Tuesday, March 21, 2017

*426. MISIONEROS RECOLETOS IN MABALACAT

FR. ANDRES DE SAN FULGENCIO was one of 3 Recoletos that began ministering in Mabalacat, Capas and Bamban sometime in 1712, along with Frs. Juan de Sto. Tomas de Aquino and Manuel de San Nicolas. His namesake saint is shown on this estampita.

With the arrival of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi  in 1565, also came the Augustinians, who had a headstart in the evangelization of the Philippines and the Far East. Back then, missionary groups were assigned territories to govern, and in 1575, the Augustinians named their “provincia” after the Most Holy Name of Jesus (Santisimo Nombre de Jesus) . As early as 1572 though, Augustinians were already active in the Pampanga region. The succeeding missionary groups that followed were the Franciscans (1578), the Jesuits (1581) and the Dominicans (1587).2

The Recoletos (OAR, Order of the Augustinian Recollects), an offshoot of the Augustinian reforms in 1598,  were the 5th religious order to arrive, landing in Manila on 31 May 1606, with Fr. Juan de San Jeronimo leading the missionaries.  By then, though, most of the areas have already been assigned to the earlier groups, with the Augustinians dominating in most Pampanga towns.

These “Discalced or Barefoot Augustinians” had to make do with the remaining uncharted and remote Zambales/Upper Pampanga regions, naming their “provincia” after San Nicolas de Tolentino. The noble Recoletos braved the province’s wild and untamed northern frontiers—and are credited with the early development of Mabalacat through their ministry, the only town that was not subject to the influence of the Augustinians.

1712 is widely recognized as the founding year of the Mabalacat township, on the basis of a Negrito settlement under the leadership of Garagan. Like Magalang and Porac , Mabalacat started as a forest outpost. Historian Fr. Valentin Marin confirms this date, with the deployment of 3 pioneer Recoletos to Bamban, Capas and Mabalacat, namely, Fr. Andres de San Fulgencio, Fr. Juan de Sto. Tomas de Aquino and Fr. Manuel de San Nicolas .

Another Augustinian historian, Fr. Agustin Cadava, also validated the aforementioned year, although there are other dates mentioned. Fr. Licinio Ruiz, a Recollect chronicler, puts Mabalacat’s founding year at 1714, while Fr. Andres de San Fulgencio cited 1717 in his report.  Whatever, this would  make Mabalacat older than San Fernando (1756), Sta. Rita (1726), Sta. Ana (1759), San Luis (1762) and San Simon (1771).

Fr. Andres de San Fulgencio would play a major role in the  establishment of the Mabalacat mission, which would gain the status of a “mission viva” or an active mission center in a few years, from which the needs of nearby “visitas” , including those of Tarlac,  were ministered. Fr. Andres’ early labors included not only dispensing spiritual services like baptisms and conversions of Negritos but also community-building duties like tilling of agricultural lands and constructions of houses.

Though successful  in his early labors, the enthusiasm of Fr. Andres was met with lukewarm support from his elders, as it was only in 1725—a  full 8 years after the mission’s founding—that a full-time, regular missionary was assigned to Mabalacat. That distinction belonged to Fr. Alonso de San Gabriel of Toledo Spain, who served Mabalacat from mid-1725 to 1728.

The Recoletos played a significant role in warding off the British during the British invasion of the Philippines. . Simon de Anda secured the help of Recoletos in the re-capture of Manila. Mabalacat served as an important point of transport for loyalist soldiers from Zambales and Pangasinan, which had a number of Recollect-ministered pueblos.

Appointed as a companion priest to Fr. Joaquin, but elevated to full misonero rank in 1765, serving in that capacity until  his death in Bamban in Feb. 11, 1765. During his term, the British–Spanish War flared up. Lt. Governor and Visiting General  Simon de Anda secured the help of Recoletos in the re-capture of Manila. Mabalacat served as an important point of transport for loyalist soldiers from Zambales and Pangasinan, which had a number of Recollect-ministered pueblos.

