Memory tidbit: Garden flowers

The searing heat of summer also brings back memories of childhood gardens, specially Lola Charing’s garden.  The garden of “Dona Charing” (Rosario Espiritu Arnedo-Gonzalez) was famous in the 40s, 50s, 60s, & 70s for its big American roses, in a city where even small roses did not thrive naturally.  During its heyday, a group of hardy gardeners kept that Eden in bloom rather expensively.  And we grandchildren had the run of the place, specially during the summers of the 60s & 70s.

*unfinished*

Holy Week 2012 reflections

At the start of Holy Week 2012, I decided that I would visit two people very dear to me:  73 year old fellow aesthete “Cong Albert” Albert Salgado Paloma [ cousin of my Gonzalez-Salgado cousins ] and my great grandaunt, nearly 102 years old “Imang Bets” Beatriz Tiamson Rodriguez [ Rodriguez first cousin of my paternal great grandmother Florencia Rodriguez Sioco-Gonzalez, o 1860 – + 1925 ], both living in San Fernando, Pampanga…

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Cong Albert was in great spirits despite his kidney ailment.  His kidney treatment actually allowed him to eat anything, so we shared a luxurious “Bacalao ala Vizcaina” and a decadent “Lamb Shank Caldereta,” both unforgettably delicious.  Bishop Socrates “Soc” Villegas in Dagupan, a good friend and client of his, had just sent him a bag of king prawns, so he was thinking of making a nice “Sinigang”…

Illness had barely dampened Cong Albert’s spirits and he was his usual acerb, comic self.  We talked about the latest goings-on of our relatives and friends and as always, it made for very interesting conversation.

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Dear ol’ Imang Bets was seated upright on her bed, propped up on several pillows.  There was a lunchtime variety show on the TV, but she was looking blankly into space, muttering prayers.  I introduced myself, greeted her, and she took both my hands and kissed them.  But she could no longer recognize me.  It was alright, it was enough that I was with her.  There were some dark marks on her arms and legs;  Her assistant Charing explained that she got them during a bad fall some months ago and they had not recovered [ but what can one expect at + 100 years old? ].  Imang Bets told me that “Apung Misericordia” was in the house with her [ an antique wooden image of the Crucified Christ that was the center of Rodriguez family devotion for generations ].  She kept repeating a prayer that sounded like “Dear Jesus, forgive us our sins…”  Charing apologized that there was no big “ensaimada” nor my favorite “mamon tostado” in stock, which they usually served for “merienda” during my visits.  But it was enough, it was really enough, that I was there with dearest Imang Bets for a while.

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Cong Albert and Imang Bets.  Two people who make my world rock.  45 years have taught me not to take anyone or anything for granted.  Because one day…

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In the late afternoon, I stayed in the family burial ground for over an hour, seated on a prewar, precast bench, looking with deep affection at the gravestones and remembering all the people I had loved, and lost, to something we all call “eternity” which is something none of us fully understand…

What “Merry Christmas!”???

Christmas 2011 comes at a difficult time, particularly for us Filipinos, and even for our own family.

Tonight, during the traditional 10:00 p.m. Christmas Vigil Mass at our parish church, and before “Noche Buena” at our parents’ home, I will say a silent prayer of thanksgiving to God for all the many blessings throughout the troubled year that was 2011.  And I will also thank him for allowing me and our family to survive it all with grace, chutzpah, and even laughter.  I end the year 2011 practically bedraggled, beset by all kinds of health problems, career delays and blocks, financial issues, looming dilemmas, etc. [ and even uberrich friends tell me they’re in the same boat…?  😛 ].  I still have the wherewithal but I’m not getting anywhere.  In short, I’m a total mess.  I don’t know if it has something to do with my being a second-decanate Capricorn with the ascendant and the Moon in Virgo, or being a Fire Horse.  The rest of the family have it better, material resources intact as well, but I know that they too are just trying to get on as best as they can.

Inflation is unbelievable.  I might as well live in New York, Paris, or London with these increasingly First World prices!  One now needs 3X the money to live the life he has, posh, average, or poor.  What one could buy for Php 10,000 you now need Php 30,000, for Php 100,000 you now need Php 300,000, for Php 1,000,000 you now need Php 3,000,000 and so forth and so on.  I used to think that friends were bragging when they mentioned their staggering grocery bills at “Rustan’s” or “S & R,” but to my shock I’m not far off anymore…

There were just too many illnesses and deaths in our family and among our friends.  Sally d.G., one of our comptrollers, developed cervical cancer.  Former Supreme Court Justice Tito Camilo Q. [ maternal first cousin of my mother ] almost went blind.  Tito Fras Quiason Reyes [ brother of my mother ], Tito Manoling Quiason Yap [ maternal first cousin of my mother ], Tita Sonia Callanta-Yap [ wife of Tito Garding, maternal first cousin of my mother ], Uncle Jack Davis Horrigan [ husband of Tita Martha, sister of my mother ] passed away in rapid succession from stroke, lung cancer, ovarian cancer, and heart attack from 01 September – 05 October.  Tito Josel Y. [ maternal first cousin of my mother ] developed prostate cancer but is in good spirits.  Tita Ising V. [ mother of my good friend Marivic V. ] is fading off to Neverland.  Tito Joe S. [ brother-in-law of my good friend Tita Regina A.-T. ] finally passed away after 2 years in the ICU of Makati Med just when Tita Carminia was excitedly getting ready for their 60th wedding anniversary.  Tito Tony M. [ husband of my good friend Tita Nening P.-M. and father of my LSGH GS classmate Tonico M. ] has been diagnosed with stomach cancer and is at Makati Med;  Tita Nening and family have decided to simply keep him comfortable to the last.  Just before Christmas, Richie & Giging G. [ Giging is a good friend, a maternal first cousin of Johnny L., married to my cousin Rose R. ] lost their eldest son Javy in the wink of an eye to a massive heart attack.  OhmyGod.  [ I myself do not feel well:  I am checking into Saint Luke’s after New Year’s day for 3 days of medical tests ].

