Thursday, October 8, 2015

*389. Training To Be Red: STALIN UNIVERSITY

RED ALERT. Barrio Sinipit in Cabiao, Nueva Ecija, lies under the shadow of Mount Arayat. The strategically-located barrio was the site of an informal training school for Red cadres known as Stalin University. ca. 1959.

 Communism was a new ideology that was embraced early by the peasantry in their fight against tenant oppression. But one did not just turn red in an instant, he had to be indoctrinated in the ways of the new movement—from its fundamental beliefs and principles to its concept of resistance and armed uprising. The training school for such purpose was set up in a place aptly named Barrio Sinipit, in Cabiao Nueva Ecjia—which, in Kapampangan means “ hemmed-in, suppressed, repressed”. The school was called Stalin University—named after the Moscow-based institution founded by Communist International on 21 April 1921.

 This Kapampangan-speaking barrio, portions of which lie in the Candaba Swamp, was the perfect place for such a training school—Barrio Sinipit had always been hard-pressed from all directions, regularly raided by marauders, it houses burned and women raped. The barrio’s position and background made Sinipit the choice site for secret meetings by members and leaders of the so-called “Pambansang Kaisahang Magbubukid sa Pilipinas” (National Organization of Peasants in the Philippines).

 It was in 1936 that the PKMP established a training school for future leaders of this movement that was founded for the cause of oppressed peasants. In later years, these products of Stalin University would identify themselves as Huk guerrillas who shifted their fight from enemy invaders during the War, to abusive landlords and hacenderos. Many would also take on leading roles in the Communist Party of the Philippines and identify themselves as guerrillas of the Huk movement.

Stalin University was not a permanent building; its site was moveable and changeable—it could be under the canopy of a huge tree one day, and a ramshackle hut the next. This was so, because the instructors were the subject of manhunt by government intelligent officers. They were culled from the outside, who had knowledge of the conditions and feelings of Sinipit peasants.

 One tenant-farmer recall that “they were glib-tongue, very convincing, and they spoke of brighter things for us”. They would come with mimeographed notes and pamphlets in different languages. And they would talk of holding reprisals against abusive landlords. The Philippine Government knew of this Stalin University and it would send soldiers to swoop down on the clandestine school. But the class would always be a step ahead, moving to secret refuges in Bulacan or towards hideaways in Arayat or the swamps of Candaba.

 The Magsaysay Era ushered in a new purposeful period—to restore common people’s confidence in the government. Magsaysay sparked the revival of nationalism, and promised rural reforms. He addressed not only the issue of dissidence in the back country but also the disaffection of peasants because of grievances that remained unredressed. He established the President’s Complaint and Action Committee to look into such matters, such as the festering problem of share-cropping. Huk Chief Luis Taruc even sent a feeler to Commissioner Manahan when he heard Magsaysay’s speech about rural reforms and was curious to learn more. In time, Taruc admitted that Magsaysay’s barrio program had made the Huk struggle aimless.

 Thus, Stalin University was abandoned as the Huks took their movement to the hills, leaving Barrio Sinipit in peace once more. By 1959, the barrio was back on its feet, a thriving community blessed with rich soil and hardworking people. No many remember that not so long ago, beneath the shadow of Mount Arayat, there was a Nueva Ecija barrio where once Red cadres trained, in a school without a campus, known by the name Stalin University.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

*388. Our Lady of the Opera: FIDES CUYUGAN ASENSIO

KAPAMPANGAN DIVINE DIVA. Fides Cuyugan Asensio, the leading voice of Philippine Opera, traces her roots to the capital city of San Fernando, from where her father, Dr. Gervacio Santos-Cuyugan hails from.

In the field of musical opera, one Kapampangan who has done most for its appreciation and advancement is the acclaimed diva from San Fernando, Fides Cuyugan-Asensio (b. 1 August 1931). Asencio is considered as an institution in Philippine Opera for the last 5 decades, ranking as one of the most versatile performers in the country.

