The Unraveling

Food Chain

All Pampangos in the Food Business are connected in one way or the other — that is, if they’re not related outright…

Holy Week blues

It is my ambition to be a normal Filipino and flee the city during the annual Holy Week break and head off to some interesting and “happening” destination like [ the usual ] Boracay island, Bohol, Palawan, Camiguin, Siargao, Bali, Phuket, Chiang Mai, the Maldives, even Madagascar…

Or even to Sevilla, Espana to witness the hieratic “Viernes Santo Madrugada” Procession of the legendary “Nuestra Madre y Senora de la Esperanza Macarena”… 

Unfortunately, it just isn’t possible.  I am the one solely responsible for the maintenance of the family traditions during Holy Week in the Espiritu, Arnedo, Escaler, and Gonzalez hometown of Apalit, Pampanga.  If I don’t go, nothing will happen.


Bacolor Ancestry: Tuason, Pamintuan, Rodriguez, Sioco, Escaler, and Gonzalez

During the British invasion of Spanish Manila in 1762, Governor General Simon de Anda moved the colonial capital to the town of Bacolor in Pampanga.

Antonio Ma. Tuason was a Sangley ( Chinese ) merchant loyal to the Spanish colonial authorities. He generously placed his resources in the service of the Spanish defenders. After the British invasion ended in 1764, he was rewarded by the Spanish Crown with a land grant and a noble title ( “mayorazgo” ), thus elevating him and his family to the ranks of the Spanish peerage.

Antonio Ma. Tuason had a younger brother named Gregorio. After the invasion, Antonio Ma. returned to Manila to resume his commercial activities but his brother elected to remain in Bacolor to engage in agriculture.

Gregorio Tuason married Maria Pamintuan and had two daughters: Escolastica and Maria Juana.

When Escolastica Tuason was six years old, she was kidnaped by Moro pirates who successfully entered the towns of Guagua and Bacolor ( these were periodic occurrences in Pampanga from the late sixteenth to the early nineteenth century; in fact , several old Pampango families, like the Alimurung ( “Ali” “murung” ), trace their lineage to Moslem forebears ). She was held hostage and taken to Mindanao. She was returned, already a young lady ( fourteen years old ), when her father was able to send her captors the considerable ransom money.

She inherited a hacienda in Bacolor, Pampanga from her father which yielded 2,000 piculs of sugar and 1,000 cavans of rice yearly.

Escolastica Tuason married Olegario Rodriguez, also from Bacolor. Her sister Maria Juana Tuason married Anastacio Hilario, also of the same town.

The Rodriguez family had migrated to Bacolor from Bataan around 1800 [ they are related to the Banzon, another Bataan family; Fausto F. Gonzalez y Sioco, a Rodriguez descendant, used to look up a Rodriguez y Nacpil family in Barrio San Antonio, Bacolor while constructing a Rodriguez – Sioco- Gonzalez genealogy, now lost ] Three generations of the Rodriguez have contributed a ” Capitan Natural ” to Bacolor town: Francisco Rodriguez ( father of Olegario ) in 1830, Olegario Rodriguez in 1842 and again in 1853, and Felix Rodriguez y Bautista ( son of Olegario ) in 1891 to 1892.

Olegario Rodriguez was a wealthy man who had inherited properties from his father. He married Escolastica Tuason y Pamintuan when he was overseeing her father’s lands.They had five daughters: Prisca Ines ( born in 1834 ), Matea ( born on February 24, 1835 ), Juana, Marta, and Maria.

After Impung Culasa ( Escolastica Tuason de Rodriguez ) died in 1850, Incung Luga ( Olegario Rodriguez ) married Jacoba Bautista of Malabon and Binondo. They had ten children: the eldest is not known, then came Macario, Felix, Jose, Maxima, Maria, Francisco, Librada, et. al. The Rodriguez y Bautista children loved fine horses and beautiful dogs, and the men liked good and beautiful women. Some of them married at a mature age, some died as spinsters, and they all preferred to live peacefully at home; not one was a politician, and only Felix came to be Capitan Mayor of the town.

Impung Cobang ( Jacoba Bautista de Rodriguez ) died on January 31, 1874.

The beleaguered Incung Luga ( Olegario Rodriguez ) died on June 3 of the same year.

Prisca Ines Rodriguez y Tuason married Justo Escaler of Balanga, Bataan. They had three children: Manuel, Eulogia, and Domingo. Their son Manuel Escaler y Rodriguez married his first cousin Sabina Sioco y Rodriguez of Barrio Sulipan, Apalit, Pampanga in 1882. Sabina Sioco y Rodriguez was the second daughter of Impung Ines’ ( Prisca Ines Rodriguez de Escaler ) younger sister Impung Matea ( Matea Rodriguez, viuda de Sioco,viuda de Arnedo-Cruz ) by her first husband Josef Sioco who settled in Barrio Sulipan, Apalit, Pampanga in 1840 from Bocaue, Bulacan. ( the Sioco family had settled in the towns of Bocaue and Santa Maria in Bulacan from Bataan. They were originally from Lingayen, Pangasinan: family legend has it that the Siocos are descended from Sho Ko, a Japanese pirate who was the right hand man of Limahong ( Lim Ong Hong ), the dreaded Chinese pirate who attempted to lay siege on Manila in the 1570s. He was repelled, and he retreated to Lingayen, Pangasinan from where he left Filipinas. Some of his men with their families stayed behind in Lingayen, so the story is possible. )

Eulogia Escaler y Rodriguez married Esteban Clemente. Domingo Escaler y Rodriguez died young.

Prisca Ines Rodriguez de Escaler died on May 3, 1894 at the age of 60. Her remains are in one wall of the Gospel transept of the Apalit Church.