On a perfectly sunny afternoon in early October following typhoons “Pedring” & “Quiel,” dam officials and managers let loose “excess” water from the Ipo, Angat, and Bustos dams [ without any kind of notification to the affected residents whatsoever;  what were they thinking??? ] which forthwith flooded Calumpit, Bulacan and portions of our hometown of Apalit, Pampanga, our ancestral barrios of Sulipan and Capalangan among them.  There was so much damage to property that wasn’t really reported by the newspapers.  What do you tell people whose only possessions in life are a small TV, small refrigerator, a single gas burner stove, an electric fan, and a sleeping mat… or even less???  How would you feel if you were them?!

With the onset of the 9-day “Simbang Gabi,” typhoon “Sendong” came blowing over Cagayan de Oro and Iligan in northwestern Mindanao setting off unbelievable, disaster epic-type floods which caused the deaths of an estimated 3,000 people.  It was a major, major tragedy.  The whole nation is in shock.

And if all that was not enough, many businessmen have noticed that this year’s Christmas sales, like last year’s, as well as their annual 2010 & 2011 sales, are falling below the prosperous figures they had during the Arroyo presidency 2000-2010.  An economic slowdown is already happening…

It is true what Roman Catholic priests say that if you base your celebration of Christmas — the birth of Jesus Christ — on material things, you are missing the point, as well as the fact that if you focus solely on those things without God’s guidance and blessings, you will never have enough to live the life of your dreams and ambitions anyway.  Great “food for thought”…

Nonetheless, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2012, Everyone!!!

Toto Gonzalez   🙂

“Santo Rosario” of deepest affections

[ Please be advised:  This is a wholly Roman Catholic blog post;  it’s a sister post to “La Naval de Manila at the Santo Domingo church” of 24 September 2006 { search window }.  Christian fundamentalist, Lutheran, Episcopal, et. al. sensibilities could react.  “Idolatry!”  you could charge, but of course as a Roman Catholic and as a Marian devotee, I couldn’t care less if you fell into the Philippine Deep.  You have been advised accordingly, in the first place. ]

NS del Rosario de La Naval

NS del Rosario de La Naval

From the time my grandmother Lola Charing [ Rosario Espiritu Arnedo-Gonzalez, 13 December 1903 – 18 May 1977 ] brought me as a young child [ early 1970s ] along to the Santo Domingo church to pray with her before the “Santo Rosario,” to this day, 4 decades later, I have held the deepest affections for the Blessed Mother…

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“Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum.  Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus…  Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostrae.  Amen.”

“Dios te salve Maria, llena eres de gracia, El Senor es contigo.  Bendita tu eres entre todas las mujeres y bendito es el fruto de tu vientre Jesus…  Santa Maria, Madre de Dios, ruega por nosotros pecadores, ahora y en la hora del nuestra muerte.  Amen.”

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“Magnificat anima mea Dominum, et exultavit spiritus meus in Deo salutari meo  Quia respexit humilitatem ancillae suae ecce enim ex hoc beatam me dicent omnes generationes  Quia fecit mihi magna qui potens est et sanctum nomen eius  Et misericordia eius in progenies et progenies timentibus eum  Fecit potentiam in brachio suo dispersit superbos mente cordis sui  Deposuit potentes de sede et exaltavit humiles  Esurientes implevit bonis et divites dimisit inanes  Suscepit Israhel puerum suum memorari misericordiae  Sicut locutus est ad patres nostros  Abraham et semini eius in saecula.  Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.”

“Proclama mi alma la grandeza del Señor, y se alegra mi espíritu en Dios, mi Salvador;  porque ha puesto sus ojos en la humildad de su esclava, y por eso desde ahora todas las generaciones me llamarán bienaventurada, porque el Poderoso ha hecho obras grandes en mí:  su nombre es Santo, y su misericordia llega a sus fieles de generación en generación.  Él hizo proezas con su brazo:  dispersó a los soberbios de corazón, derribó del trono a los poderosos y enalteció a los humildes, a los hambrientos los colmó de bienes y a los ricos los despidió vacíos.  Auxilió a Israel, su siervo, acordándose de la misericordia-como lo había prometido a nuestros padres-en favor de Abraham y su descendencia por siempre.”

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Tuesday, 26 July 2011…

As always, through the centuries, 2 long candles on tall silver candelabra were lit before her, and the holy rosary, led by the Rev. Fr. Prior, was recited…

I was told by the ladies that the “Virgen,” when shorn of her crowns [ “rostrillo,” “corona,” “aureola” ], “joyas” jewels, and embroidered finery, actually looked like a comely 14 year-old girl.  It was also in that state that what Rafael del Casal described as the delicate tilt of the head and the oh-so-slight turn of the face towards the right, to the “Nino Jesus,” were easily observable.

As Rafael restored the “encarna” of the “Virgen” and the “Nino Jesus” to their “traditional” appearances, he constantly referred to the famous prewar, black-and-white photograph of the “Santo Rosario” in “La Vanguardia” magazine and tried his darndest best, annoyingly stubborn paints from the previous “encarna” notwithstanding, to recreate that old-fashioned but correct look for the current “encarna.”