 Asencio was born to Dr. Gervacio Santos-Cuyugan of San Juan, San Fernando and Jacinta Belza. She took her elementary education at Philippine Women’s University in 1938, where she revealed her love for singing. When it was time to go to college, she stayed on at the Philippine Women’s University which had a good curriculum in Music.

With a diploma tucked under her belt, Fides applied and was accepted at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia U.S.A. in 1947—the first Filipina to be admitted to the prestigious music school—where she earned an Artist’s Diploma in Voice.

 When she returned to the Philippines, she took time to get married to Manuel “Jimmy” Asensio Jr. in 1954 with whom she had two children, Dennis (a doctor) and Manuel III. Then, she plunged headlong into musical opera, which had long had the reputation as an entertainment form reserved for the elite. Her rich, coloratura soprano voice was fitted to great classical roles, like Adele in “Die Fledermaus”and Lucia in “Lucia di Lammermoor”.

But in addition to that, Fides took on roles in Philippine-created operas that were adapted from historical works. Critics raved when she played the crazed woman “Sisa” in the opera, “Noli Me Tangere” based on Rizal’s opus. She left an indelible impression as Dña. Luisa vda. De Bustamante in “La Loba Negra” and Juana la Loca in the ethno-opera, “Lapu-Lapu”.

 To expand the portfolio of local operatic materials, Asencio, who was also a talented librettist-lyricist, took Nick Joaquin’s popular “May Day Eve”and transformed it into the opera “Mayo-Bisperas ng Liwanag”. One other noteworthy work was “Larawan at Kababaihan, Maskara ng Mukha”.

 She took her advocacy to television, by appearing in the well-received “Sunday Sweet Sunday (aired from 1969-74) where she sang arias, musical theater pieces and opera excerpts, together with husband Jimmy, himself, a known opera perfomer. As if TV and stage were not enough, she also appeared in such acclaimed movies as “Oro, Plata, Mata” (1982), directed by Peque Gallaga, "Aparisyon”(2012) and more recently, “Mana”(2014).

 Her great efforts and achievements were not lost on leading award-giving bodies of the Philippines. These singular distinctions include: 1989 Best of the Philippine Profile of Achievement as Performing Artist; 1990 and 1993 Asia Opera Award, and 1999 Aliw Awards Foundation’s Gawad Siglo ng Aliw Honorees. In 2005, she was the National People’s Choice for “Grand Achievement in Theater Arts”. She was honored by her proud city by naming her as one of the Outstanding Fernandinos in the field of Arts. This was capped by a Lifetime Achievement Award bestowed by Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on 7 July 2005.

 Fides Cuyugan Asensio has not rested on her laurels and continues to be a leading voice in local opera. After founding The Music Theater Foundation of the Philippines in 1986, she moved on to music education and is currently a Professior Emeritus of the U.P. Voice and Music, Theater/Dance Dept. and the Fides Cuyugan Asensio Institute of Music and Arts. Her rich, crystalline voice can be heard on the seminal CD of Kapampangan songs, “Pamalsinta Keng Milabas”, singing the classic favorite “Atin Cu Pung Singsing”, a tribute to her roots that she has not forgotten even after years of performing on the world stage.

Thursday, September 3, 2015


AT EASE! Members of the 7th Co. San Fernando Training Center, Philippine Army. ca. 1920s.

 In my high school and college years, the subjects that I hated most were our compulsory Philippine Military Training (PMT) and ROTC (Reserved Officer’s Training Corps), conducted every weekend. I really wanted no part of this exercise as I knew the abusive power of the Marcos military, having grown up as a teen during the Martial law years. For a year or so, I took part in those endless drills, where, dressed in our drab olive green uniform and heavy boots, we marched aimlessly with fake guns on our shoulder, through sun and rain, at the Burnham grounds.

 Today, of course, I have a kinder view of the military after becoming witness to the events in our history—from their role in toppling the dictatorship, to their sacrifices on the combat fields as exemplified by the last stand of the valiant SF 44 at the Mamasapano encounter.