Matea Rodriguez y Tuason married Josef Sioco ( born on January 24, 1786 ) who had settled in Barrio Sulipan, Apalit, Pampanga in 1840 from Bocaue, Bulacan. She was his second wife. ( His first wife was the daughter of a neighbor in Barrio Sulipan, _____ Carlos, with whom he had a daughter: Maria de la Paz Sioco y Carlos. Maria de la Paz married _____ Tanjutco by whom she had a daughter: Crispina Tanjutco y Sioco. Maria was widowed. She then married her husband’s first cousin the widower Joaquin Arnedo-Cruz y Tanjutco, of the Arnedo family long settled in Barrio Sulipan but originally from Hagonoy, Bulacan. ). They had three daughters: Francisca, Sabina, and Florencia. Francisca died young. Their second daughter Sabina Sioco y Rodriguez ( o 1858 – + November 25, 1950 ) married her first cousin Manuel Escaler y Rodriguez who had come from Balanga, Bataan to Barrio Sulipan to manage his uncle’s ( Josef Sioco’s ) many parcels of land. Their third daughter Florencia ( o November 7, 1860 – + November 6, 1925 ) married Dr. Joaquin Gonzalez y Lopez of Baliuag, Bulacan, the son of Fray Fausto Lopez, O.S.A. of Valladolid, Espana, and Maria Amparo Gonzalez y de los Angeles of Baliuag.


The story of Matea Rodriguez’ marriage to Josef Sioco is very interesting. He was a Chinese mestizo landowner and trader who was very industrious and frugal.  The old people in Apalit called him “Joseng Daga” because he stashed everything away, like a rat.  In his house, there was a small corner room stacked with jars filled with gold coins from floor to ceiling.  Even in old age, with his eyes failing, he insisted on tilling the land at the back of his house barefoot and with the carabao on a long leash, just so he could find his way to and from it ( Corazon Cacnio, interview, 1990 )!  He was in his late 60s when he paid court to Marta Rodriguez y Tuason ( younger sister of Matea ) of Bacolor who was not yet 20.  She was not receptive of his courtship.  Matea, an elder sister, less attractive but more intelligent, presented herself to be his bride.  And since beauty was hardly an issue for the old man who was almost blind, he readily accepted her. The marriage took place in 1856. He was 70, she was 21. Matea not only upheld the honor of her father Olegario Rodriguez, she married a rich hacendero as well.

Incung Jose ( Josef Sioco ) died on December 26, 1864 aged 78 years, 11 months, and 2 days. His remains are in one wall of the Gospel transept of Bacolor Church, now under meters of lahar. His gravestone was last seen by a great great grandson in November of 1990.

After the death of Incung Jose ( Josef Sioco ), his widow Matea ( Matea Rodriguez, viuda de Sioco ) relinquished some properties to her stepdaughter Maria de la Paz Sioco y Carlos, de Arnedo ( daughter of Josef Sioco by his first wife, surnamed Carlos; a woman Matea’s age ) but withheld a hacienda in the town of Santa Maria, Bulacan, an old Sioco property which was assigned to Maria de Arnedo even during Josef’s lifetime. The withheld Santa Maria hacienda remained in the memory of the Arnedo y Sioco family, who never forgave Matea.

The Santa Maria hacienda was eventually given by Matea to her second daughter Sabina Sioco de Escaler. [ But by then, it was insignificant compared to the other vast landholdings of Sabina, whose properties increased every year because of her astute business sense, assisted by the family’s two financial geniuses: her son Jose “Pepe” and her nephew Augusto “Bosto”/”Titong,” the fourth son of her younger sister Florencia Sioco de Gonzalez.]

Matea Rodriguez viuda de Sioco, with three infant daughters but only 29 years old, went on to marry Juan Arnedo-Cruz y Tanjutco. He was the equally rich younger brother of Capitan Joaquin Arnedo-Cruz y Tanjutco, who had married Maria de la Paz Sioco y Carlos, viuda de Tanjutco, the daughter of Josef Sioco by his first wife, surnamed Carlos. The marriage of Matea and Juan had no offspring. After his death in 18__, she inherited all his properties which, many years later, she left to her two surviving daughters from Josef Sioco: Sabina Sioco de Escaler and Florencia Sioco de Gonzalez.

One of the larger properties left by Juan Arnedo-Cruz y Tanjutco to Matea Rodriguez, viuda de Sioco, viuda de Arnedo-Cruz was an old Arnedo-Cruz property: the fertile Hacienda de Caldera, an entire sitio in Barrio Sulipan in Apalit town comprising __ hundred hectares. It also remained in the memory of the Arnedo-Cruz family, who narrowly thought that it should have reverted back to Arnedo-Cruz ownership because Juan had no issue. It was eventually inherited by Matea’s youngest daughter, Florencia Sioco de Gonzalez.

Matea Rodriguez, viuda de Sioco, viuda de Arnedo-Cruz died on January 22, 1918 at the age of 83 years. Her remains are in the Escaler mausoleum at the Cementerio del Norte.

Juana Rodriguez y Tuason married Agapito Guanzon of Santa Rita, Pampanga. They had a daughter: Juana Guanzon y Rodriguez, who married Sixto David y ______) .

Marta Rodriguez y Tuason married Hilarion Santos. They had two children: Rafaela Santos y Rodriguez who married Vicente Fernandez and Roman Santos y Rodriguez who married Juliana Andres of Malabon. After the death of Hilarion Santos, Marta Rodriguez, viuda de Santos married Domingo Carlos.

Roman Santos y Rodriguez was raised as a ward by his first cousin Florencia Sioco de Gonzalez in Barrio Sulipan, Apalit, Pampanga. Her elder sister, Sabina Sioco de Escaler, lent him the initial capital to purchase his first bamboo “casco” ( raft )with which he ferried the dry goods he was buying and selling in various towns.

