The Asuncions In Politics, Arts And Sciences

by  jun asuncion


Part I: The Search Begins

This post is my reply to this comment from Jeffrey, an Asuncion. This made me take out my copy of our Family Tree which I got from my sister Menchu. The research for this Family tree is largely credited to my uncle Dr. Ronaldo Asuncion. So there is something private in this post, with the purpose of connecting with the other relatives of mine who would be willing to supply more information about our lineage and/or help me answer Jeffrey’s inquiry.The Asuncions have always been closely associated with the town of Bulan and they are proud of their town.

Here is Jeffrey’s comment:

hi i am jeffrey i grew up in manila but have roots in bulan. I learned that my great great grandfather rodolfo asuncion sr. is a son of zacarias. I wanted to know more about the line in the entry above stating that zacarias was among the many bulan residents persecuted by spaniards during the Revolution. would just like to know the exact details of what transpired that led to his detention. I presume this was the factor which led him to stay in pasig afterwards.”

Jeffrey was referring to this entry in Wikipedia/Bulan website which mentioned our great-grandfather Don Zacarias Asuncion:

“Don Teodoro De Castro y Zabala was arrested and incarcerated in Bilibid, because he was found in possession of letters written by anti-Spanish natives in Manila. Don Zacarias Asuncion and other residents suffered the same fate, for having no cedulas personales and for singing anti-Spanish songs.” (Wikipedia, Bulan website)

Personally, it interests me to know the music and lyrics of those anti- Spanish songs which my rebel great-grandfather sang and which led him behind bars. Composed or improvised?

Unable to find an answer, I went back to Justiniano Asuncion in search of any clue that might shed a little light to the Zacarias issue. Again, I found no answer but names after names of Asuncions in politics, arts and sciences. Verily, I’m proud of my grandfathers! To write about Justiniano alone would fill up pages, a task I wish I could do.



Religious Painter

Well-known as “Capitan Ting,” Justiniano Asuncion was one of the leading Filipino painters in the 19th century. He was born on September 26, 1816 in Sta. Cruz, Manila. He was the 11th among 12 children of Mariano Kagalitan, whose family name was changed to “Asuncion” following the Claveria Decree. In 1834, he studied at Escuela de Dibujo, where he obtained his skills in painting. Sometime in 1855, he became capitan municipal of Sta. Cruz, Manila. Asuncion was the painter of the famous “Coronation of the Virgin,” the “Virgin of Antipolo,” “Filomena Asuncion,” and “Romana A. Carillo.” He produced life-sized paintings of San Agustin, San Geronimo, San Antonio, and San Gregorio Magno which were kept at the Sta. Cruz Church before the Pacific War. These precious canvases were destroyed when the Japanese bombarded the church in February 1945. His works mirror the mannerism of that period – the first 75 years of the 19th century. The portraitists of those time carefully delineated features of the head; the hands and other minor details with linear accuracy; usually disregarding tonal values and emphasizing hardness of effect. The University of Santo Tomas Museum owns one of Asuncion’s paintings, dated February 1862. An unsigned portrait of Fr. Melchor Garcia de Sampedro at the UST Museum is said to be the work of Asuncion. Most of his other works are kept as national treasures at the Central Bank of the Philippines Museum. On September 12, 1983, at the façade of Sta. Cruz Church in Manila, a marker was installed in his honor. He died in 1901 at age of 85.

A painting of Justiniano:

Portrait of Teodora Devera Ygnacio

Justiniano Asuncion (1816-1901)

ca. 1880


CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine Art, vol. IV. Manila: Cultural Center of the Philippines, 1994.

Manuel, E. Arsenio and Magdalena Avenir Manuel. Dictionary of Philippine Biography Volume

3. Quezon City: Filipinana Publications, 1986.

(Justiniano Asuncion [1816-1901] was my great-great- Grandfather. Married to Justina Farafina Gomez. Their children: Benita, Zacarias, Marcelina, Jacobo, Gabriel and Martiniana. Justiniano’s father was Mariano Kagalitan, Sr. (later Asuncion) whose other children were: Manuel (1792), Antonio (1794), Victoria (1796), Mamerta (1798), Justo (1800), Mariano,jr. (1802), Epifanio (1806), Ambrosio (1808), Pascula (1811), Leoncio (1813), Canuta (1819), Theodoro (18??).


Don Zacarias Asuncion (son of Justiniano)

JEFE DEL PUEBLO (Municipal Mayor Of Bulan): 1898 – 1900

 “Don Teodoro De Castro y Zabala was arrested and incarcerated in Bilibid, because he was found in possession of letters written by anti-Spanish natives in Manila. Don Zacarias Asuncion and other residents suffered the same fate, for having no cedulas personales and for singing anti-Spanish songs.” (Wikipedia, bulan website)

Zacarias was  my great-grandfather. With Juana Zalvidea he had two daughters, Guia and Consuelo. With Remedios Ramirez he had I think 9 children: Adonis, Jacobo, Rodolfo, Salvador, Justina, Justiniano, Zacarias [jr?], Kenerino [founder of Southern Luzon Institute SLI, later KRAMS, married to Leonora Paras] and Digna.


 Adonis Asuncion

(son of Zacarias)

Municipal Mayor of Bulan:  1941-43; 1945-46


Adonis was my grandfather, grew up with him in our compound; in 1967 this wonderful grandfather of mine wandered all over Bulan South Central School looking for me with a handful of school supplies. It was just the opening of classes. He found me at the classroom of Miss Ceres McCoy Villareal (?), my grade one teacher. Unforgettable!

Uncles and aunties:

Rafael Asuncion ( national artist, he comes from the Leoncio Asuncion lineage. Leoncio was a brother of Justiniano).

“Rafael Asuncion comes from the long line of Asuncion artists, namely Justiniano, Mariano, Leoncio and Jose Maria. This present-day Asuncion is a Master of Fine Arts graduate of theAsean Institute of Art. A recipient of many top awards, he was also a founding member of the Art Association of the Philippines and a president of the Art Directors Club of the Philippines. Asuncion is likewise credited with designing a dozen commemorative stamps and the 10, 50, and 500 Philippine peso banknotes and coins-flora and fauna series with two other artists. He is credited with designing the UP College of Fina Arts official seal. The Asuncion artistic lineage does not end with Rafael. His children, along with other members of the Asuncion clan are also artists and so the saga continues”

Among Rafael’s designs: The P500 bill



1. Digna Asuncion (sister of Adonis Asuncion)- Topnotcher, Pharmacy Board Exam/ Pre-War Doctor Of Philosophy and Letters, Universidad de Madrid (Spain) Summa Cum Laude

2. Rodolfo G. Asuncion, Jr. – No. 1 Marine Officers Examination (married to Remedios Grayda; his parents were Rodolfo Asuncion Sr. [brother of Adonis] and Monica Gerona; Among his siblings were Salvador [father of the actress Aurora Salve], Rizalina, Raquel, Ruben, Ronaldo [a medical Doctor, former Dean Of Radiology Department, UST] and Rene. )

3. Iluminada Asuncion (daughter of Jacobo, Adonis’ brother) 11th Place, Dentistry Board 1953

4. Consuelo Asuncion (sister of Iluminada)- 1st Place, Pharmacy Board 1954

5. Natividad R. Asuncion (sister of Iluminada)- 1st Place, Nursing Board 1954

6. Rizalina Asuncion (sister of Rodolfo, Jr.)- 1st Place, Sr. Teacher Exams for Physics 1956




Painter and Writer

The eldest of four children, Jose Ma. Asuncion was born to Hilarion Asuncion and Marcela Raymundo of Sta. Cruz, Manila, on December 14, 1869. His father, the son of LeoncioAsuncion, a notable wood carver, was a portraitist and painter of religious subjects. Asuncion enrolled at the Ateneo de Manila and obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1888. At the time, he was studying at the Academia de Dibujo y Pintura, 1884-1889, then under the direction of Agustin Saez. Later, he transferred to the University of Santo Tomas to study under Felipe Roxas, who advised him to take further studies abroad. In 1890, both Roxas and Asuncion were in Paris. Asuncion received a grant from Agustina Medel, wealthy patroness of the arts from Manila and, later, owner of Teatro Zorilla.