Beginning in 1800, there was a 30-year disruption  of missionary activities in both Mabalacat and Bamban, due to acute shortage of priests (many died of tropical diseases like malaria), political unrest and new development in Spain. It was only in 1831 that Recoletos resumed their mission work in Mabalacat.

Notable Recoletos who came to work in Mabalacat include:  Fr. Alonso de la Concepcion (30 Mar. 1792-1794) an accomplished Recoleto who held important offices in Spain and the Recoleto province of the Philippines; Fr. Diego Cera (9 June 1794-1797) who stayed only for a year, until his transfer to Las Piñas, where he built the world-famous Bamboo Organ; Fr. Jose Fernando Varela de la Consolacion (1834-1843, re-assigned to Mabalacat 13 May 1858-1860), an ilustrado priest whose  biggest achievement was the elevation of the mission to a regular “parroquia” ca. 1836; Fr. Cipriano Angos del Rosario (served intermittently from 1840-1867), an important personage of the Order who was appointed as the Vice Rector of the Recollect Convent in Monteagudo, Spain; the saintly Fr. Juan Perez de Santa Lucia (23 Feb. 1844-Sept. 1845) known for serving and protecting Aetas, and Fr. Gregorio Bueno de la Virgen del Romero (30 Nov. 1875-10 Jul. 1898), the last Recollect priest known for putting a curse on Mabalacat before he was executed—that the town will never prosper.

Through difficult years, the Recollect Order helped in shaping the future of Mabalacat. They hold the record for building and administering the most number of churches and parishes in the country, until these were turned over to other orders or to secular clergy.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

*425. IMMORTALIZING KAPAMPANGANS IN 19TH CENTURY PORTRAITURE

THE QUIASON FAMILY OF SAN FERNANDO.  As painted in 1875 by Simon de la Rosa Flores. Central Bank Collection. Photo from the Press Reader.

It was Dr. Jaime Laya, former National Commission for Culture and Arts who observed” “Portraits are challenges to mortality. The originals may have long become dust, but their likeness remains—on canvas and boards—seeking to remind us living in the present, that they once were here.”

Portraiture is the most popular form of painting in the Philippines, and it took only 2 to 3 centuries for Filipino artists to imbibe Western portraiture art. Filipino portraiture came of age in the 19th century when the Filipino artist gained more confidence after achieving a measure of social and economic prosperity.  Portraits are able to depict not only individuals but an entire social class of family members. Thus, we see not only individuals, but  ilustrados, politicos, hacienderos, professionals, and even rich kids, who made Pampanga what it is now.

Early portraitists include the Spanish mestizo Damian Domingo, director of the first Philippine Art Academy in 1826, Severino Flavier Pablo (Capitan Viring) of Paco, whose 1836 portrait of Don Paterno Molo is thought to be the earliest to have survived ,Tondo-born master of miniaturismo Antonio Malantic (1820), and  the Asuncion family of artists from Sta. Cruz, Manila led by brothers Mariano Asuncion (1802), Leoncio, a sculptor (1813), Justiniano or Capitan Ting (1816), Antonio, Mariano Jr., Ambrosio, and Manuel Tarcilo (sculptor). Leoncio’s son –Hilarion—and grandson Jose Maria, also became noted painters.

In Pampanga, there was no lack of portrait sitters as the numerous members of the landed gentry sought the services of itinerant artists. The most prominent name is Manila –born Simon Flores de la Rosa (1839), who settled in Bacolor and made the rounds of Kapampangan towns, and a handful of his portraits form part of his legacy.

Perhaps, his most-well known is that of the Quiason Family of San Fernando, headed by Cirilo Cunanan Quiason and wife Severina David Henson and their Two Children” painted in 1875. Cirilo’s 2 brothers, Lucio and Pablo, were successful landowners and traders, and each one commissioned Flores to create family portraits. The painting cost 50 pesos per head, in gold coins,  for a total of 200 pesos. The seated baby is named Jose, and was originally painted with his male member exposed. When the baby Jose grew up, it was said he was embarrassed to see himself naked, so he—or someone--scratched away that part of the painting, causing a bit of damage. It has since been professionally restored, his nakedness covered.

