Sunday, January 22, 2017


DAY OF ALL DAYS. The town motorcade is one of the highlights of the pre-war High School Day celebrations of Holy Angel Academy, with thematic floats created by different classes taking centerstage on Angeles roads.1940s.Personal collection.

The stirrings of an imminent global war were already being felt in Europe in 1941, as Germany’s assaults continued all over Europe and in Africa. London had been bombed, and the U.S. had also been girding for war in the Pacific with the appointment of Admiral Husband Kimmel as Commander of the US Navy. News of the impending spread of the escalating war made the front-page of newspapers every day.

But to students of Holy Angel Academy in Angeles, the war--in 1941--seemed far, far away. Since its founding in 1934, Holy Angel Academy had grown to become a premiere school in the province, with a reputation for accessible, quality education, known for a perfect balance of academics and activities. At least, for now, the war was no cause for worry,

That year’s edition of Holy Angel’s High School Days was truly special, as a new high school building had just been completed in the sprawling campus. The week-long event from 18-23 February was packed with many activities that would be hailed and talked about by local papers for days.

The kick-off event began on February 18, Tuesday, with an English operetta, “The Magic Ruby”, staged for the public by students. The stage décor, the costumes, and the performance of the actors earned rave reviews, but the highly-anticipated Wednesday parade got even more enthusiastic media responses. Each high school class fielded a carroza (float) that visualized a relevant theme.

A reporter from Pamitic, a local paper, gushes: “ Ding carroza mipapatlu la casanting…Quing iquit cu queting parade, aburi queng dili ing macabansag “POWER”, uling masanting yang tutu sasabian. Queting carru, lerawan de ding qñg cuartu añu, ing TRES CAIDA na ning Apung Guinu. Qñg lugal ning Apung Guinu, binili reng mamusan qñg cruz ning Democracia. Iting tragedia ning Democracia tatañgalan nang Juan de la Cruz at Uncle Sam cabang ding bansang-upaya macapadirit la qñg Democraciang misubsub. Ila ding Judios?” (The floats are beautiful…In what I have seen in the parade, the one that I like most was the one that had for its theme-“POWER. The float was made by seniors  in the manner of the “Third Fall of Christ”. In place of his cross,  Christ is made to hold the Cross of Democracy.  Juan de la Cruz and Uncle Sam stare at this tragic scene, while powerful countries surround the “fall of democracy. Do they represent the Jews?)

Also joining the parade of floats was Miss Holy Angel Academy, Maria Narciso, who was met with resounding applause from people who lined up the road to watch the colorful proceedings. “Cabud iquit me,  aguiang emu uculan, macapacpac ca. Ing jinjin na bague na ning cayang lagu!”.  (Once you see her, you will instinctively clap. Her demure manner fit her beauty!)

Day 3 ( 20 Feb.) was Field Day, in which calisthenics demonstrations, folk dances and games were held on the school grounds. Notable was the “Bailes de Ayer”, choreographed by Miss Aranda and danced by the high school seniors, which included the reigning Miss HAA, Maria Narciso and Miss 4th Year, Clara Setzer. “Iting terac da, e ca marine”, the same reporter noted,  “apaquilimpu mu qñg masanting diling folk dance king America at Europa” (You'll be proud of their dance;  it can stand alongside the best folk dances of America and Europe) .  As for the games, ”Spot the Spot” drew the most participation and enjoyment.

On Friday, 21 February, different high schools from Pampanga vied for the governor’s tropy—Copa Baluyut—in the military exercise competitions. Adding excitement to the contest was the presence of the Philippine Army Band which thrilled the audience with various march music. Five officials from Camp Del Pilar and Camp Olivas judged the drill contest that was hotly contested by Guagua Institute and Stotsenburg Institute. In the end, the cadets from Guagua Institute won the coveted Sotero Baluyut Trophy. The host contingent from Holy Angel did not win, but their bevy of corps sponsors were adjudged the most beautiful.

Saturday saw the return of HAA alumni in a grand homecoming, and the re-staging of “The Magic Ruby” in the evening that was open to the general public. The High School Days drew to a close with an exciting basketball tournament highlight. The  school was jampacked with students and Angeleños who watched  the nationally-ranked U.S.T. college team play against an elite MICAA (Manila Industrial and Commercial Athletic Association) selection.

