Monday, December 21, 2009


THE GATHERING. The Del Rosario siblings, children of Emilio del Rosario and Josefa Valdez, Felicisima Castro and Florentina Torres, pose with their families in the 1956 Del Rosario event of the year.

This picture of the large Del Rosario clan used to hang in the living room of our old Mabalacat home before it was torn down and the contents packed and stored away. My mother was sure proud of this picture as she had it framed, a reminder that she was once a genuine AngeleƱa, born and raised in Kuliat, until circumstances led her to live for a few years in Zaragoza, Nueva Ecija (as a companion to her priest-brother) and in Hermosa, Bataan (as a nanny to an American couple). But it was to Angeles that she would always return, comfortable around his many brothers and sisters and always proud of her Del Rosario roots.

The earliest Del Rosario in our family tree is one Anacleto del Rosario (fl. late 1790s) , who became the second husband of Maria Arcadia Henson. Maria Arcadia was the youngest child of Severino Henson, a Chinese mestizo, and Placida Paras of San Fernando; an elder brother was Mariano, the first Filipino lay Doctor of Laws and a husband of Juana Ildefonso de Miranda, daughter of the founders of Culiat, the future Angeles.

Anacleto and Maria Arcadia had 6 children, and the eldest, Pablo del Rosario married Luisa de Ocampo. From this union, seven children were born, and the fourth son, Cornelio, married a relative, Juana Henson de Ocampo. Cornelio and Juana would populate the family tree with 10 children, one of whom was Emilio del Rosario (b. 2 Sept. 1878/ d. 7 Sept. 1947), my maternal grandfather.

My Ingkung Milyu married not once, but three times, siring a family that totaled to about 20 children, including those who died in infancy. The Del Rosario kids were thus identified as products of pregnancies from the “mumunang atyan” (Josefa Valdes), “pangadwang atyan” (Felicisima Samia Castro) and “pangatlung atyan” (Florentina Torres).

Fifteen survived to adulthood and raising all of them was a supreme challenge for my Ingkung Milyu whose only source of income in the 1930s was a parcel of land in Sapa Libutad, which he tilled and planted with rice and sugar. The early deaths of his two wives (Apung Sepa and Apung Simang) further complicated matters as the children were left motherless at a young age.

My Ima only has haze memories of her mother, Apung Simang, who died of a heart ailment. She was just about 3 or 4 years old then, so she and her siblings were “loaned” to kind relatives who took care of them as if they were their own. But it is to my Ingkung’s credit that all his children grew up with a strong sense of family; when the eldest brood finished their studies and became professionals, they took over in supporting their younger half-siblings, treating them no differently, and always with love and affection. Even as adults, and with their own families, the Del Rosario siblings were always ready to lend a hand to a brother or a sister in need, be it in the form of financial help, moral guidance or a a piece of wise advice.

This particular picture, taken possibly in mid 1956, shows the Del Rosarios gathering in full force for a grand family reunion, although I remember my Ima saying that it also coincided with her older brother’s birthday-- I can’t recall who that was. In any case, here we see the Del Rosario siblings almost complete, many in their prime with careers flourishing and families established.

My five uncles, children of my Ingkung’s first marriage with Josefa Valdez are seated in the middle row, starting with the third bespectacled man from the left, Tatang Dadong, followed by Tatang Curing and a brother -in-law, Patrocinio Feliciano. Tatang Maning, Tatang Pabling and Tatang Anding complete the eldest set.

Second wife Felicisima Castro gave my Ingkung the following children: eldest son Tatang Carling (seated after T. Anding) and next to him, Tatang Ato, the youngest. Their sisters are standing on the back row. Ninth from left is Mang Susing, Mang Maring and Mang Glo. My mother, Mang Ester (or Ecteng, as she was fondly called), stands rightmost, flashing a big smile.

The final set of offsprings with Florentina Torres are likewise here, Tatang Andy, the 2nd man seated from the left, and Mang Baby, the young lady standing leftmost of the picture. Tatang Norli and Redentor are not in the picture.

Sadly, the original Del Rosario brood has diminished in number over time. The first children of the first marriage have all gone to the Great Beyond, with Tatang Maning’s passing in 1987. All missed too are the children of the second marriage—my Ima joined his siblings only this year (2009) in June. The third and last set of children remains intact, with four Del Rosarios left as keepers of the flame.

As I stare at the familiar smiling faces of my Del Rosario uncles and aunts, mothers and fathers, brothers, sisters, and cousins at this reunion 53 years ago, I am struck with a realization that what I have is more than just a souvenir photo; in my hands, I am holding tangible memories of several Del Rosario generations, some dead, some living, bound by blood and history. Each face remembered and recognized triggers a rush of fond and pleasant recollections, in a time when our cares and fears seemed a world away, when all that mattered was being one big and complete family. Long live and prosper, Del Rosarios!


Louis Del Rosario said...

Really interested about this. I am a Del Rosario, but our family has been living in Manila for three generations now. My grandfather, Marcelino Quiason Del Rosario, was born in San Fernando in 1921, of Catalina Quiason and Pablo Del Rosario. I am currently retracing the roots of the Del Rosario side of my family. :)

alex r. castro said...

Hi, yes, there is a Marcelino del Rosario and a Pablo del Rosario in our family tree. I will check my records if they are from your side of your family. Give me a few days to sort that out. Thanks, Alex