Upon Rafael’s and Tita Tunggay’s urging, I sat down beside the “camarera” Tita Mengay and asked her many, many questions about the now 418 year-old “Santo Rosario,” all of which she answered sweetly and charmingly.  Somewhere in the haze of memories of her 96 years, Tita Mengay spoke, to my increasing wide-eyed interest and bewilderment, of the “Virgen’s” feet painted to look like shoes, covered by gold slippers decorated with “gravado” work which she and the old nuns would polish every year before the fiesta.  Tita Tunggay seriously doubted it, saying that her mother was probably talking of another Virgen.  To prove her point, she asked abruptly:  “Mommy!!!  Does the Virgin have feet???” to which Tita Mengay instantly replied, shaking her head:  “No!”  Still, I gave Tita Mengay the benefit of the doubt.  After all, as Tita Tunggay’s protege seminarian Vince Salac pointed out, Tita Mengay was the last one who saw what was inside the indigo blue painted wood planks [ now faded to a Venetian terra cotta ] with painted rococo C-scrolls of gold “polvorina” paint which was the base of her “bastidor” body, before the missing plank at the back was replaced decades ago, sealing it forever.

Rafael remembered that the Nino Jesus was described in an 1800s document as having a “sono liento” “sleepy-eyed” expression and he tried his best to interpret and recreate that look.

Because the Nino Jesus had to be upright while Rafael was restoring its “encarna,” Mang Rolly and Tita Tunggay’s proteges, former seminarians Vince Salac and Reynard Ong, patiently took turns carefully carrying the heavy ivory image by its chest and stomach over the two-tiered table while Rafael carried out his delicate, painstaking work…

While Rafael was satisfied with his “encarna” of the Virgen, he thought that the eyes of the Nino Jesus still had that sharp look which needed interference.  He decided to complete the “encarna” of the Nino Jesus on Thursday.

The team was scolded by Tita Mengay when she observed that the Virgen and the Nino Jesus had been in their undergarments for a few minutes already as the team struggled to unfurl the antique “Numero Uno” “vestida” and the “capa” of the Virgen and the “tunico” and the “babero” of the Nino Jesus.  Tita Mengay was vehement that the Virgen and the Nino Jesus were to be dressed immediately with the new vestments as soon as the old ones and some of the undergarments were removed.  “The Virgen and the Nino Jesus must not be left undressed even for a few minutes!  It was never done and it is never done!  Bring their vestments now!  Act quickly!”  she reprimanded in a mix of Spanish and English.  Under no circumstances were they to remain a minute more in their undergarments, even if the Virgen had a full dress of gold-colored silk satin and 5 layers of lace-edged “nagwas” beneath and the Nino had a lace-edged cotton “camisa chino.”  Tita Mengay repeated her strong disapproval many times until the Virgen and the Nino Jesus were fully dressed and the “capa” was finally installed.

The team was also scolded by Tita Mengay when she saw that a part of the Santo Rosario’s “capa” was touching the floor.  Tita Mengay was vehement that the Santo Rosario’s vestments were not to touch the floor at all under any circumstances.  “Those are the Virgen’s vestments!  Those are expensive, those are precious!”  she snapped in a mix of Spanish and English.  Tita Mengay repeated her strong disapproval many times until the vestments were finally piled neatly, properly, and respectfully on a table.

It was amazing to witness 96 year-old Tita Mengay’s [ born 1915 ] surprising acuity and alertness, and sometimes surprising assertiveness, whenever the high standards she had learned prewar from the old Dominican “frailes” and the old “camareras” in the conservation of the “Santo Rosario” were in danger of being replaced by today’s unapologetically mediocre, frankly lackluster, and downright disrespectful practices.

One great advantage of digital photography was that, through repeated pixes by the patient photographer, Rafael was able to produce the exact shade of ivory with which to conceal the distracting and notorious hairline crack extending from the right side of the Virgen’s mouth to her chin.  The covered hairline is now temporarily invisible, even in pixes/photographs.

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“Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum.  Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus…  Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostrae.  Amen.”

“Dios te salve Maria, llena eres de gracia, El Senor es contigo.  Bendita tu eres entre todas las mujeres y bendito es el fruto de tu vientre Jesus…  Santa Maria, Madre de Dios, ruega por nosotros pecadores, ahora y en la hora del nuestra muerte.  Amen.”

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Two days later, on Thursday, 28 July 2011…

Following centuries-old protocol in the dressing of the “Santo Rosario,” the gentlemen were only allowed inside the hall once the ladies had finished their delicate regimen of cleaning the ivory face and hands by dabbing cotton with a mild solution of “esencia de rosa” rose essence diluted with water [ “esencia de rosa” is acidic and strong and used by itself is caustic ], changing the 5 layers of lace-edged “nagwas” underclothes [ only 3 changed for everyday wear ], and the hallowed image was already wearing a simple dress of contemporary gold-colored silk satin over the traditional 5 layers of lace-edged “nagwas,” her long dark brown hair, a “velo” [a white, French late 18th century-style bonnet with ruffled lace edgings ;  very “Marie Antoinette” ], and a “cuello” neck ruff of white lace.  The gentlemen were needed to install the heavy “plancha de plata” gilt silver dress and the even heavier “capa ‘Numero Uno,'” the magnificent, late 19th century cape of “binanig” laidwork “tisu de oro” cloth-of-gold fabric embroidered with flowers, leaves, and symbols in high relief.

