Sunday, April 19, 2009

*141. Power Couple: RAFAEL G. MORALES and BELEN LANSANGAN

UNION OF SPIRITS. Atty. Rafael G. Morales and bride, Belen G. Lansangan on their wedding day, dated 3 July 1926.


The Moraleses were one of the first nuclear families to settle in Mabalacat, where most of the family members engaged in sugar planting and local politics. One family patriarch was Quintin Tuazon Morales (b. 1856/d.1928), who was one of the more successful town hacenderos--and one of the first to start a family tradition in politics (A nephew, Dr. Miguel Morales, son of his brother Feliciano, was the 1st post-Liberation mayor of Mabalacat. Dr. Morales’ grandson, Marino, is the long-serving incumbent mayor).

Don Quintin married Paula Cosme Guzman, daughter of Ciriaco and Dominga Cosme, and they further consolidated their fortunes built from their prime real estate holdings and large tracts of agricultural lands and commercial establishments. The couple bore five children who went on to continue the Morales legacy of wealth, power and achievement: Clotilde, Maria, Pedro, Rafael and Patricia.

Eldest son Pedro would grow up to be a successful Mabalacat lawyer and his younger brother, Rafael (b. 24 Oct. 1893), followed in his footsteps. Like Pedro, Paeng enrolled at the Escuela de Derecho, the country’s leading law school at that time. He was one of the first MabalaqueƱos to study abroad, taking up Foreign Service at the prestigious Georgetown University. While pursuing his studies in Washington D.C, he met and became friends with Florentino Torres Pamintuan, a kabalen from Angeles, whose son, Pepe, was going to the same school. The affluent Pamintuans had a 3-storey corner house at East Kirk St., Chevy Chase, where Paeng was often invited to visit. (Tragically, Pedro and most of his family, would be killed during the liberation of Manila, making Paeng an unico hijo, after the war.)

Meanwhile, Belen Lansangan (b. 1900), was the daughter of Don Simon Lansangan and Aleja Gamboa of Sta. Ana. Like the Moraleses, the Lansangans were also involved in the sugar industry and town politics. Don Simon was at one time, a municipal councilor. A sibling, Pedro Lansangan, was a sugar planter of repute. Belen was an accomplished pianist and in her very first recital, she met the young abogado, Rafael, who had tagged along with his doctor-friend from Arayat to watch her music debut. The two were married at the Lourdes Church in Intramuros in 1926.

Rafael and Belen settled in Mabalacat with a fabulous mansion built by Don Quintin. Here, Paeng quickly made a name for himself as a brilliant lawyer. He also took over the reins of the family sugar business and became a member of the Pampanga Sugar Marketing Association. He also became a stockholder of the Arayat Sugar Central, National Life Insurance Company and one of the incorporators of the Central Luzon Milling Company. In 1933, he was elected as a town councilor, under the term of Dr. Jose Garcia.

Paeng and Belen had two daughters, Luz Dorotea and Leonor Cecilia. When they reached school-age, their daughters were sent off to Manila to study at the Assumption. Eventually, the couple acquired a home in Manila, shuttling back and forth from the city to Pampanga to check on their various family enterprises, which consisted mostly of land holdings in Mabiga, Mabalacat, Angeles and Sta. Ana. Belen died in 1950, after battling the ill effects of a stroke for 2 years. Paeng outlived his wife, and passed away in 1967. Despite their stature in Pampanga society, the Morales couple always kept a low profile, preferring to work quietly for various advocacies.

Like their parents, their Makati-based daughters today are well-known for their philanthropic work for the church, schools, seminaries and other charities. Luz remained single, while Leonor, married to Jose “Pepe” Hizon of Mexico is a mother of 4: Ernesto (a lawyer in Maryland), Bernadette, Maria Belen and Federico. The latter, known in the TV world as Rico Hizon, is a successful broadcaster (business anchor and reporter) for BBC based in Singapore. He is a TOYM (The Outstanding Young Men of the Philippines) and MOKA (Most Outstanding Kapampangan) Awardee.

Today, the material legacy of Rafael and Belen Morales is still very much apparent in Mabalacat town and elsewhere in Pampanga. Belen Homesite and Villa Belen in Angeles comprise of their major real estate projects in the province. The land on which the Mary, Help of Christian School sits is a private donation of the family, and so is the ancestral Morales mansion in Sta. Ines, which now houses a religious order. The contemporary San Rafael Church, inaugurated in 1995, was also donated and built to honor the memory of Rafael Morales and Belen Lansangan, a fitting tribute to this self-effacing couple whose kind generosity remained a hallmark of their intertwined lives.

2 comments:

Pungsu said...

“Eldest son Pedro would grow up to be a successful Mabalacat lawyer and his younger brother, Rafael (b. 24 Oct. 1893), followed in his footsteps. Like Pedro, Paeng enrolled at the Escuela de Derecho, the country’s leading law school at that time. He was one of the first MabalaqueƱos to study abroad, taking up Foreign Service at the prestigious Georgetown University. While pursuing his studies in Washington D.C, he met and became friends with Florentino Torres Pamintuan, a kabalen from Angeles, who was also studying in the same school. The affluent Pamintuans had a 3-storey corner house at East Kirk St., Chevy Chase, where Paeng was often invited to visit.”

Don Florentino Torres Pamintuan was already a prosperous lawyer/hacindero back in the Phils. when he came to America in 1916. His children were all either in college or college bound not him studying at Georgetown U.

alex r. castro said...

I stand corrected. It was Don Florentino's son, Pepe, who was at georgetown U. before continuing on with his priestly studies. The Pamintuans stayed in the U.S. from 1916-25, when the patriarch died.