Sunday, December 18, 2011


IN THOUGHTS, IN WORDS, AND IN DEEDS. Officials of the "Good Citizenship" for 1927-28. Guagua Elementary School, Guagua, Pampanga.

The earliest memory of my school days were the flag ceremonies that were held every morning without fail—exactly at 7 a.m. , at the courtyard of our elementary school. There we were herded every day, in two lines, and, with the motion of a teacher’s hand, we stood in attention to attempt to sing the “Pambansang Awit”, as the Philippine tri-color was solemnly raised. Afterwards, a senior elementary student led us in reciting the patriotic pledge that began with “Iniibig ko ang Pilipinas..”. There was absolutely no talking and no moving about the whole time the 15 minute ceremony was conducted, which behooved many of us 6 year old first graders—we didn’t even have the lyrics of the national anthem memorized---all we knew was that we had to keep still lest we get an icy stare from our teacher.

Only later did we learn that we had just taken part in the first step towards building good citizenship; by singing our national hymn and pledging our allegiance to the country, we affirmed our status as proud and free citizens of the Philippines. The next few years, more acts of good citizenship were to be demanded from us – at home, in school, and the community in which we lived.

A whole course was taught in Grade 5 and 6, to instill in us how a good Filipino citizen should act. It began with lectures on our rights and duties as citizens—including the four freedoms—freedom of speech, religion, fear and want. Similarly, we were told of our right to vote—and we put this to good use when we started voting for our class officers. With my excellent penmanship, I was a shoo-in for the position of Class Secretary, a post I held until graduation. I never did get the Presidential post, but at least the whole class got to see my handwriting on the bulletin board.

Many schools, in fact, went beyond including Good Citizenship subjects in its curriculum but also organized clubs that promoted the basic principle that the child is a citizen and that from his earliest years, he must be given training and should undergo experiences in citizenship living. Members of the club were encouraged to attend community activities and sit in local barrio meetings so they will be in the know insofar as community issues and interests are concerned.

Goodness how many civic activities we planned, organized and actively participated in! We made posters and slogans to support our community health drives. To demonstrate self-reliance, we had our own Green Revolution project right in our own high school, planting all sorts of vegetables in vacant lots that we quickly transformed into a green garden patch. I remember also a composting project—our early contribution to recycling. In college, we were required to have at least 24 hours of community work under the “CivAc” course, which was integrated in our R.O.T.C. military training. Most of these entailed cleaning the neighborhood—hauling and collecting trash, repainting graffiti-covered walls and planting of trees.

It is good to know that teaching good citizenship continues today, under “Sibika”. Developing a civic conscience is difficult in an age where self-centeredness seem to be the trait of this “I-me-mine generation”. Only when all of us consciously and actively seek to take part in the affairs of our country, work for the welfare of our community and practice in our individual lives the highest civic and moral standards can we finally say that we are indeed Filipinos, “sa isip, sa salita at sa gawa.”

Thursday, December 8, 2011


I'LL BE DOGGONE! A little girl poses with her prized dog, a Japanese spaniel, an imported breed that must have cost her family a lot. The local aso had always played been a special part of the Kapampangan household--taking on many roles as a playful pet, a trusty guard and a loyal companion. Ca. mid 1920s.

He barks incessantly, he yelps non-stop. He can’t keep quiet, his howls can irritate a whole neighborhood for hours, making him a trusty guard. Impervious to fleas and scabies, he is a hardy breed, uncomplaining when hungry and as resilient as the Kapampangan master that owns him.

A typical Philippine dog is described as a short-haired, moderately long-nosed canine weighing anywhere from 25-35 pounds. It is either tan or black in color with a white streak on the chest and “white stockinged” feet. Ears are often erect pointing a bit forward but with a slight flop. Its face features a wrinkled forehead, black nose and black eyelids. Its tail curls up in “C”.

However, a more pleasant-looking dog breed called “Sampaguita” was known in the Islands in the 1930s. A certain Mrs. Norma Lim, then president of the Philippine Ladies Kennel Club, had such a long-haired white dog. This local dog is believed to be the forebear of the slightly smaller Maltese, a theory supported by the American Kennel Club whose book notes that “the foundation stock of the Maltese in England came from Manila, not Malta”.

No matter how he looks, the lowly ‘aso’ will always be a special part of our lives, as well as our popular culture. Our language, customs and traditions are full of references to our best friend. “Manğaso” is a term for hunting with dogs, a traditional practice in the old days. “Miaso” is to go hunting using the dog(s) of another person—as in “Yang miaso I Juan keng aso ng Pedro” ( Juan went hunting with Pedro’s dogs). The hunt or the hunted were called “asuan” and “inasuan”. It is interesting to note that a Bagobo pre-Spanish epic celebrated the excellence of trained hunting dogs in its verses.

Related terms that have come down to us include an “aso-aso”, a dog collar outfitted with bells. It also refers to a similar noisemaker tied to a dog’s tail, when one was in a playful mood. The resultant jingle-jangle was described as ‘calangcang’. A man who has gone off his rockers is often referred to as “mamulang asu”, a mad dog—complete with bloodshot eyes and frothing, snarling mouth. Among Aetas, having ‘ipan asu” (canine teeth) was considered a mark of beauty, so Aeta maidens filed their teeth to a point and blackened them to achieve that ideal.

Then there’s “dugong-aso”—a pejorative term used to describe Kapampangans as a dog-blooded—traitors of their own race. This is in reference to that time in our history when Kapampangans were aiding Spaniards and Americans in their campaigns against Filipinos, capped by the capture of Aguinaldo with the help of Macabebe soldiers.

The custom of dog-eating is often associated with Kapampangans, but people from the Mountain Province were enjoying dogs on their dining table even earlier. Victor Heiser, Commissioner of Health wrote in his journal that “in 1905, on Benguet Road, I often used to see Filipinos bound for the Saturday dog market in Baguio”. This has led at least one writer, Sonia Lampson, author of “The Observer’s Book of Dogs”, to describe our ‘aso’ as a “Philippine edible dog, a favorite tidbit at the feast”. Dog meat is believed to warm the body, but can also give one a doggy odor. Black dogs, many maintain, are supposed to taste better. They are often cooked calderata and adobo style; its liver is made into “kilo” (kinilaw) with garlic and onions, perfect with swigs of Ginebra 'marka demonyo'. A more unusual serving is dog tapa, prepared the same way as beef tapa.

Certain beliefs and notions about dogs persist in many Kapampangan towns as well as in other parts of the Philippines. For example, a dog is said to become fiercer if he is tied. Also, an open wound can be disinfected with a dog lick (which unfortunately was not the case with actor Fernando Poe Sr., who died of rabies after being infected in this manner by his pup). It is also believed that dogs can tell if a person has eaten ‘azucena’ (aso + cena = dog dinner) through a snarl or a growl.

Looking at dogs in our history, you could come to a conclusion that they are indeed, a breed apart. In all kinds of weather, “Tagpi” will stay by you and reward you with loyalty. Beaten, bruised or starved, he will continue to come home. More than just a pet, he will remain a faithful companion, quick to defend, easy to please. For that, they deserve a bit of kindness—and a bow-wow!

Sunday, November 27, 2011


FELICIDADES! A postcard illustrated by artist Jorge Pineda, greets the recipient with the standard greeting of warm felicitations for a happy holiday season. Ca. 1912.

A keen observer would find it amusing that the standard “Komusta ka?” (“How are you?”, derived from the Spanish ‘Como esta’?), has been supplemented today by a variety of Americanisms (“Wazzup?” “Hi, hello!”) as well as greetings that skip formality altogether, almost prying in tone as in “Nang balita?”—what’s new with you.

Time was when our everyday greetings were expressed with respect, always punctuated by “po or pu”, a polite word which we hear often, but now speak less. “Dispu”, derived from “Dios pu”, bestows upon the person being greeted, a kind of divine respect. Hence, when one says “Benging dispu’, it means more than just “Good evening’ (“Mayap a bengi”) , but with it comes a wish for an evening blessed with God’s grace.

Traditional Kapampangan greetings always elevate the stature of the person being addressed, as in the greeting "Siklaud ku pu" (Let me kneel before you), used for our elders. This practice of humbling one’s self in the presence of another is also observed in written sentiments. A person will give his photo to another accompanied by a dedication that almost smacks of self-deprecation: “Maluca queng yampang ing matsura kung letratu keka’ (“I humbly give my ugly picture to you).

When a friend on foot is spotted walking around a neighborhood, he is invited to leave the road and refresh himself with a drink inside the house--“salangi ka pa". “Salangi” also means “to light up with a match”-- which can very well describe an honored presence "lighting up" the house?. A person taking leave should bade his kind host goodbye with “Ume na kami/ Malaus na kami”. He can only go when permission is granted. In some towns like Arayat, folks use “Magsilbi ke pa pu”—literally, “we are ready to serve”.