While in Paris, he met the Filipino painters Juan Luna and Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo and French artists. The following year he enrolled at the Escuela de Bellas Artes in Madrid, where he studied for four years, 1891-1895. He garnered first prize in general history of art and costumes and obtained second prize in theory, aesthetics, and philosophy of art. While at the Escuela, he befriended Vicente Francisco, a government pensionado in sculpture who was then enrolled at the same academy. In 1895, he sailed back to Manila, passed a competitive examination, and was appointed assistant in the Escuela Profesional de Artes y Oficios, in Iloilo, which position he held until November 1898.

During the second stage of the Philippine Revolution, he served in the military administration and at one time took charge of the provisions for Filipino forces in Iloilo. He was transferred to the engineer corps as lieutenant under Gen. Adriano Hernandez. He helped in the construction of fortifications and trenches in Jaro, Leganes, La Paz and other strategic points. He also served under Gen. Pablo Araneta during the Filipino-American War. He was promoted to captain in February 1899, and three months later, to commander.

When the Americans gradually gained ground on his forces, he retreated to the mountains. After some time, Asuncion and his wife, Juana Hubero, whom he married in September 1899, went to Calbayog, Samar to join his father who ran a grocery store. It was in his town that his wife gave birth to their first child, Vicente. A year later, finding Samar not yet wholly pacified, he moved his family to Tacloban, Leyte. He stayed there for four years, spending his time painting landscapes and telons for local comedias. He also engaged in photography, a business which he left to his brother Gabriel’s management when he left for Manila in 1905.

He studied law, 1905-1909. He became a member of the Partido Independista, and was soon contributing articles on art and social and economic problems to the party’s organ, La Independencia. He also wrote for El Ilonguillo, La Voz de Mindanao, La Union, El Estudiante, El Renacimiento, The Independent, and Dia Filipino. Together with Rafael Enriquez, he founded the Sociedad Internacional de Artistas of Manila. Enriquez became its first president and Asuncion, its secretary. During their term, the Exposicion de Bellas Artes y Industrias Artisticas was held in December 1908, in time for the visit of an American squadron. This exhibition displayed more than 4,000 pieces of art. It aroused much interest and emphasized the need for a publicly supported institution in the arts.

Asuncion was a Freemason. His masonic writings may be found in Hojas Sueltas and The Cabletow. His studies on the history of Philippine art and his sketches of Filipino costumes are among the few exceedingly valuable contributions on these subjects. The drawings numbered 215 when Manuel Artigas y Cuerva saw them, but they were never wholly published. Some appeared in print under the title, “El Traje Filipino, 1750 a 1830,” in Revista Historica de Filipinas, for August 1905. He could have left a much more significant tribute to his memory had this collection of studies and drawings been published. But after his death, it was neglected. When another painter, Vicente Alcarez Dizon, saw Asuncion’s scattered works, they were already in a bad state. He acquired them and used them later for his studies.

When the University of the Philippines School of Fine Arts was opened, Asuncion accepted an appointment to its faculty on June 1, 1909. Two years later, on July 1, 1911, he was made secretary of the school. Asuncion’s paintings are included in the private collections of Alfonso T. Ongpin, Antonio Torres, Epifanio de los Santos Cristobal, and the Limjap family. He was considered by Fabian de la Rosa as a specialist in “still life” and, at the same time, as one who “devoted himself with notable ability, to the studies of art, archaeology and journalism.”

He died on May 2, 1925. His remains were buried in the Veteran’s Lot, Cementerio del Norte, Manila. In 1932, his heirs donated his collection of writings to the National Library. /

(References: CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine Art Volume 4. Manila: Cultural Center of the Philippines, 1994. Manuel, E. Arsenio. Dictionary of Philippine Biography Volume I. Quezon City: Filipiniana Publications, 1955.)/

Jose Maria R. Asuncion, the versatile Asuncion, painter, writer, soldier, educator, freemason, family man…what else shall we wish for? His father was Hilarion Asuncion, his grandfather was Leoncio, the brother of Justiniano. What else is there? Yes, he was the father of our living Asuncion artist Rafael Asuncion! Rafael has two other brothers,Vicente and Gabriel. That R in Jose’s name, his middle name, came from Marcela Raymundo, his mother, naturally.


Part II  The Noodle In Asuncions’ Soup

Clarifying Some Confusions

I’ve tried to know whether our patriarch Mariano Kagalitan was originally a native Muslim. He was for sure not a mestizo of any kind nor a Spaniard for he also had to change his family name later on to a Christian name ( which is Assumption, later developed to its present form Asuncion) under the Claveria Decree of 1849.

What was known was that Mariano was one of those prominent people who resided in Sta. Cruz, that he was an accomplished artist himself who, as many of you know by now, produced master artists like Leoncio, Justiniano. Marianos’ ancestors were unknown to us until now. But about his wife Maria de la Paz Molo much is known.

The Beginnings…Of What We Know Only Today.

Maria De La Paz Molo’s father was Ming Mong Lo, who- according to the family history – was a Chinese apothecary of Mandarin origins and married a local woman.

Ming Mong Lo adopted the Christian name Jose Molo upon baptism – and that was before the Claveria decree of 1849 and prospered as a merchant in the district of Binondo. He was said to have bequeathed five children, among them Paterno Joseph Molo and Maria de La Paz Molo.

No doubt Maria de La Paz was half Chinese and half Filipino – assuming that her mother was not a “local” Chinese ( I have problem understanding what a “local” woman or man meant at that time). Her mother’s identity is totally unknown to me until a few days ago.

And there was some sort of confusion in my research because of this:

In his book, Brains Of The Nation (published 2006 by Ateneo de Manila University Press), Resil B. Mojares took up as subjects of study his “three figures of Filipino Enlightenment”, namely, Pedro Paterno, Th. Pardo De Tavera and Isabelo De Los Reyes and their influence on the production of modern knowledge in the Philippines. He mentioned that Ming Mong Lo, the earliest known patriarch of both the present day Asuncion and Paterno families, got married to a local woman with “blue blood” in her veins, she being the “direct descendant of the Great Maguinoo, or Prince of Luzon”.

My question was: Does this mean that the Asuncions could go as far as Raja Soliman as one among their patriarchs?

This Great Maguinoo or Prince of Luzon could only be Raja Soliman, the famous King Of Tondo who initially resisted the Spanish adelantados. Resil’s argument had led me to wrong places which increased the confusion.

Until I was summoned by Maning Yatco by way of his comment here at BO to visit Toto Gonzalez’ Blog Remembrance Of Things Awry because of the interesting discussions there about the Asuncion-Molo-Yatco’s connection.

