Sunday, August 15, 2010

*210. TEODORA SALGADO: San Fernando’s Woman of Influence

GRAND DAME OF SAN FERNANDO. Her life reads like a soap opera: Teresa Salgado, twice-widowed, thrice married, childless--yet she surmounted all these trials to emerge as Pampanga's most successful--and richest-- businesswomen. Ca. 1930s.

In recent years, focus has been given to several heroines of Pampanga who played important roles during the Philippine Revolution. Foremost among them are Nicolasa Dayrit, Felisa Hizon, Felisa Dayrit, and sisters Consolacion and Encarnacion Singian. These brave women tended the needs of Kapampangan revolucionatios who were wounded or stricken sick in the battlegrounds. Others chose to work in the sidelines, quietly working for the same cause. One such woman was the wealthy businesswoman Teodora Basilio Salgado.

Teodora (or “Dorang”) was born to Joaquin Salgado and Filomena Basilio on 7 May 1866 in San Fernando, Pampanga. She was the eldest in a brood of 5, that would come to include Juana, Joaquin, Honorio and Francisco. She developed her business acumen early; as a child of 12, she helped start a business in her hometown, which would grow into the prosperous “El Progreso Bazar”. For her higher education, she went to the Colegio de Santa Rosa in Manila.

The enterprising Dorang would also learn the ropes of the sugar business and enjoyed much success. She had also felt the stirrings of nationalism as the winds of war started being felt in Pampanga. It was at this crucial time that she became a silent financier of the Philippine cause, a role that she would embrace for years only to end with the coming of the Americans.

With her patriotic advocacy and flourishing businesses to attend to, it was no wonder that Dorang married late, at age 33 to Don Felipe Campomanes. But her marriage was shortlived; Felipe died a few years after, leaving her without a child.

Dorang’s various business ventures would enable her to cross paths with Benito Ullman, a successful businessman of French descent. The Ullmans had established a company called American-French Depot at Plaza Moraga that imported goods from around the world like Swiss timepieces and watches. Teodora and Benito were married in January 1911 and they set up their residence at 204 Nebraska St., in the affluent enclave of Manila, Ermita.

With their consolidated wealth, the Ullmanns lived it up, and from 1929-1930, they embarked on a world tour . By then, Teodora had also diversified her business, becoming an even more successful jeweler. But sadly, she outlived Benito. The childless widow could do nothing but carry on with her life and busied herself with her business. She also kept residences at Soler and Misericordia St.

To amuse herself, she would watch shows, gala events and cultural performances in the city. It was in one such affair that she would meet a visiting magician who had come to the Philippines to perform. Count Saa, a Spaniard, had been touted as the “Houdini of Spain” and performed his illusions around the world with much fanfare and success. Count Saa would become her third and last husband. Dorang kept her peripatetic husband company as he brought his shows to Europe and South America.

Too old to have a child, Dorang sought the comfort and presence of her many grandchildren on who she lavished her love and affection. Before her death , she had insured all of them with Insular Life. She is interred at La Loma Cemetery.

Despite her material wealth and influence, Teodora Salgado remained modest and self-effacing, living by her simple motto : “E map ing catasan keti king qng yatu; uling ing egana-gana, pante-pante eng arap ning Miglalang”. (Superiority has no place in this world; because every one is equal before the Maker).

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