Tuesday, February 14, 2017
*422. San Fernando's LOURDES S. SINJIAN, Dama de Honor, Manila Carnival 1924
OUR LADY OF LOURDES. The statuesque Unding was a princess in the Manila Carnival court of Queen Trinidad Fernandez. She was a grandchild of former San Fernando gobernadorcillo (1844-1875), Don Bernardino Singian de Miranda.Author's Collection.
The earliest known Kapampangan participant in the Manila Carnival of which there is pictorial documentation is Lourdes Sinjian (Filipinized into Singian) of San Fernando. There was another Kapampangan entrant by the name of Benita S. Reyes who topped the preliminary voting in Pampanga, but apparently, her candidacy did not prosper and virtually nothing is known about her.
On the other hand, Lourdes did much better, joining the court of the 1924 Manila Carnival Queen, Trinidad Fernandez, as one of the 6 lovely “damas”. Lourdes, nicknamed “Unding”, (b. 23 October 1903) was the grandchild of Don Bernardino Singian de Miranda (former gobernadorcillo of San Fernando where he served several terms between 1844-1875) with second wife Clemencia Gotiangco of San Fernando. Her parents were Anselmo Singian and Paz Soler.
A statuesque “mestiza Española”, she spoke flawless Spanish, Kapampangan, Pilipino and Cantonese, in a voice that was strong and vibrant. Her patrician manners only served to complement her elegant bearing. At the coronation of the Queen, she was escorted by another mestizo, Ito Kahn.
A niece, Gabriela D’Aquino recalls that during the Japanese Occupation, Unding’s imposing height and no-nonsense demeanor served her family in good stead. Japanese officers who had come to invite her young cousins to parties were often intimidated by Unding and left the house alone.
After the war, Lourdes and her mother went to Hong Kong, to follow her sister Maria Paz (Nenita) who had left the Philippines to marry a Hong Kong native, Gaston D’Aquino. Choosing to reside in the British Colony, Lourdes was never at a loss for company. Vicente Singian, for example, was the Philippine consul in Hong Kong in the 1950s. The famed surgeon Dr. Gregorio Singian, together with his wife, made frequent travels there as well. Both were her cousins.
Relatives would recall that Lourdes made a perfect tour guide whenever family members came a-visiting. In one such shopping spree at a Hong Kong store, she would pretend to be a stranger, but when she would sense a dishonest deal, she would berate the shop owner in eloquent Cantonese!
With her relatives though, Lourdes spoke in Kapampangan, often reminiscing about her days in Pampanga and Manila. Lourdes did not leave Hong Kong until her mother, Paz, fell ill and had to be flown back to Manila for treatment at Clinica Singian. After her mother’s death, she remained in the Philippines only to return to Hong Kong in the 1960s to care for her ailing sister Nenita.
Upon the death of her sister, Lourdes took over the household and continued raising her sister’s children Gaby, Gaston Jr. and Gerardo, running a household with discipline and efficiency. Known for being nimble and spritely even in her old age, Lourdes remained unmarried until her death in Hong Kong on 4 July 1993. Her remains were brought back and interred at the Mount Carmel Church in Manila.