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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“That’s true.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*unfinished*

Memory tidbit: Immaculate Sorbet

Perhaps because of the searing heat these days, I remembered the traditional “Buco Lechias” sherbet which was made in a wood-and-steel “garapinera” churn with lots of rock salt outside (to keep cold?).  As far as I knew, it was made in every good Capampangan household.  In Lola Charing’s home, it was made by the mayordomo, Benito Nuqui or “Bito” for short.  “Bito” was modernized to “Bits” in the hip 60s.  LOL.

I was a preteen in the late 70s (born 1967).  Lola Charing had passed on in mid-1977 and my uncle Brother Andrew FSC of De La Salle University became the principal figure in the family.  Brother Andrew had the most luxurious and demanding gustatory tastes.  In one of those phases, he became obsessed with producing an excellent “Buco Lechias” sherbet.  He insisted that the “Buco Lechias” sherbet of his childhood (late 40s) at Lola Titay’s (the Arnedo ancestral house in  Sulipan, Apalit, Pampanga) had the WHITEST lychee fruit flesh, not the pale pink ones in the cans currently available.  Of course, the flesh of the lychees in the “Buco Lechias” sherbet at the Arnedo house was white, because Lola Titay and her younger sister Lola Ines used only fresh lychees bought all the way in Binondo.  So he sent Bito to Binondo/Chinatown to look for the whitest lychee fruit flesh.  Well, what did he expect?  It was the Marcos years and there were tight import controls.  No whitest lychees.  Just cans and cans of lychees with pinkish fruit flesh.  Bito returned with the palest pink lychee fruit flesh.  No can do.  Bito was scolded.  Bito was sent back to Binondo/Chinatown and — nobody knew how he did it — but he returned with the whitest lychee fruit flesh!!!  Brother Andrew finally had his excellent “Buco Lechias” sherbet with the whitest lychee fruit flesh.  Brother Andrew was satisfied, at least for that Sunday.

I remembered that at Lola Charing’s house sherbet and ice cream were served on etched crystal stems on porcelain saucers for everyday.  During beautiful lunches and dinners, sherbets and ice cream appeared on chic, Art Deco Christofle footed bowls on Brussels lace doilies on matching Christofle saucers.  Of course, I know all about the metallic taste that silver imparts to food, but I’ll use beautiful silver anytime.

The sherbet/ice cream phase did not end there.  Brother Andrew wanted a “Calamansi” sherbet.  He wanted it tart and dry, something like lime mixed with champagne brut.  Not sweet at all (Brother Andrew intensely disliked sweetish food that was not meant to be sweet, like spaghetti).  Odd, but “Calamansi” tended to sweeten slightly in sherbet form.  No can do.  It took Bito several tries to produce that tart and dry “Calamansi” sherbet, but he did, even if he couldn’t tell the difference.  Brother Andrew was satisfied, at least for that Sunday.

Now in 2013, I wonder why it didn’t occur to Brother Andrew to have a “Dayap” sherbet, when in fact fragrant “dayap” lime (“dalayap” in Capampangan) was used extensively — on practically everything — in our Capampangan/Sulipan cooking?

The best version of “Buco Lechias” sherbet that I’ve had in recent years — exquisitely and expertly tinged with “dayap” lime rind with a hint of French cordial — was served at dinner by my dear friend Albert Salgado Paloma, who is an equal (perhaps even a superior) to Brother Andrew’s luxurious and demanding gustatory tastes.  Worldly and elegant Albert thinks nothing of marinating Italian veal shanks in a very expensive French grand cru for his “Ossobuco” and of marinating goat meat in a very expensive French X.O. cognac for his “Caldereta de Cabrito.”  For Albert, luxurious excess is the only culinary way to go.  Truly Capampangan.

Back to Brother Andrew, the sherbet/ice cream phase did not end there.  He wanted the “Mantecado” ice cream of his childhood at Lola Titay’s (the Arnedo ancestral house in Sulipan, Apalit, Pampanga).  Mind you, it was not the commercial, vanilla-flavored “Mantecado” ice cream you can buy at the megasupermarkets now.  Brother Andrew’s inherited idea of “Mantecado” ice cream was of thick carabao’s milk, full of egg yolks, and “dayap” lime rind shavings.  It was golden yellow with sprinklings of grass green.  It looked so chic!  If Hermes and Chanel made ice cream, that would definitely be it.  So Bito produced our family’s version of “Mantecado” ice cream with “dayap” lime from Lola Charing’s rose garden.  It was ambrosial.  I would have finished off a gallon if I were permitted to do so.