It was in this site where I got an authoritative argument coming from Mickey and Jean Paterno who said that Ming Mong Lo (Jose Molo), their ancestor, married Anastacia Michaela , the proofs of which are the “baptismal records of his sons circa 1780’s.” They argued that their ancestors originally belonged to the “parish of the Parian” and that most probably they moved to the “upcoming barrio San Sebastian in Quiapo, the place “which his children cite as their principality in their legal documents.”

It was probably in Quiapo where Maria De La Paz was born to Ming Mong Lo and Anastacia.(Her birth had fulfilled already one requirement among others for the realization of the Asuncion clan.)

By this point, it was clear to me that we couldn’t count Raja Soliman as among our patriarchs, the “blue blood” in our veins is out of the question then. Resil’s argument was not right, unless Anastacia Michaela, the wife of Ming Mong Lo, could be proven as descendant of Rajah Matanda or Raja Lakadula, both uncles of Rajah Soliman (political dynasty is as old as our history!)

But who was this woman with this blue blood in her veins whom Pedro Paterno was explaining to the English author Mr. Foreman?

From Molo To Paterno

Well, at this point we have to clear up first another confusion about Molo and Paterno. Substantially, they are the same. The family name Paterno of the succeeding Molo generations came to be adopted by 1849 (most probably in fulfillment of the Claveria decree) to honor Paterno Joseph, a son of Jose Molo (originally Ming Mong Lo). Notice that Paterno is actually a first name. But it was common at that time among the Chinese mestizos to acquire the first names of their parents as their family names- exactly what the Molos did, at least with certainty by Paterno Joseph’s son, Maximo Paterno who was the father of the widely known historical figure Pedro Paterno of the Pact of Biak- na- Bato.

It was probably from the lineage of Paterno Joseph where this “blue blood” in the veins could be traced back among the succeeding generations of Paternos due to his marriage with Miguela Yamson, the daughter of Juan Yapson and Maria de la Cruz- the name which is claimed to be a descendant of Raja Soliman. (Note that during the introduction of the Claveria Decree, those natives who couldn’t read and write were just asked -or ordered- to draw a cross after their first names, hence the family names De La Cruz). But it was through this “marriage to Miguela Yamson that opened to Paterno Agustin opportunities available only to local royalty, or the “principalia”. hereafter, he was addressed as Don Paterno Agustin and qualified to run for public office”, commented Maxi and Jean Paterno of today.

The Asuncion and Paterno (Molo) Connection

This started with the marriage of Mariano Kagalitan Asuncion to Maria De La Paz, the sister of Paterno Joseph. Paterno’s son Maximo was therefore a cousin of the first Asuncions — Justiniano, Leoncio, etc. It was Maximo who supported Justiniano Asuncion by commissioning portraits for the ladies of his house. Maximo had an astute sense for excellent investments and he had maximized his fortune in his capacity as gobernadorcillo of San Sebastian and Quiapo. He himself married thrice, the first with Valeriana Pineda, the second with Carmen De Vera Ignacio and the third with Carmen’s sister Theodora De Vera Ignacio whose portrait is shown above as painted by Justiniano.

Hence, two things are clearer to me now: First, that the Asuncions have partly Chinese blood in their veins, second, that though they had also engaged in politics, like Mariano, Justiniano, etc., down to Don Zacarias and Adonis Asuncion their strength was not in politics, i.e., the way we understand “political strength” in the Philippines before and now , but it is in the arts and the humanities and sciences that they excelled and earned recognition even beyond their times.


Acknowledgement: Toto Gonzales’ Remembrance Of Things Awry, Sonny Rayos, Micky and Jean Paterno, Resil B. Mojares, Wikipedia

Part III  The Roughness Of Times

The search for the roots can never be a one-man undertaking even if given the time and the means to pursue it. It is a teamwork. For unlike writing an article on a particular theme, for instance, where one has an infinite resources available on the web or libraries, the search for one’s lineage is like an archeological adventure: the material is scarce and one is dependent on that factor that we call luck. Luck in finding the right spot on a vast space to start digging and luck if you meet the people who are working with you, not against you. You may have the complete tools that you need for this kind of work but without luck and this teamwork, you wouldn’t bump on the materials you are searching for that will answer the questions you have posed at the start of your quest.

I’m for instance lucky and happy that the fundamental work on our family tree was done already by other relatives who worked hard together in gathering the data they needed. That’s teamwork. Now, my search focusses primarily on biographical details of our ancestors and in the future perhaps more on my own reflections on these.

Big thanks, of course, to today’s internet technology which has made many things a lot easier for us, from transfer of ideas to transfer of digital documents. Indeed, a lot easier and faster.

But still, your progress for this kind of work is still very much dependent on the materials you find or get from different sources, of documents that are relevant and could probably link you to another, or give meaning to the seemingly irrelevant material or even idea that you already have for long.

So, as in any work in progress, your grasp of the whole subject is constantly adapting to the new materials that you are getting or even losing because of being proven to be wrong. Here lies the excitement of the situation, here is the excitement when you find luck, here is the joy of teamwork.

One such excitements that occurred to me was when I got an E-mail with an attachment which I think the best E-mail attachment that I received so far in my yahoo career. The e-mail came from my cousin Sonny Rayos who lives in Texas and who has been very much ahead of me in his search for the Asuncion roots. He said that he also received this document from a cousin Gabriel Asuncion.

The attachment is an article authored by the now Prof. Santiago A. Pilar about Justiniano Asuncion entitled The Loving Eye For Detail which is a biographical sketch of the artist Justiniano Asuncion. I said authored by the now Prof. Santiago because the article was published 35 years ago in now defunct international magazine the Archipelago and that I don’t know if Santiago was already a professor at that time. I’ve tried to contact Professor Santiago to ask for his permission for the reprint of his article here in Bulan Observer but as of now I haven’t been successful. In any case. I consider it necessary not to let this article lay dormant for another decades before it will have its readers again. Indeed, for such a beautiful work, to risk being accused of copyright infringement is justified. But to the best of my estimation, a scholar in the caliber of Prof. Santiago wouldn’t lay about me if his work is appreciated for such a purpose that we have and within such circumstances.

In this article, and in other documents I received from Sonny Rayos, a few but very important questions were answered or earlier concept disproven. Disproven was my original conception that our patriarch Mariano Asuncion wasn’t a mestizo. He was indeed a mestizo with caucasian features and a prominent one in the 19th century Sta. Cruz. One solid proof of this argument is the existence of a sketch of him rendered by his son Justiniano, the master painter himself. And my question that was answered through Santiago’s article was whether Justiniano ever visited his son Zacarias in Bulan. Indeed, the ageing father visited his son in Bicol and remained there until his death.

But there is one big thrilling question here because Prof. Santiago mentioned another name of the town in Sorsogon which is Abueg, not Bulan which I expected. I thought for a while that Abueg must have been an old 19th century name for Bulan but my intensive net surfing rendered negative results. I really don’t know of any place in Sorsogon that bears this name today and in the last centuries. For the meantime I leave this issue open and just hold on to my assumption that this was a mistake until proven otherwise. Indeed, this is a work in progress.

With more and more inputs coming from other relatives about who is who and from whose line and where, this time is opportune to start updating the Tree. Hence, I urge whoever is in possession of valuable material related to this work, blood relative or not, to share it to us so we can move on. Information of this kind should be passed around for it is not about you and me but for the future family generations to come and of continuing what Justiniano had started to pass around: His portraits of the Asuncion women, his drawing of his father and his self-portrait which unfortunately was destroyed by the roughness of times.