Roman Santos y Rodriguez founded Prudential Bank and a very successful family of businessmen active to this day.

Maria Rodriguez y Tuason was a spinster.

Augusto Marcelino Reyes Gonzalez III and Macario Diosdado Arnedo Gonzalez [ Brother Andrew Benjamin Gonzalez, F.S.C. ]
26 June 2000 1800 hrs


The main framework for this text was derived from the notes of Augusto Diosdado Gonzalez y Sioco and his younger brother Dr. Bienvenido Ma. Gonzalez y Sioco.

1 ] Augusto Diosdado Gonzalez y Sioco ( o November 8, 1887 – + July 12, 1939 ): a notebook titled:: ” Genealogia de la Familia Gonzalez y Sioco ” [ handwritten ]
” Bisabuelos por Mama Florencia: Olegario Rodriguez y Escolastica Tuason “..Impung Culasa is identified as Escolastica Tuason; in 1990 this was further confirmed by a great great great grandson who saw a gravestone marked ” Escolastica Tuason y Pamintuan ” on one wall of the Epistle transept of Bacolor Church [ In the same row on its right was the gravestone of Jose Leon Santos, and on the adjacent wall, two rows higher, the gravestone of Ramona Joven y Suarez, the 19th century ancestors of the present-day Santos-Joven-Panlilio clan of Bacolor who were painted by the renowned painter Simon Flores y de la Rosa. ] Unfortunately, these gravestones are now under meters of lahar.

2 ] Dr. Bienvenido Ma. Gonzalez y Sioco ( o March 22, 1893 – + December 30, 1953 ): notes on the Rodriguez family of Bacolor, Pampanga, courtesy of his daughters Eva B. Gonzalez y Rafols and Lilia C. Gonzalez y Rafols [ It was fitting that Bienvenido wrote about his family’s Rodriguez ancestry: as a child, together with his younger brothers Joaquin Jorge and Fausto Felix, he spent much time at the Rodriguez ancestral “bahay na bato” in Bacolor town called ” Bale Sim ” ( Capampangan: ” Bale ” means house, ” Sim ” means iron roof, ” Bale Sim ” is ” the house with an iron roof “. Such a description was a distinction in late 19th century Bacolor. The Rodriguez house was the first structure in town to install an expensive roof of corrugated iron sheets, replacing its old roof of heavy tiles. ), which his mother Florencia Sioco de Gonzalez visited every week , and he was the ward of his young and indulgent Rodriguez aunts: Jacoba ( born 1883 ),  Josefa ( born 1885 ), and Gorgonia ( born 1886 ). ]

Impung Culasa is erroneously identified as Nicolasa Tuason. Incung Luga, or Olegario Rodriguez is erroneously identified as Leodegario Rodriguez. This is understandable because their diminutives, which the old people used, could have been derived from those formal names. Despite these lapses, Bienvenido laid the groundwork for the Rodriguez genealogy.

3 ] ” Teresa de la Paz and her Two Husbands “, a book about the Tuason, Legarda, Prieto, and Valdes clans.

The book provided the information about Antonio Ma. Tuason, founder of the Tuason ” mayorazgo ” ( noble estate ).

4 ] Mrs. Rafaelita Hilario-Soriano: interviews in her New Manila residence, 1987, 1988.

Escolastica Tuason was the daughter of Gregorio Tuason and Maria Pamintuan. She had a younger sister named Maria Juana, who married Anastacio Hilario [ Mrs. Soriano’s forebear ].

Gregorio Tuason was the younger brother of the founder of the Tuason ” mayorazgo “.

5 ] Beatriz Rodriguez y Tiamson ( born o May 6, 1910; on May 6, 2000 celebrated her 90th birth anniversary ): interviews at ” Bale Sim ” ( the ancestral Rodriguez “bahay na bato” ), Barrio Santa Ines, Bacolor, Pampanga, 1987 – 1995; interviews at her new residence on B. Mendoza St., San Fernando, Pampanga, 1996 – 2000.

Imang Bets ( Beatriz Rodriguez y Tiamson ) has provided much information about the 19th century life at “Bale Sim,” most likely related to her by her cousin Impung Oniang ( Gorgonia Rodriguez y Yabut, o September 19, 1886 – + November 14, 1960 ), with whom she spent the first half of her life.

6 ] Souvenir Program: 1964 Bacolor Town Fiesta – in honor of Nuestra Senora del Rosario, La Naval de Bacolor

7 ] The gravestone of Prisca Ines Rodriguez y Tuason on one wall of the Gospel transept of the Apalit Church.

” Sra. Dna. Prisca Ines Rodriguez y Tuason, + 3 de Mayo 1894, 60 anos ”

Her name was listed only as Ines in previous genealogies.

8 ] Rafaelita Hilario-Soriano

Matea Rodriguez y Tuason was born on February 24, 1835.

9 ] Arsenio Manuel, ” Dictionary of Philippine Biography,” 1955. Article on Jose Escaler. Article on Joaquin Gonzalez.

The Escaler article mentions Manuel Escaler as coming from Balanga, Bataan. The Gonzalez article mentions Jose Sioco as coming from Bocaue.

10 ] Old Sioco sisters, household staff of the various branches of the Escaler y Sioco family, perhaps distantly related to the Sioco progenitor ( Josef Sioco ) of the Arnedo y Sioco, Escaler y Sioco, and Gonzalez y Sioco families OR the descendants of tenants who took the surname of the “hacendero” landlord, a common practice during the Spanish era: interviews at the ancestral Sioco property in Barrio Sulipan, Apalit, Pampanga ( later the Escaler y Sioco, then the Fernandez-Escaler, then the Padilla-Fernandez, then the Fernandez-Nadal, and finally the Gonzalez-Reyes, also Sioco descendants ), 1998 – 2000.

