The fruits of summers past














































Reminiscences of Old Pampanga

Last Sunday evening, 30 May 2010, we were at Albert Salgado Paloma’s Rory Cameron-Lady Kenmare-“La Fiorentina”-“Le Clos Fiorentina”-overlooking-the-French-Riviera like house [ think white, white, white halls of noble proportions with classical antique Filipino furniture and genuine French antiques effortlessly put together with Albert’s tremendous, inimitable style and chic ] in San Fernando, Pampanga for his annual reception celebrating the town [ now city ] fiesta in honor of “San Fernando, El Rey.”

The big draw of an Albert Salgado Paloma invitation for me is to relive the lunches and dinners of the Old Pampanga I remember from my childhood and youth:  the delicious and luxurious Spanish and French-inflected Capampangan food cooked at home, presented on large antique porcelain, ironstone, and silver platters and laid on beautiful antique hardwood tables;  an assortment of fine wines;  the many tables elegantly set with china, crystal, and silver on linen damask;  and the genial company who knew one another, whose parents knew one another, and whose grandparents and great grandparents knew one another as well.  I’m sure it was a similar draw for many of the other regular guests.

Dinner was a grand concourse comparable to the five star hotel buffets:  Italian gnocchi, tagliatelle, and penne in various sauces, A large Lapu-lapu fish as “Pescado en Mayonesa,”  Dory filets with capers and butter sauce, “Relleno de Pollo,” Roast Turkey with all the trimmings including glazed yams, “Caldereta de Cordero [ lamb ]” braised in French red wine, Angus Beef carvery, Albert’s famous long-simmered “Fabada Asturiana,” Smithfield Virginia ham, young “Lechon,”  fresh asparagus, cauliflower, broccoli, Mixed Greens salad with unusual dressings.  Steamed Japanese rice for those who wanted some.

For desserts, there were fresh fruits and many cakes and pies from Manila’s most fashionable pastry shops.  There was also a delicious “buco” sorbet, tinged with pandan and exquisitely laced with “dayap” lime rind.

Later in the evening, when most of the older guests had left, Albert and I finally got around to talking, and as always, he was a vivid window to a vanished world, to a Pampanga long gone, even if he was already of the PostWar generation…

“Albert, how did one spell Benito Ullmann?  One l, two ls?  One n, two ns?”  I asked.

[ Benito Ullmann was the part-German first husband of Albert’s grandaunt, the very rich businesswoman Teodora Salgado y Basilio.  After his death, she married a full Spaniard, Dr. Saa, who was, of all things, a magician.  She had no children though, thus she partitioned her many holdings between her several Salgado nephews and nieces. ]

“Ullmann… two ls and two ns.”

“Benito Ullmann was in the luxury imports business.  Was he a part-owner of ‘La Estrella del Norte’ or did he have his own firm?”

“I don’t know about his involvement with ‘La Estrella del Norte’ but he had his own firm.”

“I remember your telling me years ago that the famous Arnedo Paris porcelain dinner service was ordered through Benito Ullmann’s firm… Therefore, the Grand Duke [ Alexis Alexandrovich of Russia ] must have ordered it immediately from Benito Ullmann after his visit to the Arnedos in Sulipan in 1891…”

“Yes it was.  It was Tirso Ballesteros and his mother Joaquina Arnedo-Ballesteros who told us.  They were there when we visited the Arnedo house in Sulipan… a long time ago?”  he confirmed.

Albert continued:  “Those plates were displayed in two “vajilleras” glass-fronted cabinets in the “comedor” dining room.  Tirso and his mother Joaquina told us that the majority were actually in a storage room.  They were beautiful!  Where are they now?”

“With me.  Most of them anyway.  Some are displayed at the ‘Museo de La Salle’ in Dasmarinas, Cavite.”


“I didn’t know Tito Ocampo was from Mexico town.  I thought the Ocampos were from San Fernando…”

“Tito’s father was an Ocampo from Santa Rita.  His mother was a Paras from Mexico.  That’s why he has that property there.”

