Sunday, August 15, 2010

*213. THE HOUSE ON 151 STA. INES ST., part II

AND THE HOUSE CAME FALLING DOWN. From a two-storey house, our old residence was made smaller for practical reasons: in 2000 we have all flown the coop and by then the house was in total disarray, rented out to various people we hardly knew. It was still sad to see the upper floor go.

Our street, which stretches for just about 250 meters, was actually just a side street and for the longest time, remained unpaved. I hated walking down the dirt road, especially after the rains; a slight downpour would turn the road sticky and muddy. The worse was stepping on moist carabao dung, and many a rubber sandal were lost in the warm smelly trap left behind by these lumbering damulags. The town abattoir faced our street, permeating the air not just with the stench of scalding flesh but also the piercing wails of death-resistant pigs.

The commandment “Love thy Neighbor” was followed to the letter in our street, as our relationships with everyone was cloyingly sweet. Everyone it seemed, looked out for each other. Imang Saning ran the street’s only sari-sari store; her daughter Luz was my classmate. There, we could make “pa-lista” if our budgets were tight but 1 or 5 centavos is enough to buy Texas bubble gum, Senorita Lemon or toothsome belekoy. My favorites were the pink, coconut laced cookies in glass garapons. For the same price, you can take a chance on the “bagutan” , where anything—from a toy balloon or a plastic gun-- can be yours for the picking. On the other hand, my sister loved renting komiks there, and I myself would avidly follow the serialized stories of “Sindak” or “Ngitngit ng Pitong Whistle Bomb” on Tagalog Klasiks.

Tatang Felix Castro and Mang Saning worked for my lolo in managing his agricultural lands for some time. They would either housesit or babysit us whenever my parents or lolo went on overnight trips to Manila. My father became a good buddy of their son-in-law Master Sgt., Arthur Dandridge, who married their daughter, Atching Ester.

I always admired the little house of the Tungol family with its rows of green bushes and flowers. I longed to have a house that organized. Kong Inggo was our resident on-the-go-barber. He would come to our house at a moment’s notice as his house was just a stone’s throw from ours. Many years later, I would be reacquainted with his daughter, Jet, in Bangkok, Thailand, of all places, where he and her American husband were stationed. Within the vicinity was also Atching Zenai’s big compound. She would sometimes send food over and my mother would return the kind gesture with another dish. That’s how it was in those days.

Also close to us are the family of Ingkung Raling and Apung Gayang Morales. Bapang Roxann was my classmate from elementary to high school. Atty. Morales was a respected lawyer who would always handle all our family’s legal cases.

Our other Morales relatives often had caretakers to tend to their large, imposing house. When they were not around, we would go over the fence and play hide and seek or tambubung on the spacious, paved grounds. Whenever we felt more adventurous, we would ascend the azotea stairs or climb up all the way to the second floor, trying to see what lies within. I remember peering through the persiana slats to see an ancient portrait of an old woman with soulful eyes that follow your every move. I was scared stiff! Little did I know that she was my paternal great grandmother, Apung Palu.

To the left of us are the Madlangbayans and directly in front of us, the compound of Tatang Senti de la Cruz. Their children were our playmates and when we were not engaging them with several rounds of siyatung (game played with sticks), we were conducting war games. Tatang Senti had a number of carabaos and we would worry him no end by scaring his herd with firecrackers. Today, his son Sekwat and I are magka-“kumpares”.

The Concepcions, first cousins of my Dad, also were on the same street. I also remember the Macaspac family in that area, as Remedios was my grade school classmate. Sadly, she passed away at a tender age.

The farther I went down the road, the less and less people I knew.
Where our rural street converged with the other, more populated Sta. Ines street, that’s where my little journey ended.


I left our house in Sta. Ines in 1984.
By then it had acquired a new number (No. 179) and the street had been given a new name (Sampaguita St.). In the 1998, the street name was again changed to Vicente de la Cruz St., in honor of Tatang Senti, our front-door neighbor. By then too, my father had passed away and my mother moved out of Sta. Ines to join me in my matchbox-size, SSS-financed house in Casmor. Our big house, now empty and termite-ridden, had become but a store room for our old furniture, aparadors and odds and ends of accumulated junk.

In January of 2001, I decided to have the house remodeled and made smaller for practical reasons. When the whole upper storey where my room used to be was finally demolished, a piece of my past also came crashing down.

*212. THE HOUSE ON 151 STA. INES ST., part I

NO PLACE LIKE HOME. The Castro Family residence, as it looked in the mid 1970s--the place of my childhood. The house was constructed in the late 1950s, expanding in all directions when the family grew to 8 siblings, a set of parents, 1 grandparent and 3 househelps and a driver.