Comedy relief:  Remembering Brother Andrew’s predilection for “Buco Lechias” sherbet, I am reminded of the time when, already severely diabetic with counts from 300-500 in the early 1990s, Brother Andrew requested his dear first cousin Dr Erlinda “Linda” Arnedo Sazon-Badenhop to make him some sugar-free “Buco Lechias” sherbet, which she claimed she could.  Two or three Sunday lunches later, she arrived with the desired “sugar-free” “Buco Lechias” sherbet which she made herself.  Expectedly, given the Arnedo tastebuds that she had, it was delicious and Brother Andrew was in rapture.  “Are you sure this is sugar-free???  It’s so sweet and so good!!!  It’s delicious!!!”  Brother Andrew rhapsodized as he rapidly consumed 5 scoops of the concoction.  “Yes, Brother!  No sugar, definitely no sugar!”  she claimed most assuredly, with her characteristic deadpan.  Later, when Brother Andrew had retired upstairs (doubtless dizzy from the sugar rush LOL), we asked:  “Wow, Tita Linda!  Your “Buco Lechias” sherbet was so good!  And it’s sugar-free!  What’s your secret??!!”  “Easy!”  she replied, “I poured all the syrup of the cans into the sherbet!”  “HUH???!!!”  Aghast, we cried out:  “But Tita Linda!  That’s all sugar!!!  The syrup IS sugar!!!”    She insisted firmly but comically with a naughty smile:  “No, no, no!  That’s only syrup, NOT sugar!  Besides, how will it taste good without any of the lychee syrup???!!!”    TOUCHE.    LOLOLOL    ROTF    LMAO    !!!!!!!!!!!!

So this is what this warm, warm spell does to me.  It makes me think of sherbet and ice cream from the past.  From the distant past.

These days, I am delightfully condemned to the highly unusual, positively weird, molecular gastronomy, New Age ice cream concoctions of my brother Gene and nephew Gino.  But it’s a nice problem to have.  LOL.

The Families of Political Tradition

The political dynasts of the Philippines.

ALONTO [ Mindanao ].

AGUINALDO [ Kawit, Cavite ].

President Emilio F. Aguinaldo.

Minister of War Baldomero Aguinaldo.

Prime Minister Cesar Emilio Aguinaldo Virata [ Baldomero Aguinaldo’s grandson ].

Supreme Court Justice Ameurfina Aguinaldo Melencio-Herrera.

Rep. Joseph Emilio Aguinaldo Abaya [ also presently Liberal Party Secretary-General ].

Mayor Federico Aguinaldo Poblete.

Mayor Reynaldo Aguinaldo.

Vice Mayor Emilio Aguinaldo IV [ also known as “Orange”;  husband of ABS-CBN news anchor Bernadette Sembrano ].

AQUINO [ Tarlac ].

General Servillano Aquino.

Benigno Aquino Sr.

Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr.

President Benigno “Noynoy” Cojuangco Aquino III.

BAUTISTA [ Cavite ].

Leonides Sarao Virata.

Prime Minister Cesar Aguinaldo Virata.

Senator Ramon Revilla.

Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr..

COJUANGCO [ Tarlac ].

Ambassador Eduardo “Danding” Murphy Cojuangco Jr..

President Corazon “Cory” Sumulong Cojuangco-Aquino.

President Benigno “Noynoy” Cojuangco Aquino III.

Congressman Jose “Pepe” Chichioco Cojuangco Sr..

Congresswoman Mercedes “Ditas” Murphy Cojuangco-Teodoro.

Congressman Jose “Peping” Sumulong Cojuangco Jr..

Secretary of Defense Gilberto “Gibo” Cojuangco Teodoro Jr..

Mayor Miguel “Dors” Cojuangco Rivilla.

CRISOLOGO [ Ilocos Sur ].

Congressman Floro S. Crisologo.

Governor Carmelita “Carmeling” Pichay-Crisologo.

Vicente “Bingbong” Crisologo.

General Fabian Crisologo Ver.

CUENCO [ Cebu ].

DURANO [ Danao, Cebu ].

EJERCITO [ San Juan, MM ].

President Joseph Estrada.

Senator “Jinggoy” Estrada.

Mayor “JV” Ejercito.

Mayor Guia Guanzon Gomez.

GUSTILO.

JOSON [ Nueva Ecija ].

Tomas Joson.

Eduardo Joson.

