Tuesday, November 24, 2015


FR. SANTIAGO BLANCO, the last Spanish Augustinian priest of Pampanga, as a young priest. He was sent to Pampanga upon his ordination in 1928 and stayed on, long after the Order let go of its parishes. H dies in Bamban in 1993. Courtesy of Monsgr. Gene Reyes. 

No other missionaries had more impact in the creation and development of provinces than the Augustinian frailes that first arrived with Miguel Lopez de Legazpi tour islands in 1565. Just 9 years later, 1575, the Provincia del Santissimo Nombre de Jesus de Filipinas was already in place to manage effectively the affairs of the missionaries in their pastoral turfs.

To their credit, the Augutinians founded 250 parishes—the most by any order, and 22 of these were in Pampanga. Some of these missions include Lubao (1572, founded by Fray Juan Gallegos), Betis (1572, Fray Fernando Pinto), Mexico (1581, with Fr. Bernardino de Quevedo and Fr. Pedro de Abuyoas as the first priests), Guagua (1590, Fray Bernardo de Quevedo), Candaba (1575, Fray Manrique) and Macabebe (1575, Fray Sebastian Molina).

 The product of their missionary zeal resulted in many achievements that contributed to the advancements of Pampanga towns. Great builders all, they designed and constructed some of the most beautiful churches in the country—Betis and its baroque decorations, Mexico and its cimborio, Bacolor—said to be the most beautiful in the province, and Lubao, the biggest of all Pampanga churches. 

From building grand churches, the Augustinians also founded th schools or escuelas—parochial centers of learning—in Bacolor, Betis, Lubao (Estudio Gramatica later Colegio de Lubao, 1596) and Candaba (Estudio Gramatica, 1596). They also became the first mentors of students, as they became more adept at the local language.

 It was the Order that put up the first Augustinian printing press in the country that published pioneering printed materials—from grammar books, dictionaries and novenas. Augustinian friars like Bacolor founder Fray Diego Ochoa, authored the first Arte, Vocabulario y Confesionario en Pampango while Macabebe’s Fray Tallada wrote the first published Kapampangan book--Vida de San Nicolas de Tolentino (1614). 

 Among the Augustinians were erudites like Fray Guillermo Masnou, who made a study and an inventory of the herbal plants in Pampanga. Fray Antonio Llanos was taken by Mount Arayat’s curious shape, its flora and fauna, and the rivers that flowed from its core, inspiring him to study Pampanga’s mythical mountain.

 As a result of their effective evangelical labors, the Augustinians were allowed some autonomy by the Vatican, with little interference from the diocesan bishops in the supervision of the fledgling churches and the administration of the sacraments. Pampanga thus became a showcase of the Augustinians’ missionary work all throughout the Spanish colonial period and beyond.

The parishes of Lubao, Betis, Sasmuan, Porac, Minalin and Sto. Tomas continued to be administered by the Augustinians well into the first half of the 1900s; the last town to go was Floridablanca, whose last Spanish parish priest was Fray Lucino Valles, founder of the St. Augustine Academy in 1951. Other chose to stay here permanently long after their order's duties were over. 

Such was the case of Fr. Santiago Blanco, a true blue Spaniard, fondly called Apung Tiago by his Kapampangan constituents. Ordained in 1928, Fr. Blanco was assigned to various towns in Pampanga, including SantoTomas, Betis and Porac. He was responsible for the repainting of the church interiors of Betis during his 1939-49 term. His next assignment was Porac where he served as parish priest and Spiritual Director from 1950-1959.

When the Augustinians let go of their last remaining parish in Pampanga, Fr. Blanco requested to be left behind. In 1963, his application to become a secular priest was granted by the Holy See. Fr. Blanco moved to the newly created Diocese of Tarlac and became an honorary Monsignor and an Episcopal Vicar.

Fr.Blanco took residence in Bamban until his passing in 1993, his lifeworks in Pampanga a testament to the unflagging Augustinian missionary heart and spirit.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

*391. LOTIS BALUYOT KEY: Her Passionate Artistry, Unlocked.

LOTIS IS THE KEY.Versatile Kapampangan-American artist parlayed her beauty beauty pageant credentials into a successful stage and film career, until she made a life-changing decision to move to the U.S. ca. 1978. 

 The career of Maria Rica Baluyot Key (aka Lotis Melisande Key) speaks volumes about her multi-facetted gifts that has served her well in diverse endeavors—including coping with the complexities of showbiz life. 

Her mother was Luz Nolasco Baluyot, a popular radio personality in the 1930s who went by the nickname “Mitzi”. The Baluyots traced their ancestry to Guagua and the Kapampangan-speaking towns of Bataan. Mitzi’s father was Jose Baluyot, a former governor from Orion, Bataan. Jose’s brother was Sotero Baluyot, Pampanga’s eminent engineer-governor from the 30s. 

Mitzi was first married to Arturo Ortiz, son of the Philippine Secretary of State who tragically died at Fort Santiago during the War. She married a second time, to Warren Bryan Key, a descendant of Francis Scott Key, lyricist of the U.S. anthem "Star Spangled Banner".

Their daughter, born in 1949, would become one of the most talented personalities of Philippine entertainment—Lotis Key. Lotis was raised in Pasay City, and her beautiful Filipina-American features were evident at an early age, which opened doors to modeling and beauty pageantry.

Her first foray was in 1967, when she was selected as Princess Royale de Quezon City. Later in the year, she competed in the 3rd edition of the Bb. Pilipinas Contest to determine the country’s delegate to the Miss Universe Beauty pageant. Just 18 and a student of St. Paul’s, she placed third in the national tilt won by Cebuana Pilar Delilah Pilapil.