It’s easy to locate the house I grew up in. It sits right next to the stately Morales ancestral mansion built by my paternal grandmother’s brother, Atty. Rafael Morales. There is another old house across this mansion, belonging to another relation, also a Morales, and also an attorney--Regalado Morales or Ingkong Raling. You simply use these two old houses to point to our residence along Sta. Ines. Back in the 60s, there was no name for our street—mails were simply addressed to our house number—No. 151.

Our 2-storey house, built in the 1950s is a study in contrast to the next-door Morales house, with its architectured lay-out and carefully planned rooms. Ours was family-designed, and it can be safely said that it was basically constructed from found objects. Our gate for instance, was recycled from an old aluminum airplane wing, to which a wheel had been fastened so that it could be rolled open or close. The perimeter of our thousand square-plus lot was fenced in by old steel-matting, reinforced with rows of San Francisco, jasmine, sampaguita, karakarikucha, guyabano and coconut trees.

The first floor, as I remember it, had shiny red cement floors that were assiduously scrubbed for hours with a bunot (coconut husk), or polished to a clear smooth finish with a lampaso (rags). The very first sala set of my memory were these woven rattan pieces that left marks on your butt after a few minutes of sitting on them. We had large, slide-open windows that opened to a pasamano. Here, on the wide, wooden ledge, I would often lie down to take my naps.

Our dining table was one of few formal pieces of furniture we had, but it did not have any matching chairs. Instead, we sat on batibots or used a long metal bench with a lawanit top. The kitchen, where my mother reigned supreme, was a soot-covered one-room affair, strewn with firewood, kitchen utensils and lined with old-fashioned kalans.

The upstair structure—where all our bedrooms were-- was all of wood, consisting of 2, maybe 3 rooms. We usually slept on mattresses laid out on the shiny wood-planked floor, falling asleep as we watched Far East Network cartoons on our Westinghouse 1950s TV. For the longest time though, we were infested with suldot (bedbugs) and these pests would lodge themselves in the floor crevices which made sleeping impossible—until we got beds.

It took some time getting used to double-decked beds. I shared mine with my elder brother, Gregg. For practical reasons, I occupied the lower berth—I was a bed wetter until age 11 (my mother used to put a big basin under my bed every night-very embarassing). One time my brother and I had our usual bedtime fight. I yanked at his arms and he came crashing down the upper deck with a bang.

There was one year I shared a room with my Ingkung Dando. This time, I stayed on the upper deck and my younger sister occupied the lower berth. From atop, I had a commanding, if not a funny view of my lolo as he slept soundly. You see, he snored in his sleep and his lips would pucker up , making hilarious noises that gave me unstoppable laughing fits.

When more babies came (we were 8 kids in all), our house grew with more room extensions in all directions, all engineered either by our carpenter or the mason. In the prosperous 70s, my parents had their share of small fortune when, together with their siblings, went into real estate development. True to the spirit of the nouveau riche, we went into a house-remodelling frenzy, applying the latest architectural and interior design craze as our house underwent expansion.

For instance, our walls were embellished with crazy-cut patterns of earth and brown hues. Foundation posts were whitewashed with crushed 7-Up bottles that sparkled in broad daylight. Our cement floors gave way to modern granolithic, in all its speckled glory. The ceilings were framed in scalloped, textured lawanit boards, painted mint green long before pastel shades came into vogue. Faux wood grain panels hid the stairs leading to our bedrooms. And the piece de resistance: flower beds, in the shape of cut-up logs, adorned the front of our house, an appropriate accent to the diamond ceramic façade.

To furnish the house, we ordered oh-so-moderne brown sofas and chairs with stiletto legs. Vinyl-covered, they made gentle hissing sounds when you sunk into them. These were matched with slightly-used red and white chairs, generously donated by our American tenants. And, for the first time, we had lamps for the side tables—one in green and one in cream!

Separating the living room from the dining area is a custom-made display cabinet that contained my Dad’s precious collection of Jim Beam bottles and decanters in all shapes and sizes, carefully amassed through the years from the neighborhood “magbobote’t dyaryo” (used bottle and newspaper dealer).The only artworks we kept were two framed watercolors of weeping willows (I think!) rendered on green cartolinas.

Finally, we could afford having our own bedrooms. Recognizing our individuality, our parents gave us leeway in room design and color selection. My father though, insisted that the rooms should have transoms for better air circulation, which weren’t at all to my liking as these did not make the rooms very private. I chose to have my room painted in avocado green but the painter messed up and the final outcome was more like the color of kamias.