KIRAM [ Sulu ].

LAUREL [ Batangas ].

LEVISTE [ Batangas ].

LOPEZ [ Iloilo ].

Benito Villanueva Lopez.

Vice-President Fernando “Nanding” Hofilena Lopez.

Congresswoman Hortensia Lopez Laguda-Starke.

LUCMAN [ Mindanao ].

MACAPAGAL [ Pampanga ].

President Diosdado “Dadong” Pangan Macapagal.

President Gloria Macaraeg Macapagal-Arroyo.

MADRIGAL [ Manila ].

Senator Vicente Lopez Madrigal.

Senator Maria Paz “Pacita” Paterno Madrigal.

Senator Maria Ana “Jamby” Abad Santos Madrigal.

MAGSAYSAY [ Zambales ].

President Ramon Magsaysay.

MARCOS [ Ilocos Norte ].

President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos.

First Lady Imelda Romualdez-Marcos.

Governor Maria Imelda “Imee” Romualdez Marcos.

Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Romualdez Marcos Jr.

MASTURA [ Mindanao ].

OSMENA [ Cebu ].

President Sergio Osmena.

PENDATUN [ Mindanao ].

RASUL [ Mindanao ].

RECTO [ Batangas ].

ROMAN [ Bataan ].

ROMUALDEZ [ Leyte and Manila ].

Justice Norberto Romualdez.

Mayor Miguel Romualdez.

First Lady Imelda Romualdez-Marcos.

Ambassador Benjamin “Kokoy” Romualdez.

SINGSON [ Ilocos Sur ].

Governor Luis “Chavit” Crisologo Singson.

SINSUAT [ Mindanao ].

SUMULONG [ Rizal ].

TAMANO [ Mindanao ].

TILLAH [ Mindanao ].

The Families of Entrepreneurial Tradition

ABOITIZ [ Ormoc, Leyte and Cebu ].  The Aboitiz are one of the Basque immigrant families who have risen to the pinnacle of economic importance in the Philippines.

Paulino Aboitiz.

ARANETA [ de R. Hidalgo ].

Atty. Gregorio Soriano Araneta.

Atty. Salvador Araneta.

ARANETA [ Bago, Negros Occidental ].

J. Amado Araneta.

Jorge Araneta.

CACHO.

CHAN [ Negros Occidental ].

CHIONG VELOSO [ Cebu ].

Nicasio Chiong Veloso.

Genoveva “Bebing” Chiong Veloso Singson-Villalon.

Sergio “Serging” Chiong Veloso Osmena Jr..

Dr. “Vicki” [ Chiong Veloso-Singson ] Gonzalez Belo.

CO BAN KIAT [ Binondo ].

COJUANGCO [ Malolos, Bulacan and Paniqui, Tarlac ].

Ysidra Estrella Cojuangco.  Founder of the immense Cojuangco fortune.

Melecio Estrella Cojuangco.

Tecla Chichioco-Cojuangco.

Jose Chichioco Cojuangco Sr.

Antonio Cojuangco.

Eduardo Chichioco Cojuangco Sr.

Pedro Sumulong Cojuangco.

Eduardo Murphy Cojuangco Jr..

CONCEPCION [ Manila ].

Jose Concepcion.

Raul Concepcion.

CU-UNJIENG [ Binondo, Manila ].

Guillermo Cu-Unjieng.

CUYEGKENG [ Binondo, Manila ].

DEE C. CHUAN [ Binondo, Manila ].

DE LA RAMA [ Bacolod, Negros Occidental ].

Esteban de la Rama.

DE LEON [ Bacolor, Pampanga ].

Jose Leoncio Hizon de Leon Sr..

DE LEON [ San Miguel de Mayumo, Bulacan ].

Narcisa Lim Buencamino-de Leon.

DE LOS REYES [ Cavite ].

Crisanto de los Reyes.

Rodrigo Berenguer de los Reyes.

Geronimo Berenguer de los Reyes.

DE SANTOS [ Tondo, Manila ].

DE YNCHAUSTI [ Manila ].

DEL ROSARIO [ Manila ].

Ramon del Rosario.

ELIZALDE [ Manila ].

ESCALER [ Sulipan, Apalit, Pampanga and San Miguel, Manila ].

Sabina Sioco-Escaler.

Jose Sioco Escaler Sr.

Ernesto Ocampo Escaler Sr.

Michael de Leon Escaler.

ESCANO.

GABALDON [ Nueva Ecija ].

GOKONGWEI [ Cebu ].