“Interesting to note how old Dr. Sandico [ Mayorico Hizon Sandico ] and Imang Jane [ Jane Lazatin Garcia ] married off all their children to equally old Capampangan families.  I remember Dr. Sandico very well, he was a perfect gentleman… to the hilt.  He was also quite emphatic about people of good family:  ‘galing sa mabuting pamilya,’ he used to say.”

“Yes, they’re of very good family.  Their Hizon ancestors were painted by Simon Flores.  You’ve seen them?”

“Yes, Saturnino Hizon y David and his third wife Cornelia Sison.  It turned out that Saturnino Hizon was actually the direct, maternal grandfather of Dr. Sandico.  His mother Pilar Sison Hizon-Sandico was a daughter of Saturnino and Cornelia.  I remember the Saturnino portrait very well because he was buck-teethed.  They were already given to the children.  Then they were restored by Helmuth Zotter, the Austrian.  Very expensive!”

“There used to be a big Simon Flores painting right across from this house when I was young.  A family portrait with several people.  Lindy Locsin [ Architect Leandro V. Locsin ] bought it.”

“Which family was it?”


“Oh, if Lindy bought it then it’s the one with the mother-in-law.  There were three Quiason family portraits — the three were brothers — that hung in San Fernando before the war.  Another one, with just four figures [ Cirilo and Ceferina Quiason and their family ], is in the Central Bank Collection.  Another one is really dark, in the Central Bank too if I’m not mistaken. I’m a Quiason by descent, through my mother, by the way.  The baby in the Central Bank portrait, the one whose pee-pee was burned off by his own cigar, was my mother’s maternal grandfather { Jose “Yayang” Quiason y Henson }.”  I related.

Albert countered:  “Lindy also bought three portraits by Simon Flores from the Cunanan ancestral house in Mexico town.  The very old, probably 1780s, thatch-roofed house that used to stand on the site of the Methodist church now, right beside the old town church.  The parents of Mariano Cunanan and another one.”

“By the time I saw the house in the 1950s, the Cunanans had already become Methodists.  I guess that’s why the Methodist church now stands on the site of their ancestral home.”

“The Quiason are descended from the Cunanan:  Cirilo Quiason y Cunanan.  His mother was Maria Cunanan and his father was Modesto Quiason.”  [ FYI:  Our Cunanan is NOT related to Andrew Philip Cunanan, the assassin of Gianni Versace in Miami.   😛 ]

He added:  “Lindy had the big Quiason portrait and the three solo Cunanan portraits restored by no less than the principal restorers of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.”

“Do you think Lindy would have bothered to record the names of those three Cunanan portraits by Simon Flores?”  I asked.

“Knowing Lindy, yes, he would have.”

Albert recalled further:  “That Cunanan house had the most beautiful segmented “cabecera” dining table I ever saw:  Neoclassical, with tapering Sheraton legs, and discreet bone and kamagong inlay.  Their sideboards in the “comedor” dining room were a pair of longer and bigger than usual Sheraton-type altar tables, tapering legs, restrained bone and kamagong inlay, and all.  Beautiful!!!”

“My only ‘recuerdo’ of that Cunanan house is the smallish grooved marble top table from the ‘sala.’  Without knowing its provenance, I bought it, along with many other first rate antiques, for a small fortune in 1997 from Rene Dizon who had acquired it, together with the late ‘agente’ Mamerto “Mamer” Ocampo, from the family in 1972 in exchange for a new color TV.  Rene didn’t even know it was the Cunanan house, all he remembered was that it was the old, long, thatch-roofed house beside the Mexico church.  Then I learned that the old, thatch-roofed house used for ‘Filosofo Tasio’ in director Gerry de Leon’s classic 1961 ‘Noli Me Tangere’ was  the Cunanan house in Mexico, Pampanga.  Years later, you told me that the Cunanan house had beautiful old things and it was right beside the Mexico church where the Methodist church stands now.  So you see, after all those years, all the bits and pieces of information finally jived.  I guess that buying that grooved marble top table from Rene was sheer serendipity, as always.”