 Our Philippine military history is replete with Kapampangan bravehearts who have contributed much to the country’s defense. Recognized early as among the country’s best soldiers are the 100 Macabebe Scouts recruited by the United States Army and organized in September 1899 as pioneer members of the Philippine Scouts. Slammed by many for their duplicitous nature—Macabebe foot soldiers helped capture Aguinaldo for the Americans—they are, on the other hand, praised for their professional soldiering.

 In more contemporary times, the list of illustrious Kapampangans in uniform have come to include the following: Brig. General Basilio Valdes (Floridablanca), Chief of Staff of the Philippine Army and 1934 Chief of the Philippine Constabulary; Gen. Victor H. Dizon (Porac), Chief of Staff the Philippine Armed Forces; and Maj. Porfirio Zablan, the first fighter pilot of the Philippines, who perished while training in the U.S. in June 1935. In his memory, the Zablan Airfield in Quezon City was named after him.

 The hallowed halls of Pampanga High School have given us some of the most notable names in military service: Brig. Gen. Marcos G. Soliman (1929, Candaba), a classmate of Pres. Diosdado Macapagal who became the Director of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency; Col. Emigdio C. Cruz (Arayat), Pres. Manuel L. Quezon’s chief physician and trusted aide during the War years; Lt. Col. Leon Flores Punsalan (1928, San Simon) ,a West Pointer and M.I.T. graduate who saw action with the Philippine Army; Cols. Sergio Sanchez, Gregorio Gamboa (1926), Pacifico Martin (1929), Federico W. Calma ( 1931), Diosdado Garcia (1933); Majors Conrado Flores (1931), Flor Henson (1935), Rufino Dizon (1938); Captain Cresenciano Pineda (1937) and Brig. Gen. Ramsey Ocampo (1963, Candaba), chief of CIS and NARCOM. 

Meanwhile, the Philippine Military Academy—the country’s premier military school founded in 1936 by virtue of the National Defense Act, have produced many Kapampangan top graduates. Of late, the batch of 1998 included class topnotcher Cadet Ephraim Suyom (Apalit) and 4th ranked George de la Cruz (Mabalacat). Also in the list of high-ranking Kapampangans in military service: Gen. Rafael Mañago (Mexico), who served in several regions as military commander; Gen. Luis Villareal, Director of NICA during Cory Aquino’s term; and Avelino Razon Jr., 2007 Philippine National Police Chief.

 Several Kapampangan military men have also served in Clark after the American turnover : Gen Romeo Soliman David (San Fernando) , president of Clark Development Corporation (CDC) and Clark International Airport from 1995-98 ; Gen. Mariano Punzalang, First Military Liaison of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA); and Col. Rodolfo Abad Santos, Chief of Security.

 Those who held non-military positions included Col. Juan Arroyo who became the Manager of the National Steel Corp. and Gen. Virgilio Mañago David (Bacolor), Administrator of the Philippine Coconut Authority from 1992-98.

 The Kapampangan soldier has done it all---he has seen action in the world’s greatest wars, fought against the best armies, and participated in all the major events that determined our nation’s destiny. His dauntless courage harkens back to that oft-quoted boast from olden times—“nung keng leon at keng tigri, eku tatakut, keka pa?”. Today, this trademark courage has been transformed into pride of service in the military branch of the government. When duty calls, expect our own Kapampangan soldier to be there at the forefront—standing tall and smart in his uniform, ready to rally and defend the flag.

 Sources: The Pampangans,

Friday, August 7, 2015

*386. Bale-Matua: THE ARRASTIA HOUSE, Lubao

TO A MANOR BORN. Home of Pampanga sugar planter of Don Valentin Arrastia, Luba, Pampanga. 1925.