JALANDONI [ Jaro, Iloilo ].

JISON [ Silay, Negros Occidental. ]

Francisco Lopez Jison.

LAZATIN [ San Fernando, Pampanga ].

Serafin Lazatin.

Jesus Singian Lazatin.

LEDESMA [ Jaro, Iloilo ].

Julio Ledesma.

LEGARDA [ Manila ].

LIZARES [ Talisay and Bacolod, Negros Occidental ].

Enrica “Dicang” Alunan-Lizares.

Nicolas “Colay” Alunan Lizares.

LOPEZ [ Jaro, Iloilo ].  The “ne plus ultra” of Ilonggo entrepreneurship.

Eugenio “Ening” Hofilena Lopez Sr..

Fernando “Nanding” Hofilena Lopez.

Victoria Ledesma Lopez-Araneta.

Vicente “Cente” Villanueva Lopez.

Eusebio “Sebio” Villanueva Lopez.

Rosario “Sayong” Villanueva Lopez-Santos.

Maria “Bibing” Villanueva Lopez.

Paz Villanueva Lopez-Laguda.

LU YM / LU DO [ Cebu ].

MADRIGAL [ Manila ].

Vicente Lopez Madrigal.

Antonio “Tony” Paterno Madrigal.

Jose “Belec” Paterno Madrigal.

Consuelo “Chito” Paterno Madrigal-Collantes.

MAGSAYSAY [ Zambales ].

MONTILLA [ Pulupandan, Negros Occidental ].

Agustin Montilla.

NEPOMUCENO [ Angeles, Pampanga ].

Juan de Dios Nepomuceno.

ONGSIAKO [ Manila ].

ORTIGAS [ Manila ].

Francisco Barcinas Ortigas Sr.

Ignacio Vargas Ortigas.

Francisco “Paquito” Vargas Ortigas Jr.

Ignacio Ortigas.

OSMENA [ Cebu ].

Severo Osmena.

Sergio Osmena Sr..

Sergio “Serging” Chiong Veloso Osmena Jr..

PADILLA [ Lingayen, Pangasinan and San Miguel, Manila ].

Narciso Padilla.

Barbara Padilla – Resurreccion Hidalgo.

Sabino Bibby Padilla.

Ambrosio Bibby Padilla.

Nicanor Padilla.

PANLILIO [ San Fernando and Mexico, Pampanga ].

Luis Dayrit Panlilio.

Pablo Dayrit Panlilio.

Fe Lugue Sarmiento-Panlilio.

PATERNO [ Binondo, Manila ].

Paterno Molo de San Agustin.

Maximino Molo Agustin Paterno.

Martina Paterno-Zamora.

Susana Ramos Paterno-Madrigal.

Dr Jose Ramos Paterno.

Simon Ramos Paterno.

Vicente Tirona Paterno.

Manuel Veloso Paterno.

Simon Roces Paterno.

Victor Pardo Paterno.

PRIETO [ Manila ].

Mauro Prieto.

QUE [ Manila ].

QUE PE [ Manila and Hong Kong ].

ROXAS [ Manila ].

Domingo Roxas.

Bonifacio Roxas.

Margarita Roxas de Ayala.

Pedro Pablo Roxas.

SALGADO [ San Fernando, Pampanga ].

Filomena Salgado.

Teodora Salgado-Ullmann-Sa.

Erlinda Salgado Miranda-Oledan.

SANTOS [ Malabon ].

Roman Rodriguez Santos.

Augusto Andres Santos.

SORIANO [ Manila ].

Andres Roxas Soriano Sr..

Andres Soriano Jr..

SY [ Manila ].

SY-QUIA [ Ilocos Sur and Manila ].

Vicente Ruperto Romero Sy Quia.

Gregorio Sy-Quia y Encarnacion.

Pedro Sy-Quia y Encarnacion.

TAMBUNTING [ Binondo, Manila ].

Ildefonso Cosiam Tambunting.

TAN [ Manila ].

TANTOCO [ Malolos, Bulacan ].

Bienvenido Tantoco.

Gliceria Dimaano Rustia-Tantoco.

TINIO { Nueva Ecija ].

TUASON [ Manila ].

Antonio Tuason.  “Duque de Binondo.”

Gonzalo Tuason.

Celso Tuason.

VALDES [ Manila ].

VELASCO CHUA CHENG CO [ Binondo, Manila ].

YANGCO.

YAO [ Manila ].

Yao Shiong Shio.

Greta Yao.