Featured article:

A 19th-century burgher records the faces of his people (originally published in the 1975 edition of the Archipelago magazine)

by Santiago A. Pilar

Perhaps the most satirical of witticisms expressed about the Philippines during the Spanish times was made by a visiting French nobleman in a report to his country in 1766. « I am writing you from the other side of the globe, and may I even add from the 14th century ! » declared M. Le Gentil de la Galasiere who, steeped in the ideas of the then modern French Enlightenment, must have been intensely shocked about the medieval lifeways of Spain’s territory in Asia.

The erudite Seigneur’s caustic esprit was only one of the volley of similar pointed comments hurled at the quality of the Spanish rule in the islands, criticisms which eventually stirred up some enlightened Spanish hearts into taking steps toward a better administration. Out of these attempts at reforms aimed primarily at improving the country’s unpredictable economy, one move was the institution of government-subsidized agricultural projects and incentives.

Whereas years of economic dependence on the Chinese silk trade with Mexico neglected the natural potentials of the islands, the colonial government now turned its attention to the development of natural resources and the stimulation of agricultural activities.

The much sought- after spices of yore no longer commanded a monopoly of interest; crops like sugar, tobacco, indigo and hemp began to be in demand. In 1834, when Spain at last officially opened Manila to international commerce, progress began to be seen in manifold manifestations, among which was art patronage.

Perhaps no other painter’s life was more intimately interwoven with the course of newly prosperous 19th-century Manila than that of the early master, Justiniano Asuncion. Gifted with a durable life of 80 years, he witnessed prosperity coming upon the once languid city and bringing new turns in the destinies of its awakened inhabitants. As a consequence of this long life, his painting career reflected the artistic preferences of his flourishing milieu perhaps more faithfully than any of his contemporaries.

Justiniano Asuncion was elected cabeza de barangay in the community of mestizos in Sta. Sruz, Manila. For this reason, he was ever after fondly called Capitan Ting. The biographer Manuel Artigas y Cuerva jotted a 14-sentence sketch of his life and called him modelo de honradez, an exemplar of tacto y prudencia.

The Sta. Cruz of 1816, when Capitan Ting was born still carried the features of what Le Gentil de la Galaisiere, 50 years earlier, referred to as the “fourteenth century”. As any other Christianized spot in the islands, the district reminded the monsieur of some medieval European faubourg: a self-complacent artisan’s village that only trembled when threatened with the fires of hell. Little surprise it is, therefore, that the quiet nest of sculptors, smiths, embroiderers and jewelry setters was noted for spectacular church processions, activities which must have absorbed the year-round material profits and efforts of its dexterous denizens.

According to the medieval scheme of things, the fine arts were crouched within the level of the crafts. The painter, however much praised, was seated between the tailor and the carpenter. In fact, he had to enlist himself in a guild encompassing all citizens who practiced his profession. This guild system was a mechanism of the colonial government to facilitate the collection of tributes.

Another medieval aspect of Sta. Cruz’ lifeways was the classification of its citizens into communities according to race- Chinese, mestizo or native. Each community elected its own officials and competed with each other in the civic and religious affairs of the district. The Gremio de Mestizos, to which the Asuncions belonged, since 1741 surpassed in prestige its father guild, the Gremio de Chinos.and continued to be the most influential group in the arrabal until the end of the 19th century.

It is often said that artistic genius runs in the family. Justiniano’s lineage is a shining example. His elder brothers, Antonio, Ambrosio and Mariano, were all recognized by religious organizations for their talents as painters. Antonio even earned a flattering epithet, Fra Angelico Filipino! Manuel and Leoncio- Justiniano was the youngest son in a family of 12- maintained a sculptors’ shop and executed many life-size figures, like the Tercera Caida which was carried during Holy Week processions in their home district.

Neither were the Asuncions an ordinary mestizo family. Their father, Don Mariano, assumed the coveted position of cabeza de barangay in 1805. An engraving of his ancestor, copied from a paste original by Justiniano, depicts him in the powerful pose of a grand patriarch. Of interest is his costume. Typical of his mestizo class, he wears loose pantaloons, an equally loose camiza, intricately embroidered at the hems, and a collar kerchief to simulate the European cravat. His hair is gathered at the back of his head into a Chinese pigtail. Curiously, he wears a pair of slippers with curled toes.

Perhaps it is important to mention that the family name was recently acquired. Don Mariano was originally surnamed Kagalitan. Perhaps the old man adopted a Spanish surname as he rose in position in society. The spirit of change was beginning to dominate the times.

Neither did the ambiance of progress leave the artistic world untouched. When Justiniano was about six years of age, the painter’s lot as a craftsman was elevated to better status with the establishment of Escuela de Dibujo, the first public art school in the community. Since the painter now went to school, the respectability of his position became fairly assured. Thus when young Ting reached schooling age, he had not only exposed himself to the artistic influences of his brothers, he must have also attended the Escuela wherein Don Damian seems to have been the sole professor.

When the school closed in 1834- “for lack of funds”- aspiring painters had to seek private tutorship from recognized masters. Both the lessons under Don Damian and those under private tutelage seem to have consisted of the same rigorous training designed to acquaint their pupils with the nuances of realistic painting, with the fastidious emphasis on details, as the standard of times dictated. The supreme test of this sensitivity to details was the limning of miniatures, religious portraits on a golden or ivory or cloth surface, usually the size of a thumb and later on framed on chains or rosary beads. Justiniano made many of these locket paintings but it is difficult to make infallible attributions of extant examples to his name.

One authenticated early work establishes his affiliation to Don Damian and his contemporaries. This religious painting, wrought on copper sheet, is entitled “The Coronation of the Virgin”. A favorite subject of religious paintings, the original picture may have been a polychromatic estampa. The subject, as further interpreted by local painters, has acquired an Oriental grace, a visual flatness or lightness as done in very fine polish with the Chinese brush. The young Justiniano’ painting of the Virgin had a cool sweetness that emanated from cautious hands.

Filomena Asuncion (Oil portrait, miniature, c. 1875/ click photo to enlarge)

Little drawings of native costumes and scenery such as those trajes painted by Don Damian in the 1820s grew in popularity as more foreign ships docked in the country. What today would be called picture post cards, these little mementos attracted foreign travelers no end. A recently discovered collection of these so- called tipos del pais was done by Justiniano to depict the attire of his times in the 1840s. This album attests to his mastery of water color in drawing the minutest details. A matter of interest is the fact that his album had both Spanish and English captions which hint that they were aimed at some English patrons.

A thriving contemporary, Juan Transfiguration Nepomuceno, also drew similarly costumed figures to illustrate the French scholar Jean Mallat’s Les Philippines. In comparing the two albums, an ineffable difference is at once apparent. While Nepomuceno’s models looked like garbed mannequins, cold and poised, Asuncion’s are breathing humans, pulsating and alive. The characterization of these figures indicate his realistic capturing of the particular personality of his portrait sitters.

Justiniano’s album de trajes was to become the standard to be copied, both in subject and configuration, by future magazine illustrations in his century. His influence is clearly evident beginning with the drawings of C.W. Andrews, the British illustrator of La Illustracion Filipina, a magazine which ran for publication between 1859 and 1860.