The all-purpose greeting “Luid ka/ Maluid ka!” is our equivalent of “Mabuhay” and is used to wish someone welcome, congratulations, good health and a prosperous life. There are specific greetings for special occasions like birthdays, however: “Masayang aldo ning kekang kebaitan!” or a simple “Masayang kebaitan keka!” are our translations of “Happy Birthday!”, but the usage of that English greeting—with the localized pronunciation “Hapi Bertdey!”, is much more pervasive nowadays.

During the Spanish colonial times, the generic greeting “Felicidades!” (Felicitations!) was widely used for such occasions as Christmas, New Year and Graduation. The greeting appeared widely on business cards of Kapampangan professionals like doctors, dentists and lawyers. Tagalogs greeted their own with “Magandang Pasko at Manigong Bagong Taon” or the more current “Masayang Pasko at Masaganang Bagong Taon”. Our counterpart is “Masayang Pasku at Masaplalang Bayung Banwa”.

When a brief phrase or two was not enough to express his sentiments, a Kapampangan would often resort to poetry, florid and profound, gushing with praise and well-wishes, as in this dedication written by an admirer to a lady friend in Sta. Rita:

Caniting malucang postal
Queca cu ngeni papabal
Carin cu naman yayampang
Ini nang tula cung dacal

Queting fiesta mung dinatang
Pagnasan cu itinang
Fiesta mu ngening dinatang
Pasayan na ngan ding sablang
Magum qng quecang camalan.

Magluid sana ing bie mu
Queting mabilug a yatu
Layun sanang nabangnan mu
Yng tulang panenayan mu

In this humble letter
To you I make known
And also to you I offer
My overflowing joy

On this your feast day (birthday) that has come
It is my wish that your feast day
Will delight all those who will come
To praise your highness.

May you live long
In this whole world
And may you find the happiness
That you have been waiting for.

Kapampangans, they say, are brash, loud and ‘mayabang’—but our traditional forms of greetings and salutations disprove all that—they are polite, respectful, sincere. I don’t hear much of “dispu” nowadays, but “opu and pu” are still there—still used by kids when addressing their elders, although in “jejemonized” form when spelled in text messages. Which is a good thing, as our regard for other people seems to diminish with the advent of new media. We are quick to post insults on facebook, lambast someone on our blogs and make careless remarks in forums. Let’s bring back the era of a polite society, so we can bring humanity back to man. Ne po?

*272. FR. JUAN HERRERO OAR: In the Crossfire of a Revolution

RECOLETO IN THE REVOLUTION. Fr. Juan Herrero OAR, a former assistant parish priest of Mabalacat, was a tragic figure in the Revolution, killed defending the Spanish flag along with 9 other fellow priests in Imus, Cavite. Picture from the Recoleto digital archives.

One tragic figure of the Revolution of 1896 was a distinguished priest of the Orden de Agustinos Recoletos, who once ministered in Mabalacat: Fr. Juan Herrero. The Recoletos were the last missionaries to arrive in the Islands, arriving only in 1606, years after the Augustinians, Dominicans, Jesuits and Franciscans have chose prime mission fields. The “Barefoot Augustinians” (to differentiate them from the shod Augustinians) created the Provincia de San Nicolas de Tolentino from what remained of the unclaimed territories which were often remote and populated with hostile tribes.

Mabalacat was one of the “final frontiers’ where the Recoletos labored to win souls for God, along with southern Tarlac, Zambales, Bataan and Cavite. Slowly, but surely, the hardy Recoletos not only succeeded in their missionary work but also managed to amass large tracts of land through generous donation which were transformed into prosperous haciendas. The Hacienda San Juan in Imus was by far, the most progressive, which included built infrastructures like bridges and canals, as parts of its assets.

The Recoletos were already firmly established in Pampanga and Tarlac when Fr. Juan Herrero OAR was called on to help the thriving mission center in Mabalacat from where Recoletos fanned out to neighboring places to evangelize. Fr. Herrero had been previously assigned in Dagami, Leyte where the conditions there had prepared him for the arduous task ahead in this northernmost Pampanga town. In 1885, he was named as a compañero or assistant priest to Fr. Gregorio Bueno de la Virgen del Rosario, who had been serving the town for quite awhile. Fr. Herrero stayed for just 5 months—from July 11 to December 10, but long enough to be facile with the Kapampangan language, a talent which earned him an amount of respect among the natives.

A major assignment awaited him on 30 April 1891 when he was named as the Prior-Administrator of the order’s hacienda in Imus, a job that he performed with exemplary zeal and efficiency. But the looming revolution would change the course of history and of the good father’s life, as Cavite started to feel more intensely the stirrings of unrest.

Anxious about their properties, the Recoletos decided to put their haciendas for sale in October 1893, an almost impossible venture in such unsettling times. The Comisario General of the Recollects in Madrid formed a dummy company called “El Fomento de la Agricultura en Filipinas”, instituted on 24 February 1894 with Fr. Juan Herrero as manager of the said company. To this fictitious company, the hacienda was ‘sold’ for 4 million pesetas.

When the flames of the Revolution reached Cavite in 1896, violent attacks against Spaniards were waged with varying degrees of success in many towns, Imus included. In the last days of September 1896, the Recoletoshacienda in Imus became the scene of a bloody siege, in which advancing Cavite revolucionarios managed to corner Spaniards— soldiers and Recoleto priests led by Fr. Juan Herrero who bravely rallied around their country’s flag.

Holed up in the hacienda without any hope of escape, Fr. Juan Herrero and 9 other Recoletos were killed in the crossfire by passionate revolutionary forces. In an eerie twist of fate, a similar drama would unfold two years later in the same Pampanga town that he once served and involving the parish priest that he once assisted. Fr. Gregorio Bueno would die in the hands of Mabalacat revolutionists upon the order of the municipal presidente, a murder that would spawn the tale of the town’s infamous curse.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


SHE'S A DOLL! A little Kapampangan girl poses with her two dolls--a large American-made baby doll with composition head, hands and feet and a smaller doll also of composition. Dolls like these were rather expensive, so they were brought out only during special occasions--or when a child gets sick and needs comforting with toys. Mid 1920s.

Boys will be boys with their tirador (slingshots), pasi (tops) and teks cards—but girls will always be inseparable from their dolls—models of people made all sorts of materials like wood, clay, leather, cloth, modern plastic, vinyl and even ivory. In fact, old folks in Macabebe and Minalin still call dolls as “garing”, in reference to their similarity to ivory-headed saint figures lavishly dressed like dolls from the Spanish times. Today, of course, they are more commonly known as ‘munika’, derived from the Spanish term for doll-- ‘muñeca’.

Throughout history, dolls were traditionally used not just as playthings but also for folk rituals around the world —like the voodoo dolls of Haiti and the Daruma dolls of Japan that were kept as lucky charms. The era of mass production saw the importation of dolls to the Philippines in the late 19th century, but practical-minded Filipinos considered them more of a luxury. Girls only got to play with them when they got sick or when they sat for their studio portraits. After use, mothers put back the dolls in their boxes and stowed in the aparador.

The earliest commercially-made dolls that reached the Philippines came from large emporiums and Escolta bazaars like La Puerta del Sol, American Bazaar, Beck’s, Brias Roxas Inc., Osaka Bazaar and H. E. Heacock. They carried American and European made dolls of bisque, parian, composition, china, leather and cloth--plus doll accessories like miniature furniture. Well-known 19th century French and German dollmakers were Bru, Jumeau, Steiner, Simon & Halbig, Heubach and Steiff. Shops in Escolta also carried Japanese cloth dolls in their own glass cases, but these were more decorative rather than for playing. American made dolls from Horsman and Ideal Novelty (maker of Shirley Temple dolls) proved to be more popular because they were readily available and affordable by the time the 20th century rolled in.

As visitors flocked to discover our Islands, enterprising Filipinos put up curio shops that sold souvenirs—from shellcraft, abaca products, capiz lamps—and dolls. "Everything Philippines and nothing else but...!" was the come-on of Manila Trading Center and Exchange along Rizal Avenue, a popular shop that sold all sorts of handmade souvenirs for eager tourists--dolls included. The first commercially produced dolls were representations of Filipinos in native costumes, with heads, hands and feet of paper mache, clay or some form of terra cotta. Hand-painted with cloth bodies, they were dressed in native costumes faithfully executed in jusi, sinamay and cotton. Later, the heads and hands were replaced with cheaper composition material, made from wood and paper pulp.

Costumed Philippine dolls continued to fascinate tourists, spawning a cottage industry that prospered modestly in the mid 1920s-30s. Ethnic dolls also seemed to have an international appeal and Baguio-made Igorota cloth dolls with painted faces and dressed in traditional woven skirts were all the rage in those peacetime years. Nationalists in the late 1920s encouraged parents to give Philippine-made dolls as Christmas gifts for kids, this in the face of more expensive, imported dolls that could cry, talk, say “Mama”, sleep, walk and even wet themselves! Philippine dolls were not only cheap, but they also catered to both young girls and boys! Popular during this time were novelty paper mache dolls representing country boys and 'dalagang bukid' with their own paper mache horses, pigs and carabaos that they could actually sit on.

