Sunday, August 8, 2010

*208. Power Couple: ATTY. CONRADO V. DEL ROSARIO and PERLA R. GUTIERREZ M.D.

DEL ROSARIO-GUTIERREZ NUPTIALS. The young couple, 20 year old Conrado del Rosario and 18 year old Perla Gutierrez at their 1934 wedding. The two pursued their professions (lawyer and doctor) successfully and were well-known figures in Angeles society.

One of the most remarkable unions ever to come from Pampanga involved a young, brilliant lawyer of humble roots from Angeles and the eldest daughter of a well-respected Kapampangan jurist. Individually, Atty. Conrado Del Rosario Sr. and Perla Gutierrez were achievers in their own right, but as a couple, they achieved even greater prominence as high-powered professionals, respected members of Angeles’s socio-civic set and successful entrepreneurs.

Bienvenido Conrado del Rosario was born on 18 February 1913, the youngest of five living sons of Emilio Ocampo del Rosario, a rice planter, and Josefa Clemente Valdes. Josefa died while Conrado was yet a toddler, and Emilio was left alone to care for his five children. He used the meager income from his small agricultural land to finance the studies of his boys. The boys did not disappoint; by dint of hard work and perseverance, all five finished their studies and became titulados: Pablo became a dentist; Dioscoro, an accountant; Fernando, a doctor; Manuel, a priest and Conrado, a lawyer.

Conrado, or Dadong, studied in local schools in Angeles and went to the University of the Philippines for his law course. A relative, Rufino (Tatang Pinong) Melo, helped him with his school expenses. After his graduation, he apprenticed with then Judge Jose Gutierrez David. Bacolor-born Peping Gutierrez David started as a poor but brilliant lawyer with patriotic connections—his father, Mateo Ubaldo Gutierrez was a member of Congress in the Revolutionary Government of Emilio Aguinaldo. He married childhood sweetheart Concepcion Tuazon Roque, raising a family while ascending the heights of Philippine judiciary.

Their eldest, Perling, was born at the Gutierrez home in San Fernando on 26 September 1914, and she was attended at birth by her aunt, Amanda, a nurse. Family lore tells us that the stubborn Spanish priest, Fr. Juan Almario, refused to baptize her as Perla, claiming that there was no saint by that name; a second name—Araceli—had to be added. Perling had six other siblings who grew up to be professionals: Jose (chemist), Leonardo (lawyer), Felicitas (chemist), Amauri (engineer), Lilia or Alice (journalist) and Irma Madonna ( secretarial).

Perling’s childhood was a pampered one; her parents, already established in San Fernando by then, valued the importance of family bonding, going out often to eat in restaurants and excursioning to Baguio and Sibul Springs for leisure. Perling was sent off to Assumption Academy in Bacolor, which was run by strict Benedictine nuns. She was a trailblazer of sorts for Kapampangan women at that time, for she learned to drive a car, an uncommon sight in those days. Even her chosen course was unconventional—she decided to pursue Medicine at the state university which she finished with flying colors.

It was while Dadong was working in the office of Justice Jose Gutierrez David that he met his daughter, Perling. A romance ensued that culminated in a wedding in San Fernando on 18 May 1934. Perling was only 18 when she married the 20 year old Dadong. To prove that he could support his young wife on his own, Dadong took his new bride to his hometown of Angeles. They had a house along Sto. Rosario St., which doubled as their law office and clinic too. An avid philatelist, Dadong also had a gift shop that sold stamp collections.

Soon, the children came one by one, and the couple would eventually have five: Conrado Jr., Nestor, Jose Rey, Celia and Rosario. Atty. Del Rosario’s private practice proved to be a lucrative one, and he handled everything from cases involving Americans in Clark and lawyering for prominent and elite families like the Nepomucenos and the Naguiats. The couple was also involved in socio-civic affairs of the town, with Dadong playing an active role in the Angeles Jaycees.

With their enterprising spirit, they also ventured into real estate and their speculations paid off. The large property they acquired in Balibago, near the Abacan Bridge, was developed into a residential compound for the family as well as for various tenants, mostly American servicemen and their families.

The Del Rosario Compound and Swimming Pool was one of the earliest “self-contained, gated communities” of the city, dotted with apartments, landscaped swimming pools, a snack bar, and, later tennis courts. It was also here that the couple built their magnificent residence, a large multi-storey structure surrounded by lush foliages, ponds and orchid gardens that Perling personally tended. Their imposing house was even used for movie shootings—the Charito Solis’ starrer “Angustia” was filmed around the pool area. The last Grand Del Rosario Reunion was also held there in 1974, an unforgettable family event I was fortunate to have attended. In the 60s and 70s, the Del Rosario Compound, with its trademark sign flanked by red Coke signs and steel matting fence and gate, became Balibago’s landmark, the city’s favorite weekend swimming and picnic spot.

It is also here that the couple would spend the rest of their lives, in the beautiful home they have built for themselves and their children, located in the city that they loved. Dadong, one of Angeles City’s most distinguished lawyers, passed away on 12 August 1981, while Perling joined him on 23 September 2000, just two days short of her 85th birthday.

3 comments:

reydel said...

Alex, very nice article about Mamang and Papang. Thank you for taking the time and effort to publish it. I didn't even know of their second names. However, I have a few minor corrections to make. Papang was born 1913, and Mamang 1914, so she died a few days short of her birthday.Also, the film that was shot in the house was titled "Angustia".

alex r. castro said...

C. Rey, thanks for the corrections, I have amended the article. The second names I found from the genealogy book published by Marc Nepomuceno, which included the Del Rosarios, relatives of the Nepos.

X said...

Ha! nice to see this article. I lived in Del Rosario compound in 1984. Is it still there?? I will be in Angeles for the first time in 21 years, on the 18th of Jan. Any chance of staying there for 2 weeks??