Toward the end of the 1840s, Justiniano’s name as a painter had grown in importance. In 1850, Rafael Diaz Arenas, a Spaniard who contributed articles to Diario de Manila, published his memoirs and in it made allusions to Justiniano’s fame. He wrote: “After Damian, Arceo excelled in portraiture…now it is said that there is one in Santa Cruz who paints very well but I do not know him”

By this time, Justiniano had married Justina Parafina. In February 25, 1853, he was elected cabeza de barangay de mestizos in his district like his father before him. During his term, he inaugurated a new street along the San Lazaro Hospital area which is known today as Oroquieta.

By the 1850s, a considerable number of truly affluent Filipino families began to emerge as a result of the flourishing trade with British and American firms. With more money to spend on the amenities of life, tastes for leisure, entertainment and material acquisition began to change accordingly. In the arts, for instance, a marked shift in interest from religious to secular paintings arose not out of sheer irreverence on th clientele’s part, but because it was almost mandatory to equate one’s wealth with more mundane signs. Moreover, the new bourgeoisie’s success in business and agriculture and their eventual ascent to society had precipitated their growing importance as individuals. Understandably, in posing for a portrait, one invariably underscored one’s position or consequence.

Understandably then the earliest known portrait painted by Capitan Ting was dated in the 1850s. The sitter was probably the most influential señor of his district, Don Paterno Molo y Agustin, businessman-proprietor of a chain of merchant boats that brought divers goods as far as Aparri. It was actually Don Paterno’s first name which was later adopted by his socially prominent and affluent descendants as their family name. When he posed for this portrait Don Paterno was in the twilight of his life and his son, the equally prestigious Don Maximo or Capitan Memo was already overseeing his business for him.

Another early portrait executed by Capitan Ting is a half-body close up of his niece, Filomena, eldest daughter of his brother, Leoncio. This retrato is dated to the late 1850s by inference of the style of the model’s costume. Interestingly, this is the only extant portrait depicting a Maria Clara of that period- the panuelo over a non-transparent blouse with striped and relatively tapered long sleeves. One can easily pick out Filomena’s costume among the female figures painted by the German Karuth in 1858.

By the early 1860s, the affluent in the provinces caught the fever for portraits. The portrait painters of Manila now traveled to the provinces to seek the patronage of the town principalia. In Candaba today, in what was once a great house there used to hang the magnificent life-size portrait of Don Norberto Castor, a wealthy landlord of that feudal town. Don Berto’s importance is more than suggested by Capitan Ting in the portrait he painted in 1861. Togged in the fine European fashion of his days, the retrato speaks of a bygone era now romanticized in the movies.

In the late 1870s, Justiniano went back to the Paterno mansion to paint Capitan Memo’s third wife, Doña Teodora, and his daughter, Dolores, composer of the ballad La Flor de Manila, now popularly known as Sampaguita.The three portraits executed by Capitan Ting for the Paternos- Don Paterno included- are of equal artistic merits all attest to the painters unsurpassed forte of capturing his sister’s individual personalities.

Comparatively speaking, however, Don Paterno’s portrait would perhaps draw the interest of the more analytic viewers. Here, the subject is the venerability of old age rather than the relatively common place topic of Filipina femininity or the intricate embroideries of the Maria Clara. Capitan Ting seems to be playing homage to senility rather than to the worldly prominence of his sitter. His interest is in the steady gaze, the heavily drawn lips and the highly domed forehead. The conscious stiffness of his model’s carriage seems to be the wisdom of one who has had battles with life and emerges with more resolute views about it. The infirmity of age is however lightened by the rich designs of his embroidered cuffs and collar. The bold vertical line of the barong gives the old man one last tenacious display of strength and power.

In contrast to the tone and temper of Don Paterno’s retrato, the one of Dolores is a visceral display of bourgeois ostentation. Justiniano justifiably eschews in this masterpiece the element of character- he is primarily concerned with what the eyes can behold rather than what the mind can analyze. The subject is a handsome young woman of the gentry class, and perhaps it should be so. Here, the actual and symbolic nuances of mundane prosperity is at once the order; the rich embroideries of the pañuelo and skirt, the rings on seven fingers, the bejeweled hairpin brooch, the matching fan and kerchief she clasps in one hand, the limpid eyes of one who has not seen much hardship in life, and the fine lips set in an aristocratic smile. The viewer is held back however of begrudging Dolores all her well-appointed fineries because Justiniano imbues her with a kind of inner warmth emanating from an Arcadian purity of mind and spirit. The eyes and the suppressed smile definitely conveys Dolores’ genial nature.

Capitan Ting devotes equally meticulous attention to the exquisite embroidery of the pañuelo in the portrait of Doña Teodora. Yet still, the gracious-but-firm character, which a woman so young had to evolve as matriarch of Capitan Memo’s brood by two previous marriages and as manager of a complex joyeria, or jewelry store and workshop could not but illumine the smooth wood of the picture.

The portraits executed by Capitan Ting, each a unique statement on the nature of a particular individual, always draw out fresh and varying experiences from their viewers. The opposite effect is what is rather felt in portraits done by his contemporaries who almost never went beyond idealizing their sitter’s physical appearance and whose work therefore when seen as a body, despite the variety of subjects, rather leave their viewers with a sense of the monotonous: that you’ve-seen-all-if-you’ve-seen-one-effect.

The impression does not hold with the works of Capitan Ting. An admirer would, on the contrary, be even more amazed upon seeing his portrait of his niece Romana, daughter of his brother Antonio, married to a Carillo from Biñan. This, he painted in 1875. Here, the Master, can no longer be held back by the rigid artistic convention of his setting. The strict surveillance made upon the painter in the previous century conditioned the artist to merely copying engravings or actual objects and forbade him to express any personal interpretation of his subject. Now, the highly individualistic artist that Capitan Ting was, breaks away from the professional distance that he is expected to keep to his work and unabashedly suffuses it with his own presence, his own fine madness. His painting therefore reaches the level of a poet-artist’s manifesto.

Unless other works of similar temperament come to the fore in order that a stylistic lyrical period among Manila’s painters of that time could be established, the portrait of Roman Carillio remains a phenomenon of expression in the entire history of painting in the Philippines. The presently known paintings dated to that decade are likeness-portraits by Antonio Malantik, Lorenzo Rocha, and Simon Flores.

In 1875, neither Juan Luna nor Felix Resurrection Hidalgo had yet reached Europe to experience artistic emancipation. It could only have been through the spark of some book of artistic reproductions or the temperament of some circulating foreign novels that led the highly sensitive Capitan to the possible heights of freedom of spirit that the artist could enjoy in places outside of his environment.

The decade during which Capitan Ting lived, the 1870s, was the decade of Cavite mutiny, a period of witchhunting and, as a whole, was stiflingly repressive. Perhaps such atmosphere was what precisely sent the Maestro to soar into some Elysian sphere. Indeed, the sublime aspiration to transcend the harsh, the bitter or the cruel is the one and only theme of the portrait of Romana Carillo. Just as Romana clasps a book, Capitan Ting’s oeuvre is an appeal to Reason, to Knowledge, to the Order that sometimes only art is capable of. Perhaps it is necessary to mention here that Justiniano went through a very bitter experience when in 1863, the calamitous earthquake that wrecked Manila, ruined his home and killed his bachelor brother, Ambrosio.