Tita Mengay reminisced:  “In old Santo Domingo in Intramuros, nobody, but nobody, was allowed to touch the ‘Virgen’s’ face, by strict instructions of the Spanish Dominican ‘frailes’ and of the ‘camarera,’ Dona Angelita Leyba.  The most, the very most, that was done was a very gentle dabbing — with cotton with a mild, mild solution of ‘esencia de rosa’ and water — of the ‘Virgen’s’ face by Dona Angelita herself.”

The Virgen’s hair was usually not removed during the dressing [ unless it was being replaced with a new one or in the occasional case that her face was being restored by Rafael del Casal, as was the case that evening, although, of course out of protocol, I did not see it ].  Usually, the first things installed after her being dabbed with a solution of “esencia de rosa” and water were her “velo” lace-edged bonnet and “cuello” neck ruff of white lace.  An hour before that, the late 1800s necklace of Colombian emeralds and diamonds [ or any other necklace or ornament ] had been carefully sewn on to the neck ruff, ensuring that it was centered.

[ During the prewar, when all her magnificent jewels were still used for the “La Naval de Manila” procession, one of the first things that had to be put on the Virgen was her antique pearl “rosario,” before the “plancha de plata” vest and sleeves, and gold “rostrillo.”  It would be nearly impossible to install her “rosario” correctly once the “plancha de plata” vest and sleeves, and specially the gold “rostrillo” were already in place.  If one or the other was inadvertently forgotten [ as as the case that evening ], one would have to find an alternate way and gingerly sew it to the “cuello” neck ruff of white lace behind the sharp-edged gold “rostrillo,” quite a painful process since one’s hands would be repeatedly pricked by the “rostrillo” and the various jewels on it;  it also would not hang correctly, and would be noticed by the meticulous eyes of the “camarera” Tita Mengay, displeasing her. ]

While I stood awestruck and mesmerized, as always, before the “Santo Rosario,” Tita Mengay nudged me gently and related that, for the longest time, the hole in her neck had been left open, a deliberate decision of the Spanish Dominicans to remind everyone of the sacrilegious deeds committed by the British invaders from 1762-64.  The hole was supposed to have been caused by a British soldier’s sword which had effectively decapitated her.  According to Tita Mengay, it was only after World War 2, already at the new Santo Domingo church in Quezon city, that the Spanish Dominicans decided to have the hole filled in by a master “santero” with similar, high-quality ivory.  Again, I gave her the benefit of the doubt.  The more scholarly and more plausible theory, shared by scholar par excellence Regalado “Ricky” Jose, historian Ramon “Boy” Villegas, artist Rafael del Casal, and the Virgen’s steward Rolando “Rolly” Tayo is that the hole is actually the dowel that holds the 7 separate pieces of the Virgen’s head — remarkably engineered to support heavy gold crowns by the unknown Chinese carver in 1593 — together.  According to Mang Rolly, the dowel seems to extend all the way to the back of the “Virgen’s” head, it seems to come out just above her nape.  That would support the more scholarly theory.

I found it curious that the Virgen only had an antique pearl “rosario” — albeit of covetable, natural saltwater pearls —  of standard size and the Nino Jesus only had an antique pearl “rosario” of standard size worn on their necks, albeit with interesting “diamante”-studded crosses from the late 1700s, the way all Filipinos wore their “rosarios” during the Spanish era.  Where was the outsize, big rosary of the Virgen?  Rafael explained that the big goldplated brass rosary formed to an intertwined “AM” / “Auspice Maria” / “Ave Maria” on the skirt was actually an innovation of the late Rev. Fr. Augusto Antonio, O.P..  It was never the style of the “Santo Rosario” in the old Santo Domingo church in Intramuros;  for centuries she and the Nino Jesus only had precious “rosarios” of standard size worn from their necks in the traditional style.

I wondered aloud if the natural saltwater pearls used for both the Virgen’s and the Nino Jesus’ “rosarios” were the very ones listed in the 1907 inventory as “gifts from our Muslim brothers in the south”?  No one could answer my query.  In any case, both “rosarios” by their archaic style, specially the crosses, seemed to predate 1907…

The exceedingly cute “Nino Jesus” was actually notorious for being difficult to dress, even in years/decades/centuries past, despite his small size.  The ladies attending to him as he lay on a high table often “cooed,” cajoling him to finally allow them to dress him.  In the end however, it was still a man’s job to dress the Nino Jesus:  Mang Rolly wielded the big needle with thread that finally assembled the spectacularly embroidered “babero” bib and “tunico” tunic of the image.  One did not simply slip the “tunico” to the Nino Jesus:  there was a traditional, specific way of folding it in order to resemble the Dominican habit with the scapular.  Mang Rolly took pride that he had been taught to dress the Nino Jesus with the “tunico Numero Uno” by Rafael del Casal, who in turn learned it from the late Rev. Fr. Augusto Antonio, O.P..

Quietly but intently observing the dressing of the Nino Jesus on a quilted white satin mat and pillow atop a simple two-tiered table, Tita Mengay sweetly reminisced that during prewar at the old Santo Domingo church in Intramuros, the Nino Jesus had a bed-cum-crib, with a cotton mattress, simple with some carvings, which was big enough to accommodate him lying down, standing up, and sideways as he was being dressed, without leaving its confines.  I asked her why they did not come up with a replacement bed-cum-crib postwar at the new Santo Domingo church;  she just smiled and shrugged, as if to say there were more pressing priorities during those days.  We decided right there and then that we would reconstruct it;  Rafael immediately volunteered to sketch its design.