In just 10 months, the Japanese would attack Pearl Harbor, and then invadethe Philippines on 8 December.  World War II would take away much from Pampanga, but not the memories of that year’s Holy Angel’s High School Day—six special days that are still fondly remembered by oldtimers and alumni who witnessed these and all—“ding mangasanting nang pepalto ning Holy Angel..”.

Ing Pamitic, local weekly Kapampangan newspaper, February 1941 issues.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

419. REV. FR. SIXTO M. MANALOTO: A Story of a Generous Soul

THE BENEVOLENT REVEREND. Rev. Fr. Sixto M. Manaloto, long-time cura parocco of San Bartolome Parish, Magalang, Pampanga. Signed photo given to Fr. Maximino Manuguid of Mabalacat. 1915.

The big-hearted Kapampangan religious with a reputation for his boundless generosity and his enduring passion to serve God and people was born Sixto Malino Manaloto on  6 July 1891 in Capas, Tarlac. Though Tarlac-born, Fr. Manaloto would make a lasting impression on Magaleños, serving their parish for an unprecedented period of nearly 30 years.

The young Sixto found God’s calling early in life, and at the age of 14, entered the Seminario de San Francisco Javier (the name given by the Jesuits, upon their return to the Philippines, to Colegio de San José) in 1905. In the beginning of the school year 1911-1912, Manaloto, along with seminarians Pedro Guevara, Felix Martin, Emilio de la Cruz and  Santiago Talavera, were admitted to San Carlos Seminary on Arzobispado Street beside the San Ignacio Church.

Hardly had he settled for a month in San Carlos when he and his fellow Carlistas were ordered to move back to San Francisco Javier as the Jesuit administration of San Carlos lapsed on 17 August 1911.  San Carlos would later be merged with San Francisco Javier Seminary on Padre Faura St., until the latter’s closure in 1913.

That same year, San Carlos Seminary was transferred by Manila Archbishop Jeremiah James Harty to a building in Mandaluyong, and would be put in the charge of the Paules (Vincentians) . It was here that Manaloto finished his studies in Sacred Theology and Philosophy. On 8 December 1915, feast of the Immaculate Conception, Sixto Manaloto was ordained into priesthood by Archbishop Harty himself.

Fresh from his ordination, the young prelate was sent off to Pangasinan to undertake his first assignments in the municipalities of Agno and Bani. Then , he hied off to his home province to minister in Victoria, Tarlac, and then secured assignments in Pampanga—first in Sta. Ana, and then, in 1923, in Magalang, succeeding Fr. Felipe Romero. There,  he would remain until his death.

As cura parocco of the San Bartolome Parish, Fr. Manaloto, he is known for his major restoration works on the ancient church, including the replacement of the supporting wooden columns of the lateral aisles with sturdier concrete cement posts.

He also opened a parochial school that served the youths of Magalang. Likewise, the good father sent poor, but deserving students to Manila, many of whom eventually returned as professionals and became leaders of the community. Fr. Manaloto also took  to raising foster children, a few of whom were his own nephews.  He lived to celebrate his sacerdotal silver jubilee of his ordination, with a big “boda de plata” party held in Magalang on 18 December 1940.

He died on 30 March 1952 at age 61, after serving his beloved adopted town for 29 years and 7 days. A commemorative plaque can be found in the church, which pays tribute to this magnanimous man of God and his selfless contribution to the spiritual upliftment of Magalang and its people.

Monday, January 2, 2017


TWO CROWNING GLORIES: Sisters Yvonne Berenguer-de los Reyes (Miss Philippines 1955) and  Simonette (Bb. Pilipinas 1970) both carried the country's flag at the Miss Universe Beauty Pageant, fifteen years apart. Their mother, Marietta, comes from the prominent Reyes-Berenguer-Linares family of Arayat.

In the history of Philippine beauty pageantry,  no feat is as unprecedented as what two sisters of Kapampangan lineage accomplished in 1955 and 1970 respectively.  They were both crowned as Miss Philippines, chosen to represent the country in the premiere global contest of feminine pulchritude: the Miss Universe Beauty Pageant. Thus, Yvonne and Simonette Berenguer-de los Reyes, achieved what many thought was impossible—of winning the same crown, the same title, and competing in the same international pageant—fifteen years apart!