Alta Crafts was the biggest dollmaker in postwar Manila, creating cloth dolls that became the benchmark of other dollmakers in the 1950s. The standing cloth dolls personified the different ethnographic groups of the Philippines, dressed in indigenous costumes. It made Igorot dolls, Ilocana dolls, Visayan dolls in patadyong and even Central Luzon dolls in balintawak. Copied by other dollmakers all over the country, these cloth dolls have become our country’s signature dolls, even finding their way in San Fernando and Angeles gift shops, avidly sought by American servicemen and their families.

Closer to home, I remember a doll that was given by an aunt to my eldest sister in the mid 50s. It was a Saucy Walker plastic doll, which underwent countless horrible ordeals in our hands. In our boisterous games, this doll was kicked, tied and hung, tossed in the air, rolled down the stairs and, with hair pulled out, defaced with crayons until the garbage dump claimed the poor thing. As the years passed, the doll was quickly forgotten and my sister eventually married, settled in the States and we all grew up and led separate lives.

One day, however, while I was having a picture framed in an art gallery, I noticed a doll sitting on a shelf with the familiar auburn hair, close-open eyes and smiling mouth. It was an exact duplicate of the doll my sister once had. One look and I knew, I just had to have it.

Fortunately, the gallery owner didn’t care much about the doll, and it took just a little cajoling and a few hundred pesos for her to part with her doll. More than just a plaything, I have come to realize that this “munika” represented a piece of our family’s past, a most happy time in our youth now gone; when the joys of childhood could be had by simply spinning a top, rolling marbles, folding paper airplanes—and, in the case of little girls—creating worlds of make-believe with their dollies!

Monday, November 14, 2011

*270. Power Couple: Dr. WENCESLAO B. VITUG & JUANITA S. ARRASTIA of Lubao

LIGHTS OF LUBAO. Dr. Wenceslao B. Vitug and Juanita S. Arrastia came from two different worlds--one, from a humble farming family, the other, from an affluent Basque Spaniards who settled in Pampanga. As a married couple, they were known for their compassionate spirit and generosity in running their vast haciendas, and in turn, were highly regarded by their loyal tenants. 16 May 19226. Photo courtesy of Cathy Engstrom).

From Lubao comes one of the town’s most celebrated couple, Dr. Wenceslao Vitug and wife Isabel Arrastia, who were best known for their extraordinary sense of community and magnanimous spirit, along with the wealth and power they wielded as successful landholders and professionals. Theirs is a story of selfless love and of enormous hearts which never cease to give and care, when others needed it most.

Wenceslaso “Beses” B. Vitug was born 28 September 1892, to Esteban and Juana Beltran. The future doctor had humble beginnings—his father was a farmer from Barrio Concepcion who went on to serve as a mayor of Lubao from 1910-13. It was his father who inculcated to the young Wenceslao the values of hard work, education and community service. After his early schooling at the Lubao Elementary School, Wenceslao graduated as Valedictorian of the Pampanga High School Class 1912. He then enrolled at the University of the Philippines as a medical student, and 6 years later, Wenceslao earned his degree in Medicine.

He trained at the Philippine General Hospital where he subsequently became a resident physician from 1918-23 and proceeded to make a name for himself as a professor of medicine at his alma mater, U.P.

In contrast, Juanita S. Arrastia was born with the proverbial silver spoon in her mouth on 8 March 1902, the middle child of Valentin Arrastia and Francisca Salgado. Valentin, originally from Allo, Navarra, a Basque region of Spain, owned a prosperous hacienda in Lubao that included fish ponds. The 10 Arrastia children all grew up in a splendid bahay na bato located right in front of the town hall.

But when it was time to seek an education, Juanita was sent off to the Colegio de Sta. Rosa where she aspired to be a nun. But fate intervened when, one day, Juanita and sister Carmen accompanied their diabetic mother to PGH for a check-up. Wenceslao’s reputation as an exceptional internist had reached Lubeños, impressing everyone—including the Francisca Arrastia. She did her best to push Juanita to ThE GoOd dOcToR—10 years her senior.

The search for the queenship for the 1926 Pampanga Carnival organized by Gov. Sotero Baluyut would provide another distraction for Juanita. Local organizers approached her mother, Francisca, to seek approval for her candidacy to the provincial fair. Her mother, in turn, referred them to Juanita’s father, Valentin Arrastia, who grumbled and showed no interest at the project. Unfazed, the organizers returned to plead with him. One day, tired of their implorings, he threw his arms in the air to dismiss them, and, walking away, exclaimed "Vanidades del mundo! (Vanities of the world!)" They took that as a yes. Juanita did not disappoint and was elected Miss Pampanga of 1926. Her King Consort was a relative—Gregorio “Yoyong” Fernandez (actor, director and future father of the late Rudy “Daboy” Fernandez).

To everyone’s surprise, the 24 year old beauty wed Wenceslao on 15 May 1926—just a few months after being named Miss Pampanga. The marriage of Juanita to a ‘commoner’ who made good was big news in Lubao, where they settled and became hacenderos themselves, noted for their compassion and kindness to tenants.

It was said that Dr. Vitug personally treated sick tenants while Juanita cared for the welfare of their families, even extending interest-free loans. To religious order, she donated acres of land on which to construct their churches and schools. She also gave away plots of lands to loyal farmhands and offerd their home in Manila to children of family and friends who wished to study in the big city.

The couple themselves were blessed with 5 children: Lourdes (Lulu), Amelia Juana (Melly) , Maria Magdalena (Nena), Antonio Jesus (Tony, a medical doctor), Luis Lamberto (died young, of bone cancer), Mario Venerando (died of aneurysm), and Roberto Nicolas (Bert).

The Vitugs would eventually settle in Manila , living long, full lives surrounded by the love of their children and grandkids. Wenceslao passed away in 7 January 1986 at age 94, while Juanita died in 8 September 1994. Their old Lubao house was acquired by an architect and had it transported to a seaside town of Bagac, in Bataan where it is now part of Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar.

(Many thanks to Cathy Gamboa-Engstrom for the picture and for the biographical sketches of Dr. and Mrs. Wenceslao Vitug, her grandparents.)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

*269. Macabebe's Man for All Seasons: LEONARDO V. LILLES

LILLES OF THE FIELD. Leonardo Valdes Lilles with second wife Graciana Engracia del Rosario, was a successful agricultural engineer, landowner, businessman and town leader of Macabebe.

Engineer, politician, agriculturist, businessman, revolucionario--Leonardo Valdes Lilles is all that—a Kapampangan visionary who wore many hats and played many roles, all in the name of community service and for his beloved town, Macabebe.

He was born on 11 April 1877, the unico hijo of Remigio Lilles and Leodegaria Valdes, the second child in a brood of five that also included his sisters Felisa, Margarita, Florencia and Laurentina.

“Ando”, as he was called, went to Ateneo de Manila (1886-87) and then to San Juan de Letran for his high school. He then enrolled at the University of Sto. Tomas in 1894 to take up agriculture from 1894-96. The course was a natural choice for Ando as the Lilles family had vast farmlands from where they derived their livelihood. As the only son, Ando was expected to continue the family’s agricultural tradition that had given them wealth, comfort and status in Pampanga society.

The Revolution however, briefly intervened and Ando was quick to support the cause, one of the first Macabebes to do so. His first act was to resist Col. Blanco and to join the local revolutionary government. He was elected member of the Committee of Fund Drive (Comite Reandador de Fondos), together with Capt. Mariano Talag, Capt. Felipe Bustos, and town cabeza Cirilo Musni.

When conditions stabilized, Ando was sent off by his parents to England, where he enrolled at the University of London to finish his Agricultural Engineering (Ingeniero Agricola) course . While there, he also became an esteemed member of the “Agriculture Club” of England. Ando could have stayed in Europe but he decided to go home and pursue his career as an agriculturist. From 1905 to the late 30s, he worked an managed their landholdings in Lubao, Macabebe and Masantol. “Ing pamagtiaga yang dalarayan ning pamagwagi”(Patience is the way to success), was the motto he lived by, and slowly but surely, Ando steered his family enterprise to greater heights.

With a secure future, Ando decided to share his time and services with his fellow Macabebes. In 1911, he ran as an independent for the position of a councilor. He won a slot and became a consejal (councilor) for the next 12 years, despite not having a party affiliation. He had always ran as an independent because he could not bear to ‘play politics’.

Ando now had everything—except a family. He found true love in Olivia Limson, a kabalen, whom he married in December 1915. The couple, however, were childless. Adding to his sorrow was Olivia’s untimely death in 1919—they were just together for 4 short years. Undaunted, he devoted the next few years to public service. As a councilor of Guagua, he was one of those who donated Php100 for the salaries of teachers so that the Intermediaria Guagua (Guagua’s Intermediate School) could run and operate, under the tenure of Mayor Felipe Simpao. Ando also supported the construction of the public market and even participated in drawing up the plans.