“I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cunanan family had those silver “paliteras” toothpick trees…”

“Sonny Tinio remembers being told long ago by Hizon [ de Mexico ] descendants that the old house had twelve of them and that they were distributed to the children…”

“Very believable.”

“Te Hizon still had two of them before his beautiful San Fernando house was damaged by lahar.”



A matter of principle

“We should go back to those days…”

“Sadly, it’s all about the money these days.”  I declared flatly, cynical as always.

“But we really have to go back to those days…”

He nodded in agreement.

“Well, that’s the way it goes:  it’s just all about the money.”  I shrugged.

“But it shouldn’t be that way, it shouldn’t be about the money…”

“They will have to pay for every vote… it’s really all about the money now.”  I sighed.

“Well… but we really should go back to those days…”

“I don’t know if that’s possible…”

It was only when I left the building that I realized I was like her in that way:  Idealistic.


No matter what happens, I will still vote for “G1BO” Gilbert Cojuangco Teodoro!!!

In consonance with MY candidate, I have nothing against the other presidential candidates.  I am sure that they too have the capabilities to serve as the next President of the Republic of the Philippines.  But I have to say that G1BO has MORE CAPABILITIES to serve as President than the others.

It’s just a matter of principle.   🙂   🙂   🙂

Juan de la Cruz says…

We all know that it is the majority of the Filipino people — the 99 % — who will choose the next President of the Republic, so I have kept my eyes, nose, and ears, specially the ears, open to know what the pulse of the contemporary Filipino is…

Some answers made me proud, some made me cringe…

THE MAID:  “Ako para kay G1BO, kasi ang tali-talino niya sumagot sa mga tanong sa TV.  Tapos, ang cute pa niya.  At ang asawa niya na si Nikki, ang ganda-ganda, tisay na tisay!”

THE FAMILY DRIVER:  “Iboboto ko si Villar.  Matutulungan niya kaming mahihirap.  Gusto ko sana si G1BO, kaso ka-alyado ni Gloria, ayaw ko na.”

THE SALESGIRL:  “Ako solid Noynoy.  Syempre Aquino iyan.  Anak ni Ninoy at ni Cory yan, alangan namang magloko.  Bait yan.”

THE WAITER:  “Si G1BO.  Kasi narating na niya yung pinapangarap ko sa buhay.”

THE TAXI DRIVER:  “Gordon ako.  Galing niya kasi, tandaan natin ang ginawa niya sa Subic.  G1BO sana ako, kaya lang dala ni GMA, ayaw ko na ng kahit sinong konektado sa kanya, sobra raw ang kurakot!”

THE JEEPNEY DRIVER:  “Erap!  Sino pa ba?  Isa siya sa amin!  Malaking pagkakamali yung pinalitan siya ni Gloria.  Dapat maipagpatuloy niya ang mga programa niya para sa aming mga mahihirap!”

THE CARINDERIA COOK:  “Kami solid Erap!  Siya dapat ang maging Pangulo kasi napakabait niya!  Mahal namin si Erap!  Si Erap para sa Mahirap!”

THE TRICYCLE DRIVER:  “Ako Villar.  Mahirap kasi siya na umunlad.  Baka magawa niya sa amin yon.  Ayaw na namin kay Erap, napagbigyan na iyan, palpak naman.  Halos wala na kaming makain no’ng panahon niya.”

THE TRUCK DRIVER:  “G1BO!  G1BO!  Iba na yung matalino at magaling, kitang-kita niyo naman yung ebidensiya.  Wag naman tayong maghalal ng magnanakaw at mangmang, mangmang na nga tayong lahat pagnanakawan pa tayo…”

THE MANICURIST:  “Noynoy kami.  Iba na yung matino, kahit hindi masyadong astig.  Yung mabait.  Yung hindi magnanakaw at hindi mang-aabuso.  Si Noynoy!”

