co Sylianco; Benito Chua Cuyegkeng;  Maria Luisa  Chua Cuyegkeng, married to Jose P. Barreto; Maria Marcela Chua Cuyegkeng, married to Ngui Te; and Vicenta Chua Cuyegkeng, married to Guillermo Tang Palao.

In her later years, Chua Sac was believed to have stayed with the family of Benito, somewhere in the San Miguel area near San Beda College.

In the early 1900’s, Kenga married Margarita (Tita) Gomez Mangahas, a Filipina from Angat, Bulacan.  They had 11 children, four (4) boys and seven (7) girls.  However, two (2) of the boys died before reaching the age of five, and one (1) girl passed away in her teens.

The eldest, Leoncia (Lucy) Mangahas Cu, was born on September 12, 1906, and got married to Benito Enriquez Lim, no known relation with Benito P. Lim the husband of Lourdes Chua Cu. Lucy was followed by Patricia Mangahas Cu, married to Pedro Yangco Uy-tioco; Emerenciana (Miling)  Mangahas Cu, who got widowed in 1945 when a bomb killed Wilfredo Tan Beng Yu and their eldest child, Maria Luisa Cu Yu, remarried  Manuel Hunchiong Ty; Tomas Mangahas Cu, who died at the age of 3; Concepcion (Chit) Mangahas Cu, married to Daniel Uy Tan; Alfonso Ma. Mangahas Cuyegkeng, married to Trinidad Almeda Casas; Rosario (Charing) Mangahas Cuyegkeng, married to Antonio Silvestre Trinidad; Jose Mangahas Cuyegkeng, married to Elena Barbara Resurrecion Ines; Teresita Mangahas Cuyegkeng, who died at the age of 15; Antonio Mangahas Cu, who died at the age of 4; and Rafaela (Fely) Mangahas Cuyegkeng, married to Eduardo Limgenco Dy Buncio.

The maternal house of the Filipino family was in 651 – 655 Benavides St., Binondo, Manila.  The house passed on to Jose Mangahas Cuyegkeng and his family.

As to the family name, the mestizo children of Cu Yeg Keng and Cu Unjieng did what so many Chinese mestizo families did, and used the entire name of their founding ancestor in the Philippines as their surname, rather than just Chinese surname itself (in this case “Cu”). When Cu Unjieng acquired the personal Spanish name of Guillermo, his full Chinese name (where “Cu” was the surname and “Un Jieng” the personal name) just naturally got used as a surname. Guillermo’s middle name, Araullo, was the family name of his baptismal godfather, Manuel G. Araullo.  The same thing must have happened when Cu Yeg Keng adopted the personal name “Antonio.”

Kenga must have applied for a Filipino citizenship, under the US Commonwealth, sometime in the late 1917’s to early 1918’s.  No documents have been found to show when the use of the name “Antonio” and family name “Cuyegkeng” started, as well as who determined who can use the said family name.

Based on the Extra-Judicial Settlement document, it was only the last four (4) children (Benito, Maria Luisa, Maria Marcela, and Vicenta) of Chua Sac who carried the family name Cuyegkeng.  Of the 11 children of Tita, five (5) (Alfonso, Rosario, Jose, Teresita, and Rafaela) used the Cuyegkeng family name.

Cu Uh Chua (Andres), who was born on June 29, 1917, used the family name “CU” till the mid-1960.  His family started using ‘CUYEGKENG” around 1965, when Dr. Andres Cu Uh Chua was started to being referred to as Dr. Andres Cuyegkeng.   On the other hand, Alfonso (6th child of Tita), who was born on March 15, 1918, and the siblings after him, used “CUYEGKENG” from the very beginning.