In the town of Sta. Ana, Flores painted the pretty Andrea Dayrit. Her portrait hung in the 1840s Dizon house, famous in its time for its late Neoclassical and English Regency architectural details. Mexico has a couple of Flores portraits, and the most well-known is that of long-haired Miguela Henson in front of her dresser.  It is now in the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas collection.

Flores, who settled in San Vicente in Bacolor, also painted portraits of his wife, Simplicia Tambungui, originally from Guagua, but no work survived.However, in 1890, he painted a portrait of his brother Monsignor Ignacio Pineda Tambungui ,  a canon of the Manila Cathedral and a chaplain at the San Juan de Dios Hospital. In return, Msgr. Tambungui gave his brother-in-law church decorating-commissions in Pampanga towns.

Bacolor’s most influential couple in the 1850s also sat for Flores.  Don Jose Leon y Santos was one of the sons of gobernadorcillo Francisco Paula de los Santos and Doña Luisa Gonzaga de Leon. Jose himself became a town head of Bacolor in 1857. The oil portrait of him was done in August 1887 when he was 59 years old. He was married twice, first to Arcadia Joven y Suarez , and upon her death, Leon Santos wed her sister, Ramona Joven. Her portrait was completed in August 1882.  The paintings now hang at the Museo de La Salle.

One of the earliest known works of  Flores, dates from 1862,--when he was just 23 years old. It is that of Don Olegario Rodriguez (1806/1874), patriarch of the still-flourishing Rodriguez clan of Bacolor, when the subject was “56 anos.” Until Pinatubo of 1991, it used to hang in the sala of his ancestral house but has since been secured by Rodriguez descendants in Manila.

Meanwhile, in Candaba, Flores painted two doyennes of the “principalia” landowning class:  the severe-looking Severina Ocampo de Arroyo and the plump Quintina Castor de Sadie, a work dubbed as the “Fat Woman from Candaba.”  Since the 1980s, they have been with  Central Bank.

The Sioco progenitor of Apalit, Josef Sioco (1786/1864 ) has a surviving portrait, painted by Capitan Ting. A Chinese mestizo landowner known for his frugality (he was called  “Joseng Daga” because he stashed everything away, like a rat), he courted Marta Rodriguez of Bacolor. Turned down, he married the older, less attractive sister,  Matea,  in 1856. He was 70, she was 21. When Sioco died, Matea married Juan Arnedo Cruz. Matea, Juan and elder daughter Sabina had portraits done by Flores as well,  but these have disappeared, presumed stolen and sold in the 70s while being transferred to the Escaler house in Bacolor.  

Many prominent Pampanga families were immortalized by Flores on oil and canvass, but some of these have been lost forever or their whereabouts unknown : Julian Buyson of Bacolor, the Gils of Porac whose portrait was lost after the war, Saturnino Hizon of Mexico, Jose Berenguer and wife, Simona Linares of Arayat, haciendero Lino Reyes and wife Raymunda Soriano(lost in a 1928 fire).

Lately, two century old portraits surfaced and are now on loan to the Center for Kapampangan Center at Holy Angel University by the heirs. They are those of Don Maximinao Songco, gobernadorcillo of Floridablanca and Guagua, and his wife, Juana Limlingan y Chintuico. They were painted in the last decade of the 1800s (10 June 1893 to be exact), which saw the start of the merging of the sensibilities of the past with the new techniques of the day.

Now comes the interesting and mysterious part. Both paintings are signed --Sg. Lorenzo R. There was one accomplished portraitist by the name of Lorenzo Rocha (b.1837/d.1898), a product Academia de Dibujo y Pintura and former  painter to the Royal Chamber of his Majesty in Madrid. However, his  signature does not match those of the Songco portraits and more research is needed to validate the creator of these 124 year-old paintings.

The desire to be remembered after one is gone is only human. But, in the stories we conjure as we view these portraits--these people live on. Through their faces, expressions, finery and pose---we see people as the artists saw them. In a way, we can understand a bit more of the lives, times, attitudes and character of these people who have made Pampanga what it is today. 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

*424. LOOKING FOR MISS PHATUPHATS

AMERICAPAMPANGAN GIRL. A young Pampanga miss in a strikes a pose in her modern Western-style outfit, complete with a hat, white gloves, high heel shoes--all fashionably Americana!

