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Daily Archives: September 21, 2011

Family trees

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I’m a family tree freak, being a history buff. I even astonish my wife for being one, especially because I know more about her ancestors than she does.

For years I’ve studied the lineage of renowned Filipino families: Araneta, Cojuangco, Salvador, Zóbel de Ayala. Now that we have a new laptop, I can start writing about these families and publish them in this blog very soon. But of course I will also need to research on my own family tree.

Through a family tree, clan members will have the opportunity to be able to know more about their respective family’s origins as well as promote closer ties to long lost relatives who share the same ancestor(s). Such is the case when I met on Facebook the relatives of my paternal great grandfather, Don Paulo Évora y Fortunato of Calapán, Mindoro Oriental. Paulo married a creole, Doña Rafaela Bonilla, of Unisan, Tayabas (now Quezon) province, and that marriage produced several children including my father’s mother.

Many of Don Paulo’s relatives are now in the US. A nephew of his, Raymond Évora y Heildebrand (son of Paulo’s brother Carlos) now serves as the Évora historian. He has a vast collection of Évora photos from yesteryears. And he even took the wondrous time of creating an online family tree for the whole Évora Clan.

Screenshot of a webpage dedicated to the Évora Family Tree.

On a related note…

Several weeks ago, a friend of mine, Antonio Saturnino Velasco y Filoteo, showed to me copies of his Spanish grandfather’s documents: birth certificate, passport, and naturalization papers. His grandfather, Don Saturnino Velasco y García was an immigrant from Arroyal, Burgos, Spain (his parents were Mariano Velasco and Patricia García). According to Cuya Tony, his abuelo married a Spanish lady. The marriage bore them Antonio María Benito Velasco who was born in Ciudad de Lucena, Tayabas (the same place where I was born).

Personal documents of Saturnino Velasco y García, a Spaniard who migrated to the Philippines and became a Filipino citizen.

Don Saturnino later remarried when his first wife died. He got himself a Manileña: Dolores Monzón of Malate, daughter of Julián Monzón and Juana Mijares. In the process, Saturnino’s son by his first marriage became Antonio María Benito Velasco y Monzón.

Antonio María, one of the managers of Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines, Inc., married a Chavacana damsel from Ciudad de Cavite: Perla Filoteo de Velasco (daughter of Ramón Filoteo and Venancia García). The marriage produced many children, among them my friend Cuya Tony, an IT specialist in Mærsk Line Filipinas.

While checking the documents of Cuya Tony’s grandfather, I tried to imagine what was on the old man’s mind while he was taking care of his immigration papers. Did he immediately fall in love with his new home? How did he adapt to his new environment? Did he ever think ill of Filipinos? Or did he die with his heart fully transmogrified into one that is Filipino?

Don Saturnino Velasco y García and his bride. I'm just not sure if the lady is his first or second (photo taken from the Familia Velasco Facebook group).

Moving to another country is a difficult move. Although I haven’t done that myself (and I don’t have plans to), I had moved from one place to another ever since I eloped with my girlfriend (who is now Mrs. Alas). And I can tell you that in so doing, it was a hassle. The vicissitudes of having to adapt to a new environment was daunting. You’ll have to deal with different modes and schedules of transportation, new sources of daily commodities, new faces, etc. And I’m just talking about moving from one place to another within the Philippines. What more if we talk about moving to a different land whose cosmos is different from ours?

Cuya Tony told me that his late father, a former manager of one of the world’s most successful businesses, was very organized with all important documents pertaining to their family. All documents were meticulously filed, preserved, and in order. These precious files —the well-preserved Velasco documents as well as Lolo Raymund’s precious Évora photos— serve as windows to the past. That is why it is important for all of us to preserve whatever keepsakes there are at hand: receipts, scribbled notes, even electric bills. This, however, is too cumbersome for an ordinary person to do and is usually best left in the hands of history-sensitive individuals. Rizal was one such person. That is why we know so many things about him.