On April 1922, Ando married for the second time to Graciana Engracia del Rosario (b. 18 December 1886) of Guagua. This time, the union produced three offsprings: Leodegaria, Remigio and Renato. (Note: Leodegaria married Rodolfo Tioseco. Their son, Leonardo, is the father of Alexis Tioseco, the noted film critic who was murdered together with his Slovenian girlfriend Nika Bohinc on 1 September 2009. Alexis is interred in Angeles City)

The best years of his followed after; he left politics to help raise his family and grow his business. He would divide his time between Manila and Macabebe, until his death on 27 February 1951. His wife, Engracia, outlived him for 12 years, passing away on 5 March 1963. Leonardo Lilles left behind a legacy of good governance and public service, guided by this precept that he subscribed in and which he evidently took to heart: “Ing catapatan o calinisan qng sablang tratus yang babie catimawan at catajimican qng tau”(Loyalty and fairness in all dealings is what gives prosperity and peace to people).

*268. My Teachers' Yearbook: TERRY SANGUYU & PAULA SUEMURA

Like most Mabalacat kids, my early learning years were spent in the town’s largest public school—the Mabalacat Elementary School. It was located right next to the municipio, at the side of the big church, a typical Gabaldon building of concrete, slightly elevated, with large swinging capiz windows and wooden flooring. Beginning at age 6, I went to my classes here along with 30 or so classmates, our education and character molded by a series of teachers who left varying degrees of impressions on our young minds.

My first grade teacher was an oldish but kindly schoolma’arm named Madam Gomez, whose first name I have forgotten. My second grade teacher was even older, Mrs. Roberta de la Cruz by name. The next year, I made it to the elite special class supervised by the very animated Mrs. Salud Manarang; there was never an idle moment with her. About this time, I became more aware of how special our instructors were. My Grade 4 teacher was a young graduate of Normal School, Miss Angelita Dayrit, who was my every idea of how a smart, sophisticated and modern teacher should be.

When it came down to my last two years at M.E.S., I was determined to make it to the classes of the school’s most popular teachers who both had great reputations for being progressive and effective educators—Mrs. Paula (Suemura) Alfaro and Mrs. Eleuteria (Sanguyu) Paquia, class advisers of the top sections of Grade 5 and 6 respectively. Sure enough, I was privileged to be a student of these two teachers who proved to be the most influential in my course and career direction.

I didn’t realize that my teachers were batchmates at then Holy Angel Academy (now University) in Angeles, Pampanga, from the Class of 1959 as their yearbook shows. Holy Angel, then and now, was a leading educational institution founded by Don Juan D. Nepomuceno and Fr. Pedro Santos—they were still personally involved in the affairs of the school in the 50s. Many high school graduates from Mabalacat pursued their college studies there, as the fees were affordable and the quality of education, very high.

Back in 1959, Mrs. Alfaro was still unmarried at 28, and was still known as Paula Suemura y Madlangbayan. Her yearbook described her thus: "Her friends call her Poling and her co-teachers call her 'Sayonara'. Her friendly attitude has made her win for herself many friends and her sweet smiles have magnetized many men".
She had Japanese ancestry, I think her father was a Japanese from Okinawa, and this was apparent in her flawless Oriental complexion--one classmate even likened her to a Japanese doll. She also walked with a bit more energy as she went from class to class. She was not as expressive as other teachers but one memory of her still remains vivid to me to this day. In 1967, she lost her young son to some disease and I recall the whole class going to the funeral wake and seeing her inconsolably crying with grief-- I had never seen such an outpouring of profound sorrow from her before.

We’ve always addressed Mrs. Eleuteria Paquia as “Madam”, so it was a surprise to know that in college, she had a thoroughly modern nickname—“Terry” and that her maiden name was "Sanguyu". A cum laude graduate, "Terry is patient and industrious. In addition to her particular stocks, she is gifted with natural curly air and academic talents".
I remember her as a big, dark woman with a trademark mole—a Mother Earth of some sorts, who had beautiful penmanship and who spoke English with a perfect diction, enunciating each word with clarity unlike any other. Naturally, English became my favorite subject, but she also taught Social Studies with much facility. When she became Mrs. Paquia, we often times chanted her name in secret games—“Misis Paquia, Misispak ya" (she is cracking).

I lost track of my two “Madams’ after our graduation, and I have not seen them since. I would, however, hear occasional news about them; I knew for instance, that Mrs. Alfaro became a school administrator of Mabalacat South District and then went to the U.S. Mrs. Paquia, I think, taught all her life, tutoring even my younger siblings in the years that followed. Sadly, I would hear of her passing in the 90s.

Looking back now, the best part of going to school in the 60s was not just exploring new worlds and meeting new friends, but also sitting in the classes of Mrs. Alfaro and Mrs. Paquia, and literally learning from their knees. But in 1959, in those simpler, gentler times, they were young and eager women freshly graduated from college, about to embark on a lifelong journey that would see them become our second parents, teaching with patience, mentoring with compassion while ennobling their chosen profession.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

*267. LET'S EAT OUT!

PARTY PEOPLE. A party reception held at the nationally popular Carbungco Restaurant which was ran and managed by a Kapampangan, Ambrosio Carbungco of Floridablanca. Dated 30 April 1947.

Kapampangans’ love for food is so much evident in the many creative dishes that have found national approval and acceptance. This has paved the way for the establishment of commercial eating places and restaurants all over the province and even in the city of Manila, founded by enterprising Kapampangans who have parlayed their love for cooking into profitable businesses, long before fastfoods became the standard of a typical Filipino dining out experience.

Pre-war restaurants ran by Kapampangans include the famous Carbungco Restaurant. It was put up by Ambrosio Carbungco of Floridablanca, a former chef of Casino Español. It had a branch in Manila as well as in Antipolo, where the restaurant became a favorite stop of local tourists. Carbungco Restaurant also took city and provincial orders for banquets, picnics and weddings, offering prompt and efficient service every time.

Opposite Cine Palace along Ronquillo St. in Manila, one could drop by for a quick chow at Panciteria Ramon Lee. Lee, who hails from Sta. Ana put up his noodle restaurant which he touted as “the place where all friends meet friends”. The Panciteria was well known for its best-tasting, economically-priced Chinese dishes, whipped up under the supervision of an expert Cantonese cook and most economical prices. Lee also handled the catering of banquets and lauriat parties, served either outside or within city limits.

At nearby Sta. Cruz, at 1726 Azcarraga St. (Recto) was another favorite haunt of foodies ran by a Kapampangan proprietor, Gregoria Villanueva of Sasmuan. Star Restaurant, so named because it was just across Cine Star, took pride of its all-Filipino origins, in the face of American-ran diners like Dixie’s and Plaza Lunch. Its advertisement proclaimed: “Bandi yang Filipino, pamañgan bale, Malinis, Maniaman at Mura. Subucan ye”.

San Fernando, being the province’s capital town, was the hub of the best eating places where whole families can go out and have their fill of their favorite dishes and snacks. There were excellent roadside restaurants that one could visit, like the Panaderia y Panciteria of Andrea David de Nuqui strategically located near the railroad station. Nuqui’s unique carinderia also housed a sari-sari store as well as a beauty parlor, which promised “courteous service, excellent cuisine at moderate charges”. In 1933, Nuqui bagged its biggest commission yet, by becoming the official caterer of the 1st Pampanga Carnival Fair and Exposition. Also around the town were smaller popular haunts like the Carinderia, Cafeteria y Panciteria of Emerenciana Dizon, located at Felix del Pulgar St. and Magnolia Rendezvous.

The war slowed down the country’s restaurant businesses, but in the years of rebuilding, many more restaurants started sprouting again all over Pampanga. Still existing today is Everybody’s Café, which started as a 2-table affair put up by couple Benito and Carmen Santos on Consunji. The cafeteria was a hit among Americans as well as the locals, and in 1965, it opened a more spacious branch at Del Pilar. It now also has a branch in Angeles City, serving the same sumptuous dishes like paku salad, betute, buru, kare-kare, bulalo and sisig it has become famous for.

In Angeles, the only pre-war bar that was still in existence in the 1950s was the Star Bar along Henson St., which featured orchestra music. But like Esquire Club (put up by Paz Pamintuan and husband Frank Von Heiland), Star Bar catered more to adults and American servicemen from Clark. Family-oriented restaurants included Dely’s Kiosk, Selecta Café (both on Rizal St.), San Miguel Canteen (beside Pat Theater), Esting's Cafe (at the side of Marte Theater), Angeles Jaycee Canteen (on Plaridel St.) and Hi-Way Kiosk, the last two, both managed by Mrs. Gloria Tinio. Another popular spot was Spic ‘n Span, “The Symbol of Satisfaction”, famous for its excellent food at reasonable prices. Spic ‘n Span, located in Balibago, accepted professional catering of banquets, club meetings and private dinners.

Today, Kapampangan eateries are finding stiff competition from quick-service restaurants and international fast food chains. But it is heartening to know that once hole-in-the-wall Kapampangan establishments like Razon’s, Kabigting’s and Nathaniel’s---are doing well despite the coming of these giant burger-and-fries joints. Bright lights, fun giveaways, adorable mascots may give these stores initial appeal, but in the end, there’s nothing like familiar, home-cooked meals prepared and served the Kapampangan way to comfort a hungry tummy. That certainly is the best part of eating out!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

*266. EMILIANO J. VALDES, Kapampangan Philanthropist

ONE IN A MILIONG . Mabalacat-born Emiliano "Miliong" J. Valdes, Kapampangan businessman, landowner and philanthropist. When he passed away, his descendants donated the land on where the Emiliano J. Valdes Memorial TB Pavilion was built.