THE CIGARETTE VENDOR:  “Villar.  Sabi kasi ni Mang Dolphy.”

THE GARBAGE MAN:  “Sino pa kundi si Erap?  Siya lang ang nakaka-intindi sa amin!”

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what Juan de la Cruz is saying.  Take your cue from here.

Kun See Fa Chai!!! Kong Hei Fa Choi!!!


It’s the Year of the Metal Tiger…

I’m a Fire Horse [ 1966 – 67 ], what does it hold for me?

Happy afternoon surprise

I was having a perfectly boring humdrum Monday workday when I randomly checked my cellphone and it showed that I had had a missed call.  From Tito Tito L..  So I called back immediately.  He told me that Tita Rory C.-L. wanted to talk to me and gave the cel over to her.  She told me that she, Tito Tito, Tita Ophie M.-B., and my Tita Martha H. had just had lunch together.  She said that they wanted to see me and would like to come over if I wasn’t busy.  Anytime, anytime, with pleasure, I said.

A million thanks to you

Dear Friends,

As that Pilita Corrales ditty from the 1970s went:  “A million thanks to you…”  A million thanks to you indeed, for today “Remembrance of Things Awry” — — reached the 1,000,000 hits mark since starting in August 2006 [ 1,000,402 hits — not counting me — as of 8:00 p.m. ].  I know it’s “peanuts” compared to the great Filipino blogs which already have millions of hits.  But then, we all know this blog isn’t for everyone, right?

A Million Thanks to All of You!!!  And of course, a million thanks to, the blog host.

Now, are you ready for the “Toto Gonzalez Show” on the Net???  Hahahah.


Toto Gonzalez   😀   😀   😀

Comedy Relief: Daddy’s Wake I, August 1990

And so Daddy Beda passed away of severe diabetic complications on 08 August 1990 at the rather early age of 58 at the Loma Linda Medical Center in California, USA.  We brought his body back to Manila and he arrived 12 August if I’m not mistaken [ after all, I’m reminiscing this 19 years after it had happened  😛 ].

He lay in state in the Jupiter chapel [ the biggest one ] of the then-fashionable Capitol memorial chapels along G. Araneta Avenue [ where the present-day Sanctuarium memorial chapels building is ].  We kids were amused at the crowd that came to bid farewell to Daddy.  For the very low-key gentleman that he was all throughout his short life, the best and the grandest in the land came to say goodbye.  I could not believe how grand his wake, and his funeral, were.

During one of those evenings, wonderful, well-meaning relatives of ours brought the 30ish parish priest of their parish to say the holy mass.  And he did, much to the befuddlement and amusement of the congregation…

He was so HIP, GROOVY, COOL, and “KWELA” [ the 1970s slang term for “fun” ]…

“In the name of tha Fatha, and af tha Sun, and af tha Hauwly Zpirit!  I’ll betcha all you are glad that I’m here to zay tha Mazz far our brotha Baydah Ganzalaz who is naw reunited with Ahr Lawrd in Hay-ven!”

Mommy and Daddy’s oh-so-proper sister and Gonzalez first cousins were ALL disconcerted with the rather strange evangelical priest and politely exchanged confused glances…[ Daddy’s sister Naty Gonzalez-Palanca, first cousins Nena Elizalde Gonzalez-Franco, Erly Valdes Gonzalez-Rodriguez, Peping Hizon Rodriguez, Raquel Valdes Gonzalez-de Leon, Jorge Lichauco de Leon, Mely Palanca Gonzalez-Gan, Ato Palanca Gonzalez, Blanquita Luna Santos-Gonzalez, Jerry Palanca Gonzalez, Aguing Jakosalem Buencamino-Gonzalez, Ina Palanca Gonzalez-Dizon, Manoling Martinez Dizon, Conchita Singson Gonzalez-Cancio, Toy Aquino Cancio, Letty Singson Gonzalez-de Padua, Nena Singson Gonzalez-Belo, Atty. Ike Belo, Manolo Rafols Gonzalez, Esther Mapua-Gonzalez, Pacita Paterno Madrigal-Gonzalez, Eva Rafols Gonzalez, Lilia Rafols Gonzalez, Dodong Rafols Gonzalez, Tessie Sison-Gonzalez, Tina Gonzalez-Lesaca, Bib Padilla Lesaca, Gaston Gonzalez, Edith Gonzalez-Sarmiento, et. al. ]

