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).


Joven M. Lilles said...

Its a real informative post. By the it possible that I can have a link to the ValDez-Lilles family website or blogsite...I am looking for my roots in Pampanga....thanks so much and regards.

alex r. castro said...

They have no website but there is a genealogy book of the Valdez Clan published sometime in the late '90s, which is my source for the info on my blog.

Karen S. Shih said...

Wow! This is the photo you saw at the de Castro's!

alex r. castro said...

Amazing no? I am related to his wife, Engracia del Rosario!

Karen S. Shih said...

Come to Santa Rita more often. You might find more relatives. I'll take out the family that connects everyone with everyone else. :-)

alex r. castro said...

I really should! What was even more surprising was that I found relatives from my mother's side!! And I was researching on my relatives from my father's side, which I was told by oldies, originated from Sta. Rita.

Karen S. Shih said...

Oh, sorry. That was me above.

alex r. castro said...

I can photocopy you the Lilles family tree. I will be going back to Sta. Rita soon anyway.

alex r. castro said...

Yes, I am researching on the Lapid-de Castro connection as well. Some Lapids went up north to Baguio.

Karen S. Shih said...

Yes, the Lapids in Baguio are our direct relatives. Uncle Albert, Uncle Augustus, Auntie Liling - all went to St. Louis but before your time. They own apartments on the road going down to Trinidad Valley.

Another branch of the Lapid clan went to Baguio too.

Ay lagua! Hahaha! Will farm out your questions while the elders are still lucid. ;))

alex r. castro said...

Okay, I have a picture of Maria Carmen Castro, who married a Lapid, and the children include Rene Lapid (married to a Boots Hamada, based in NJ, and whose younger brother Nanding, married my sister), Guy and Carol who married the photographer Wig Tysmans. When I was a student in Baguio, we all knew them, esp. Carol and Wig. Magkavillage mate kami sa Makati ning anak ng Wig, Atty. Pat.

alex r. castro said...

Additional info: Ma. Carmen was the 1936 Rizal Dy queen of Balatoc Mines, would u believe? I dont have the name of her Lapid husband. She had 4 children: Rene (married Maria "Boots" Lapid), Eddy (married Jean), Guy (married Karina) and Carole (married Herwig Tysmans).

Karen S. Shih said...

Ok, ok! Kindly e-mail to We'll get the oldies here working.

Cindy Lilles-Maceda said...

Dakal a salamat, Alex, for informing my Valdes-Lilles and del Rosario-Miranda family about our illustrious Lolo Ando, truly a renaissance man of his time. My generation never having met him ourselves as he died in Manila in 1951, we now know that he was not only a caring son, and brother of five sisters, but also a consejal who served his hometown of Macabebe. His sons, my beloved late father Remigio Miranda Lilles and my late uncle Renato M. Lilles (who died in San Francisco just a few years ago)
would be so proud to have seen your admirable website, and particularly this blog about Lolo Leonardo Lilles.
Kudos to you for so generously sharing your devoted research and irreplaceable knowledge of the traditions of the Capampangans.
I am so proud to be related to you!!

More power, Alex, and looking forward to perusing your voluminous history of our forbears! Truly it is a treasure for many generations to refer to today and in future!

Cindy Lilles-Maceda,
London, UK and Boliquieme, Portugal

alex r. castro said...

Thank you for your kind words, Cindy.