The generous Kapampangan philanthropist who gave his name as well as financial donation to fund Pampanga’s leading TB hospital was born in Mabalacat, to parents Francisca Valdes and Cenon de Jesus on 5 January 1873. “Miliong” was baptized in the same town as “Emiliano de Jesus”, but for some reason, he took on his mother’s last name, a tradition that was followed by his female siblings (Agripina, Maria Salome and Agueda). His two older brothers, Sisenando and Pedro used De Jesus as their surnames.

Miliong married Macabebe-born Eusebia Garcia Hernandez (b. 29 October 1876) and the couple settled in Culiat (Angeles) along Plaridel St. where they built a grand mansion with a spacious front lawn in 1936. By then, Miliong’s business in real estate had grown and prospered, more than enough to live a life of comfort for themselves and their large family of 10 children: Luz, Jose, Salud, Socorro, Francisco, Emilio, Lorenzo, Augusto, Remedios and Africa. They Valdeses had barely enjoyed their new house when Eusebia died in Angeles on 20 September 1936.

To forget his loss, Miliong focused his energy on growing his business, and not even the war years could dampen his enterprising drive. His house, however, was commandeered by the Japanese and turned it into a military headquarter. Perhaps to forget the sad events that transpired in his Angeles residence, he sold the house and lot after the war, and the space has since become a commercial area.

Miliong died on 28 August 1953, but not before leaving behind funds and resources for his philanthropic pursuits. His heirs donated 5 hectares of land as well as Php 75,000.00 for the construction of a TB Pavilion in Angeles in 1972. Turberculosis had always been a prevalent disease that plague Filipinos for decades, and it was hoped that the Emiliano J. Valdes Memorial TB Pavilion would alleviate the conditions of Kapampangans as well as Filipinos afflicted with the dreaded disease. An Anti-TB postage stamp was even issued to commemorate the construction of the state-of-the-art hospital building.

Sadly, the TB Pavilion closed its doors in the 80s with the successful control of tuberculosis, but for a decade or so, the TB Pavilion stood as a tangible testament to the kind and generous spirit of one Kapampangan man who believed in sharing the fruits of his success: Emiliano J. Valdes.


SOUVENIR SNAP WITH THE GENERAL. The stately grounds of the Pampanga Capitol in San Fernando is favorite stop of local tourists as seen from this picture. The tour group pose before the statue of Kapampangan revolucionario, Gen. Maximino Hizon. The statue still stands today at the Arnedo Park. Ca. 1938.

The original provincial Capitol grounds of Pampanga in San Fernando covered an area of about 12 hectares. The Capitol was erected in 1907-1908, during the administration of Governor Macario Arnedo and no expenses were spared from making the seat of the local government, truly an attractive tourist attraction in itself.

The expansive grounds are lush with landscaping, planted with mango and acacia trees, shrubs and flowering plants. The wooded area was named Silva Park, after the late provincial treasurer of Pampanga, Isabelo de Silva, who led in the drive to beautify the Capitol surroundings.

When the age of electricity reached the province, the major lanes and walkways were lined and lit with Doric-style electric lamps; a radio system was installed to entertain the visiting public.

One of the earliest structures stands in front of the Capitol Building—a stately statue of Gen. Maximino Hizon of Mexico , the highest ranking Kapampangan officer in the revolutionary army. He distinguished himself in many battles against the Spanish and American forces during the Philippine Revoution. Captured by Americans in June 1900, he was exiled to Guam together with other war leaders on 7 January 1901 and died there on 1 Sept. 1901. The patriot is depicted in full uniform, astride a handsome steed. The statue was installed in 1919, a donation of the Kapampangan people and the provincial government. As this picture shows, the monument was favorite ‘photo opportunity’ spot for many local visitors.

In 1929, an additional attraction—the Provincial Zoological Garden—was established, featuring a rare collection of caged exotic birds and rare animals for the public to enjoy. Tourists would even stop by Pampanga to view the mini-zoo en route to Baguio. The garden complemented the several tennis courts, the bandstand or glorietta, the clubhouse and the park benches.

When San Fernando played host to the biggest spectacle of the province in 1933, the Capitol Grounds became the venue for the Pampanga Carnival Fair and Exposition. The Carnival was meant to promote Pampanga as the richest market outside of Manila, with rich limitless agricultural, commercial and industrial possibilities. Pavilions of the 21 towns of Pampanga were put up, featuring the best and finest products of each community. The fair was capped with the election of Miss Pampanga.

Visitors from all over the country left the province very much impressed after having seen the events as well as the impressive venue. After the Carnival, a Rizal Memorial Forum was erected at the site of the provincial fair, at a cost of Php 18,000.

Most of these points of interest are long gone from the Provincial Capitol grounds—some destroyed by the War, others by overzealous reconstruction and expansion projects. Only the Hizon Monument at the Arnedo Park remains, now nearly a century-old, a mute witness to the scenic wonder of the place, that once marked the hallowed grounds of Pampanga’s Provincial Capitol.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

*264. '60s Singing Star: HELEN ALVENT GAMBOA of Sta. Ana

SHING-ALING SINGING STAR, Helen Gamboa of Sta. Ana jumpstarted her showbiz career by joining a beauty pageant where she placed 2nd. She went on to become one of the most popular stars of the Shindig Age, appearing in movies and recording her own cover versions of international hit songs. This autographed fan photo of Helen dates from 1967.

Helen Gamboa, one of the most popular, multi-facetted celebrities from the 60s, hails from the town of Sta. Ana. She first made a name for herself as a beauty queen, then became a singer of note, joined the movie bandwagon and became an icon of the ‘shing-aling’ decade.

Born on 7 May 1946, Helen came from a talented family that included big sister, Elaine, also a budding beauty who had been a finalist in the 1955 quest for Miss Philippines to the fledgling Miss Universe Contest. Inspired by her sister, the 5'6", 15 year old Liberal Arts student from Sta. Isabel college student enlisted for the 1961 Miss Press Photography of the Philippines (Miss PPP), then a prestigious beauty search conceived by an association of renown Philippine photographers. Previous winners like Mila Ocampo and Edita Vital had used the contest as a springboard to greater fame in Philippine movies. Helen surprised everyone by placing second to favorite Cynthia Ugalde.

Helen was swamped with movie offers after that, and she chose to do a movie with Larry Santiago Productions. She was introduced in “Gorio and his Jeepney “ with Chiquito in 1962, based on a hit comic strip drawn by Larry Alcala for Manila Times. Directed by Pablo Santiago, the movie was an instant hit and Helen was on her way. She followed this up with “Hugo, the Sidewalk Vendors” (with Bering Labra) and “Sakay and Moy” (with Oscar Obligacion and Cris de Vera), whose main characters were drawn from Philippine ‘komiks’. From her initial PhP 1,000 talent fee, she commanded Php 40,000 in her next films, a princely sum in the mid '60s.

She starred with almost all the leading men ‘hotties’ in those times—from Fernando Poe Jr. (Kumander Fidela, 1964), Joseph Estrada (Bantay Salakay, 1966) and Romeo Vasquez (Doble Trece, 1967). But Helen would find enduring success with her ‘now generation’ movie musicals that showcased her singing and dancing talents to the hilt—Let’s Go, DJ Dance Time, Top Tunes, The Nite Owl Dance Party (1964), Shing-aling-a-loo, Mash ‘K Pops, Operation: Discothèque (1967), Bang-shang-a-lang, Boogaloo, Let's Go Hippie (1968) and Grind, Grind (1969).

Her recordings also hit the local billboard charts, and her debut album with Jonal records produced the monster hit, “Together Again”. She did successful covers of the songs of Petula Clark (“Kiss Me Goodbye"), Lulu (“I’m A Tiger"), Mary Hopkins (“Those Were the Days”) and Jeannie C. Riley (“Harper Valley PTA”).

Her showbiz career was cut short when she eloped with Tito Sotto ( Vicente Castelo Sotto III), who was a band leader of the very popular combo, Tilt Down Men. Tito was the grandson and grandnephew of two senators, Vicente Y. Sotto and Filemon Sotto. He would go on to follow their footsteps and become a senator himself after a successful music career.

Nevertheless, Helen continued to appear in carefully selected projects on TV, hosting Eat Bulaga, and Lovingly Yours, Helen, after the demise of Helen Vela. She also pursued her recording career with RCA Victor International, where she did covers under the name Bunny Chanel. Helen has been a FAMAS Best Supporting Actress nominee for “Kailan Mahuhugasan ang Kasalanan” (1989) and has won an Urian Best Actress Award for “Unsung Heroine” (1996). Today, she plays a bigger role as the wife of a Philippine senator, mother of Romina Frances, Diorella Maria, Gian Carlo and Ciara Anna and grandmother to Romino and Victorio.