The old Sioco sisters mentioned that there were still Sioco relatives in Santa Maria, Bulacan. It could connect to the ” Philippine Biography ” article on Joaquin Gonzalez that Jose Sioco was from Bocaue. The two towns are next to the other.

11 ] Corazon Cacnio y Mercado and Milagros Cacnio y Mercado: interviews in their residence in Barrio San Juan, Apalit, Pampanga, 1987 – 2000.

The old Cacnio sisters have provided much information. According to them, the Apalit elders remember the Siocos to have come from Bataan.

12 ] Fausto Felix Gonzalez y Sioco ( o May 30, 1897 – + October 15, 1951 ): the Gonzalez elders attribute the legend of Sioco the Japanese pirate to him.

Sioco the Japanese pirate also appears in an article on Limahong in the “Filipino Heritage” book series.

13 ] Elisa Arnedo y Espiritu: interviews at the Arnedo y Espiritu residence ( St. Peter’s Mission House ), Barrio Capalangan, Apalit, Pampanga, 1978 – 1987.

Lola Ising ( Elisa Arnedo y Espiritu ) provided much information.

Joaquin Arnedo married Maria Sioco. It was a widow-widower nuptial. Joaquin had a daughter from his first marriage: Juana, who married Felipe Buencamino Sr..  Maria also had a daughter from her first marriage to a Tanjutco: Crispina, who remained a spinster.

The Arnedos came to Barrio Sulipan from Hagonoy, Bulacan.

Manuel Escaler was working as a ” personero ” ( overseer ) for his uncle, later father-in-law, Josef Sioco. ( An overseer was a high-ranking employee. Lola Ising was only repeating the descriptions of the old Arnedos, who had an age-old rift with Impung Matea ( Matea Rodriguez, viuda de Sioco, viuda de Arnedo-Cruz ), who luckily inherited properties the Arnedos claimed were their own.

14 ] Beatriz Rodriguez y Tiamson ( born o May 6, 1910; on May 6, 2000 celebrated her 90th birth anniversary ) : interviews at ” Bale Sim ” ( the ancestral Rodriguez “bahay na bato” ), Barrio Santa Ines, Bacolor, Pampanga, 1987 – 1995; interviews at her new residence on B. Mendoza St., San Fernando, Pampanga, 1996 – 2000.

Imang Bets ( Beatriz Rodriguez y Tiamson ) has provided much information about the 19th century life at ” Bale Sim,” most likely related to her by her cousin Impung Oniang ( Gorgonia Rodriguez y Yabut: o September 19, 1886 – + November 14, 1960 ), with whom she spent the first half of her life.

Matuang ( Old ) Jose_ Sioco, a very old man from Barrio Sulipan in Apalit, courted Impung Marta ( Marta Rodriguez y Tuason ) first, but she refused.

Impung Matea ( Matea Rodriguez y Tuason ) decided to marry Jose_ Sioco , the very old man.

The very old, very rich Josef_ Sioco died conveniently after eight years of marriage.

15 ] The gravestone of Josef Sioco on one wall of the Gospel transept of Bacolor Church.

” Sr. Dn. Josef Sioco, + 26 de Diciembre 1864, 78 anos, 11 meses, 2 dias ”

The information enabled the researcher to establish his birthdate ( by backtracking ) as o January 24, 1786.

Josef Sioco built his house ( a bahay-na-bato/ a mansion by the standards of the day ) in Barrio Sulipan, Apalit town, Pampanga. The house, already derelict ( since 1964, when it was “cannibalized” by Escaler grandson Isidro Escaler Fernandez to build his residence in Cambridge Circle, Forbes Park North;  some parts were also used in the residence of his friend, the actress Shirley Moreno in BF Homes, Paranaque. ) was a favorite haunt of Filipiniana scholars researching the “bahay-na-bato,” when it was torn down in the first quarter of 1988. According to the scholars, it was in the Geometric Style of the 1850s and earlier.

In front of the Apalit church is an old gravestone in Chinese granite or ” piedra china ” ( a survivor of the previous church which collapsed in 1863 ) of Vicenta Florenti—. It specifically says that she died in the house of Josef Sioco in 1842. So the house already existed then.

The old Sioco sisters ( household staff of the various branches of the Escaler y Sioco family ) mentioned that there were words, with the date 1840, carved on the overdoor above the ” escalera principal ” of the “bahay na bato.”

The researcher is very much interested in Filipiniana and in the architecture of the “bahay-na-bato.” He was able to see the derelict house a few times and was fortunate enough to have visited it with several authorities on the “bahay-na-bato” once in early 1987 ( Mr. Martin I. Tinio, Arch. Rene Luis J. Mata, and Miss Sandra Castro of the Intramuros Administration, along with Mr. Jose M. R. Panlilio and Mr. Frederick Agbayani, young Filipiniana researchers ). The group admired the architecture, the scale and proportion, the broken black and white marble squares and ornate azulejo tiles in the landing ( ” descanso ” ), the vestibule ( ” caida ” ) with its few remaining carved molave panels ( ” Definitely around 1850.” proclaimed Mr. Tinio. ), the salon ( ” sala ” ), the chapel ( ” capilla ” ) without its altar and floor planks, the dining room ( ” comedor ” ) without its floor and ceiling, and the bedrooms ( ” cuartos ” ) also without their doors, floors, and ceilings. It was very difficult to know what they were admiring, with “oohs” and “aahs”, and they must have had very good imaginations, because the place was a complete wreck. The “azotea” still had its monumental gateway, its collapsing stairs, its terra cotta balusters, its molave planking, clay tiles, and bricks.
There was a large, two-storey storehouse ( ” camarin ” ) to the left of the house, entirely of ” adobe ” ( a volcanic tuff stone quarried in Bulacan; on the other hand, Mexican adobe, real adobe, are blocks of mud and straw baked under the sun ). Beside the “azotea” was a great tamarind ( ” sampaloc ” ) tree, a fixture of every provincial bahay-na-bato, and this one was certainly over a hundred years old. At the back of the property were ruins of other storehouses, and in the rear’s center, a row of ten stoves, all in ” adobe,” used for fiesta cooking, as Mr. Tinio pointed out.  This researcher quoted senior Gonzalez and Escaler relatives who recalled that the Siocos and the Escalers had frugal natures and were not disposed to fiesta cooking, unlike their relatives, the gallant and extravagant Arnedos who lived nearby. Mr. Tinio clarified that, while they were used for fiesta cooking, these outdoor stoves were used to cook the simple but hearty food served to the many tenant families who would converge at the master’s house ( Josef Sioco’s ) to assist in the cooking and the housecleaning, and certainly to partake of the plentiful food, during the fiesta. The exquisite ” Spanish criollo ” food was cooked in the main kitchen upstairs and served only to the affluent guests. Such were the feudalistic practices of yore which, in adjusted form, survive to this day.