 Two years after, Lotis joined the search for “Romeo and Juliet of the Philippines”, a promotion to drum up interest in the 1969 Franco Zefirelli movie. She was named “Juliet” to Victor Laurel’s Romeo. In 1971, she joined “Miss Aviation” and topped the contest too.

 While joining contests and walking fashion show ramps, Lotis was also busy making TV appearances and performing on stage as an actress. With Hilda Coronel, she was cast in “Manigong Bagong Taon” a Channel 5 New Year special, directed by Lino Brocka. On the theater circuit, she was in the play “The Crucible” where she had a daring kissing scene with veteran Vic Silayan. She was a mod nun in “Cisco”, a singing country girl in “Carousel”, and a body-baring lead in “The Prime of Miss Jean Brody” in “Carousel”.

Pretty soon, movie producers were knocking on her doors, convincing her to try the movies. After doing a bit part in the 1971 movie,”Stardoom”, she was noticed in “Ang Mahiwagang Daigdig ni Pedro Penduko” (1973).

But it was in “Dalawang Mukha ng Tagumpay” that she made her mark, earning her a FAMAS Best Supporting Actress nomination in 1974, a feat she also repeated in “ Ibigay Mo Sa Akin Ang Langit” (1975). Lotis had a starring role as a circus performer in the movie, “Lady Luck” (1975).

 Lotis became Dolphy’s favored leading lady, appearing together with the Comedy King in box-office films like Captain Barbell (1973), Fung Ku (1973), Facundo Alitaftaf (1978), Darna, Kuno? (1979), Max En Jess (1979) and Bugoy (1979). Soon, the showbiz world was a-buzz with the Lotis-Dolphy romance.

 In 1986, Lotis made a drastic decision to get away from the tiring drama of Philippine showbiz. She moved to the United States to start life anew. With her well-rounded experience, Lotis found work in theater, radio, corporate shows, TV commercial and industrial video productions as a voice talent.

She not only rediscovered her faith by becoming a Christian evangelist but she also rekindled her passion for the theater. She became a playwright, director and producer, a job that took her across the U.S. and Canada. Lotis next shifted to literary writing, resulting in two published novels, “The Song of the Tree” and “A Thing Devoted”.

 Finally coming to terms with her past, Lotis married Bambi Kabigting, a former Ateneo Blue Eagles and Crispa Redmanizer basketball ace. She and her family are settled in Minnesotta, happily living a simpler, contented life-- away from the public’s prying eyes, and far removed from the glamorous, but often-complicated world of showbiz that once hailed her as a star.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


A LEADING ACTOR TO LEAD THE COUNTRY. Rogelio de la Rosa...but is he qualified? ca. early 1960s.

The Philippine Presidency, it is said, has occupational hazards that could kill. After all, three of our presidents have died at work. Yet, then, as now—the position remains as the ultimate aspiration of all Filipino political leaders, for the immense power that the office brings and glory it represents. The 1961 Presidential Elections put to fore the qualifications of the aspirants—the first, the incumbent president Carlos P. Garcia (Nacionalista), the second—the incumbent vice president Diosdado Macapagal (Liberal), and the third, a movie star-turned-senator, Rogelio de la Rosa, an Independent. 

It was easy to deride Rogelio “Roger” de la Rosa for his being just an ”artista” , viewed in the light of the silver screen as a leading man, which he was, some twenty years ago. The son of Feliciano de la Rosa and Rosario Lim, he was born on 12 November 1916 in Barrio san Jose de Gumi in Lubao, Pampanga. His paternal grandfather , Francisco de la Rosa, was a Spanish surveyor, while his grandmother, Marciana Dariano was an Ilocana from La Union. Everyone knew too, that the 45 year old presidential bet had been at political odds with Diosdado, his own brother-in-law. (Macapagal was married to Purita, Rogelio's sister, who died during the war).

 Dela Rosa’s first and only political experience was when he ran for the Senate of the Liberal Party and won—heavily supported by fan votes. Because of his background, he was looked at as “non-intellectual” (he went to Lubao Institute and finished Liberal Arts from Far Eastern University) . His followers, however, were quick to point out that even Magsaysay was a “non-intellectual”; he, like Dela Rosa has a practical grasp of problems and disdains convoluted, belabored discussions. As for his fans, it could not be denied that they are certainly an articulate and potent force to reckon with--part of the common “masa”. 

Moreover, during the last war, when many politicians were collaborating with the Japanese-sponsored government, Dela Rosa was working as a fighter of the underground army; this he repeated when he volunteered to go to Korea to join hands with the United Nations peacekeeping forces there. As Magsaysay’s labor adviser, Dela Rosa was valued for his troubleshooting skills in resolving agrarian and rural improvement issues.

 As Senator-elect who topped the polls with 2 million votes, Dela Rosa also had an enviable record, sponsoring a law to condemn the illegal appropriation of public streams and rivers by rich fishpond owners. He was known for making on-the-spot visits to the backwoods to as a way of showing deep concern for the common tao’s problems. It is interesting to note that Dela Rosa’s campaign seal shows a salakot with a pair of bakya (wooden shoes) , underlining his pro-masa approach.

 To this day, many believe that Dela Rosa could have been an apt leader for the country in 1961 with his social and political thinking that tends towards egalitarianism. If he had not given way to Macapagal, he could have, they say, ended the heavy-handed domination of politicians, by his institution of a regime that was truly mass-based, ethical, competent and honest. Then he would have also been irrefutably—the world’s most handsome President!

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.