Monday, August 8, 2011


A FAMILY TRAGEDY. Ingkung Pedro Morales as a young lawyer. He and most of his family members were killed during the liberation of Manila, saved for Esmeralda who left war-torn Ermita and fled to Dimasalang with her husband.

The Moraleses, from which my father descended, are not exactly a large family. The patriarch, Quentin Tuazon Morales (b. 1856/d.1928), had five children with Paula Cosme Guzman: Clotilde, Maria, Pedro, Patricia (my father’s mother) and Rafael. I barely knew this side of the family, as my Apung Tiri (Patricia) passed away long before I was born. Saved for Ingkung Paeng (Rafael) whose house we looked after in Mabalacat, I cannot recall ever meeting the rest of my granduncles and grand aunts. But every now and then, when my father and his siblings would reminisce about the years gone by, they would talk about the tragic death of their uncle, Pedro, whose family was nearly wiped out in the second World War.

Pedro Morales or Ingkung Pedro was born on 22 February 1886, a middle child, and the firstborn son of Quintin and Paula after two girls. He grew up in Poblacion, where his father was the teniente mayor, and attended local schools in Mabalacat. When he came of college age, he went to Manila and enrolled at the Escuela de Derecho, then a leading law school of the Philippines favored by many brilliant and patriotic Filipinos who wanted to become legal luminaries (his youngest brother Rafael, would follow in his footsteps and finished Ll.B in the same school too). After passing the bar, the young lawyer went back to his hometown to practice, and became a well-known notary public.

As his father had various business holdings, the dutiful Pedro took charge of the legal requirements of the family enterprises. Upon the death of his father in 1928, he also prepared all the legal documents pertaining to his father’s will that called for the equitable distribution of his parcels of land among his 5 surviving children. There was even a case that he took on for his elder sister Maria Morales-Concepcion, in which he went in pursuit of two people who had paid his sister with counterfeit money after buying some cigarettes and corned beef from her store. Determined to teach them a lesson, he hauled them to court where they were eventually prosecuted in the Court of the First Instance of Pampanga in December 1933.

Pedro wooed and won the hand of Magdalena “Elena” Hizon of Porac, also a middle child, daughter of Florentino Singian Hizon and Juana Henson. For her bride, he had a house designed and built by by the accomplished Kapampangan architect Fernando Ocampo y Hizon, now known as the “Father of Modern Philippine Architecture” who happened to be Elena’s first cousin. The art deco house was once an imposing presence in Mabiga, Mabalacat and merited a write-up in the Pampanga Social Register of 1936. Here, the couple raise their children: Esmeralda, Eliseo, Felicidad and the youngest, named after his father, Quintin Marcos.

As his legal career, so did his other business ventures. Pedro also became a successful sugar planter and businessman and became a stockholder of the National Life Insurance Company and Provident Insurance Company. All these would come to a tragic end in the dying days of the last world war. Ingkung Pedro and his family had evacuated his family in Manila, where they had a house along Indiana St. The rest of the Moraleses took refuge in Dimasalang.

During the infamous 1945 siege of Ermita, the Japanese went on a killing rampage in the area, while the pursuing Americans strafed the area with bombs. Ingkung Pedro perished along with his family--Elena, Eliseo, Felicidad, Quintin-- when a stray bomb directly hit his house, just another collateral damage of a cruel war. The only survivor was Esmeralda who was already married and living with her husband, Severino Madlangbayan at that time. She and Bebeng would go on to repopulate the decimated Morales family tree by producing 3 children--Teresita, Lourdes and Jose--who, happily, would have large families themselves.

*262. 1953 Mrs. Philippines: ESTRELLA OCAMPO LOPEZ of San Fernando

COVER GIRL. Estrella Ocampo Lopez of San Fernando, winner of the 1953 Mrs. Philippines quest launched by Weekly Woman's Magazine. She was crowned at the auditorium of the 1st Philippine International Fair, country's biggest post-war event in 1953.

The year 1953 began on an exciting note for the Philippines. On 1 February, the 1953 Philippines International Fair reeled off at the Luneta, a three-month celebration of 500 years of Philippine progress. The fair, a huge and daring enterprise never before attempted since the first Manila Carnival of 1908, was laid out at the Luneta featuring not only national government and provincial exhibits but also foreign pavilions.

Countries like Thailand, China Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Spain, Sweden, U.S. Korea, Italy, China and Belgium lent their participation. One highlight of the fair was the selection of the Miss Philippines who will serve as the welcome official of the fair. The 1st Miss Universe, Armi Kuusela, was invited to crown the eventual winner, Maria Cristina Galang of Tarlac.

The first international fair that sought to depict the Philippines as the “Gateway to the East” generated much interest and was covered extensively by media. One women’s magazine even dared to ride on the popularity of the Miss Philippines pageant by conducting its own beauty search, this time, for the fairest married Filipina of the land. The Weekly Women’s Magazine, a widely circulated female-oriented magazine invited its readers to send nominees to the said “WWM Mrs. Philippines Contest”, even as it issued a disclaimer reminding its readers that their contest should not be confused with the Miss Philippines search that was also being conducted at the same time.

Ballots were printed on the magazine worth 10 votes, which a reader could fill up with the name of her favored nominee and mailed back to the publication. The candidate receiving the most number of votes at the end of the contest—18 April 1953 to be exact—will be proclaimed as “Mrs. Philippines”.

The response to the contest was tremendous—after all, the grand prize was a modern house designed by Arch. Angel E. Nakpil, which was put on display at the International Fair. Hundreds of nominees from different provinces of the Philippines were received—including Pampanga, which had about 11 candidates by the end of the contest: Estrella Lopez, Carmen Alfonso, Teodora de Mesa, Providencia Ramos, Lucia Lavares, Gloria Mejia, Rosario Songco, Adoracion Nicolas, Marcelina Valencia, Julia Escobar and Vicenta Nicdao. Married women of all sorts—movie celebrities, former beauty queens, lawyers, teachers, housekeepers—made the final list of nominees.

When the first batch of votes were tallied, a Kapampangan matron from San Fernando surprised contest organizers by copping the top slot early in the contest. Mrs. Estrella Ocampo Lopez amassed 23,370 votes after the February tally, way ahead of second placer Lucia Garcia of Bacolod who had 14,120. Estrella was quickly hustled off to Manila so she could have her picture taken for the February 27 cover of the prestigious magazine. She solidified her lead after the May 20 counting, getting 113, 910 to Manila’s Nena Aragon who had 85, 820. Her campaign slowed down a bit after March—119,690 to Lucia Garcia, who regained her 2nd place position with 104, 690 total. Mrs. Lopez never surrendered her lead at the contest’s end in April, winning handily over such heavyweight candidates as former Miss Philippines 1937 Mrs. Chita Zaldarriaga Arnaiz, actresses Mrs. Tessie Quintana-Reyes and Mrs. Lilia Dizon-de Leon, society ladies Mrs. Purita Kalaw-Ledesma and Nora V. Daza and lawyer Corazon J. Agrava.

She not only won a house but also stainless kitchen tool set, a pressure cooker from Philippine Manufacturing Company, supplies of Palmolive soaps, Colgate toothpaste, a General Electric combination refrigerator-freezer, a terno from Madonna Fashion hop and a free hairdo from Realistic Beauty Salon—prizes that every accomplished missus would certainly love to have.

Mrs. Estrella Ocampo Lopez was officially crowned as the first ever “Mrs. Philippines” together with her court of honor—Mrs. Luzon, Mrs. Visayas and Mrs. Mindanao—at the Philippine International Fair Auditorium, the pride of Pampanga, and of the millions of happy Filipina homemakers all over the country.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

*261. Pampanga's Town: MAGALANG

MAGALANG TOWN PLAZA, with a commanding view of Mount Arayat. Magalang is one of Pampanga's oldest towns, and owes much of its growth and expansion from pioneering families like the Lucianos, Aquinos, Yumuls and Cruzes. Ca. 1950s.

Magalang is just a stone’s throw away from Mabalacat, my home town, yet, growing up, I knew very little of our next-door neighbor. Of course, silly me, I had presumed that the people of Magalang were a respectful lot, based on the name of the town alone. Then again, there are the ‘galang-galang’ bracelet biscuits that kids could wear and eat—maybe they were popular enough to give the town its name. I also recall reading Katoks Tayag book which made mention of a place called Magelang in Indonesia. I really wonder if there is a connection there.

In any case, one thing is certain—Magalang is one of the most ancient towns of Pampanga, established by the Augustinians in 1605 at the western side of majestic Mount Arayat, under the governorship of Pedro Bravo de Acuña. Its original site was a place called Macapsa, which was later transferred to San Bartolome. As early as 1660, Magalang was only one of 15 towns in the province to have an Augustinian church and convent to administer to the spiritual needs of the residents. Its first prior was Fr. Gonzalo de Salazar.

Early in its history, Magalang figured in some of the most tumultuous moments in the Kapampangan region. The armed rebellions of Francisco Maniago and that of the Pangasinense rebel Andres Malong, wrought havoc on the town in 1660 and 1734 respectively, causing the dispersal of the townfolks to various locations. There was also the great flood caused by the Parua River in May 1863 which necessitated the relocation of the town center.