The old Sioco sisters ( household staff of the various branches of the Escaler y Sioco family ) maintain that the original roof of the house was a gentle slope of heavy tiles, and that the kitchen was roofed with thatch. All of that was replaced by a steep roof of GI sheets before the Second World War.

There is enough evidence that the “bahay na bato” was already constructed by 1840, so we can say that Josef Sioco had transferred from Bocaue, Bulacan to Barrio Sulipan, Apalit, Pampanga by that time.

There is an oil portrait of Josef Sioco, circa 1830s, that has survived to this day ( 2000 ). It shows him, a handsome Chinese mestizo, in the formal dress of the ” principalia ” ( wealthy class ): a European-style black jacket with tails over a pineapple fiber shirt ( a pina barong tagalog ) with ” suksok ” ( _______ ) embroidery. [ It was inherited by his youngest daughter Florencia Sioco de Gonzalez. On her death in 1925, it was inherited by her youngest son Fausto F. Gonzalez y Sioco. When he died in 1951, it was passed on to his second wife Pastora Cordero de Gonzalez. On her passing in 1998, it was inherited by her daughter Ernestina “Tina” Cordero Gonzalez, Mrs. Bibiano Padilla Lesaca.  After Ernestina’s sudden passing from cerebral aneurysm in 2001, it was inherited by her children. ]

16 ] Elisa Arnedo y Espiritu: interviews at the Arnedo y Espiritu residence ( St. Peter’s Mission House ), Barrio Capalangan, Apalit, Pampanga, 1978 – 1987.
Corazon Cacnio y Mercado and Milagros Cacnio y Mercado: interviews in their residence in Barrio San Juan, Apalit, Pampanga, 1987 – 2000.

They related the story of the Sioco hacienda in Santa Maria, Bulacan. It must have caused an uproar in 1864 ( the year of Josef Sioco’s death ), for people to still talk about it more than 120 years later.

17 ] Elisa Arnedo y Espiritu: interviews at the Arnedo y Espiritu residence ( St. Peter’s Mission House ), Barrio Capalangan, Apalit, Pampanga, 1978 – 1987.
Bro. Andrew Gonzalez, F.S.C. ( Macario Diosdado Arnedo Gonzalez ): conversations ( relaying information acquired from Arnedo elders, notably his mother Rosario Arnedo y Espiritu, de Gonzalez ) at the Gonzalez-Arnedo residence in Quezon City.

The Hacienda de Caldera in Apalit is fertile, and thus productive, land. It was thus called because it is shaped like a ” caldo ” ( pot ). It is an entire sitio in Barrio Sulipan. In this day ( the year 2000 ), one can view it from the MacArthur Highway on the way to the main town of Apalit. On the road coming from Calumpit, Bulacan, after one has crossed the Apalit Bridge ( locally called the ” Control ” ), the wide, descending land on the left is the ” Caldera.”

The generation of Rosario and Elisa were told by their elders ( parents, uncles, aunts, and cousins ) that it was old Arnedo property unfortunately transferred to Gonzalez ownership by the marriage of Juan Arnedo-Cruz y Tanjutco to Matea Rodriguez, viuda de Sioco after 1864. They had no children together but she inherited all his property. Upon her death in 1918, these were given to her two surviving daughters from her first marriage to Josef Sioco: Sabina Sioco de Escaler and Florencia Sioco de Gonzalez.

The Hacienda de Caldera was divided but a large portion was inherited by Florencia’s fourth son Augusto Gonzalez y Sioco, the family’s financial genius. After his tragic death in 1939, it passed to the children of his first marriage to his first cousin Marina Escaler y Sioco ( the eldest daughter of Sabina Sioco y Rodriguez and Manuel Escaler y Rodriguez ). It remained in the family until 1972, when Ferdinand Marcos implemented agrarian reform with ” Operation Land Transfer ” ( OLT ). It was passed on forcibly to the tenants: the family of the ” personero ” ( overseer ) Julian Gonzales ( the tenants were wont to take the surname of the landowners ). But it did not take long before they sold their assigned parcels to a prosperous Chinese trader in 1973.

18 ] Rafaelita Hilario-Soriano

Matea Rodriguez y Tuason, viuda de Sioco, viuda de Arnedo-Cruz died on January 22, 1918 at the age of 83 years.