For an inveterate researcher of Filipino colonial jewelry like I,  having the ultrarare opportunity to see and study the 1811 & 1907 crowns and the antique jewelry of the “Santo Rosario” at close range was a fantastic education and reeducation.

Finally, after hours and hours of careful vesting, the 418 year-old “Santo Rosario” towered before us in all her 19th century magnificence, in exactly the same way Filipino historical figures — Jose P. Rizal, Juan & Antonio Luna, Gonzalo Tuason, Trinidad Ayala de Zobel, et. al.  — beheld her over a century ago.  “Viva La Virgen!!!”

What was surprising was, despite the overwhelming majesty and beauty of the “Santo Rosario” garbed in the magnificent regalia assembled through the centuries, the dazzling profusion of diamonds, rubies, emeralds, sapphires, pearls, and diamantes in the crowns and aureoles of solid high-karat gold…  the sheer splendor and opulence did not detract from the spiritual presence of the Infant Jesus and the Blessed Mother…  the only feeling I had while standing before her and the Nino Jesus was PEACE.  It was a very powerful, very unusual, very different kind of peace.  There was the settling and the ordering of all interior chaos, the immediate flight of persistent demons, the calming of all cerebral turbulences, the stilling of emotional waters, the dissipation of tempestuous passions…  In their healing presence, I felt a profound, settled peace that eludes me most hours of my life.  Although I could not verbalize it that time, I simply wanted to stay in their presence… forever.

Tita Mengay looked over the big, early 19th century gold “aureola” with its exquisite “sala-salamin” details [ ref. to Martin I. Tinio ] and revealed that the genuine gems were concentrated on its upper half and that most of the stones in the lower half were of paste [ faceted glass ].

Rafael excitedly pointed to the very lovely and exceedingly rare “gota de aceite” Colombian emerald set in the 1811 crown of the Nino Jesus.

The “Santo Rosario” had to be moved several times during the course of the pictorial by Mang Rolly’s team of 4 – 6 strong men [ who gallantly stayed up the whole night to help out ] using the “pinggas” hardwood poles.  It was always a stressful process because of the fragility of the magnificent 1811 crowns and the “capa Numero Uno”;  every movement could cause a gem to fall off the crowns or the gilt silver threads to unravel off the “capa.”  Tita Tunggay’s assistant Vince Salac, possessed of excellent eyesight and hearing, diligently stood guard with all senses on alert in case anything would fall off or unravel, and was always the first to crouch on the floor on all fours if there was even a slight, suspect sound.  Practicing such care and diligence, there was not a single mishap involving the treasures of the “Santo Rosario” during the pictorial.

Constantly mindful of the great honor and privilege of being there, all through the 15 1/2 hours, I silently prayed intermittently for the millions of devotees of the Blessed Mother, venerated as the “Santo Rosario” — ladies and gentlemen, girls and boys — who would have given anything — anything at all!!! — to be in my place that one unforgettably marvelous evening and I mentally [ psychically ] tried to share my joy with them.

After the pictorial, the jewels and the crowns of the “Santo Rosario” were quickly removed, diligently returned to their packets and boxes, carefully accounted for, and immediately returned to the bank with the tightest security.

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Nearly 2 months later, on Sunday, 25 September 2011…

At 1:30 p.m., 2 long candles on tall silver candelabra were lit before the “Santo Rosario” and the holy rosary was recited…

Rafael spent the afternoon making improvements on the eyes of the “Virgen” and the “Nino Jesus”…

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The next day, Monday, 26 September 2011…

3 days before the “Santo Rosario’s” planned visit to the UST University of Santo Tomas for its Quadricentennial 1611 – 2011 celebrations [ Wednesday – Thursday, 28 – 29 September 2011 ], and 4 days before the Enthronement ceremonies that would begin the “La Naval de Manila 2011” novena [ Thursday, 29 September 2011 ], the Rev. Fr. Prior, the “camarera” Tita Mengay Reyes, the Mother Superior of the Dominican Sisters of Sienna, Tita Tunggay Reyes, Mang Rolly Tayo, and a very small team of devotees gathered at the hall at 8:30 a.m. for the gala vesting of the “Santo Rosario” for “La Naval de Manila 2011″…

It had been decided weeks before by the Rev. Fr. Prior and the “camarera” Tita Mengay that the vestments commissioned and donated by the Chua family in 2004 would be used for this year’s “La Naval de Manila 2011″…

At exactly 8:30 a.m., as was the custom through the centuries, 2 long candles on tall silver candelabra were lit before the “Santo Rosario” and the holy rosary, led by the Rev. Fr. Prior, was recited…

As always, the gentlemen were not allowed into the hall until the “Virgen” had been gently cleaned with the mild solution of “esencia de rosa” and water, her several layers of exquisite “nagwas” changed, and she was already wearing her formal, fully-embroidered dress.  It was the gentlemen’s function to help install the heavy gala “capa” and the heavy crowns, specially the big, Swarovski crystal-studded “aureola,” which the ladies could not handle by themselves.

And I witnessed a bit of the “camarera” and her assistants at the prewar Santo Domingo church in Intramuros…

“Tunggay!  It’s too high!”  Tita Mengay scolded her dutiful daughter sternly from her wheelchair.  The new ‘cuello’ [ neck ruff ] of white lace, donated by a devout Chinese banker [ personally made by the latter, from instructions provided by Rafael del Casal ], was obscuring the chin of the “Virgen.”  Tita Tunggay promptly untied it, repositioned it, and then knotted it again.

“Tunggay!  It’s too high!  Lower!”  Tita Mengay demanded.  Again, Tita Tunggay diligently untied it, repositioned it, and then knotted it again.  But the old lady was still not pleased with the result.