First to move was the gobernadorcillo Pablo Luciano, who, together with his followers like the Cortezes and Davids, moved from San Bartolome to Barrio San Pedro or Talimundoc which became the new ‘poblacion’. The group brought with them the image of their patron, San Bartolome. Fr. Ramon Sarrionandia helepd in the transfer and gave the town its name, San Pedro de Magalang. Meanwhile, another group of families led by the Aquinos, Yumuls and Pinedas transferred to Barrio Matandoc, which they put under the advocation of the Immaculate Conception. Magalang expanded with the generous land donation of Don Cristobal Lacson, which included that occupied by the church of Magalang and the now-abandoned old municipal cemetery.

During the Philippine Revolution, Magalang was the site of the battle of Camansi that led to the annihilation of General Monet’s army by local revolucionarios that included Carlos Guiao and Candido Niceta. Under the American Regime, Magalang became a prosperous sugar and rice town. The Pampanga Agricultural College, established during the Spanish times at the foothills of Arayat, was revitalized and continues to be a highly regarded institution of agricultural learning to this day. The town’s society life flourished with the influx of wealth and several social clubs like Mountainside, were organized in the 1930s.

Today, Magalang has kept its old world charm amidst 21st century progress. Heritage houses line many of its streets. It continues to be famous for its sweet confections; the favorite pastillas de leche from this town are renowned for their unsurpassed creaminess made more delectable by carabao’s milk. Many inland fishponds, piggeries and poultry farms were moved to Magalang by small entrepreneurs following the Pinatubo eruption, infusing the town with much needed income and reinvigorating these small industries. Magalang may be ancient in age, but it has a youthful, can-do attitude in its pursuit of its goals, a forward-looking vision that continues to yield gains for its 27 barangays and their residents. For that, Magalang has certainly earned our respect.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

*260. OFELIA PAMINTUAN-QUIOGUE: Sacrifice and Salvation In Times of War

OFELIA CENTENO PAMINTUAN, as one of the most eligible ladies of the Philippines in 1929 by Graphic Magazine. She would marry a Quiogue scion in a fairy tale wedding in 1934, but the War would abruptly end her young life. Her last act of courage was to save her son.

Out of the ashes of the last World War comes this story of loss, sacrifice and survival, involving a young Kapampangan wife and mother, who, in her dying moments in the hands of the enemy, made a final courageous act to save the life of her youngest son.

Ofelia Valentina Maria de Araceli Pamintuan was born on 10 July 1911, to Don Florentino Torres Pamintuan (b. 1868/d.1925) of Angeles with his second wife, Dña. Tomasa Centeno (b. 1897/d. 1937). Ofelia had a twin, Maria Victoria de Araceli, who died in infancy.

Ofelia’s parents were one of the richest hacenderos of the province, affording them to travel with the whole family and live in all parts of the world. Ofelia was the eldest daughter in a family of 11 that also included Luis, Mariano, Luz, Ramon, Javier, Manuel, Imelda, Virginia and Florentino Jr. She also had 5 half-siblings from her father’s first marriage to Mancia Vergara Sandico: Jose Maria Nicolas (Padre Pepe), Mariano Rufino, Paz, Caridad and Natividad.

All children were lovingly cared for by Don Florentino and his wife, whose idea of education was to expose them to the different cultures of the world. Ofelia was just five years old when Don Florentino took his family to Barcelona, Spain. It was an exciting journey for the young Ofelia, a sea voyage that took 45 days. In Barcelona, the family resided in a posh apartment building attended by Spanish nurses and house maids. The family stayed here and waited out the end of World War I, after which the Don decided to pack up his family and leave for America.

The Pamintuans settled in Washington D.C. where their residence became a meeting place for Filipino pensionados and visiting government officials. Ofelia was sent off to school at the Immaculata Seminary on Wisconsin Ave., together with sisters Caridad, Nati and Lucy. These were the halcyon days for the family, and the Pamintuan children had the privilege of seeing the comings and goings of such distinguished house guests as Pres. Manuel Quezon, Isauro Gabaldon, Claro M. Recto, Manuel Roxas and Sergio Osmeña. All these came to an end with the death of Don Florentino in 1925, and the family decided to resettle back in the Philippines.

The fatherless brood resided in a lovely mansion along M.H. del Pilar St., then part of the exclusive Ermita enclave of Manila. Ofelia quickly adjusted to the Island life and was enrolled at the Assumption College along Herran St. (now Pedro Gil St.) where she soon became a very popular student. In 1929, the nationally circulated magazine Graphic, included her as among the most eligible bachelorettes of the country, alongside society girls Pacita de los Reyes, Nenita Araneta,Lulu Balmori and Pacita Goyena. She was described as "having a sweet voice...considered as the young girl with the most 'IT' by the younger smart set".

But it was to the handsome Antonio J. Quiogue, of Manila that Ofelia chose to spend her life with. The Quiogues were an affluent family who made their fortune in the funeral and mortuary service business; everyone was in agreement that the match was perfect and made in heaven. Ofelia and Antonio were married on 15 March 1933 at the Capuchin church in Intramuros, in a ceremony officiated by Ofelia’s brother, Padre Pepe. The primary sponsors were Dr. Felix Hocson and Dra. Paz Pamintuan Faustino, the bride’s eldest half-sister. After the ceremonies, the couple proceeded to the bride’s alma mater, Assumption, where Ofelia offered her bridal bouquet at the altar of the Blessed Virgin . The newlyweds hosted a fabulous reception at the Manila Hotel and spent their honeymoon in Baguio.

The Quiogues settled in Singalong and pretty soon, their children came one by one, starting with Jose Francisco (1934), Lourdette (1935), Maria Victoria (1936), Vicente Ramon (1937), Erlinda (1939), and Manuel Antonio (1941), born just a few days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The Second World War had begun and the Philippines was soon invaded and occupied by Japanese forces.

The liberation of the Philippines after three long years, and it proved to be one of the most destructive and bloodiest periods of our history. In the ensuing melee, the Pamintuan children were dispersed—some evacuated north to Baguio, others fled to Naga and Angeles. As the Japanese were being repulsed from the north of Pasig, they turned on the helpless civilians as they fled to the south of Manila, going on an unstoppable killing rampage. Ofelia’s sister, Caridad, who had decided to return to Manila with her family, was killed along with her two children on 10 February 1945.

The massacre continued for the next days, and as the retreating Japanese reached Singalong on 13 February 1945, they discovered the cramped hiding place of the Quiogues and their neighbors. Amidst screams and pleas for mercy, the soldiers started bayoneting everyone in sight, and the first to fall were the Quiogue children, Jose and Lourdette. Ofelia, shielding her son with a mother’s embrace, absorbed the cruel thrusts of the soldier’s bayonet blades on her back, face and arms, in an instinctive act of selfless love. Mortally wounded and with life ebbing away, Ofelia mustered her last ounce of strength and managed to pass on her child to an equally heroic neighbor, Sincera Villanueva, who snatched Meckoy from her weakening grasp and ran to safety.

Ofelia’s ultimate sacrifice serve to remind us of the calumnies of men and their wars, but it is also a noble statement about motherhood, a role she played so virtuously, so valiantly, illuminating for us what love should always be—pure, selfless, unconditional. Certainly, her death was not in vain; her surviving children grew to adulthood and became successful in their chosen professions with one becoming a doctor and another, a priest. The youngest child she died protecting, Meckoy Quiogue, became one of the country’s most successful marketing man, holding top level positions at Philippine Refining Company, Coca Cola, J. Walter Thompson, ABS-CBN and GMA-7. He is currently the chief executive officer of a media conglomerate.

Monday, July 11, 2011

*259. Their College Yearbook: JOSE FELICIANO and ANATOLIA PANLILIO

CLASSMATES FOR LIFE. Jose Feliciano and Anatolia Panlilio, as they appear in their UP 1916 Yearbook. They excelled academically at the College of Pharmacy and went on to greater things after they got married in 1924.

The University of the Philippines was just 3 years old when it established a Pharmacy course under the College of Liberal Arts. When a complete course leading to a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy was offered in 1913, early enrollees included two Kapampangans—Jose Maria Feliciano and Anatolia Panlilio of San Fernando, who would go on to be achievers, husband-and-wife, and parents to three accomplished children.

As members of the U.P. Class of 1916, Anatolia and Jose were two of the earliest Kapampangan graduates of Pharmacy, and their college yearbook, of which Jose was an Associate Editor, reveal a bit of their student days, including their scholastic and extracurricular interests. For instance, of the 19 graduating seniors, eight were Kapampangans. The new pharmacists came from Arayat (Jose K. Santos and Tarcila Villegas), Lubao (Victor Vitug, Hermogena Vitug) Macabebe (Enrique Mallari) and San Fernando (Ramon Feliciano). They received their diplomas from Prof. Andrew Grover du Mez, then Director of the School of Pharmacy.

