Monday, August 8, 2011

*263. Casualties of War: INGKONG PEDRO MORALES & HIS FAMILY

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.

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