Bulan. The picturesque coastal town of Bulan was one of the first migration destinations of the Asuncions of Sta. Cruz. The spirit of the time of transition had already been felt in the Asuncion household. The master painter Justiniano was the first to realize that it was no more his time. Styles had changed and so was the taste of the artistic consumers. New names like Luna and Hidalgo were in everyone’s tongue as they had just brought home the bacon from Europe. It was this existential uncertainty that drove Justiniano to follow his son Zacharias in Bulan who had already successfully established himself being a grocery store owner and his political engagement in the community. The ageing Justiniano for sure did not travel alone but in the company of somebody – probably Benita.
ca. 1870 by Justiniano Asuncion
Binãn and Pasig. Perhaps around this time, those pretty nieces of Justiniano, once his favorite models for his portrait works, also moved southwards of Manila, namely, Binãn, Laguna, hence, making Binãn the second known migration place of the Asuncions. These women, Romana and Valentina Asuncion were the daughters of Antonio Asuncion (born 1794), (Justiniano’s brother) whose wife was Remigia Sta. Ana of Pasig. The third place where an Asuncion migrated was Pasig with Antonio Asuncion, a known artist and where he also became Gobernadorcilo in his time – true to this rare mixture of politics and arts in the Asuncion blood. This migration to Binãn resulted ultimately into the blood fusion with Yatco, Carillo-Trinidad and Yaptinchay – all prominent Binãn families.
The Binãn Church
We were toured around the center of Binãn by my relative Christopher Yatco where he showed us the houses where the Yatcos, together with Romana and Valentina Asuncion, once lived. A nostalgic mini tour, shooting pictures of these old spanish houses as I tried to imagine how they lived there at that time. Romana and Valentina were my first cousins, me being three generations younger.
Valentina Asuncion married a Yatco which is one of the oldest gems of Binãn. His name was Ignacio. His brother Gregorio was the father of Ysidro Yatco, the progenitor of the “Tres Marias de Yatco” of Binãn. The merchant’s Ysidro Yatco wife was Bonifacia Mercado, sister of Jose Rizal’s father, Fransico Mercado. The Tres Marias- Salud, Leonila and Paz- were Jose Rizal’s first cousins. (The young student Jose Rizal did not use his family name Mercado upon the advice of his brother Paciano to avoid being linked to Father Gomez who was executed by the Spaniards).
Filomena Villafranca Y Asuncion
Valentina Asuncion and Ignacio Yatco’s children were Eleuterio, Jose, Leoncio and Filomena [ married to Eugenio Alzona]. (Note: There are two other Filomenas: One Filomena [married to a Castrillo] , daughter of Romana Asuncion Carillo and another Filomena [married to a Villafranca], daughter of Leoncio Asuncion [born 1813] , Justiniano’s older brother. )
According to Christopher Yatco (born 1974), Eleuterio Yatco y Asuncion had a son in the name of Francisco whose wife was Asuncion Belizario (here the name Asuncion is a first name).Their children being : Josefina Yatco (married to Andy Francia), Digna Yatco (married to Momoy Concepcion), Thomas Yatco (married to Florinda Sabater), Ruben Yatco (married to Adelaida Ponce) and Ernestina Yatco (a spinster) .
Jun, Christopher, Florabel and Mila
November 2012, Felix Restaurant, Greenbelt 5 Makati
Christopher Yatco’s parents are Ruben Yatco and Adelaida Ponce. Christopher is a soft-spoken man, open-minded, friendly, very generous, informed and interested in many things. He and his wife Florabel Co- Yatco run a chain of reputable restaurants in Metro Manila. This photo above was taken at Felix restaurant owned by Chris and Florabel, a great venue with excellent food, service – and a jazzy background music! Indeed, they’re very industrious and successful entrepreneurs. Christopher’s interest in genealogy is amazing at his age despite the work that he has as a businessman – in a true Yatco- Asuncion fashion. He is a first cousin three generations younger of Don Ysidro Yatco, once a prominent business person in Binãn. His great, great-grandfather Antonio Asuncion had not the slightest idea that, 218 years after his birth, one of his “offsprings” in the name of Christopher would meet another offspring of his younger brother Justiniano. We both sensed the significance of that evening, acknowledging that we both were living extensions of our ancestors and that we have the duty to look back and honor them. Christopher is my fourth cousin a generation younger and fifth cousin to my sons.
The Yatcos and Mercados are related as in-laws. We may say that Ysidro Yatco, being the husband of Jose Rizal’s aunt Bonifacia Mercado, was Jose’s “uncle in-law” (or Jose Rzal being Ysidro’s “nephew in -law”) and so were Ysidros’ other brothers, as they were the uncles of the Tres Marias. From the surface there seems to be no direct blood relationship among the other Yatcos with the Mercados and that all other Yatcos do not carry the Mercado’s genes, that they are just in- laws. Yet Bonfacia’s next offsprings carry the Yatco genes in themselves, the same copy that Christopher has. And if we would go a little a deeper in the sense that we would forget people and talk of blood as a collective entity then the mixing of these two bloods – the Yatcos’ and the Mercado’s”- through the union of Ysidro and Bonifacia- had ultimately effected a chemical bonding of both bloods which affects all other people carrying these bloods. This is perhaps what we mean when we say ” that person is my distant relative”.
