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.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

*256. Pampanga Towns: APALIT

APLIT APALIT! An Apalit Garden Day booth for a local provincial fair, showcasing the town's famous products--including its well-known woven buri hats. Ca. 1926.

In the pre-Expressway days, Apalit seemed like a faraway place, especially to one who grew up in the northernmost town of Pampanga. Like Mabalacat, Apalit is a bordertown located south of the province, next to Calumpit, Bulacan. I remember stopovers at this rustic, old town en route to Manila in the late 60s, to buy pasalubongs like espasol and putu seco--native delicacies which Apalit was famous for—sold alongside blades, knives, bolos, metal garden and farm implements.

Nowadays, the native pasalubongs are harder to find, but the blacksmith industry is still very much around, evident in the foundry shops that sell all sorts of metalware, blades and knives being the most popular. It is a legacy left behind by an early metalsmith from Barrio Capalangan of this town—Pande Pira—the first known Filipino maker of cannons (lantakas) who, because of his talent, was employed by Gov. Gen. Miguel Lopez de Legaspi.

But before earning a reputation for its excellent smiths, the place was known for its lush forests of apalit trees—enormous Philippine hardwood trees of the narra family that became the landmark for traders and visitors who regularly visited the settlement along the banks of Rio Grande de la Pampanga.

The town counts many pre-colonial founders including the great Malangsic, who, together with his nephews Tawi and Pangpalong (or Macapagal) established Sulipan and Capalangan, as recorded in the Balagtas Will. Also recognized are Capitañgan, elder brother of Tawi and Pangpalung and husband of Lady Bayinda and a certain Agustin Mañgaya in the 16th century. So strategically located was Apalit that it was one of the 11 most important communities of Pampanga by the 16th century, its relative prosperity fueled by the riverine trade and commerce.

It was in 1582, however, that Apalit was formally established by the Spaniards as a Pampanga municipality during the term of Gov. Gen. Gonzalo Ronquillo de Penalosa. It was composed of just four encomiendas then: Apali (Pale), La Castilla (Poblacion), Cabambangan and Capalangan. The early settlers included the Samontes, Candas, Catus, Cortezes, Vergaras and the Yangas.

The Apalit Parish was created in 1597 with Fr. Perdo de Vergara as its first prior. But it was Fr. Juan Cabello who constructed the church in 1641. The annual fiesta days marked by a fluvial parade for patron "Apu Iru” was begun by Capitan Pedro Armayan Espiritu in 1844. The church was destroyed by an earthquake in 1863, but it was rebuilt by Fr. Antonio Redondo from 1876-83, with materials and services donated mostly by the generous Apaliteños.

Apalit’s history is replete with many memorable events and personalities that rivaled those of imperial Manila. Puerto Sulipan, for instance, was the place to be during the time of Capitan Joaquin Arnedo-Cruz and his cultured wife, Dona Maria de la Paz Sioco. Their magnificent home was the venue for high society parties, attended by the country’s who’s who. The Arnedos even hosted a banquet for Grand Duke Alexis of Russia. The opulence of the feast and the sophistication of his Kapampangan guests left the international royalty amazed. No wonder that Sulipan is known for having the best culinary connoisseurs of the province.

At the height of the Philippine Revolution, Apaliteños, led by the Arnedos, offered refuge and aid to passing Katipuneros in pursuit of the retreating Spanish forces. The town, however, fell to the Americans on 27 April 1898. During the American rule, the boundaries of Apalit were revised in 1920; some sections of land were given back to San Simon, thus decreasing its area.

Through the years, the achievements of the sons and daughters of Apalit have further enriched Pampanga’s hallowed history. The names include: Don Macario Arnedo, son of Capt. Joaquin and a four-time governor of Pampanga, business magnate Don Ernesto Escaler, industrialist and PASUDECO co-founder Atty. Augusto Sioco Gonzales, Malolos Congress representative Dr. Joaquin Gonzales, distinguished anthropologist Dr. Ricardo E. Galang, educators Bienvenido M. Gonzales, Bro. Andrew Gonzales and Bishop Federico Escaler SJ, Amb. Hermenigildo B. Garcia, WW II patriot Col. Ricardo Galang, former Q.C. mayor Adelina Galang Santos de Rodriguez, top bank executive Dominador Pangilinan, Central Bank governor Amando Tetangco, Jr. , outstanding physician, Dr. Antonio Quiroz, Movie-radio personalities Bert Leroy and Orly Punsalan, culinary master and SEA Games Gold Medalist Gene Gonzales, master carver Nick Lugue and Philippine Military Academy 2011 topnotcher Edward Angelo Buan Parras, among others.