And the “hauwly mazz” continued…

“Take thiz, all of ya and eat it, Thiz iz mah bahdy which will be given up for ya…”

“Take thiz, all of ya and drink it, Thiz iz mah blahd, tha blahd af tha New and Evahlazzting Cahvenant, it will be shed for ya and all, zo that zinz will be fahrgiven.  Da thiz in memahry af mee…”

The regal and dignified Dona Luz Sarmiento de Panlilio sat in the front pew calmly.  She was unperturbed by the odd priest.  She was, after all, familiar with all the “excentricidad” the “noted eccentricities” of the Gonzalez clan from Sulipan, Apalit, Pampanga…

After the holy mass, she confidently and matter-of-factly told her grandson Jo Panlilio:  “Oh ‘hijo,’ I’m very sure…  that priest was also a GONZALEZ!!!”

Harharhar!!!   😛   😛   😛

The Patriarch’s House

“Mata Pobre”

Rather than moralize on these oh-so-common occurrences in our daily lives, let me ramble on with my memories and observations and see where it takes us…

“Mata Pobre,” The Filipino art of discrimination, is as old as time itself…

When my paternal great great grandmother Matea Rodriguez y Tuason [ o 1834 – + 1918 ] of Bacolor accepted the marriage proposal of the 73 year old Josef Sioco of Sulipan, Apalit, Pampanga in the 1850s, eyebrows rose in Bacolor and Apalit because it was evident that the old, practically blind husband held no attraction for his young and alluring wife except for his great wealth.  Despite the fact that she was from rich, landed families on both sides, they thought that she was just after his properties and money, for it was known that he had a lot of gold.  After Josef’s death a few years later in 1864, she became a rich young widow and raised even more eyebrows when she married the wealthy bachelor Juan Arnedo Cruz of the same place.  They did not have children.  He conveniently died a few years later leaving her with a second large estate.  The Arnedos of Sulipan as a clan were then at the peak of their collective wealth in the late 1800s.  His Arnedo siblings wanted some of the ancestral family properties returned to them, but Matea refused, and rightly so.  The Arnedos never forgave her and thereafter referred to her in terms of non-endearment:  “Lavandera!” [ laundrywoman ],  “Cocinera!” [ cook ], “Muchacha!” [ maid ],  “Criada!” [ maid ], and all sorts of derogatory descriptions.  In current parlance she would be referred to, pardon the terms, as “A scheming, cunning, gold-digging bitch”!

In a similar vein, Matea Rodriguez viuda de Sioco, viuda de Arnedo-Cruz did not want her daughter Florencia Sioco y Rodriguez [ o 1860 – + 1925 ] to marry the Europe-educated Spanish mestizo Dr. Joaquin Gonzalez [ o 1856 – + 1900 ] in 1883.  True, his Gonzalez family in Baliuag, Bulacan was rich… BUT not as rich as the Siocos of Sulipan, Apalit, Pampanga were [ at the time of the patriarch Josef Sioco’s death on 26 December 1864, he was the richest man in all of Pampanga, according to the memoirs of his grandson, Dr. Bienvenido Ma. Gonzalez, 6th President of the UP University of the Philippines ].  Why… his inheritance amounted to only a few hundred hectares!!!  And that was before she even found out that he was actually the son of an Augustinian priest, Fray Fausto Lopez O.S.A. of Valladolid, Spain.  “Que horror!!!”  Furthermore, Dr. Joaquin’s Spanish mestizo and “ilustrado” penchant for the Good Life — good food and wines, European clothes, foreign books, fine furniture, horses, an elegant lifestyle — irritated the frugal and businesslike Matea to no end.  She absolutely preferred her other son-in-law and nephew [ the son of her eldest sister Prisca Ines Rodriguez de Escaler ], Manuel Escaler, who had married her eldest daughter Sabina.  He was a simple man who worked hard and saved every peso he had earned to be able to buy more agricultural property.  He ate simple food, dressed in simple clothes, and lived in a simple house.  That was the kind of man Matea liked, NOT the handsome, sophisticated intellectual Spanish mestizo doctor her second daughter Florencia had married.