“Ang mga babae’y nagputol ng buhok, nag-alis ng medyas
Nag-ahit ng kilay at ang puting dibdib ay halos ilabas
Ang mga lalaki ay libang na libang sa lahat ng oras
Saan patungo ang ganitong bayan kung hindi ang maghirap…
- Miguel M. Cristobal, poet

Juan Crisostomo Sotto showed us a caricature of what we had become under the Americans through his story character—Miss Phatuphats.  Formerly known as Yeyeng, she had developed an abnormal preoccupation with things American, and sought to erase her Kapampangan-ness by speaking only in English and affecting an air of Yankee  superiority. As a result, she became a pitiful, laughing stock of the town, leading many to question whether the white ‘saxon” culture is truly fit to be assimilated by brown-skinned Filipinos.

The turning point in our history, historians say, began with the inauguration of the Philippine Assembly in 1907, and which saw Filipino participation in self-governance for the first time. Fear and distrust for white masters slowly gave way to awe and admiration. Filipinos took to adapting the great American lifestyle and the term “Sajonista” (Saxonist) was used to describe with a sneer, these Americanized natives, the new “modernistas”. They were “young ladies and gentlemen”, products of the public schools, who have taken to addressing each other with “Mister” or “Miss”, and who sought out to differentiate themselves from the common provincianos.

Names were the first to updated to give them a cosmopolitan sound—so Francisco became “Frank”, Jose “Joe” and Lucia, “Lucy”. Kapampangan parents had a heyday naming their babies with American appellations—Henry, Mary Rose, Helen, Charles. The young lads and lasses who went to Manila for their schooling returned home to their towns in their smart drill suits, stylish frocks copied from American fashion magazines and thigh-high stockings.  

For the best in Western-style dresses, the taller de modas of Florencia Salgado, Maria Castro’s “National Fashion”, Sotera Valencia’s “Valencia’s Fashion”,  and Marta Tioleco Espinosa’s “La Creacion” were the go-to places in San Fernando.

Bathing suits were an offshoot of the sporting events introduced by Americans, who were avid sports enthusiasts. Two of the first to wear them in public were Kapampangan sisters Amanda and Luz Abad Santos—daughters of Jose Abad Santos, who were members of the 1934 Far Eastern Games national swim team.

Meanwhile, American sartorial elegance was the promise of  C. Hugo (Gentleman’s Tailor Modernist), Hilario Lapid’s Fashion (Cabildo), I.D. Cura (along Rizal Ave.) and De Leon Bros. tailors (Herran)—all Kapampangan suitmakers.

Young, independent colegialas had their eyebrows shaved,  hair cut short, bobbed, curled and Marcel-waved in modern salons such as the one owned by Rosa Soliman. Their handsome boyfriends in their City Slick, Valentino or Executive hair styles and flared London pants took them out to soda parlors to have ice cream or watch vaudevilles (the “zarzuela” was considered passé) , and basketball games.

By the 1930s, the Philippines was  completely under the American spell. It is said that the boogie-woogie, jitterbugging kids of the Swing Era were probably the most Americanized generation of young Filipinos. An observant few were quick to lament the eradication of our values as Filipinos became enamoured with the American dream with Hollywood movies, the carnivals and  cabarets, the cigarettes and the scotch—providing the cheap thrills of youthful leisure.

Kapampangans’ love affair with America would last longer than most—even with the rise of nationalism in the 1950s, mainly due to the presence of Clark Air Base that was seen more as a boon, to the neighborhood community. For decades,  the base provided thousands of livelihood opportunities, jobs, and, for many Misses Phatuphats among us, a possible ticket to a good life.  

All that would end dramatically and abruptly in 1991, with Pinatubo kicking out America from Clark with finality.  The American absence cleared the air and gave us time and space to reflect on what colonial mentality has done to us, and what we have been missing all these years. After bidding  “adios” to Alice Roosevelt and Miss Phatupats, it’s now time to say “hello” to the rediscovery of our race, our own culture and heritage.