“Mommy, when the ‘rostrillo’ is installed, the ‘cuello’ [ neck ruff ] will go down too, by itself…”  Tita Tunggay reasoned patiently with her increasingly assertive mother.

…….

At 12:45 p.m., Tita Tunggay told her mother Tita Mengay that it was time to go home for lunch.  Tita Mengay was supported by Tita Tunggay and a maid as she struggled to stand up and approached the “Santo Rosario”…  It was touching to witness her — an old lady of aristocratic family, but of simple faith, who had served “La Gran Senora” for nearly 9 decades, 7 of them as “camarera” — address the “Virgen”:  “Paumanhin po at kakain muna kami.  Huwag po ninyo akong pabayaan…  Huwag po ninyo kaming pababayaan…”

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7:45 p.m., Friday, 30 September 2011, first day of the “La Naval de Manila” novena…

We had kept watch as the innovative floral arrangements — masses of flowers juxtaposed against masses of green leaves — for the next 2 days of the novena, sponsored by Tita Mengay’s family, had gone up…

We finally went home at 4:30 a.m., just when the church was stirring for the 5:30 a.m. novena services for the second day of “La Naval de Manila”…

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“Salve, Regina, mater misericordiae; vita dulcedo et spes nostra, salve.  Ad te clamamus, exsules filii Evæ.  Ad te suspiramus, gementes et flentes in hac lacrimarum valle.  Eia ergo, advocata nostra, illos tuos misericordes oculos ad nos converte.  Et lesum benedictum fructum ventris tui,nobis post hoc exsilium ostende.  O clemens, O pia, O dulcis Virgo Maria.”

“Dios te salve, Reina y Madre de misericordia, vida dulzura y esperanza nuestra; Dios te salve.  A Ti llamamos los desterrados hijos de Eva; a Ti suspiramos, gimiendo y llorando, en esta valle de lágrimas. Ea, pues, Señora, abogada nuestra, vuelve a nosotros esos tus ojos misericordiosos; y después de este destierro muéstranos a Jesús, fruto bendito de tu vientre.¡Oh clementísima! ¡Oh piadosa! ¡Oh dulce siempre Virgen María!”

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From the bottom of my heart, thank you very much for the experience of  a lifetime, Fr. Jepoy, Fr. Larry, Tita Mengay, Tita Tunggay, Mang Rolly, and Rafael !!! [ Rev. Fr. Giuseppe Pietro Arsciwals, O.P., Prior of the Santo Domingo church and convent, Rev. Fr. Lauro de Dios, O.P., Carmen Reyes [ y ] de los Reyes de Reyes, “camarera” of the “Santo Rosario,” Angelita Reyes, Rolando Tayo, & Rafael del Casal. ]

Acknowledgments:  prewar pix of the “Santo Rosario” in the Flickr.com photostream of Victor Ancheta;  video of the hymn “Salve Regina” by PapalMusic on YouTube;  video of the hymn “Regina Sacratissimi Rosarii” by R.G. Lazaro on YouTube.

*unfinished*

Addenda:

“La Naval de Manila” at the Santo Domingo Church

September 24, 2006 at 9:14 am (1800s Filipinas, 1900s Philippines, 19th century Filipino Art, Family Traditions, Filipino Art, Personal, Random memories, Religious Traditions, The Global Crowd, The Manilenos, The Past)

Assumption-MRMF goes to Pila, Laguna

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pila museum closed on weekends!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On to Liliw for the famous footwear shopping.

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

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

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

Liliw church.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On to Lumban.  4:45 p.m..

Shopping.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marrying well

“I married young and quick, from a place of love and hope, but without a lot of discussion over what the realities of marriage would mean.  Nobody advised me on my marriage.  I had been raised by my parents to be independent, self-providing, self-deciding.  By the time I reached the age of twenty-four, it was assumed by everyone that I could make all my own choices, autonomously.  Of course the world was not always like this.  If I’d been born during any other century of Western patriarchy, I would’ve been considered the property of my father, until which time he passed me over to my husband, to become marital property.  I would’ve had precious little say in the major matters of my own life.  At one time in history, if a man had been my suitor, my father might have sat that man down with a long list of questions to establish whether this would be an appropriate match.  He would have wanted to know, “How will you provide for my daughter?  What is your reputation in this community?  How is your health?  Where will you take her to live?  What are your debts and your assets?  What are the strengths of your character?”  My father would not have just given me away in marriage to anybody for the mere fact that I was in love with the fellow.  But in modern life, when I made the decision to marry, my modern father didn’t become involved at all.  He would have no more interfered with that decision than he would have told me how to style my hair.”

from “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert, p. 380, Penguin Books 2006.

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June is traditionally the month of weddings in the Philippines, although it is already being superseded by December, so I think that the subject of “marrying well” is timely…