The sisters were the daughters of Crisanto de los Reyes y Mendoza, and Marietta Berenguer y Linares of Arayat, Pampanga.  Their mother’s parents, Jose Flores Berenguer  and Simona Reyes Linares,  came from prominent families of the mountain town (Note: Renowned interior designer-decorator, Mercedes “Ched” Berenguer-Topacio  is a cousin). From their father’s side, Yvonne and Simonette count several beauties as relatives: 1929 Miss Philippine Carnival Pacita delos Reyes, 1954 Miss Philippines Blesilda Ocampo and Tingting de los Reyes.

The sisters’ impeccable  pedigree would serve them well in their quest for a beauty crown. 1955 was just the third year of the Philippine participation to the annual Miss Universe. The year before, Blesilda Mueller Ocampo,  did well in Long Beach, California, by placing in the semifinals. 

The pageant,  founded in 1952 by clothing company Pacific Mills, is considered to be the most prestigious, and most important of all beauty concourses, then, as now. Winners came home to their country to tumultuous welcome, honored as heroes, treated as royalties, and showered with privileges from their governments, like being given tax exemptions for life and immortalized in postage stamps. 

Gamin-faced Yvonne was one of the candidates who converged at the Miss Philippines finals on 12 March 1955 at the Cavalcade Hall Auditorium of United Nations Plaza. That year, Audrey Hepburn was the toast of showbiz, and Yvonne’s delicate elfin Hepburn look was not lost on the judges.  She was named Miss Philippines 1955, crowned  by her own own cousin, Bessie, with whom she shares the same paternal great-grandparents (Crisanto Mendoza de los Reyes and Dorotea Silverio).

 Yvonne’s court included Lucy del Prado (Miss Luzon),  Annie Gonzales (Miss Visayas) and Annie Corrales (Miss Mindanao). She flew to Long Beach to participate in the first-ever televised Miss Universe edition. Sweden’s  Hillevi Rombin won the title.

Right after her reign, Yvonne got married, raised a family (children Juancho, Marietta, Marco)  and established a successful ballet dancewear, shoes and accessories business --“Yvonne’s” in 1967. It grew to five specialty stores and currently, her “Yvonne’s” shops in Makati and Greenhills are still going strong.

Simonette’s own journey to the crown had a different route. She was discovered by designer Pitoy Moreno who egged her to join the 1970 Bb. Pilipinas pageant, televised for the first time that year. Frontliner candidate Aurora Pijuan could have taken it all,  but when Simonette delivered her speech in fluent Pilipino—the only candidate to do so—the tides were turned in her favor. 

In her speech (written for her by poetess Virgie Moreno, Pitoy’s sister)  she made an analogy about  the judges’ task and that of  St. Peter’s, in deciding the fates of the candidates, who were liken to seekers of a place in heaven.  With that, Simonette was crowned Binibining Pilipinas, while Aurora Pijuan won the other title of Miss Philippines (she would triumph as 1970 Miss International in Osaka).

Simonette went to Miami Beach under tremendous pressure as the reigning Miss Universe was Gloria Diaz. So, she just went ahead and enjoyed the experience.  Her roommate, Puerto Rico’s Marisol Malaret, became the eventual winner. After her reign, she continued her commerce studies at Assumption. In 1972, she became the first Baron Travel Girl , and traveled extensively around the world.

In 1977, she married football ace Butch Ferraren, had children, lived for years abroad and pursued a successful baked goods business when she returned to the Philippines. She honed her craft as a baker and sold lemon squares, ensaimadas, and cakes. Today she operates California Funnel Cakes Café in Pasay City. Monette still regularly visits Pampanga, her mother’s hometown Arayat and the Caryana Monastery in Magalang for her spiritual retreats.

Two siblings with national titles are a rarity. Almost an impossibility is having two of them win the most sought after Miss Philippines title, then vie for the same Miss Universe crown. But the delos Reyes sisters did just that in 1955 and 1970. 

It would take awhile to duplicate that feat, but in recent years, the lovely Manalo sisters of Bacolor scored a similarly impressive coup--Katherine Ann Manalo, Bianca Manalo and Nichole became the winningest family by bagging three different Binibining Pilipinas titles (World 2002, Universe 2009, Globe 2016). But that’s  another (beautiful) story!