19 ]  Beatriz Rodriguez y Tiamson ( born o May 6, 1910; on May 6, 2000 celebrated her 90th birth anniversary ): interviews at ” Bale Sim ” ( the Rodriguez ancestral “bahay na bato” ), Barrio Santa Ines, Bacolor, Pampanga, 1987 – 1995; interviews at her new residence on B. Mendoza St., San Fernando, Pampanga, 1996 – 2000.
Eglantine Elizalde Gonzalez-Franco ( Mrs. Luis B. Franco ): interviews in her residence at 65 Scout Fuentebella St., Quezon City, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1988, 1989, 1990; conversations during Doble Zeta reunion meetings at the Gonzalez-Arnedo residence in Quezon City, 1988 – 2000.
Blanquita Luna Santos ( Mrs. Renato Palanca Gonzalez ): conversations during Gonzalez-Palanca ( the children of Rogerio Escaler Gonzalez and Lourdes David Palanca ) family gatherings: a pre-Christmas party at the Gonzalez-Santos residence at 55 Cambridge Circle, Forbes Park North in 1989; parties at the Dizon-Gonzalez ( Manuel Martinez Dizon and Regina Palanca Gonzalez ) residence at 5 Molave Road, Forbes Park South in 1990, 1997, and 1998.

Imang Bets ( Beatriz Rodriguez y Tiamson ) has provided much information about the Rodriguez family of Bacolor, Pampanga.
Incung Duman ( Roman Santos ), the founder of Prudential Bank, was a Rodriguez. He was the son of Impung Marta ( Marta Rodriguez y Tuason ) who married Hilarion Santos. When  Hilarion died, Marta married Domingo Carlos.
Marta died young. Her orphaned son, the young Roman was taken in as a ward by his older first cousin Florencia Sioco de Gonzalez ( daughter of Impung Matea, elder sister of Impung Marta ) and he went to live at the Gonzalez y Sioco “bahay na bato” in Barrio Sulipan, Apalit, Pampanga.
The young Roman spent some years in barrio Sulipan and was like an elder brother to his ten Gonzalez y Sioco nephews: Fernando, Jesus, Emilio, Augusto, Octavio, Virgilio, Javier, Bienvenido, Joaquin, and Fausto.
There was a big ” studio ” picture of him with them ( taken in the mid-1890s ) hung at ” Bale Sim ” in one small room filled with aparadores, before the great flood of October 1, 1995, which inundated the mansion with lahar from Mount Pinatubo ( which erupted four years before in 1991 ).

Tita Nena ( Eglantine Elizalde Gonzalez-Franco ) has provided much information about the Gonzalez y Sioco family of barrio Sulipan, Apalit, Pampanga. She is a daughter of Fernando Gonzalez y Sioco and Clementina Elizalde y Cacnio and is the third oldest of the +- 115 grandchildren of Dr. Joaquin Gonzalez y Lopez and Florencia Sioco y Rodriguez.
Incung Duman ( Roman Santos y Rodriguez ) was a first cousin of Impung Florencia ( Florencia Sioco y Rodriguez, de Gonzalez ) and Impung Sabina ( Sabina Sioco y Rodriguez, de Escaler ). He grew up as a ward in the Gonzalez “bahay na bato” in Barrio Sulipan.
Impung Sabina lent Incung Duman the capital to purchase a ” casco ” ( bamboo raft ) for his first business venture: the trading of dry goods in the towns along the Rio Grande de Pampanga ( the Pampanga River ).
Incung Duman used to visit the Gonzalezes in Sulipan until before the War ( in 194_, the house was bombed from the air by the Americans who saw Japanese trucks parked beside it ). The Gonzalez brothers deferred to him as ” Tio Duman “.

Ate Ate’ ( Blanquita Luna Santos – Mrs. Renato Palanca Gonzalez ), granddaughter of Roman Santos and Juliana Andres, spoke about her grandfather.
Lolo Roman ( Roman Santos y Rodriguez ) spoke about his Rodriguez relatives in Bacolor, Pampanga.
Lolo Roman grew up with his Gonzalez cousins.  He described himself as a poor relation at the time.
Lolo Roman was a modest man. He was frugal and cautious in his business transactions. He became a successful businessman.

Gilda Cordero Fernando ( Gilda Luna Cordero ), writer, arts patron and connoisseur – a relative of the Santos family on the Luna side, told the funny story of how, during the war, they were all hiding in the Santos house in Malabon when the ceiling collapsed with the weight of the rice, beans, and other supplies Lolo Roman had stored! He had hidden enough food to last for years!

According to the notes of Don Dr. Bienvenido Ma. Gonzalez y Sioco, Marta Rodriguez and Hilarion Santos had two children: Rafaela and Roman. Rafaela married Vicente Fernandez.
This researcher saw the gravestone of Rafaela Santos y Rodriguez on one wall of the Epistle transept of the Apalit church: ” Rafaela Santos y Rodriguez, + 25 de Junio, 1900 “.
It was only in the conversations with old relatives that the researcher uncovered that Rafaela Santos de Fernandez was the mother of the controversial Rafael Fernandez. He married Josefa Escaler y Sioco ( who turned out to be his second-degree cousin: Sabina Sioco y Rodriguez, de Escaler and Rafaela Santos y Rodriguez, de Fernandez were first cousins ).
Tita Nena ( Eglantine Elizalde Gonzalez-Franco ) mentioned that Tio Jose Escaler, despite his impeccable business and social connections in Pampanga and Manila, wanted his sisters married to relatives to preserve the family wealth. His sister Tia Marina was married to their first cousin Tio Augusto Gonzalez and another sister Josefa married Rafael Fernandez, [ who, therefore, was probably a distant relative; it is difficult to admit a relation to the controversial Rafael Fernandez ].
It was Ate Ate’ ( Blanquita Luna Santos – Mrs. Renato Palanca Gonzalez ) who confirmed the relation between the completely opposite personalities Roman Santos y Rodriguez and Rafael Fernandez y Santos: they were uncle and nephew.