 In Lubao, in front of the municipal hall, once stood the palatial house of one of the town’s most affluent Spanish-Filipino family—the Arrastias. The patriarch, Valentin Roncal Arrastia, was a Basque who had come all the way from Allo, Navarra, Spain, to find his fortune in colonial Philippines. He, not only found the wealth he was seeking, but also a Kapampangan wife—Francisca Serrano Salgado of Lubao.

 The couple’s consolidated wealth included their vast hacienda planted with sugar and rice, as well as flourishing fish ponds. Befitting their stature, the Arrastias built a magnificent residence sometime the first two decades of the 1900s, where they raised their 9 children: Carmen (Mameng), Jose (Pepe, father of Ambassador Mercedes Tuason, and Ruby aka Neile Adams, wife of actor Steve McQueen), Justo (founder of Lubao Institute), Benito (died at 19), Crispula (died in infancy), Juanita (Miss Pampanga 1926), Esteban (Teban, father of actress Letty Alonso, married to actor Mario Montenegro), Francisco (died at 12), Enrique (died during the liberation of Manila) and Sebastian (Bastian, whose daughter, Sylvia is married to former senator and radio personality, Eddie Ilarde).

 The Arrastia House, designed by the patriarch no less, was typical of the architecture of the period—a transitional style featuring elements of the ‘bahay na bato” and modern American influences. The ground floor--which includes the receiving room, is made of concrete, its windows protected with wrought-iron grills. The lower floor could be accessed from upstairs through a secret passage that led to one of the storage rooms. The second storey features high frosted glass-paned windows and a wrap-around eave to shade the residents from the harsh Pampanga sun.

Ventanillas protected by ornamental grills had sliding windows to let air in and an enclosed balconaje (balcony) decorated with fretwork could be found on the upper landing. The roof itself, is made from thick American G.I. sheets. The house was fenced with simple metal grills and surrounded with bushes, shrubs and other greeneries. Accenting the garden is stately water fountain, ornamented with classical statues, while a pool is located at the back.

Lavish parties were regularly hosted by Don Valentin for his friends—mostly rich hacenderos and fellow-sugar planters. One such talk-of-the-town affair was the luncheon thrown by the Arrastias in honor of Mr. R. Renton Hind, a high-ranking American official of the country’s sugar industry. The guest list included Pampanga’s well-known sugar barons, mostly from the Del Carmen district which Mr. Hind used to manage: Dons Carlos Layug, Francisco Reinares, Martin Gonzalez, Alfredo Infante, Braulio Mendiola, Carlos Gil, Joaquin Varela, Quiterio Araneta and Leonard Moore.
After felicitations were exchanged, the guest of honor was presented with a handsome desk set, and a case containing a solid gold pen and pencil.

 When Valentin and Francisca passed away, the house was bequeathed to the Arrastia children. Daughter Juanita felt most passionate about the house and the memories it held, so her husband, the famed doctor Wenceslao Beltran Vitug, bought out the shares of her siblings; in this way, the ancestral house was passed on to the Vitugs. Seven children were born to Juanita and Apung Beses, and they too, spent their growing up years in the house.

As such, the house teemed with househelps, mostly wives, sons and daughters of sharecroppers who worked on the Arrastia farmlands. A Japanese driver was also employed. When World War II broke out and Japanese forces overrun Pampanga, their officials took over the house and used it as their garrison. Thanks to their Japanese driver who couched for the Vitugs’character, the grand Arrastia mansion was spared from the ravages of war.

Also associated with the Arrastia house and its residents was the late president Diosdado P. Macapagal. It was said that the poor but bright Lubeño boy would pass by the house everyday. Catching the attention of the Arrastias, they would eventually learn of his plight and decided to help him with his school needs. Macapagal graduated valedictorian of his elementary class and finished his high school on 1929 with flying colors. He would eventually take up Law, enter politics and become president-elect in 1963. 