“Marrying well” is not only marrying rich.  Of course it’s the point, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg.  In its fullest sense, it is marrying a partner who has high career potential and prospects [ somebody who will be president or chairman of the company, CEO, COO;  somebody who will succeed the father at the helm of the conglomerate;  somebody who will start a successful, billion-peso fastfood chain;  at least somebody who will head the Finance department of the corporation…  correspondingly, somebody with substantial brains [ and preferably with considerable beauty ] to infuse into the genetic pool and to serve as a competent and suitable partner to her husband in his occupations and businesses, or at the least a trustworthy assistant in her husband’s business affairs; somebody who was expensively educated here and abroad, with the resultant savvy in the ways of the world; somebody who will bring her large inheritance into the marriage; somebody who will run the city residence, the country houses, and the houses and apartments abroad — with all their contemporary and old master art, antique furniture and objets, contemporary artisanal furniture, and all the other useless requisites of the charmed life —  to showcase one’s wealth and highly-educated, flawless taste; somebody who will look beautiful on one’s arm and serve — through her exquisitely-maintained, expensively-dressed, and magnificently-bejeweled self — as proof positive of one’s superior professional accomplishments, at least somebody who will produce beautiful children ], is financially productive, of good moral character, good manners, intelligence, and similar qualities.  Often, such a partner comes from a family that has long nurtured those sterling qualities and sustained those moral values through the years.  But it is ironic that often, such a partner also comes from a family that is tainted with inbreeding, genetic abnormalities, various health issues, inheritance wars, corporate struggles, endless lawsuits, kidnapings, if not outright murders, and other interesting and amusing attributes.  Last but not least, it would also be nice if the partner has good looks.  However, marriages to partners who look like aliens from outer space, with equally freakish characters to match, are very much tolerated and even desired when there are EE or USD $$$ billions, or even just Php billions involved.

Actually, I don’t know what to make of it…  “Marrying well” seems to be the furthest thing from the minds of the eligible bachelors and ladies these days.  Outwardly, great sex seems to be the deciding factor, but then one never really knows.  On the other hand, “marrying well” will always be the concern of parents, be they conservative Opus Dei, ascendant career professionals, or flower children, hippies, or even drug addicts during their youth in the 1960s to the 70s.  Because one still needs considerable resources to smoke grass, snort coke, and live an “haute boheme” lifestyle.  “Boheme” sans “haute” is “La Boheme” as in the tragic Rodolfo and Mimi of Giacomo Puccini fame, and that’s definitely no fun at all.

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In India…

“…   Soon she will turn eighteen, and this is the age when she will be regarded as a legitimate marriage prospect.  It will happen like this — after her eighteenth birthday, she will be required to attend family weddings dressed in a sari, signaling her womanhood.  Some nice amma [ auntie ] will come and sit beside her, start asking questions and getting to know her:  “How old are you?  What’s your family background?  What does your father do?  What universities are you applying to?  What are your interests?  When is your birthday?”  Next thing you know, Tulsi’s dad will get a big envelope in the mail with a photo of this woman’s grandson who is studying computer sciences in Delhi, along with the boy’s astrology charts and his university grades and the inevitable question, “Would your daughter care to marry him?”   …

“But it means so much to the family, to see their children wedded off successfully.  Tulsi has an aunt who just shaved her head as a gesture of thanks to God because her oldest daughter — at the Jurassic age of twenty-eight — finally got married.  And this was a difficult girl to marry off, too, she had a lot of strikes against her.  I asked Tulsi what makes an Indian girl difficult to marry off, and she said there were any number of reasons.”

“If she has a bad horoscope.  If she’s too old.  If her skin is too dark.  If she’s too educated and you can’t find a man with a higher position than hers, and this is a widespread problem these days because a woman cannot be more educated than her husband.  Or if she’s had an affair with someone and the whole community knows about it, oh, it would be quite difficult to find a husband after that…”

from “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert, p. 239, Penguin Books 2006.

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Most Filipinos, because of their nonconfrontational culture, refrain from openly discussing the prospective partner’s financial capabilities in the light of a forthcoming marriage.  But don’t fool yourselves, because they certainly bitch bigtime among themselves in private… and how!!!  Of course they’re very, very, very concerned about it [ specially if the bride is theirs and there’s this impecunious, opportunistic, carpetbagging, “ne’er-do-well” coming! ], which is only normal for chrissakes, but they will go to great lengths to pretend they’re not.  You will hear such heartwarming hypocrisies and fallacies as “As long as you love one another.”  “Love is all you need.”  “As long as he provides for you.”  “As long as she will be supportive of your goals.”  “As long as he is honest and works hard for the family.”  “As long as she can raise the children well.”  “As long as he puts food on the table.”  Well, what happens when all he can put on the table are potato chips and sodas???!!!  And what happens when she decides she’s bored with him and the children, resolves to do an “Eat, Pray, Love” thing, and runs off to Bali… or to Baguio if she has less Php cash???!!!

However, some families are direct, and they’re usually the superrich ones.  As the young ones say:  “They don’t make any bones about it.”

The superrich youth are routinely sent to the Ivy League universities — Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, U-Penn, Yale [ also Stanford, UC Berkeley, Duke, et. al. ], to Oxford and Cambridge, to the Sorbonne, not only for their undergrads and postgrads, M.A.s and Ph.D.s,, but also for what is jokingly referred to as their M.R.S.s and M.R.s [ wives and husbands ]…

In fact, one wonders why there are few, if any, intermarriages between the last remaining Old Filipino, non-taipan fortunes [ although there certainly were/are/will be:  there is a forthcoming marriage of a Vicente Madrigal great-grandson and a Jacobo Zobel great-granddaughter early next year, January 2012;  Madrigal and Zobel were contemporaries — Madrigal was a self-made shipping tycoon and Zobel was a military career man from the distinguished Roxas-de Ayala-Zobel-Soriano clan ] — the Zobel, the Madrigal, the Lopez, the Cojuangco, the Ortigas, and the Aboitiz families.  One doesn’t hear of them marrying into the big taipan families either, in which case one will wonder who is achieving “mejorar la raza”…

During the various heydays of the sugar industry in Iloilo and Negros [ periodically interrupted by decades-long, near-fatal hiccups ] which created many of the country’s great fortunes, the sons and daughters of grand families ricocheted from one to the other, from one “hacienda” to the next, giving rise to the popular, albeit somewhat flawed, perception of aristocratic Ilonggo intermarriages and even “inbreeding.”  The Lopez, the Ledesma, the Jalandoni, and the Soriano families in Iloilo and the Lacson, the Lizares, and the Montilla in Negros Occidental were well-known in their circles for contracting “successful” marriages.