1 ] Sr. Dn. Olegario Rodriguez + 3 de Junio 1874

2 ] Sra. Dna. Jacoba Bautista de Rodriguez + 31 de Enero 1874

3 ] Sr. Dn. Felix Rodriguez y Bautista o 8 de Enero 1853
+ 8 de Enero 1914

4 ] Sr. Dn. Jose Rodriguez y Bautista + 6 de Julio 1887 ( o 1853 )
33 anos, 7 meses

5 ] Sr. Dn. Francisco Rodriguez y Bautista + 12 de Noviembre 1887 ( o 1863 )
24 anos, 8 meses

6 ] Sra. Dna. Maxima Rodriguez y Bautista, + 30 de Octubre 1888 ( o 1857 )
de De los Reyes 31 anos

7 ] Sra. Dna. Librada Rodriguez y Bautista o 20 de Julio 1865
+ 14 de Febrero 1923

8 ] Sra. Dna. Maria Rodriguez y Bautista + 23 de Julio 1915

9 ] Sra. Dna. Jacoba Rodriguez y Yabut o 14 de Julio 1883
+ 10 de Enero 1922

10 ] Sra. Dna. Josefa Rodriguez y Yabut o 18 de Marso 1885
+ 29 de Junio 1936

11 ] Sra. Dna. Gorgonia Rodriguez y Yabut o 19 de Septiembre 1886
+ 14 de Noviembre 1960

These names and dates were taken by the researcher from the gravestones in the Rodriguez burial ground at the Bacolor Catholic Cemetery, November __, 1988, Sunday, 1600 hrs, Fiesta de Nuestra Senora del Santisimo Rosario, La Naval de Bacolor.

“Suspiros de Amor”

“Talanca” / “Talangka”

The Pampango Table



The Untold Splendors of Old Pampanga

In the late afternoons, a group of affluent Filipiniana collectors and connoisseurs, as well as authorities, scholars, and researchers, gathers at the eminent Filipiniana scholar Ramon “Boy” Villegas’ “Katutubo” Arts & Crafts at the LaO’ Center in Makati to catch up on the latest in the uppermost echelons of the Manila art and antique world.  The conversations are invariably interesting, as the friends discuss the latest important finds on the market and express their interest in the rarest objects, generously peppered with, of course, the latest unsavory but interesting doings of Manila society.

Usually, the conversations steer to the highly-desirable heirlooms of the “de buena familia” old families.  And more than the Negrense, Cebuano, Batangueno, Laguna Tagalog, Ilocano, and even Manila families, the Pampango families and their storied holdings are the ones most often discussed.

I have always suggested to my good friend Ramon “Boy” Villegas that the Metropolitan Museum of Manila should mount an exhibition — one that will certainly be a blockbuster — themed and titled “The Splendors of Old Pampanga.”  I also suggested the idea to another good friend, Corazon “Cora” Alvina, formerly the head of the Metropolitan Museum and presently the head of the National Museum, and while she thought it was a wonderful idea, she bowed and shook her head sadly when she realized the enormous insurance costs that such a magnificent exhibition would entail…

“Tocino del Cielo”

If it was a simple “madeleine” that sparked the flood of memories in Marcel Proust’s mind, it is the luxurious “tocino del cielo” that sparks my own remembrance of things…

It is the confection I most remember during family occasions amidst dessert selections that included fresh fruits, homemade buco and [ white, white ] lychee sherbet, “Selecta” “Macapuno” ice cream [ back when the Arces owned “Selecta” ] , homemade carabao milk and “dayap” lime-tinged “Mantecado” ice cream, vanilla ice cream topped with bing cherries in liqueur, the strawberry and peach cream Princess Cake, walnut and almond “Sans Rival,” “Canonigo,” “Brunn” butter cake, “food for the gods,” date bars, “borrachos,” “panaritas,” “See’s” chocolates, “Almond Roca,” and whatever else Lola Charing had brought out from her personal pantry.

It is the confection I hold with the deepest affection.