If in-laws are distant relatives, then it goes beyond the common consanguinity relationships from first to seventh cousins. For how distant is a distant relative really? Who and what defines and limits relationships? The western concept of family relationship is very limited to biology. There are cultures and even certain people that regard family relationship beyond this common concept. The English term “next of kin” does not necessarily mean a blood-relative. And a person has the natural right to call somebody to whom he or she feels strong affinity as brother or sister. There is somehow also a spiritual dimension to human and family relationship. I mean, if we would extend the line of Ysidro Yatco as son- in-law of Juan Mercado, the grandfather of Jose Rizal, and Christopher being a great, great grand-nephew of Ysidro Yatco, therefore, Christopher could be Jose Rizal’s three generations younger “first- cousin-in-law”, with Paz, Salud and Leonila being Jose Rizal’s direct (blood) first cousins as seen from Jose Rizal’s family tree and Christopher being Salud, Paz and Leonila’s second cousin by blood, two generations younger as seen from the Yatco family tree.
portrait done by Justiniano Asuncion
With Romana Asuncion, the ninth child of Antonio Asuncion and Remigia Sta. Ana, the Asuncions got connected with another prominent Binãn family, the Carillo-Trinidad. Romana married Andres Carillo-Trinidad. Their daughter, Petronilla married a Yatco (as if following the foosteps of her aunt Valentina Asuncion). His name was Fermin Yatco y Yaptinchay, the son of Aniceto Yatco and Simeona Yaptinchay. Aniceto was Ignacio’s brother. Simeona herself was a daughter of a Carillo-Trinidad, Maria, who became the wife of the first Yaptinchay, namely Yap Tin Chay, a migrant Chinese, with Yap as the family name and Tin Chay the first name. However, his descendants adopted the combined names Yaptinchay as their family name (source : Toto Gonzalez). How Andres and Maria Carillo- Trinidad were related to one another is my question to the Carillos of today.
But you may have noticed by now that Fermin Yatco y Yaptinchay who married Petronila Carillo- Trinidad, actually was a Carillo- Trinidad also through his grandmother Maria Yaptinchay y Carillo- Trinidad. Hence, Petronila and Fermin were blood relatives.
Now, Petronila’s and Fermin Yatco’s son, Macario Yatco y Carillo (y Asuncion y Yaptinchay!) married Guia, an Asuncion and daughter of Zacharias Asuncion from his first wife Juana Zalvedia. I was informed that Juana Zalvedia was also an Asuncion- being the daughter of Canuta Asuncion, Justiniano’s sister. (Love seemed to be so blind among the first Asuncions). From this union between Macario and Guia was born a daughter named Gracia Yatco (y Carillo y Asuncion y Asuncion). Formally, Guia was three times an Asuncion and her daughter, Gracia, four times an Asuncion. Gracia married a Rojas (hope the mother of Emmanuel Rojas, Sr. was not an Asuncion!) and they gave birth to Ed and Noel Rojas. Hence, although a Rojas, and taking Zacharias as point of reference (common ancestor), Ed and Noel are more Asuncion than an Asuncion because they are five times an Asuncion, formally speaking, through Zacharias- Zalvedia- Macario- Guia- Gracia! And they can count two great, great grandfathers, too: Justiniano Asuncion (through Zacharias) and Antonio Asuncion (through Romana)- two great artists!
Mini reunion. This explains the intense drive and fascination of Noel and Ed in their search for the Asuncion roots! I met them last November 2012 in a restaurant somewhere in Ortigas, and this intense discussion shown in this photo is not about the Menu for the dinner but about the family tree that Ed and Noel brought with them. We enjoyed the food, naturally, but we spent more time discussing the tree than eating that evening of November.
Jun, Ed and Noel
The Asuncion women
Noel with daughter Anna
Now, with all this complexity because of internal marriages, how are we related really to one another? Taking Mariano Asuncion as common ancestor, Juana Zalvedia (Zacharia’s first wife) would be a niece to Justiniano, a first cousin to Zacharias, first cousin a generation younger to Adonis; Andres, Sr. being first cousin two generations younger and me first cousin three generations younger. Her daughters, Consuelo and Guia, formally speaking, were second cousins,- and yet were half-sisters, – of Adonis, ( half-) aunts of Andres, Sr. Now, to Guia’s daughter, Gracia, I would be a generation younger third cousin- while I’m a fourth cousin to Ed and Noel, Gracia’s sons.
This picture would change, however, if we would take Zacharias as the starting point (common ancestor): Guia and Consuelo remaining as Adonis’ half-sisters; I become Gracia’s one generation younger first cousin while Ed and Noel being my second cousins. Making it more simpler, if we follow Macario’s line (remember Macario was also an Asuncion through Petronila) all the way to Antonio Asuncion and finally to the patriarch Mariano Asuncion, then Ed and Noel would appear as one generation younger fourth cousin to me. In truth, I’m younger than them. But why this?
(to be continued) jun asuncion