There is much more to the merits of “The Woman with a Book” as a phenomenal milestone in the stylistic evolution of Philippine painting. In this work, Justiniano rises above the ground on which he and his artistic predecessors have hitherto worked. In painting the sunset behind Romana Carillo, he advanced the possibilities of the local realistic style, shifting it from its mere use as a technique to render life-likeness to its possible virtue as an idiom of temperament, a mode of self-expression. The landscape, not as a scene per se, but as an instrument to create atmosphere, was itself a novelty and the use of the colors of the sunset could have been a point of departure from the extremely linear predisposition of the current realism.

Indeed, a highly creative person like the Capitan was now bored with the miniaturistic style and wanted to move to another direction in his art.His milieu, however, the entire powerful force actually lagging behind him compelled him to work with it. Hence the detailed workmanship of the portraits of the Paterno ladies. The spirit of the 1880s all the more called for the artist to record his setting in the graphic detail. The decade that cried for reforms- for material, specific changes- obliged the artist to graphically immortalize whatever was gained.

After the earthquake of 1863, there was a rebuilding and renovating of church buildings and the most ornate of ornamentation possible, present evidences seem to say, was the natural defensive reaction toward the witnessed perishability of things.

Four life- size oval frames painted by Capitan Ting, which used to hang on the predentives of Sta. Cruz Church depicting the figures of Saint Augustine, Jerome, Ambrose and Gregory the Grant were typical of the taste of the period. These works were done in the trompe l’oeil tradition, offering occasional distractions upon devotees who would look up now and then to wonder whether the adornment of the Saints’ robes were real or painted. An extant example he did in this phase of realism is the painting, “Virgen de Antipolo.” As in paintings of a truly realistic nature, the Capitan was able to capture the natural light that, translated to the canvas, projected the holy image’s priceless jewels to very high relief. Here is realism at its full development, and here was Capitan Ting, bored with it but desperately tied to it whenever commissioned by his powerful patrons.

In the state of boredom, he often used his skills to amuse and confuse his guests and admirers alike. He is remembered to have painted on the downstairs wall of his newly built house, right under the window balustrade, a life-size infant falling in midair. The picture never failed to startle or evoke shrieks from passersby who at first glance thought the child was real. Once he also painted on the top of the chest, a scattering of very realistic coins, causing embarrassment to guests who stopped to pick them up.

It was indeed time for Capitan Ting to amuse not only others but himself. The spirit of change seemed to be no longer working on his side. In 1884, Luna and Hidalgo become a sensational dou when they won major medals at the Exposition de Bellas Artes in Madrid. This achievement created a completely new turn in the artistic tastes of the time, for now artists who were educated abroad were lionized over those who stayed home and did not have the benefits of a European training. The wily ones began to copy Luna’s or Hidalgo’s techniques and concepts. Others who chose to remain as they were risked the danger of vanishing from the success scene.

Capitan Ting who was in his 70s probably considered himself too old to compete with the young and trendy painters. In Manila’s art circles and to Capitan, it was clear that the miniaturistic style of realism had passed.

Gray times too fell on the mestizo businessmen of Manila. The many foreign firms that had branches in Manila found faster market for their goods in the retail store of Chinese merchants. The Chinese, in turn, by virtue of their business connections with these big foreign firms, began to move steadily toward gaining control of the retail trade, once the domain of the mestizo businessmen.

In the ambiance of this redoubtable financial losses, Capitan Ting’s adventurous son, Zacarias, set out for the province of Sorsogon about 1886, there to find better business opportunities where the Chinese had not yet gained foothold. It is said that his was the first “supermarket of Abueg town. With his marriage to a girl from nearby Masbate, Remedios Ramires, Zacarias so firmly established himself in that province that Capitan Ting felt sufficiently called upon to make the long and arduous trip to visit him.

While in faraway Sorsogon, Capitan Ting learned of a new reform introduced in Manila. In a decree signed by the Overseas Minister of Spain, the guild system was abolished and replaced by a more systematized structurazation of the municipal government itself. By a stroke of the pen, the world of the Gremio de Mestizo, in which Capitan Ting figured most prominently, was cancelled. Capitan Ting never returned to Manila. In 1896 at the age of 80, Capitan Ting died in Abueg, Sorsogon, far removed from the middle class milieu that nurtured him and gave him fame.

Rather ironically for such a meticulous portraitist, Capitan Ting’s own self-portrait does not exist today. It was kept in the house of one of his descendants in Malate, a southern district of Manila, which saw heavy damage not only during the battle for the liberation of the city in 1942, but also during two subsequent fires that leveled many houses to the ground. Yet more works of Capitan Ting, however, may surface. The Paterno family is supposed to have a representative collection. There has also been word that there are several works of Don Justiniano in Spain. When all his works are accounted for, another chapter in the life of Capitan Ting and his generation will reveal yet more delights.


The Archipelago Magazine 1975

To see the scanned fotos of the original1975 publication of the Archipelago magazine, please click here.

About the author: Santiago Albano Pilar is a professor of art history at the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts. He teaches advanced courses in art history and connoisseurship in both the undergraduate and graduate programs. Pilar has authored several art books which include Juan Luna: the Filipino as a Painter, Pamana: The Jorge B. Vargas Art Collection and Domingo Celis: Inspired Calm and Harvest of Saints. He is associate editor of the Cultural Center of the Philippines‘ Encyclopedia of Philippine Art Volume IV: The Visual Arts. He was the 1980 TOYM (Ten Outstanding Young Men) Awardee for Art History and won the Araw ng Maynila Award: Tagapag-alaga ng Sining in 1996. He is also a consultant of exhibition projects for the Ayala Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Manila and Cultural Center of the Philippines.


An Asuncion at Mensa- Switzerland

A personal note, written primarily for my relatives and for those interested in child psychology.

Way back in the 1980′s, during my college years in Manila, my favorite psychology subjects were psychological testing (psychometrics), projective techniques, psychopathology, mental hygiene, theories of personality, experimental psychology and seminar on exceptional children. In projective techniques, the student learns the rudiments administering and evaluating personality tests. Throughout these courses, the student begins to be confronted with the question of personalities, the reality of individual differences, inborn and acquired traits, the nature of intelligence in all its theoretical aspects.

A college freshman is faced with these basic questions: First, what is personality? Second, what is intelligence? And then you slide into the third: Is there a direct correlation between personality and intelligence? Do intelligent people have more pleasant personality than less intelligent ones or is there no direct correlation at all between these two factors? The next thing that confronts the student is the relationship between high intelligence or genius and insanity? Is this true that geniuses are prone to mental illness and personality disorders whereas the normal ones not? Or is this just a myth or a hollywood invention? And then comes this simple issue: Are intelligent people practical and independent?

Well, four years of basic psychology studies will not give you instantly the answers to these questions and give you peace of mind. I have learned that my favorite subjects had only given me a good starting point to continue the inquiry. One thing that I have learned after all these years is that everything is a matter of definition and the context to which this definition is being applied. Or, even better, let the context offer the definition of such things as intelligence, normalcy, perfection, etc. The other thing that has taught me more is experience. Experience gives you a solid understanding or even doubt about the subject. My years of experience in observing psychiatric patients have no doubt taught me more than anything else to evaluate roughly a person almost at a glance: Is he/she a schizophrenic, a psychopath, a drug dependent, an alcoholic, a manic-depressive one, a borderline personality, suicidal person or a sexual deviate; or, to evaluate indirectly by way of any available product of that person: a written piece, a drawing or illustration, etc.