Around 1915, Pampanga’s richest woman, a hacendera who owned thousands of hectares of rice and sugar lands in Central Luzon, eagerly awaited the marriage of her academically accomplished only son to his affluent and exceedingly intelligent “novia” girlfriend, a lady of a prominent Binan, Laguna family who resided in an elegant house along Taft Avenue.  But she didn’t know that her son was simultaneously seeing another lady, this time from an old family of San Fernando, Pampanga.  Somehow, the second lady became pregnant [ “pikot” she supposedly seduced him by all accounts, but “it takes two to tango” ] and he had to marry her hastily to “preserve her honor” and avoid a social scandal;  Meanwhile, he had to break up with his real “novia” girlfriend  [ After their breakup, the real girlfriend proceeded to finish her studies at the UP University of the Philippines and graduated with a degree in History in 1917 and a master’s degree in 1918;  She pursued further studies in the United States and obtained a master’s degree in History from Radcliffe College in 1920 and a Ph.D. doctoral degree from Columbia University in 1923;  She was the first Filipina to have obtained a Ph.D.;  she never married. ].  Richest Hacendera was frankly horrified, not because her son had impregnated a woman other than his “novia,” but that he would have to marry a woman whom she considered penurious, descended from several old and venerable Pampanga families alright, but already impoverished, lacking the immense wealth to be considered their social equals.  “Que horror!”  She disapproved of the match and refused the forthcoming marriage.  The only son defied his mother’s wishes and married his pregnant lady immediately.  It was a happy and fruitful but short marriage as he died young twelve years later.  Relations between Richest Hacendera and her daughter-in-law were never warm, to the point that after the only son’s passing, Richest Hacendera flatly refused to provide financial support for her.  Widowed daughter-in-law took to conducting cooking lessons for “de buena familia” ladies and selling all kinds of Capampangan delicacies to support her children.  However, Richest Hacendera greatly favored her eldest grandson by her, so that widowed daughter-in-law never really wanted for anything the rest of her long life.

In the late 1920s, a scion of a prominent Spanish [ and Chinese ] mestizo family of aristocratic Calle R. Hidalgo in Quiapo fell in love with a young Visayan lady of an established and increasingly influential sugar fortune.  By all appearances, it was a match of financial and social equals.  But that was not the opinion of the young man’s family.  To them, she was an outsider:  Yes, an heiress, but of a distant provincial fortune unknown in Manila;  worse, while she herself became a practicing Catholic because of her Assumption Convent education, her hacendero clan had notoriously deserted the Catholic church during the 1896 Revolution and had not returned to its fold.  She simply would not do for them;  her considerable wealth was not a factor because they were also very rich .  His father declared:  “Better he lose a million pesos than to marry that woman.”  But for her, the family was full of misplaced Spanish mestizo airs and pretenses which their considerable wealth didn’t necessarily justify [ the percentage of actual Spanish blood in their “aristocratic” veins was less than 25 % ];  She was very confident of herself and her Iloilo family:  they came from money, knew how to make big money, and constantly knew how to make bigger money from their big money.  Hence, she also “looked down” on the family.   The maverick son defied his parents and social conventions and married his lady in a hastily arranged ceremony in a side chapel of the Manila Cathedral.  Months later, when they first visited the R. Hidalgo paternal home as a couple, she knew she would face a hostile reception from his family and hesitated to proceed upstairs;  she clung stubbornly to the newel post and the banister of the “escalera principal” grand staircase.  Only her husband’s gentle entreaties convinced her to let go.  Once upstairs, she was met with the condescending looks of his “aristocratic” family.  In an act of ultimate rudeness, one of the husband’s adolescent sisters came forward, licked her finger and rubbed it on the bride’s arm “to see if she is really that dark as they say she is…”  That was the height.  But to show how much of a financial equal the bride was, she had carried Php 20,000.00/xx cash to her Baguio honeymoon while the bridegroom had less than Php 100.00/xx  [ in 1927 Php pesos ];  in fact, he had to call his eldest brother in Manila to send him additional funds.  Nowadays, it really is telling that the branch descended from the couple is collectively the richest of the several branches of that R. Hidalgo clan today.