An oddity occurred in the case of Antonio, 10th child of Tita. When his remains, together with that of Tita, Tomas Cu and Teresita Cuyegkeng, were transferred from the Chinese Cemetery to the Most Holy Redeemer Church Crypts, and finally to the crypts at Santuario de San Antonio, Makati City, the name on the grave marker had always been Antonio Cu.  Tita’s name in the grave marker was Margarita Cuyegkeng.  Upon Tita’s request, the members of the Filipino family provided Tita and their siblings a separate mausoleum from where Kenga and Cha Sac are buried in the Manila Chinese Cemetery.

It is understandable that Tomas used the family name CU, as he was born in 1914 (died on April 1, 1917), the eldest son and 4th child of Tita.  Teresita, the 9th child of Tita, who was born in 1923 and died on March 1, 1938, had the family name CUYEGKENG.  The question remains as to why Antonio, who was born in 1924 and died on June 17, 1928, used CU as a family name.


CO BAN KIAT.  One of Binondo’s most influential and enduring business dynasties.

LIM TUA CO.  Destileria Limtuaco.

Bonifacio Limtuaco.

Carlos Limtuaco.

Lim Chay Seng.  The Lim Chay Seng family lived in an elegant residence along Taft avenue furnished with magnificent Chinese furniture and porcelains.

James Limpe.

SOMOZA [ originally YAP TUI CO ].

Yap Tui Co was a sugar trader who came from Amoy, China.  He married the Chinese mestiza Espiridiona Ysidra Cua-Peco from Maragondon, Cavite and settled there.  Yap Tui Co adopted the Christian name Faustino Somoza.  Years later when he passed away, his remains were brought back to China.

Faustino and Espiridiona Somoza had three children:  Vicente, Esperanza, and Mauricio.

Vicente Somoza y Cua-Peco.  He was a delegate to the Malolos Congress of 1898;  he was one of the 92 signatories of the Malolos Constitution.  He was a co-founder of the “Camara de Comercio Filipino” [ the current Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines Foundation, Inc. ].  He settled in M.H. del Pilar Street in Ermita with his wife.

Esperanza Somoza y Cua-Peco.  She was a convent “interna” who later became a spinster.  She was a pianist who gave lessons and she lived in the Quiapo district.

Mauricio Somoza y Cua-Peco.  He was a translator who worked for the Monte de Piedad bank and the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation.   Mauricio was known for his palatial residence in Binondo, designed by Tomas Arguelles, which fronted three streets —   Calle Ongpin, Calle Misericordia, and Calle Kipuja.  It was destroyed during World War II.



Aside from books, the personal perspectives of the following were invaluable:  Maripaz Godinez [ Son Tua / Tuason ];  Miguel “Mickey” and Jean Paterno, Maria Victoria “Marivic” Madrigal Vazquez, and Ramon Nazareth Villegas [ Paterno ];  Felix Roxas:  “The World of Felix Roxas,” Filipiniana Book Guild, Salvador Zaragoza Araneta papers through Regina Lopez Araneta-Teodoro, Ramon Rosello Zaragoza [ Roxas ];  Ruby R. Paredes:  “Ilustrado Legacy:  The Pardo de Taveras of Manila,”  “Anarchy of Families” edited by Alfred W. McCoy, ADMU press [ Gorricho and Pardo de Tavera ];  Mia Cruz Syquia-Faustmann [ Sy Quia ];  Eric Velasco Lim [ Mariano Velasco Chua Chengco ];  Raymond Lim Moreno [ Mariano Velasco Chua Chengco and Dy Buncio ];  Antonio Casas Cuyegkeng [ Casas Binan and Cuyegkeng Binondo ];  [ Mary Constance “Connie” Yuchengco-Gonzalez [ Yu Tiao Qui and Yu Cheng Co ];  Francis Montemayor de Leon [ Lau Chang Co and Ly Chau Co ];  Monchito Nocon [ Yap Tui Co / Somoza ];  multi-awarded journalist and the former Press Secretary during the Ramos and the Estrada administrations Rodolfo “Rod” T. Reyes.

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. ]


The Lopez del Castillo are descended from the Cabangis family.




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.



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.

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