Luz Sarmiento de Panlilio of Bacolor related a funny story about the Gonzalez “tocino del cielo”:  On 12 July 1939, the Angeles sugar planters Gregorio, Dalmacio, and Carmelino Timbol and their bodyguard Geronimo Buan gunned down Jose Leoncio de Leon, Augusto Gonzalez, and Captain Julian Olivas at the PASUDECO Pampanga Sugar Development Company offices in San Fernando, Pampanga.  All of Pampanga and Manila society were busy condoling with the de Leon family in Bacolor and the Gonzalez family in Sulipan, Apalit.  The Panlilio y Santos Joven siblings of Bacolor — Jose “Pepe,” Francisco “Quitong” / “Paquito,” and Encarnacion “Carning” —  were second cousins through the Joven line of Jose “Peping” de Leon y Joven, the only son of Jose Leoncio “Pitong” de Leon y Hizon [ Josefa “Sepa” Santos y Joven, the mother of the Panlilio siblings, was a first cousin of the sisters Regina “Inang” and Maria Natividad “Titang” Joven y Gutierrez, both of whom married Jose Leoncio de Leon y Hizon; Ramona Joven y Suarez, the mother of Josefa, and Juan Joven y Suarez, the father of Regina and Maria Natividad, were siblings; Ramona and Juan were among the nine legitimate children of Juan Joven and Geronima Suarez ].  So the whole family, including the two in-laws [ Luz Sarmiento and Nitang Granda ], promptly went to the wake at the de Leon mansion, which was only a few yards from their own residence.  The Panlilio y Santos Joven siblings — certified gourmands — were not at all pleased with the traditional dinner served to them at the de Leon manse.  They then proceeded in their big car to the Gonzalez wake in Sulipan, Apalit.  After condoling with the family [ but not with the widow, Rosario “Charing” Arnedo; she was strapped to a bed during the wake and the funeral because she was one month pregnant with Macario Diosdado, the future Brother Andrew Benjamin Gonzalez, F.S.C. of De La Salle University ], they were seated at the long “cabecera” dining table and served an elaborate Sulipeno meal on the Gonzalez Paris porcelain, Baccarat crystal, and English sterling silver.  The Panlilio y Santos Joven siblings and their in-laws were very pleased with the grand dinner served to them at the Gonzalez manse [ Maria Ignacia “Titay” { o 1872 – + 1964 } and Ynes Arnedo { o 1876 – + 1954 }, the daughters of the legendary Capitan Joaquin Arnedo { + 1897 }, and the aunts of Rosario “Charing,” had temporarily moved into the Gonzalez mansion and supervised the food of the wake and the funeral ].  They declared the Gonzalez “tocino del cielo” “Superior!” [ “sooh-pehr-yohr” ] and proceeded to consume several pieces.  Jose “Pepe,” a longtime diabetic, consumed twelve pieces!!!  For the next two evenings, the Panlilio y Santos Joven family made the customary visits to the de Leon wake and to their second cousin Jose “Peping” but eagerly proceeded to the Gonzalez wake in Sulipan, Apalit to eat very well.  And to have those divine “tocino del cielo” by the dozens again!!!  Luz Sarmiento de Panlilio recalled with embarrassment and irritation that her Panlilio y Santos Joven in-laws only made perfunctory visits to their de Leon relatives [ “e maniaman yng pamangan” because “the food was not good” ] but thoroughly enjoyed condoling — and eating!!! —  with the Gonzalezes in Sulipan [ “tutung ‘superior’ yng pamangan!!!” where “the food was ‘superior’!!!” ], whom they knew well socially but were not related to at all…!!!  Hahahah!!!   😛   😛   😛

The “tocino del cielo” is not for everyone though.  I vividly remember a suitor — from a newly affluent family — of my sister who came to Sunday lunch.  He did not know what it was.  He found the sweetness cloying and the texture slimy.  His reaction was understandable:  he did not grow up with such luxurious eccentricities.

It is certainly unfashionable in these days of washboard abdominals and stick thin figures.  But children of old families brush vanity and diet restrictions aside once faced with these sweet treasures of their past on their dessert tables.

It is basically just egg yolks and sugar, but the precise technique is everything!!!

In the late 1800s, the Arnedo “tocino del cielo” was cooked by the legendary patissier Juan Padilla in a “bano maria” covered with banana leaves placed over the earthenware stove with its charcoal in the big “cocina” of the guesthouse of the “La Sulipena” mansion, which was devoted exclusively to the production of desserts.  It was originally made with duck eggs which endowed it with a stronger taste and a more solid, but not chewy, texture.  No one in the family knows how chicken eggs were eventually substituted for the duck eggs specified in Padilla’s original recipe.

The Gonzalez “tocino del cielo” was similar to the Arnedo version because their cooks tended to come from the same families in Sitio Pulung Cauayan [ Sulipan ] where all the household help and various staff of the Arnedo, Escaler, and Gonzalez families lived.

I remember Lola Charing’s strict instruction that “tocino del cielo” could only be made with “Victorias” refined sugar.  If there was no “Victorias” refined sugar available, there could be no “tocino del cielo,” as simple as that.

The memorable “‘Las Cibeles’ Pasteleria y Salon de Te” — the favorite pastry shop of Manila’s Spanish mestizo community — produced a rich “tocino del cielo” that was made with milk.

My brother Gene Gonzalez has made the family’s “tocino del cielo” available year-round at his Cafe Ysabel pastry shop.  It is a good version that is close to the one made at the family home.  But there was still a certain ineffable quality to the “tocino del cielo” when it was made in the serene atmosphere of the kitchen at Lola Charing’s…

An Arnedo cousin, the computer engineering genius and immensely successful IT expert Henry Peter [ Arnedo-Sazon ] Badenhop, continues to prepare the traditional Arnedo “tocino del cielo” for his personal consumption at his New Jersey home.

Our very dear 96 year old great grandaunt “Imang” Beatriz Rodriguez in San Fernando, Pampanga still prepares her “tocino del cielo” in the original molds.  The taste and consistency of her version, I am told by Gonzalez aunts, hew closest to the prewar version, which had not changed from the late 1800s.

My cousin Carmelita “Mely” Palanca Gonzalez-Gan prepares the Gonzalez “tocino del cielo” in an interesting way.  Instead of tediously using the small molds, she makes the “tocino del cielo” in one big tray.  It is convenient for people like me who like their desserts in generous servings.

A friend, the very fashionable Vicky Panlilio-Claparols, serves a rich “tocino del cielo” among the desserts at gatherings in her home.  Like my Ate Mely’s, it is made in one tray.  It is prepared by Teofilo, the longtime cook of her mother-in-law, the redoubtable Sagrario Alejandrino Medina-Claparols.  It is unusual because it is made with milk.

The high point of the “tocino del cielo,” in my opinion, was reached with the exacting tastes of my uncle, Brother Andrew, acknowledged as the leading gourmet in the family.  He told Celi the cook in the plainest terms that he wanted the “tocino del cielo” his way — not Ate Garing’s, not Ate Talia’s, not even Lola Charing’s, nor the Gonzalezes’ nor the Arnedos’.   It was he who insisted that the “tocino del cielo” have a half-cooked consistency [ “gagalgal” in Capampangan loosely translated to “quivering” in English ] which endowed them with an elusive silky texture and unparalleled smooth finish.  The result was an exquisite, “couture” dessert that was classically French in quality!!!

Now, if only I had made an effort to learn it…!!!   🙂   🙂   🙂

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