Jose Yao Campos.

Jose Campos Jr.

YUCHENGCO [ Binondo, Manila ].

Yu Tiao Qui.

Enrique Yuchengco.

Alfonso Yuchengco.

Vicencia Yuchengco.

Helen Sycip Yuchengco-Dee.

Vivian Yuchengco.

YUTIVO [ Binondo, Manila ].

ZAMORA [ Manila ].

ZOBEL DE AYALA [ San Miguel, Manila ].

Margarita Roxas-de Ayala.

Antonio de Ayala.

Jacobo Zangroniz Zobel.

Trinidad Roxas de Ayala.

Enrique de Ayala Zobel.

Alfonso Roxas Zobel.

Mercedes Roxas Zobel-McMicking.

Enrique Zobel y Olgado.

Jaime Zobel de Ayala.

Jaime Augusto Zobel.

Fernando Zobel.

The Families of Intellectual Tradition

Brains, brains, and more brains…

ABAD-SANTOS.

ALZONA.

Dr. Encarnacion Amoranto Alzona, Ph.D..  B.A. in History from the University of the Philippines in 1917;  M.A. in History in 1918.  M.A. in History from Radcliffe College in 1920.  She was the first Filipina Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1923.

ARANETA [ de R. Hidalgo ].

Atty. Gregorio Soriano Araneta.

Atty. Salvador Zaragoza Araneta.

Luis Ma. Zaragoza Araneta.

BENITEZ [ Pagsanjan, Laguna ].  PWU Philippine Women’s University.

Conrado F. Benitez.

Dr. Helena Zoila Tirona Benitez.

Purisima “Petty” Benitez-Johannot.

DEFENSOR.

Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago.

Mike Defensor.

DIOKNO.

Jose W. Diokno.

ESCALER.

Atty. Jose Sioco Escaler.

Ernesto Ocampo Escaler.

Bishop Federico “Freddie” Ocampo Escaler, D.D..

FABELLA.  JRU Jose Rizal University.

Dr. Armand Fabella.

FLORENTINO.

Leona Florentino.

GALLEGO.

Manuel Gallego.

GONZALEZ [ Sulipan, Apalit, Pampanga ].

Dr. Joaquin Lopez Gonzalez.  He was one of the first “ilustrados,” one of the first Europe-educated Spanish-Filipino doctors in the early 1870s.  He finished his medical studies at the Universidad Central de Madrid and proceeded to apprentice with the famous ophthalmologist Dr. Louis de Wecker in Paris, who years later trained Dr. Jose Rizal.  Dr. Gonzalez was one of only two representatives from Pampanga to the Malolos Congress [ the other being Jose Rodriguez Infante ].  He was appointed by President Emilio Aguinaldo as the first Rector of the first state university, the Universidad Cientifico-Literaria de Filipinas, the Malolos Republic-established forerunner of the UP University of the Philippines.

Atty. Francisco Javier Eligio Sioco Gonzalez.  One of the first Filipino Ll.M. graduates of Yale University.

Dr. Bienvenido Ma. Sioco Gonzalez.  The sixth President of the UP University of the Philippines and the visionary who transferred the campus from Manila to the sprawling hectareage in Diliman, Quezon city.

Atty. Joaquin “Jake” Tomas de Aquino Valdes Gonzalez.  Founding/charter member of the Sigma Rho fraternity of the UP University of the Philippines College of Law.

Atty. Gonzalo Walfrido “GG” Rafols Gonzalez.  He was a famous corporate, intellectual property, and labor lawyer.  He served as a regent of the UP University of the Philippines.

Dr. Eva Beatriz Rafols Gonzalez.  Dean of the UP University of the Philippines and the PWU Philippine Women’s University.

Macario Diosdado Arnedo Gonzalez / Brother Andrew Benjamin Gonzalez F.S.C. of the De La Salle University [ 1940 – 2006 ].  The longtime President of the DLSU De La Salle University and the visionary who oversaw its exponential expansion.

GUERRERO.

Leon Ma. Guerrero.

Carmen “Chitang” Guerrero-Cruz-Nakpil.

KALAW.

Teodoro Kalaw Sr..

LAUREL.

LAVA.

Dr. Jesus Lava.

LEDESMA.

Carlos Ledesma Ledesma.

LEGARDA.

Dr. Benito Legarda.

LOCSIN.

Teodoro Locsin.

Teodoro “Teddy Boy” Locsin.

Leandro V. Locsin.

MANAHAN.

Juan Manahan.