“Debt payment” / “Bride for sale” was how my grandmother Rosario Espiritu Arnedo was derisively described by my grandfather Augusto Sioco Gonzalez’s richer Escaler and rich Gonzalez relations upon their marriage on 22 February 1930.    It referred to the fact that she was forced to marry him because her father, former Pampanga Governor Macario Arnedo y Sioco, owed his industrialist half first cousin Augusto Sioco Gonzalez a big amount of money Php 50,000.00/xx, indeed already a fortune in those days.  My grandfather had been married to his maternal first cousin, Marina Sioco Escaler, whom he lost to severe asthma and diabetes in 1928.  The negative impression never left Sabina Sioco viuda de Escaler, Augusto’s aunt [ also Rosario’s, in a more distant way ], who always thought that her nephew had left his second wife too many properties and too much money;  the impression also never left Augusto’s children with his first cousin Marina.

A pretty and intelligent Gonzalez first cousin of my father married into Pampanga’s richest family in 1947.  She and her husband had been very much in love for many years.  But his infinitely rich and aristocratic parents tried to prevent the marriage in every way.  It did not help that her rich paternal uncle Augusto Gonzalez y Sioco and immensely rich grandaunt Sabina Sioco de Escaler had been key factors in the accumulation of their immense sugar milling fortune:  she was not a direct descendant of either one.  Because her maternal Liongson side was possessed of considerable eccentricity, her fiance’s parents used it as a convenient, polite excuse to block the marriage, when in fact the real reason was that she was not propertied and not moneyed, and frankly, poor as far as they were concerned [ they were the richest in the province, after all ].  It was hypocritical of them to think that way, when in fact their son was an epileptic.  When the excuse of eccentricity failed, the fiance’s parents claimed that weddings in their family were done “American style”:  the bride’s family pays for everything, knowing full well that the fiancee’s widowed mother, despite the ownership of a few properties, simply did not have the money to spend for such an occasion.  The widowed mother turned to her sister-in-law [ who happened to be her namesake ] who was the widow of her richest, industrialist brother-in-law.  The charitable sister-in-law paid for everything, the bride came down from her Quezon City house [ not from her own ], sister-in-law’s bratty youngest son became the ring bearer, and sister-in-law became a “madrina” of the couple, something which pleased the rich parents.  In fact, they said that they would have been very pleased to have one of Rosario Arnedo de Gonzalez’s children [ second set of Augusto Gonzalez ], or one of the richer Gonzalez-Escaler children [ first set of Augusto ] , as their in-law, instead of the one their son had picked.

In the early 1950s, an ambitious lady law undergraduate in UST [ University of Santo Tomas ] fell in love with her classmate, a handsome son of a distinguished, “aristocratic,” once-landed, but impoverished family.  She was of a simple family from Bacolor, Pampanga, but there were already undeniable signs that her family was prospering:  her mother had an increasingly lucrative jewelry business [ which started from the latter’s selling small jewelry hidden by vegetables from a “bilao” woven basket in prewar ], her beautiful elder sister had married a rich “hacendero” in their town prewar, and a brother and a sister were studying to be doctors at UST.  Her boyfriend’s family did not want the marriage to proceed, as they felt she was definitely beneath them in social stature.  During the “pamanhikan” the betrothal visit, the boyfriend’s sister was so incensed that she threw a “bakya” wooden clog aimed at the pockmarked face of the girlfriend.  Despite all objections, the marriage proceeded and the happy newlyweds began their life boarding in an “accessoria” apartment in Sampaloc, with only printed cotton curtains to separate them from the other boarders.  They had many children.  The lady lawyer worked very hard in various businesses until she focused on expensive jewelry.  Years later, a veritable empire was built, and the hardships of the past faded away.