Indeed, a thorough study of one’s bloodline and filial traditions will help that person understand more about his clan’s religious, cultural, social, economic, and even political fluctuations throughout generations. Studying and getting to know the history of one’s family (without a tarnished past, that is) will inculcate in that person a sense of belongingness, pride, and being. The past is never dull. It is always engaging. Learning more about a past forgotten, a milieu living only in memory (and documents), will help our feet tread towards the right path.

Rizal and the Virgin of Antipolo

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¡Salve Rosa pura
Reina de la mar!
¡Salve! Blanca Estrella,
Fiel Iris de Paz …
Antipolo,
Por tí sólo
Fama y renombre tendrá.
De los males,
Los mortales
Tu imágen nos librará;
Tu cariño,
Al fiel niño
Le guarda siempre del mal;
Noche y día,
Tu le guías
En la senda terrenal.
—José Rizal (Junto al Pásig)—

Here’s a photo that I salvaged from oblivion. We’re posing for posterity in front of the historical shrine of Nuestra Señora de la Paz y Buen Viaje (circa 2008).

Standing from left to right: Arnaldo Arnáiz, Michiko Hasegawa, Señor Guillermo Gómez, and a bald version of myself. Michiko is Señor Gómez’s Spanish-speaking Japanese flamenco dancer.

This historical shrine houses the miraculous image of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage, also known as Our Lady (or Virgin) of Antipolo. Many people who are about to embark on a long journey or travel, especially those who will go abroad, flock here to seek guidance from Our Lord’s dear Mother.

Rizal’s mom was a devotee of this church. While carrying Rizal in her womb, she fervently prayed here that she may have a safe delivery. Years later, when Rizal grew up as a young boy fit enough to travel, he went here with his dad (on 6 June 1868) to fulfill his mother’s panatà or vow made years before: to take Rizal to the Virgin of Antipolo should she and her son survive the difficulty of delivery. Rizal’s visit here was a thanksgiving pilgrimage of sort.

Rizal’s attachment to Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage carried over to his early masterpiece, the one-act play Junto al Pásig (Along the Pásig). In this piece, Our Lady of Antipolo was mentioned twice. She was also mentioned in Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere, but not exactly in a pious light (for Rizal was already a Freemason when he wrote his first novel):

Contrastando con estos terrenales preparativos están los abigarrados cuadros de las paredes, representando asuntos religiosos como El Purgatorio, El Infierno, El Juicio final, La Muerte del Justo, La del Pecador, y en el fondo, aprisionado en un espléndido y elegante marco estilo del Renacimiento que Arévalo rabía tallado, un curioso lienzo de grandes dimensioness en que se ven dos viejas… La inscripción dice: Nra. Sra. de la Paz y Buenviaje que se venera en Antipolo, bajo el aspecto de una mendiga visita en su enfermedad á la piadosa y célebre capitana Inés.

Also, during his stay in Biñán, La Laguna, Rizal used to pray at a chapel which was also dedicated to Our Lady Of Peace and Good Voyage.

Since Junto al Pásig is mentioned here, let me comment on something: whenever we talk about Rizal’s literary skills, his two novels immediately come to mind. But these two are almost far from being literary. They are, to put it frankly, but a part of the propaganda fuel of hatred against the Catholic Church, particularly against the friars in the Philippines. Many citations in these novels are even slanderous at worst. To an honest writer and literary critic, Rizal shone at his brightest during the days when he wrote only poetry and plays, when he was not motivated by the propaganda machine, when all his writings were motivated with nothing but religious love as well as the passion for the arts.

Every merry month of May, the legendary town of Antipolo becomes a beehive of acitivity and vibrancy as thousands, from all walks of life, flock to this lovely place amongst the hills. To the lilting tune of native songs, people come to this town, primarily to pay homage to the miraculous Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage and, secondly, to take a breather from the heat and dust of the summer months amidst Antipolo’s refreshing mountain air, rippling streams and springs.

I wish we could do another trip like this again.

Click here for more information about Ciudad de Antipolo.

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