Oh, how I loved that house on 151 Sta. Ines St.
It had multiple personalities not unlike those of the dozen or so residents that inhabit the place. It had much space—to hide in, thrive in. Around it, more space for fun and play, for youthful imaginations to run wild. I was around 7 or 8 when my brother and cousin connived to form a club—3 M, we called ourselves (Magnificent 3!). The karakarikucha tree in the front yard became our outpost, while the backyard, hidden from adult’s prying eyes, became the site of our private headquarters which we built from stone blocks, one stone at a time.

Directly across our house was a cavernous kamalig owned by my Morales relatives, unused for years and left to decay. Nightly, only the incessant calls of the “tuko” would be heard from this dark, dingy dungeon-like structure. My lolo’s idea of discipline was to lock up erring grandchildren here. The unspeakable terror that lurked behind the massive doors was very much real, as my younger brother Momel once proved it when he annoyed my Ingkung with his endless crying. Until now, I have not the courage to step inside this kamalig, the chamber of horrors of our childhood.

My father’s old yaya, Ati Bo and her family, were rewarded by my Ingkung with a house of their own behind our residence. Made of nipa, sawali and bamboo, their house looked like a bigger version of my sister Celynne’s “bale-balayan” which she got as a birthday present from Ingkung. When she grew up, her “bale-balayan” (play house) became our favorite playhouse where we would play kurang-kurangan (play kitchen) and practiced our housekeeping duties like buffing the bamboo floors with banana leaves. The coming of more househelps signalled the end of our private happy moments as they took residence in our little nipa house.

Behind Ati Bo’s house, past a little rear gate lies another forbidden land—a gently sloping ravine that leads to the sapa (creek). Overgrown with bamboo, cogon, ferns and giant gabi plants, we would do our Tarzan yells as we rappeled down the slope. In this mosquito-infested area, amidst the thorny brambles and thickets and the nuno sa punso, we once built a tree house, affording a quiet vantage point where one could listen for hours to the sounds of creaking, rustling bamboo. Past the barbed wire fence, one comes finally to the white sand sapa (stream). Here, we washed our feet, caught tadpoles, collected butterflies and ate dagis-pakwan (edible wild fruits). Here too, directly opposite us, you can see the goings-on in the houses along the street: people walking to and fro, tricycles coming and going, children like us, playing. It’s a virtual wonderland out there, serene, relaxing, uncomplicated, and the only thing that could wake us up from our youthful reverie would be a call, or more precisely, a threatening scream from those adults in our house.

That would send us rushing home in a minute.

*211. UNA NUEVA IGLESIA: The 1886 Inauguration of Angeles Church

KITA-KITS KATA PISAMBAN. The church of Angeles, dedicated to our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, is one of the most enduring symbols of the city which started as a town carved out from San Fernando. ca. 1930s.

In the historic district of Angeles stands the Sto. Rosario Church with its distinctive two towers—which many residents see as more than a landmark, but also a witness to Culiat’s pueblo past as well as the unfolding present. The original church had been constructed of simple nipa and bamboo, as most pioneer churches were made of. It was replaced by Fray Guillermo Masnou in 1855, the long-serving Augustinian priest who left quite a mark on the church and its history, imprints that are still apparent in the city even to this day.

The present stone-and-brick structure, however , is attributed to F. Ramon Sarrionandia, who, in 1860, commissioned a Manila architect, Antonio de la Camara, to design the church. On-and-off construction lasted for over 20 years, with F. Juan Merino finally completing the major portions of the church in 1886, opening it partially to the public.

An Augustinian publication, Revista Augustiniana (Vol. 12) , published an account of the 1886 inauguration:

“We received from the Philippines, a letter stating that on 14 April 1886, the Very Rev. Juan Merino OSA solemnly blessed and opened for public worship, a portion of the newly constructed church at Angeles, Pampanga, which will soon be one of the roomiest churches in the country. Those who assisted in the ceremony were Frs. Antonio Redondo (then San Fernando curate), Urbano Bedoya, and Galo de la Calle* (*died of cholera in Lubao)—All Augustinians. Frs. Gregorio Bueno** (**killed in 1898 at the height of the Philippine Revolution; his death started the legendary curse of Mabalacat) and Mariano Morales—both Augustinian Recollects—were also at hand.

The event was attended by all the residents of the town, who were filled with joyful satisfaction to see a solemn celebration in this new church for the first time. The construction of the new edifice was made possible through the patronage of eight prominent families of this town, together with the zealous efforts and sacrifices of Fr. Merino.
Not to be outdone also is the generosity of the faithful who did everything possible to contribute with donations, labor and anything to help their beloved parish priest.