Anatolia comes from the prominent San Fernando Panlilios, an old family with deep roots in Mexico and whose clans branched out to the capital town and neighboring Bacolor. After finishing her secondary course at the Centro Escolar de Senoritas, she enrolled at the state university to take up Pharmacy, a course considered perfect for young women interested in science, yet less hectic than Medicine. She proved to be an outstanding student and was elected Vice President of the Students' Pharmaceutical Association (Jose was President). Eight years after their graduation, Anatolia married her classmate and kabalen Jose, on 25 May 1924.

Jose Ma. Feliciano was the son of Mauricio Feliciano and Graciana Tiomico, born on 22 October 1887. He studied at the Pampanga High School and the Philippine Normal School. At the state university, he took up Pharmacy and became an active member of various student organizations like the Kappa Upsilons, Philippine Scientific Society and Sigma Pi Sigma.

After receiving his Pharmacy degree, he also earned his Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degree in 1917. He went on to finish his doctoral degree at the University of Santo Tomas in 1921. Not content with Pharmacy, he pursued and finished his doctorate in Geology at the University of Chicago.

It was in the latter course that Dr. Feliciano would gain renown and recognition. As a learned and dedicated scientist, he became Head of the U.P. Department of Geology and Geography in 1936, and stayed on in the university despite attractive offers from private companies. He organized professional groups like the Geological Society of the Philippines, the Philippine Geographic Society and the Society of Mining, Metallurgical and Geological Engineers. Jose passed away on 22 February 1955. In 1965, a scholarship was put up by UP in his name, as a tribute to his accomplishments.

Jose and Anatolia had three children—Leticia, Florentino and Erlinda. Their middle child, Florentino, finished Law at his parent’s alma mater, earned his Doctorate in Juridicial Science from Yale University, and became a Senior Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

*258. Pampanga Churches: STA. ANA CHURCH

GRAND OLD STA. ANA CHURCH. One of Pampanga's best-looking churches, was constructed from different materials sourced from all over the region. Its present foundation was begun in 1853. From the Augustinian Archives. Late 19th c.

The Sta. Ana Church might as well be the equivalent of the Manila’s Binondo Church –which, at least externally look the same, if not for the placement of their belfries. Wide, massive and spacious, the church, with its fenced courtyard, sits right in the center of the town, which began as a flat land called Pinpin, named after a prominent Chinese mestizo resident of the area.

Nestled near Arayat, Candaba and Mexico, Pinpin became a visita of Arayat in 1598. It was renamed as Sta. Ana, and in 1756, became an independent parish. It was only 23 February 1760 that a prior, Fr. Lorenzo Guevarra OSA, was assigned to Sta. Ana. He was assisted by Fr. Alonso Forrero, who baptized Vicente de Guevarra, the first entry in the libros bautismos dated 1760.

In 1853, the foundation of the present church was begun by Fr. Ferrer. Of stone and bricks, the church was eventually finished by Fr. Lucas Gonzales, who also added, in 1857, the magnificent hexagonal 5-storey canopied belfry, topped by a dome with a cross. The funds for the materials were raised by the people of Sta. Ana which were sourced from different parts of Luzon. The stones came from Meycauayan, Bulacan while wood was sourced from the forests of Porac and Betis. In all, the cost of the building was an astounding 5,568 Pesos and 25 reales.

The church, in the succeeding years was expanded to include a stone convento, built by Fr. Antonio Redondo in 1866. For five years, beginning 1872, the church was refurbished by Fr. Francisco Diaz and Paulino Fernandez. Fr. Felixberto Lozano constructed the fence in the mid 1930s, while Fr. Osmundo Calilung elevated the flooring of the altar during his term (1946-49). From 1955-1956, Fr. Francisco Cancio had the ceiling repaired and the bell tower given a fresh palitada.

Historian Mariano V. Henson recorded five bells in the campanera: Ntra. Sra. Del la Paz, dated 1879 and cast by Hilarion Sunico, was donated by Don Jose Revelino during the term of Fr. Paulino Fernandez. The biggest bell is dated 1857. All other bells inscribed with the names of Ntra. Sra. De la Correa, San Agustin and Sta. Ana, were donated by the town principalia at various years during the 1870s.

The interior of the church of Sta. Ana has been updated many times. The image of the town’s titular patroness, Santa Ana, appears with the young Virgin Mary in the central niche of the retablo mayor. Smaller altars hold vintage images. A relic of Santa Ana is also housed in the church.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

*257. FELIPE SALVADOR: A Rebel Messiah Comes to Pampanga

SALVADOR DEL MUNDO. Felipe Salvador, "Apo Ipe", the Supremo of Santa Iglesia, a religious/revolutionary cult group which had its base at the foothills of Mt. Arayat and which wielded influence over the Central Luzon area. From El Renacimiento Filipino.

During the years of the Philippine Revolution, a man who spent much of his time communing with God in the slopes of mystical Mount Arayat, organized a controversial religious movement that led armed campaigns against Spaniards and the succeeding colonial masters, the Americans, but remained alienated from the Katipunan. Dismissed as a dangerous ‘bandolero’ by Americans, Felipe Salvador, founder of the cult group Sta. Iglesia, would eventually be executed for his perpetrations in Pampanga, Bulacan, Nujeva Ecija and Tarlac.

Felipe Salvador (“Apo Ipe”) was born on 26 May 1870 in Baliwag, Bulacan, the child of a well-off family. His father, Prudencio had been an official in the Spanish government. The Salvadors had many relatives in nearby Pampanga province and it is even possible that Felipe was born there as his name is not recorded in the canonical books of Baliwag.

Even as a profoundly religious young man, he had a rebellious streak, defying the parish priest by dissuading a group of vendors from paying dues to the Church. Felipe soon became the head of a cofradia (confraternity) called “Gabinistas”, originally founded by Gabino Cortes of Apalit. Cortes was said to possess supernatural powers, conjuring food, money and male guards to appear using a magic ball. Gabinista members were mostly Kapampangans from Apalit, San Luis, San Simon, Santa Ana, Candaba, Macabebe and Santo Tomas.

Upon reorganizing the cofradia and renaming it as Sta. Iglesia in 1894, the self-proclaimed Pope joined the armed struggle by raiding garrisons and joining skirmishes against Spain. In one battle in San Luis, Salvador was wounded and fled to Biak-na-Bato where he consolidated his forces with Aguinaldo’s.

Social squabbles between the two factions, however, caused Salvador’s fall from grace. Elitist Kapampangan officers, for instance, did not want an outsider like him to command Kapampangan forces. Gen. Maximino Hizon even ordered the execution of 5 Sta. Iglesia members without proper trial. Two of Salvador’s soldiers also suffered by being falsely accused of committing ‘abuses’; they were later found shot and floating in the river. Meanwhile, in Floridablanca, Sta. Iglesia members were harassed by being forcibly ejected from their lands.

Despite these setbacks, Salvador continued his warfare, this time, against the Americans from his command post at Barrio Kamias. Refusing calls to surrender, he was captured in 1900 and dumped in prison. But after swearing allegiance to the United States, Salvador rejoined the resistance and was branded as an outlaw. Captured in Nueva Ecija by the police in 1902, he was charged with sedition. But while being transferred to the Bilibid Prison in Manila, Salvador eluded his guards and escaped to Mount Arayat.

There, Salvador revitalized his ‘diocese’ and found wide sympathy from the central Luzon peasantry. He became a sort of a demigod, subsisting on his brotherly relationships with certain people he met on his journey, like Vicente Francia, Epifanio de la Cruz, a certain Juan and Damaso. They not only helped him find sustenance, but also provided security as he worked his way around the area. Ipe was warmly welcomed by people in the community who offered generous gifts, and he used these opportunities to recruit members and generate funds.

His modus operandi was simple: he would enter a town with some 20 chosen disciples, plant a cross and exhort people to donate money and join his brotherhood while projecting an image that is at once poor, pitiful and prayerful. As membership grew, so did the number of fanatical attacks launched against the American-run government—with the biggest ones waged in Malolos, San Rafael and Hagonoy in the summer of 1906, led by Capitan Tui.

On 17 April 1910, Salvador did the unthinkable—he and his group of about 20 “Salvadoristas” strode to the center of Arayat town to purchase supplies and provisions, knowing full well that they were under tight surveillance. Yet, the police officials and the rest of the populace were too stunned to do anything—with some even spontaneously giving their donations. To cap their visit, Salvador and his group knelt in prayer in front of the church, leaving the residents in complete awe.

Shortly after this remarkable event, he was captured just as he prophesied on 24 July 1910—a Sunday. An informer, Eusebio Clarin, motivated by the 5,000 peso reward on the Supremo’s head, led policemen to his lair in Barrio Kamias of San Luis, as he was in prayer with his family members. He was convicted and sentenced to die by hanging on 15 April 1912. Still, his faithful followers were confident that he would work a miracle and escape once more. But this was not to be. Salvador faced death calmly , “in high spirits , without a frown on his forehead”, as Taliba reported.

Even in death, his devotees believed he would rise again—after all, he seemed like “he was only asleep, happy, his complexion not darkening as is usually expected of him who has died of unnatural causes”. But his passion has clearly –and finally ended. Apo Ipe—sinner or saint, villain or hero, fanatic or patriot--was laid to rest the next day at the cemetery at Paang Bundok.