Dr. Constantino Manahan.

Dr. Antonio Manahan.

MARCOS.

President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos.

MARQUEZ.

MASTURA.

MONTINOLA.

Senator Ruperto Montinola.

Aurelio “Aureling” Javellana Montinola Jr..

Aurelio “GG” Reyes Montinola III.

NAKPIL.

Julio Nakpil.

Arch. Juan Nakpil.

Arch. Angel Nakpil.

Dr. Fernando Nakpil-Zialcita.

ONGPIN.

Roman Tanbensiang Ongpin.

Alfonso Ongpin.

Roberto V. Ongpin.

Jaime V. Ongpin.

PADILLA.

Justice Sabino Bibby Padilla.

Senator Ambrosio “Brosi” Bibby Padilla.

Justice Teodoro “Teddy” de los Reyes Padilla.

Atty. Sabino “Binoy” Belling Padilla.

Atty. Eduardo “Eddie” Padilla Lizares.

Dr. Dominga “Minguita” Belling Padilla.

Maria Teresa “Maite” Padilla Gallego-Zaldarriaga.

Marissa Padilla.

Violeta Padilla Gallego-Kramer.

Atty. Dominique “Monique” Padilla Gallego.

PARDO DE TAVERA.

Felix Pardo de Tavera.  He was exiled to the Marianas islands on account of his perceived libertarian ideas;  he was joined in exile by his wife, the heiress Gertrudis de Gorricho.

Trinidad Hermenigildo “T.H.” Pardo de Tavera.

Dr. Mita Pardo de Tavera.

Xavier Pardo de Tavera Loinaz.

Dr. Marc Loinaz.

PATERNO.

Pedro Alejandro Molo Paterno.

Vicente Tirona Paterno.

Simon Roces Paterno.

PEDROSA.

Secretary Pio Pedrosa.

PONCE-ENRILE.

Atty. Alfonso Ponce-Enrile.

Senator Juan Ponce-Enrile.

QUIASON.

Justice Camilo Danganan Quiason.

Dr. Serafin Danganan Quiason.

Atty. Enrique “Eric” Imamura Quiason.

REYES.  FEU Far Eastern University.

Nicanor Reyes.

Dr. Lourdes Reyes-Montinola.

RIZAL-MERCADO.

Dr. Jose P. Rizal.

ROCES.

Joaquin “Chino” Roces.

Alejandro “Anding” Reyes Roces.

ROXAS.

SALAS.

Rafael Salas.

SYCIP.

Washington Sycip.

TANADA.

TEEHANKEE.

Justice Claudio Teehankee.

Atty. Manuel “Dondi” Teehankee.

Dean Julio “July” Teehankee.

Dean Ben Teehankee.

TEODORO.

Gilberto “Bert” Teodoro Sr..

Gilberto “Gibo” Cojuangco Teodoro Jr..

VILLEGAS.

Bernardo “Bernie” Villegas.

Ramon N. Villegas.

VIRATA,

Leonides Sarao Virata.

Cesar Aguinaldo Virata.

ZOBEL DE AYALA.

Jacobo Zangroniz Zobel [ Jacobo Zobel Zangroniz ].  The outstanding Renaissance man of the Zobel clan.

Enrique de Ayala Zobel [ Enrique Zobel de Ayala ].  He established the “Premio Zobel” to preserve the Spanish language in the Philippines.

Filipino nary-tage, not heritage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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…

“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!!!

The fruits of summers past

ANONAS.

ARATILES.

ATIS.

BALIMBING.

BALUBAD [ KASUY ].

BAYABAS.

BUKO.

CACAO.

CAIMITO.

CALAMANSI.

CALUMPIT / KALUMPIT.

CAMACHILE.

CEREALES.

CHESA.

CHICO.

DALANDAN.

DALANGHITA.

DAYAP.

DUHAT.

DURIAN [ DAVAO ].

GUYABANO.

INDIAN MANGO.

KAMIAS.

LANGKA.

LANZONES.

MABOLO.

MACOPA.

MANGGA.

MANGOSTEEN [ DAVAO ].

MANZANITAS.

MARANG [ DAVAO ].

MELON.

PAKWAN.

PAPAYA.

PINA.

RAMBUTAN [ THAILAND ].

SAGING NA LAKATAN.

SAGING NA LATUNDAN.

SAGING NA SABA.

SAGING NA SENORITA.

SAMPALOC.

SANTOL.

SINEGUELAS.

SUHA.

ZAPOTE.

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