A generation of rich Lopez bachelors were cheerily advised by their elders to marry “beautiful girls with lots of money.”

A generation of beautiful Soriano ladies, all with a considerable inheritance, were married off to rich and promising young men of “good” Iloilo families.

The legendary Lizares matriarch “Tana Dicang” Enrica Alunan de Lizares ensured that most of her children married their financial and social peers.

A generation of Madrigal granddaughters and grandsons were advised by their eldest aunt that “It is as easy to fall in love with a rich person as it is with a poor person.  So make the right choice.”

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Manila is cruel in the sense that everyone knows, among husbands and wives, which side of the bread is buttered, more buttered, or make that generously slathered…  and the subject does come up during conversations, sometimes without reservations…

“Yes, Spanish mestiza, very pretty, even striking, but not rich.  She took all sorts of good, decent jobs when she was young:  kindergarten teacher, bank teller, etc..  He came sailing along.  Happy marriage at the beginning.  Now there’s just too much success and too much money.  As long as she’s Mrs. there will be no problems.  Even with all the mistresses she has to sit with through dinner…”

“Both grand families were very happy when they married.  ‘How suitable!  A wedding of equals!’  Big real estate married big real estate.  But there’s a glitch:  he’s a first-rate philanderer.  Doesn’t spare anybody, even ‘las muchachas.’  Has children with various maids.  She is in complete denial, preferring to cook her problems away in a house in wonderland…”

“You would think he’s so proper, aloof, and all…  No.  Like so many of his peers, he likes fooling around with ‘las criadas y muchachas.’  Has children with them.  Que horror!!!  But she’s not leaving him anytime soon.  Why waste all those Php billion Manila properties???!!!  She’s just making sure that none of his bastards will be legally recognized, despite the new Family Code.”

“There are all those rumors…  But I think they’re just mistaking him for his father, who was notorious for picking up the caddies at Manila Golf… And as for his wife, she wouldn’t know one from the other, and if she does, she certainly will never say.”

“I don’t know why she married him.  He was introduced to our group at a resto one night and he was some sort of penniless backpacker…  He even smelled.  Then he’s repackaged as ‘the this of the that’ and she marries him!?  Hardly ‘mejorar la raza’…”

“How can she allow him to treat her like that???  He treats her like a maid.  Sometimes, he’s embarrassed by her and has to explain to peers why she’s not from the ‘hood, although she is certainly ‘de buena familia.’  The truth is that no sane girl in his immediate set would have married him, cautioned as they were by their parents of his family’s eccentricities and downright weirdness.  Well, she comes from a crazy family too — her siblings are all rare birds —  so one of these days she just might casually walk out on him and he won’t know what to do…”

“When they became engaged, she was trumpeted as ‘la heredera de muy buena familia’ and his oddly bedazzled family, also very rich, pulled all the stops to welcome her.  ‘Que guapa!  Que simpatica!’  they cooed.  That was before they found out how fractious and leveraged her family was and she found out how miserly, miserable, and weird they were.  Now, it’s simply ‘No comment.’ on both sides.”

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Marriage.  As Tina Turner sang in that long-ago song:  “What’s Love, got to do, got to do with it???”

The whole idea of marriage is a tad complicated for my limited comprehension.  It is one of the reasons why I have opted to stay single.  All that winding and unwinding:  too many wind-ups as it gets on its way and too many wind-downs as it gets out of the way.  In that light, I’m perfectly happy with the comfortable menage a trois of I, Me, and Myself.   🙂   🙂   🙂

*unfinished*

Dinosaurs and extinction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The dinosaurs and the dates of their extinction:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Macario Domingo Gonzalez y Arnedo, 1938.

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

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

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

Household staff:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*unfinished*

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 [ 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 “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 citizens, both the Chinese and the Spanish mestizos — David, Limson, de Mesa, Valenzuela, Velez, 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 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 family [ whose descendants 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 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 also be a descendant 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 and his wife Raymunda Soriano.  “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 Manoling 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 but they disappeared while in transit.  There was also a portrait of the Sioco progenitor Josef Sioco [ 1786 – 1864 ] 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 in 1942.

The Families of Old Cavite

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

CAVITE VIEJO  [ KAWIT ].

AGUINALDO.

BAUTISTA.

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

CAVITE NUEVO [ CAVITE CITY ].

ALONSO.

ANTONIO.

BALLESTEROS.

BASA.

BERNAL.

CONCHU.

DE OCAMPO.

INOCENCIO.

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.

ROJAS.

GONZALEZ.

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” ].

TRIA TIRONA.

IMUS.

TIRONA.

TOPACIO.

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.

BACOOR.

ANGELES.

CUENCA.

DASMARINAS.

CAMPOS.

NOVELETA.

ALVAREZ.

SAN FRANCISCO DE MALABON [ GENERAL TRIAS ].

TRIAS.

VINIEGRA.

FERRER.

NAIC.

NAZARENO.

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).

POBLETE.

ALFONSO, INDANG, MENDEZ.

MOJICA.

SILANG.

KIAMSON.

TANZA.

DEL ROSARIO.

IMAMURA.

NERI.

CENIZAL.

SANTILLAN.

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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.

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