But intelligence is something else. It’s requires more to gauge it. A mere glance cannot tell me if one is an average, genius or retarded (except for genetic abnormalities as Down syndrome, etc.). But this time, through indirect way, i.e. by way of a written piece or work of art, etc., I could tell more about the intelligence of the person.

On the other side, my experience has shown me how tricky this aspect is: For example, relying on school performance alone does not give you the real intelligence of a child or a youth. Behind an average or even below average performing child could be a gifted one. It is in the extremes of appearances that we have to exercise caution and observe more. But in general, we can say that a child is intelligent if it grasps abstract relationships within a short time than other children and translates his ideas successfully into concretely observable results for the observers. But what if this translation doesn’t occur, or if the child consciously – or even unconsciously – distorts this translation? It follows that our picture of the child is also distorted.

Then it’s time that we observers, parents or educators must look at ourselves. Are we competent enough to make the right judgment(evaluation) and do we have the necessary experience in this area?

I always recommend observing the child who has problems at school in the totality of his behavior and when needed to send the child to a recognized testing institution for aptitude and intelligence test. Ideally, school – pubic or private – should have also a team of counsellors which includes one or more school psychologists to help troubled parents and children.

In my neighborhood, I have given advice to concerned and troubled parents this way and even offered my on – the – spot analysis of the child’s personality and general mental aptitude drawing out of my experience in this field. I admit, that though it’s really hard to determine the child’s intelligence, still I can say that experience gives me a solid ground to base my guess or intuition. I was right in many cases because these grown-up children are now high achievers, out of the initially hopeless situation when they were in the elementary years.

But now, we come to my experience of this subject within the four walls of my home, an experience that has given me doubts about what I know and challenges that almost went beyond our limit as parents. And that is when my second son, Samuel, came into our life. From birth, I already sensed that he is intelligent. As a child he rarely cried, was very quite, curious and independent in his ways. At age three, he was reading until three in the morning that at times I had to switch off his bed lamp so he would sleep. At this age he had memorized the books he had in his room, performed weird chemistry experiments, etc. He protested by crying when we brought him to a play group but showed great joy when we brought him to a painting group for children.

His week, together with his older brother Cyril, was full of activities already before the age of five: music group for pre-school children and, a few months after, violin lessons where he always astonished his teacher for his excellent hearing, private English, French and cooking courses every Saturday for several years and swimming where he also excelled. Later on he switched to piano and about the same time he started with hip-hop dancing course from a known dancer and teacher and won second place in the Swiss dance team competition. With 16, he started teaching this dance style, now with 18, he resumed his Thai boxing lessons and intends after graduation this summer to go to Thailand for Muay Thai boxing teacher course.

Before entering primary class, he underwent a thorough intelligence and aptitude tests in a private human potential evaluation clinic that took the whole morning with a short break in between. The results showed him belonging to the top 2% of the population of children of his age group. The effect was that he jumped directly from kindergarten to Grade 2 and parallel to normal schooling, he had to attend special courses for gifted children organized and supported by the city of Zürich where they learned other supplementary subjects as chemistry, mathematics, physics, philosophy, etc. This satisfied all of his “mental needs”. During this time, at age 9, he was admitted to Mensa-Switzerland whose only criterion for membership is an IQ score in the top 2% of the general population on a battery of standardized intelligence tests (“normally” from above 130 IQ scores). But this too went not without a little problem because he was “under age”, which means below 15. But they readily made an exception to the rule. And so it went that he became the youngest member in the history of Mensa-Switzerland.

Parents can only be proud of this story but we had our own worries. His normal schooling went on not without problems for he showed little interest in his homework and in most of his teachers in the public school who were not trained for such a child with a different quality of perception. In fact, some of his new teachers in the primary school considered him below average. He was – and is even now – behaving like that so that, at age 12, I let him undergo another intelligence and aptitude test, this time administered by the school psychologist in that private school we found for him after we pulled him out from the Volksschule. I was there again to observe as he made his written and oral examination for hours. From the answers to the oral tests I heard and the awed facial expressions of the psychologist , I knew already that he was still in his “old” intellectual status. Hence, nothing was changed only that he needed the right environment that suits his needs.

But he remained an ordinary boy before the eyes of our friends and relatives and with time we got used to this fact. Only a handful of his friends (who are gifted themselves) realize and appreciate the gift that is in him. Same feathers flock together? Intuitively, I observed, they do.

With 15, he was turned down by many firms as he applied for apprenticeship because of his not-so-shining secondary school grades. Again, another problem for all of us. Until he was admitted to a Swiss Federal Institute of Technology or ETH (Einstein’s alma mater) spin-off IT firm. There his mentor, an ETH IT lecturer, himself a very intelligent man, has told us that “no doubt, your son is very intelligent”.

So, what’s the problem? Samuel will graduate this summer at age 19 as IT specialist. /

jun asuncion


Asuncion Genealogy: Additional Information from  relatives

The Asuncion and Gerona Connection

Dear fellow Asuncion relatives,

Had breakfast with neighbor Horace Gillego and he supplied me a copy of their family tree. In our previous emails last year, we mentioned that Horace pointed us to the Bulan Observer website of Jun Asuncion (Horace’s roots come from Bulan). Lately, Horace discovered in their late dad’s house an old folder which contained the family tree of Rafael Espiritu Gerona (died April 14, 1871) and Ma. Justaquia Gray (died Jan 1, 1873).

The family tree traces the line from the Gerona & Gray union (they were married July 30, 1821). One of their seven children was Casimiro Gerona (married Zenona Antiado). Their union brought forth four children, the youngest Salvador Gerona (married Rita Gimpaya). And the latter couple produced ten children, one of them was Monica Gerona.

Monica Gerona married Rodolfo Asuncion. Rodolfo Asuncion was one of the children of Zacharias Asuncion. Rodolfo’s mom is Zacharias’ third wife – Remedios Ramirez. Zacharias’ dad is Justinano. Zacharias’ grandpa is Mariano “Kagalitan” Asuncion.

From Rodolfo Asuncion and Monica Gerona came papa Ronnie Asuncion.

From Rodolfo’s brother Adonis came Andres Asuncion (dad of Andres “Jun” Asuncion & Malou Asuncion Lao).

From Rodolfo’s brother Jacobo came Sor Marissa Asuncion’s line.

Ed (Rojas)


Justiniano Asuncion’s Album Of Watercolors Mirrors 19th Century Filipino Life

( A reprint of Mrs. Florina Capistrano -Baker’s article in Philstar in connection with our search for the artist Justiniano Asuncion. junasun)

By Florina H. Capistrano-Baker

Not a few art enthusiasts are under the mistaken notion that the 19th century album of watercolors depicting various peoples and costumes of the Philippines in a special collection at the New York Public Library is yet another version of the Damian Domingo album at the Newberry Library in Chicago, a misconception apparently stemming at least in part from a typed commentary on a small slip of paper appended to the album stating thus: “Artists: Damian Domingo and Justiniano Asuncion, according to Mr. A. Roces, July 8, 1980.”Further, an earlier notation presumably handwritten shortly after the album was completed, indicates that: “These figures were painted for the sake of the costumes by a native artist of Manila [sic] for M. Soden Esq. of Bath — in the year 1841 or 2 (9 in number). The other four by an inferior artist the former being ill. [signed M.M.S.]“If we were to believe the 1980 notation that the artists were indeed Damian Domingo and Justiniano Asuncion, the logical assumption of most would be that the nine superior paintings were by Domingo, and the other four by Asuncion, who was the more junior of the two. Closer scrutiny, however, disputes the attribution to Damian Domingo, for the rendering of the figures is distinct from that of the signed Domingo album in the Edward Ayer collection at the Newberry Library.