For now, only the portion of the principal nave with its choir is opened to the public, in which they have placed the altar, confessionals and other church vessels, thus giving it an impression of a real church. The rest of the structure is at the finishing stage with all its necessary materials at hand.
The dedicated structure successfully melded together beauty and safety which is necessary in these Islands exposed to the danger of earthquakes, thus affording it strength by the solid construction of its walls, the proportions of all its parts, its well-chosen materials, and the framework and roofing—all made from the more reputable factories of Europe.

Fr. Merino must have been gratified by the fruits of his labors’ the satisfied residents of Angeles can now have their divine workshop with pomp and splendor inside the church. All are equally satisfied for having prepared a dwelling fro the Lord, so that He may live among his mortals, putting in mind that the Lord of Lords never fails to repay not even a glass of water given in His name.”

The church was completed in 1892 by Fr. Pedro Ibeas—“a magnificent church, a perennial monument to the religious dedication of the town people of Angeles”. A few more renovations were undertaken by Fr. Rufino Santos the next year, and all the finishing touches were done in 1897, shortly before the departure of the Spanish Augustinians.

(I am indebted to Fray Lord Musni for this article, which originally appeared in "Singsing", the official publication of the Center for Kapampangan Studies, and modified for this blog.)

*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).

*209. Floridablanca's Muse of Philippine Movies: ROSITA NOBLE

NOBLE BEAUTY. The lovely star of the 50s silver screen with her trademark dimples was born in the sugar town of Floridablanca, of German descent. This photo is from an album of Lux Beauties, issued as a premium in the 1950s.

One of the most unforgettable faces ever to grace the Philippine theaters screens belongs to the Kapampangan actress, Rosita Noble. She, with her trademark dimples, had a film career that lasted for just under a decade but her body of work speaks well of her thespic talents that she put to good use in movies ranging from tearjerkers, rib-tickling comedy to action movies.

 Rosita Noble was born in 1934 in Floridablanca, then, a flourishing sugar town. She was the first-born of a German immigrant, Herman von Costenoble, who a married local girl—and his lavandera (washerwoman), Maria Panlaqui.

Despite the objection of relatives, their love defied all odds. The couple settled in Lubao where Costenoble had sugar cane fields, where they were blessed with 4 children: Rosita, Efren. The young Rosita went to Del Carmen Elementary School, a local grade school near the Pampanga Sugar Mills (PASUMIL). 

During the war, her father was killed in an ambush by the Japanese army that had invaded the province. As to how she got into the movies, we have no account, but at age 17, she was cast in the epic movie “Sta. Cristina”, under Premiere Productions. This was in 1951, an auspicious year for an ingénue.

 The executives of Premiere must have liked how Rosita registered on screen such that they gave her two more assignments that same year: “Bahay na Tisa” and “Taga-Ilog”. Her serene beauty was perfect for “Kalbaryo ni Hesus”, another movie with a religious theme. Then she shifted to melodrama with “Pagsikat ng Araw” and “Sa Kamay ng Tadhana” in 1953. Her star was at its brightest in 1954, making a record of six movies: “Is My Guy”, “Sa Kabila ng Bukas”, “Agua Bendita”, “3 Sisters”, “Sex Gang” and “Si Og sa Army”, where she co-starred with Mr. Philippines, Jess Ramos.

Costumed action movies were all the rage in the mid 50s (Ibong Adarna, Siete Infantes de Lara, Prinsipe Amante) and Rosita was quickly recruited to make “Anak ni Palaris” in 1955. She had the distinction of being the first leading lady to be paired with an up-and-coming young star—Fernando Poe Jr.

 It was also in 1955 that she appeared in the movie adaptation of “Torpe”, a story written by the prolific Mars Ravelo which was first serialized in Hiwaga Komiks. Rosita played the lead role opposite Carlos Padilla Jr. in this Eddie Romero directed movie produced by Deegar Cinema, Inc.

Her performance was noted as among the best of the year and when the FAMAS Awards season came, she found herself being nominated for Best Actress alongside accomplished actresses Lolita Rodriguez (“Rosanna”), Leila Morena (“Pandora”), Emma Alegre (“Higit sa Lahat”) and fellow Kapampangan Rosa Rosal ( she won for “Sonny Boy”).

 As the 50s decade closed, she moved to Sampaguita Pictures, then a rising production outfit, where she made a few more movies before calling it quits. In all the years she spent as a glamorous movie star, she was a model performer, a true professional who was never embroiled in controversies. Married to Turkish-Filipino, Antonio Basmayor Tani from Albay,

Rosita raised 5 children: Valentine (married to Cesar Canlas), Antonio (+, married to Rosanna Labrador),Christine (married to Greg Parham), Mary Rose (married to Joven Esguerra) and Herbert Costenoble. In 1984, with her showbiz years behind her, Rosita and her family moved to the U.S. and has not been back since. The Tanis spent 57 beautiful years together, until Antonio’s death at the age of 85 in 2008.