Today, the town of Apalit is comprised of 12 barangays: Balucuc, Calantipe, Cansinala, Capalangan, Colgante, Paligui, Sampaloc, San Juan Nepmuceno (Poblacion), San Vicente, Sucad, Sulipan, Tabuyuc (Santo Rosario), Sampaga and Alauli, and is home to over 100,000 people. The community boasts of a dozen or so banking institutions, shopping malls, restaurants, modern residential villages, oil refineries and a large fuel depot, flourishing side by side with its traditional farming, fishing and local industries.

Not even the problems wrought by the Pinatubo eruption could slow down the pace of progress of this once ancient town—now seemingly quicker, livelier. “Aplit…Apalit!”, is the town’s battlecry—nothing could be more apt for a border town in a rush to take its place among Pampanga’s finest communities.

*255. MARINA LICUP CONCENGSO, Miss Angeles 1936

MARINA IN MY MIND. Miss Angeles 1936, Marisa L. Concengso, chosen on the occasion of the Commonwealth Independence Day celebration.

The list of celebrated Angeleña beauties in modern pageant history is long and enviable: Melanie Marquez (Miss International 1978), Violeta Naluz, Marilen Espino, Abbygale Arenas (Bb. Pilipinas winners), Maricel Morales (Mutya ng Pilipinas 1995), Darlene Carbungco, Laura Dunlap and Genebelle Raagas (Miss Philippines-Earth winners). But even before the advent of modern pageants, early “ligligan leguan” (beauty contests) have consistently affirmed the allure of Angeleñas.

The popular beauty searches conducted by the Philippine Free Press to boost its circulation yielded a charmer from Culiat, Beatriz Gutierrez, who, in 1909 was one of those featured in a book commemorating the fairest of the land. Then in 1926, Socorro Henson, daughter of Jose Henson and Encarnacion Borcenas, captured the 1926 Manila Carnival crown—the first Kapampangan to win a national title.

It was only in 1933, however, that the first official Miss Angeles title was bestowed on Maria Augustina Pilar Nepomuceno (b. 1911/ d. 1995), daughter of Gonzalo Nepomuceno and Gertrudes Ayson. She was the town’s delegate to the Miss Pampanga search held during the much-publicized 1933 Pampanga Carnival and Exposition at the Capitol grounds in San Fernando.

Three years later, to drum up interest for the coming Commonwealth Independence Day, a local committee decided to conduct a search for Miss Angeles. They found her in Lourdes Sur—and so it was that Marina Concengso y Licup was crowned in June as Miss Angeles of 1936.

Marina was born on 18 July 1918, the daughter of Eduardo Congcengso of Malabon and Beatriz Licup of Angeles. The Chinese mestiza beauty practically grew up in the sitio near the Angeles train station, where her fair looks went unnoticed. As the criteria for the Miss Angeles search was based on beauty alone, Marina easily got the judges’ nod.

Based on hazy recollections, a poet laureate named Angel did the crowning honors, paying her tribute with a poem he composed and recited during her coronation night. There were no consorts or even a royal court of honor to speak of, but she was paraded around Culiat, riding a topdown car decorated with a festive arch. It was an exhilarating moment for an 18 year old, but after the hoopla died down, Marina went back to her normal life in Lourdes Sur.

At age 21, she married a prominent Fernandino, Ramon Herrera, in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya, where her groom’s uncle was assigned as a health officer. They had two daughters, and one of them, Marietta Herrera Gaddi, is the current dean of the College of Nursing of Holy Angel University. Marina and Ramon’s marriage lasted for just 6 short years. Ramon died in 1945, while Marina—who never remarried—passed away in 1985.