My mother, Pilar Quiason Reyes, penurious but of old Capampangan bloodlines [ Dizon, Pangan, Dayrit, Paras, Quiason, Henson, Aguilar, Valdes;  actually of better Capampangan lineage than my father, whose ancestors were mostly from Bulacan:  the Spaniard “cura parroco” of Baliuag Fray Fausto Lopez O.S.A. of Valladolid, Spain, Gonzalez, de los Angeles, Sioco, Arnedo, Tanjutco, Carlos ], was derided by my father’s rich Gonzalez and richer Escaler relations upon her engagement in 1956.  “What is he doing?  He is marrying the electrician’s niece…”  they snickered among themselves [ in reference to her paternal Reyes uncle, who did dabble in the trade ].  The snide smiles continued as they watched her awkwardly adapt to a life of affluence under their Tia Charing Arnedo de Gonzalez.  But gradually through the decades, disregard turned to respect as they witnessed her singlehandedly build several substantial businesses that became the new income sources of the family post 1972 agrarian reform.

My father’s younger brother married a pretty and stylish lady.  It did not help that she came from one of Tayabas’ / Quezon province’s richest, most aristocratic, and most prominent families.  Her widowed mother was roundly criticized by hypocritical Old Manila society for the audacity to build a French Mediterranean palace in the Dewey boulevard area and for having the corresponding lavish social life [ a vicious circle:  the mother, although descended from the oldest Laguna and Tayabas families — the Ordoveza, the Villasenor, and the Eleazar — was derided as socially inferior by her rich mother-in-law and other relations { actually, the wealth of the husband’s family was of recent vintage compared to the wife’s venerable lineage };  she was snubbed by her husband’s relatives in her adoptive Tayabas town;  she made the ultimate snub when she built the biggest mansion in the family, actually a palace, in the place that mattered most, by the sea in Manila. ].  The 1958 wedding and its preparations provoked a chorus of criticisms from the conservative Gonzalez family members for its enormous costs.  Disagreements and resentments occurred between the groom’s and the bride’s siblings.  My frugal father, tasked to settle the wedding bills by my grandmother [ who was on a European tour with my mother ], was stunned when he paid the bill of Php 10,000.00/xx cash for the wedding dress, three bridesmaids’ dresses, and the flower girl’s, all in a native “bayong” [ bag of woven grass ], at the atelier of the top couturier Ramon Valera;  that, when a standard Valera wedding gown in 1958 only cost Php 1,500.00/xx.  According to Betty Favis-Gonzalez [ in 1988 ], “Ramoning” had shown the wedding gown to his closest lady friends Chito Madrigal, Meldy Ongsiako, Luz Puyat, Elvira Ledesma, including Betty herself and blithely described it as “estilo mariposa,” and he jokingly wondered how the bride would be able to walk down the long aisle of Malate church.  The entire “wedding of the year” cost Php 130,000.00/xx in 1958 pesos [ actually ++ Php 200,000.00/xx with all the extras thrown in, like a pink Cadillac, etc.  😛 ], which was a very big amount in those days.  Quite a contrast to my father’s and mother’s 23 June 1956 wedding which cost all of Php 5,000.00/xx.   *LOLSZ!!!*

So funny:  The ones discriminating, sooner or later, become the ones discriminated upon.  And the ones discriminated upon, sooner or later, become the ones discriminating as well.

Moral of the story:  No matter how rich and powerful you are… there will always be someone richer and more powerful than you.   😛

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