 Nowadays, Rosita she spends time with her Bible Study group. She loves to garden, and stays close to her 13 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren.

In 2010, Rosita Noble was honored alongside 50s screen icons Lilia Dizon, Delia Razon, Mila del Sol, Tessie Agana, Linda Estrella, Letty Alonzo, Gloria Romero, Rosa Rosal, Lolita Rodriguez and others, with a Gawad Parangal sa mga Ginintuang Bituin ng Pelikulang Pilipino, in celebration of the International Women’s Month—indeed, a noble tribute to the legacy of Floridablanca’s first lady of the silver screen, Rosita Noble.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


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.

*207. La Moda Elegante: COUTURE CAPAMPANGAN

FIRST LADY OF FASHION. Florencia "Floring" Salgado of San Fernando established a highly popular couture house in Manila. She also personally modeled her modern creations as shown in this salon photo. Dated 8 June 1931.

Peacetime in the 1930s was when the country settled into a short decade of ease and relative comfort, brought about by an aggressive Commonwealth program of infrastructure building and industrialization. The “Americanization’ of the Philippines continued unabated, and local society lapped it all up, adapting the joie de vivre and materialism of their colonizers, evident in their ideas of leisure, the elegant life and of course, modes of dressing.

For the young Kapampangan girl on the threshold of a new, more liberal era, it was an exciting time to grow up. “To see and to be seen” was one important reason for joining youth clubs like Mountainside, Mancomunidad Pampangueña and E Kukupas. More than social clubs with special advocacies, these groups also unwittingly hyped the importance of personal style, grooming and fashion in their gala events and parties. Schools and colleges, particularly co-ed institutions also provided opportunities to dress up—there were fairs, proms, foundation days, ROTC events and inter-school beauty contests that called for young ladies to dress to the nines.

Then there was the new media that brought Hollywood idols to the local theaters via American-made movies, instantly becoming new fashion icons. Louise Brooks popularized the bob cut, Clara Bow was the quintessential Flapper and Marlene Dietrich channeled her masculine side with her tailored suits and pants. Magazines like Graphic and Free Press devoted pages to style and fashion, often featuring the fabulous gowns of Carnival beauties designed and executed by leading couturiers of the day like Pacita Longos.

The local costurera was not adequate for the modern Kapampangan woman’s new Western fashion needs—only a good fashion house with trained designers will do. Soon, high fashion “talleres de moda” sprouted all over Pampanga, promising to give every young lady that modern, sophisticated and elegant look.

In Florencia Salgado of San Fernando led the way in creating beautiful high fashion wear for the affluent Kapampangan, including wedding outfits, casual and office clothes. Educated in Paris, Floring was a walking advertisement for her fashions, modeling her own creations and holding fashion shows at her school. She established her atelier on Nebraska St., in Manila, enjoying the patronage of the city's creme de la creme.

“La Creacion”, owned and operated by Maria Tioleco Espinosa was another popular “taller de costuras, bordados, feston, vainica y cadeneta”. Not to be outdone was “San Fernando Elegante” of sisters Rosa and Angela Santos with a shop on Blanco St. Meanwhile, Elisa Lim, a graduate of “costura y pintura” managed “La Moda Elegante” while modiste’s Jesusa Quiambao ran “La Satisfaccion”. Elsewhere, Juliana Agustin’s “La Elegancia” was the purveyor of couture in Macabebe. Ladies from Floridablanca glammed it up at the shop of Pilar D. David, a graduate of the French Art School, whose specialty is fitting ladies’ apparel.

In Manila, enterprising Kapampangans set up their design and dress shops in various pars of the city. Originally from Sasmuan, Epifania Cuyugan set up “La Fantasia” along Herran (now Pedro Gil), while Angeleña Roberta Tablante Paras had her hole in the wall at 859 Rizal Avenue. “R.T. Paras” would grow into the legendary fashion shop that would count First Ladies (Aurora Quezon), Presidents (Cory Aquino, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) and high society personalities (Imelda Cojuangco) as clients. It still is in operation today under the helm of a grandson, Roy Gonzales, a Paris-trained designer.

The Thirties were fabulous years for the Kapampangan woman who, for once, had the extra time and money to indulge in the things she loves best—dressing up in the latest fashions to look and feel beautiful, lending credence to the saying that indeed, clothes make the man—and his woman!