 A succession of Vitug descendants acted as caretakers of the house after the death of Apung Beses (+1986) and Juanita (+1994). The family finally decided to sell their ancestral home in 2007 to Architect Jose L. Acuzar. It was dismantled, transported and reconstructed in Bagac, Bataan as a heritage house of Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

*385. The Fiery Pen of Flauxgalier: FELIX N. GALURA

POETRY MAN. The newly-put up monument of Felix Galura y Napao, prominent literary figure from Bacolor, who rebelled against Spanish. literary styles and forms. ca. 1920s.

 One of the most prominent and versatile writers at the turn of 20th century Pampanga was the Bacolor native, Felix Galura y Napao. The multi-facetted literary giant did not only wield his pen as a poet, translator ( he translated Rizal’s “Noli” into Kapampangan ), playwright ( “Ing Mora”/The Moor Maiden), editor, religious writer (he composed original Kapampangan prayers and a Pasyon), grammarian (he authored “Gramatica Castellana” and “Sanayan A Malagwang Pipagaralan King Amanung Kastila”) and newspaper man, but he was also a passionate Revolutionist, a military man ( Lt. Colonel under Gen. Tomas Mascardo) and a political leader (Bacolor’s municipal presidente for 9 years).

 Born on 21 Feb. 1866 to Manuel Galura and Carlota Napao, the young Felix was educated in local schools, but circumstances did not allow him to get a college education. But even so, he was a quick learner, with the uncanny ability to absorb knowledge so easily. His close association with the brilliant lawyer, Don Roman Valdes, for example, enabled him to become an expert on law and jurisprudence.

 But writing was Galura’s first love. He assumed the pseudonym “Flauxgalier” (an acronym of his name), and became a regular contributor to the bi-lingual newspaper “E Mangabiran/ El Imparcial” which began publication in 1905. Exposed to Spanish works at an early age, he set about translating prayers, plays and literary pieces into Kapampangan. Galura turned Spanish plays into Kapampangan adaptations like “O, Kasiran” and “Azucena”.

 With Juan Crisostomo Sotto, he wrote the zarzuela “Ing Singsing A Bacal” (The Ring of Steel) which was based on a Spanish play. Galura was led to conclude that the Spanish literary forms available in the country were the main cause of the backwardness of Filipinos. After all, these “comedias” were full of incredible tales of magic, enchantment and nonsensical scenes.

 His response was the opus ”Ing Cabiguan”(The Misfortune”), a verse narrative published in 1915, which would become his best-known work. It recounts the ill-fated love of Jaime and Momay, whose planned elopement was thwarted by Rosa, Momay’s mother. This resulted in the imprisonment of Jaime for 8 months. Hoping to reunite with Momay after his release, he finds out that she had died while he was languishing in jail.

 Though his work had a romantic plot, “Ing Cabiguan” was full of jabs against Spanish works. The work was prefaced with a reader’s warning to not expect improbable scenarios (like a duel between a princess vs. a lion) and unrealistic characters (e.g. talking animals) that are staples in Spanish-inspired comedias and curirus. It was Galura’s direct exhortation to readers to break away from these whimsical writing tradition that are insulting to one’s senses, and instead, embrace more realistic forms.

 The first printing of ”Ing Cabiguan” totalling to 500 copies was quickly sold out, and a second edition of 1,000 more had to be rushed on 10 November 2015 to accommodate the demand. Apparently, Galura’s work still had the cloying romanticism that was also the characteristic of the curiru, the same literary forms that he had wanted to replace.

 Certainly, though, it paved the way for Juan Crisostomo Soto to depart fully and truly from the favored Spanish-influenced style. His masterpiece “Lidia”, proved to be very contemporary in every respect, from the use of prose to the modern plot, providing a clear distinction from the metrical romances of old.

 Even as he was writing, Galura continued to run the affairs of Bacolor as the town head from 1909 to 1918. A year after his term, he was hospitalized for pneumonia, an illness from which he would no recover. He passed away on 21 July 1919, at age 53. For his departed friend, the poet Don Monico R. Mercado wrote the elegy ”Ing Bie Na Ning Tau” The Life of a Man) .

 On 24 December 1924, a monument was put up in front of the Bacolor Elementary School by Aguman 33, a band of grateful citizens and friends, dedicated to the memory of a beloved son of Bacolor--“Caluguran Nang Anac Ning Baculud”—Felix Napao Galura.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

*384. A Story Interrupted: AGNES DE GUZMAN, Writer

IN HER OWN WRITE. Agnes De Guzman of Mabalacat, as a Commerce graduate of UST. She pursued a creative a career and became a successful TV ans film screen and story writer, actress, champion of Kapampangan films.

 There was never a quiet moment when you were with Agnes De Guzman—my sister Susan’s best friend since high school. It was easy to be taken by this vivacious girl, who always had a ready story to tell—the latest town gossip, school anecdotes, her opinionated movie reviews and political commentaries. We lived in the same barangay, shared rides as students in Angeles, and our mothers were acquaintances, so Agnes was always a welcome presence in our house.

 I didn’t know Agnes had ambitions of becoming a writer, until I got a call from her one day. It started as a usual “kumustahan”call—she was already working at PLDT in Manila, fresh from earning a College degree from the U.S.T. I, in the meanwhile, had been working for years in Makati and had become an advertising creative director writing advertising copy and dabbling in comedy writing on the side. She wanted me to know that she was planning a career shift; she had been taking writing classes under Nestor Torre and Ricky Lo, and she felt she was ready to take a plunge into the world of show business as a writer.

I remember telling her to follow her heart, while cautioning her on how fickle the industry can be for creative people---unlike a corporate job that guarantees a steady flow of income. Agnes, however, told me she had saved enough from her PLDT years, enough to allow her to make this “experimental detour” in her career. So, pushing 40, Agnes gave up her telecom job to pursue her other dream of becoming a writer for films.

 And did she chase that dream with a passion! Next time I heard from her, she told me to watch out for the film thriller “Ika-13 Kapitulo” starring Christopher De Leon and Zsa-Zsa Padilla, where she was credited for the screenplay. The comedy “Mana-Mana, Tiba-Tiba” (2000) was next, and this time, it was she who wrote the story. Agnes was definitely on her way,gaining writing experience and at the same time making important connections with showbiz stalwarts as Marichu Vera-Perez, director Adolf Alix Jr., Gina Tagasa, among others.

 Channel 2 took her in and her storytelling skills were honed by the many TV shows, movies and screenplays she wrote: “Baliktaran: Si Ace at Si Daisy”, “Mga Kwento Ni Lola Basyang”, “Angels”(2007). She also earned credits as an actress, making appearances in films like “”Imoral”, “Saan Nagtatago Ang Happiness”(2006) and “Nars” (2007). In 2008, she joined Cinemalaya film competition and her original story with a Kapampangan theme, Ätin Cu Pung Parul”, made it to the semi-finals.

The next year, she wrote the movie, “A Journey Home”. In 2010, her output included the movie “Presa” (for which she won a 34th Gawad Urian nomination) and the TV series “Inday Wanda” that ran through 2011. Her most successful assignment as head writer was for the intriguing, “Nasaan Ka, Elisa?”, which was slated to have 90 episodes to run from 2011 and 2010.

She had also started work on another series, “Hiyas”, also on Channel 2 when fate intervened: she was stricken with an illness that turned out to be cancer. The feisty Agnes carried on with her work even with her condition; she shunned traditional medicine in favor of alternative healing.

In August 2011, she decided to tick off an item on her bucket list—to go on a Parisian adventure. Her friends, ignorant of her condition—including me, followed her journey through her regular postings on facebook---today she’s at the Eiffel Tower, the next she’s at the Louvre. Her photos showed her zest and animated spirit—smiling, enjoying, relishing every minute of her amazing journey, highlighted by a visit to the shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes.

 Less than three months after her return to the Philippines, Agnes took leave of this mortal world. She lies in a private cemetery in her beloved Mabalacat, with simple slab of stone to mark her grave. The gravestone bears both her name and her title that she was so proud to wear: Agnes P. De Guzman, Writer. (January 6, 1962- November 6, 2011).

 Cinekabalen, Pampanga’s leading film festival organization, honored her along with film critic Alexis Tioseco (+) in 2015, for her legacy of writing that found full expression on TV and the Silver Screen, assuring Agnes De Guzman, Kapampangan storyteller, of immortality.

 (4 June 2015)

Thursday, June 18, 2015


LA DOLCE MINDA. Minda Feliciano had a reputation for living the life fantastic--traipsing the world and hobnobbing with the rich, the famous and the powerful--befitting her celebrity status. Photo from 1968.

Certainly, for many society girls in the heady 60s, Minda Feliciano’s life was an enviable one. At a young age, she travelled the world in search of adventure, and in so doing, found many of her dreams fulfilled---to get an acting break on a hit U.S. TV series, to rub elbows with the rich, the royalty and the famous, and best of all, to find the greatest loves of her life in two continents!

But in a special way, Minda was destined for this kind of life, early on. She was the daughter of Manuel Valdez Feliciano, a district engineer, and Amparo Santana of Batanes. Born as Arminda Feliciano on June 1, 1931, her town of origin is sometimes listed as either Angeles or Guagua. That may be due to the peripatetic career of her father, who was assigned in different provinces like Bataan, Nueva Ecija and Surigao.

But what was sure was that Minda went to high school at the Holy Angel Academy (now University) in Angeles. In her 20s, the charming Minda went on to try her luck at modeling and acting. This paved the way for her to travel the world to search for better career opportunities.

In the U.S., she started auditioning for acting roles and, in 1959, won a regular slot (she played the hula-dancing receptionist, Evelyn) in the popular TV series,”Hawaiian Eye”, produced by Warner Brothers. In 1962, her partnership with Russ Hemenway resulted in the birth of her only child, Brent, but they would split shortly.

Minda never ran out of admirers though, and one who squired her ardently was the prominent publisher and author, Leo Guild, 20 years her senior. It was with Guild that she eventually chose to settle down in 1967. The glamorous Minda held court at her posh Beverly Hills residence, which was even outfitted with a heated swimming pool. However, the marriage ended in a divorce in 1970.

Minda went back to her socializing and hobnobbing with fellow celebrities that led to her meeting with British actor Michael Caine. Caine would become her one great love. He had already starred in a few well-received movies ("Alfie", "Gambit") when Minda swept him off his feet. She became her travelling companion when he filmed on locations worldwide. The two were soon engaged, but somehow, things didn’t fall into place and the couple parted ways. Michael would marry the exotic beauty, Shakira Baksh in 1973 , win 2 Oscars and be knighted in 2002.

 Briefly in the early 1990s, Minda was linked to debonair crooner, Tony Bennett, who made a hit out of the song, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco”. She would fly and join him in his intermational concerts that took him from Las Vegas to Tokyo and London. But at that time, Bennett was more focused on resurrecting his career so Minda quietly slipped out of his life.

A few years later, Minda would form a more lasting relationship with Norman John McClintock Lonsdale, a true English blue blood descended from the Duke of Wellington, the nemesis of Bonaparte at the famous Battle of Waterloo. He had been a favorite escort of Princess Margaret. Lonsdale eschewed the life of a royal and pursued a successful TV career. He was already a widower with 3 children when Minda came into his life. Romance bloomed and they were wed in 1997.

In the Lonsdales’ sprawling Oxfordshire estate,the couple entertained film star friends like Joan Collins, Peter Sellers, Britt Ekland and Roger Moore. Minda and Norman would be together for 12 happy years; he would die in 2009, of cancer. All throughout his illness, Minda stood by to nurse and care for his man, until the end.

Today, Minda has made United Kingdom her home, spending her time tending to the lush rose gardens of her ivy-covered house along the scenic Thames River. Her high-flying days have given way to a quieter, more sedate life, but Minda Feliciano’s joie de vivre has not waned a bit. And that’s so…Kapampangan!