Moreover, it is the opinion of many that Justiniano Asuncion surpassed his erstwhile mentor in artistic skill and virtuosity. It is therefore unlikely that the “other four by an inferior artist the former being ill” could refer to the talented Asuncion. Rather, the nine superior works are clearly those of Asuncion himself, and the four inferior works by another, unidentified artist.The handwritten notation placing the year of manufacture to the early 1840s similarly refutes authorship by Damian Domingo, who is said to have died a decade earlier in the early 1830s. A careful reading of the images, in fact, brings to mind the many unsigned 19th-century prints attributed to Justiniano Asuncion that are still seen occasionally offered for sale in various art shops today.Belonging to the genre popularly called tipos del pais, this album labeled simply as Philippine costumes consists of 13 gouache images of individual types and costumes of the Philippines on European wove paper, with three additional images that do not seem to belong to the set, namely fragments of an image of a Chinese lady, an illustration of different types of butterflies, and a print of a European hunting scene.

The album was formally accessioned by the New York Public Library in 1927, although, even before this date, it was most likely in the collection of one of the three philanthropic institutions that were consolidated to create the core collections of the New York Public Library – namely, the Astor, Lenox and Tilden foundations.Ironically but most appropriately, I first experienced the Justiniano Asuncion album at the New York Public Library two years ago, on the afternoon of July 3, while in pursuit of Damian Domingo albums overseas. As with my first encounter with Damian Domingo at the Newberry Library in Chicago, I sat transfixed as the album was placed before me, prolonging the chase a bit longer, relishing the anticipation, savoring the warmth of the lustrous wood around me – the rhythmic rows of reading tables embraced by luxuriously paneled walls, the hushed readers consumed by their particular passions and obsessions.

Subjecting the exquisite images to my trustworthy magnifying loupe, Asuncion’s distinctive rendering of facial features was magnificently revealed in consistent details otherwise invisible to the naked eye – a dab of red here, a bit of gray there, a dot of white strategically situated to simulate those vibrant, luminous eyes. Painted in a different style from that of Domingo, the Asuncion images appear more European in both features and skin coloring, in stark contrast to the Domingo images which are more Southeast Asian. Despite the marked stylistic differences between Domingo and Asuncion, it is clear upon careful comparison of the images of the Newberry and the New York Public Library that the types and costumes portrayed in the Asuncion album were inspired by, if not directly derived from, the Domingo album.

Besides its artistic virtuosity, the Asuncion album is particularly valuable because of the copious handwritten notes accompanying the images. Thwarted by the Fourth of July celebrations during my first visit, I successfully completed my own transcription of all the notes during my second, longer visit last year.

This revealing essay, for example, accompanies an image of a man with his fighting cock:

“No. IX. This is one of the best. The color, the dress, and the character altogether is exactly that of a Manila man. The fighting cock under his arm is very characteristic; for the two are inseparable — quite! They are constantly training their cocks to fight, and as they meet in the streets they always let their cocks have a little sparring. The peg attached to their leg is stuck in the ground when their owner is tired of carrying them, and they are allowed the range of the string. The natives like gambling better than work, and the Spanish government instead of discouraging, do all they can to encourage them to gamble. In every town or village is a theater built by the government for the sole purpose of cock-fighting; and upon every bird that enters they impose a tax which yields to government 100,000 or 200,0000 sterling.”

How little has changed today, from the lowly jueteng and small-town cockfights, to world-class government-sponsored gambling casinos similarly entrenched, siphoning hand-earned monies to line the pockets of some morally decrepit few!

A chatty commentary describes the customary way of wearing tresses of Rapunzelian proportions:

“No. VII. This is by the same artist as the two first – A Spanish mestiza of Manila. – The most striking part of this figure is the manner of wearing the hair, which gives a most fascinating appearance to the tout ensemble, but unfortunately this is not correctly painted; the hair when worn in this fashion is parted in the center of the head and allowed to fall gracefully and naturally from each side of the forehead over the shoulders and down the back: The comb has no business here; it being quite unnecessary. The hair is so abundant as nearly to obscure the whole figure if not thrown off the face. When bathing it has the strangest effect to see such a quantity of hair floating over the surface of the water and extending such a distance.”

Another detailed account describes the well-dressed damsel’s complete ensemble:

“No. II. Is a Mestiza. This gives a very good idea of the female costume. The blue stripe is a little jacket made of the same material as the man’s shirt; it has not so much work upon it, the cuffs only being embroidered. It reaches to the waist, and is made very loose: Under it is tied the red and yellow plaid petticoat; over which is the cabaya, a long piece made either of silk or cotton, as the wearer can afford; which is wrapped tightly around the body and the end tucked in; which if properly done never comes loose; this is so tight over the hips as to appear to impede the free motion of the limbs… Their slippers, which are very small, only just sufficient to cover the foot, are very prettily embroidered in gold, generally done by themselves. They are so small that the little toe is always outside, which helps to keep them on. They are never worn out of doors in dirty weather, but carried in the hand, and when the señorita arrives at her destination, she finds at the door a pan of water into which she immerses her feet before putting on the slippers. The handkerchief over her shoulders is made of piña cloth, or cloth made of the pineapple fiber, this is peculiar to Manila; in no other part of the world has it ever been made. It is as fine or finer than the finest cambric, and beautifully embroidered; all the señoritas excelling in that kind of work, and in doing which they spend a great portion of their time. The fair sex… pride themselves much in their hair, with which their heads are most luxuriously covered; if they were seen in this country, it would excite much envy… It is all combed to the back of the head where it is dressed; plaited or otherwise according to fancy; but it is always particularly neat.”

While clearly impressed with the mestiza’s charms, the author did not seem to think too highly of her male counterpart:

“No. 1. An exact representation of a rich Mestizo. The complexion is admirably painted and likewise the dress. He is a great dandy and fond of imitating the Europeans, as you may see by his hat and umbrella… The umbrella is to preserve his complexion from the sun. Most people use them when walking in the heat of the day… This man leads a most idle dissipated life; he spends his day in gambling and cockfighting; his evenings in playing and singing the guitar; the songs are limited to very few in number.”

Certainly not a very inspiring image of the ideal Romeo, but most likely gifted with such charisma as to render hapless ladies oblivious to such deficiencies. Nonetheless, one must keep in mind that these commentaries are from a western, presumably male, perspective – male colonial gave undoubtedly swayed by the legendary charms of the winsome Filipina. How much or how little out world has changed since the 1840s!

About the author:

Florina H. Capistrano-Baker

Director, International Exhibitions, Ayala Museum

Born in Manila, the Philippines. Ph.D. from Columbia University. Visiting lecturer at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York. Specializes in Pacific and Island Southeast Asian art history. Publications include Art of Island Southeast Asia: The Fred and Rita Richman Collection in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MMA, 1994), “Containing Life: Basketry Traditions on the Cordillera” (Basketry of the Luzon Cordillera, Philippines, Roy Hamilton, ed., UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History, 1999), and Multiple Originals, Original Multiples: 19th-century Images of Philippine Costumes (Ayala Foundation, 2004). Works in New York and Manila


An Asuncion Riding On The Crest Of A Wave

My cousin Eduardo Rojas just informed me about Amado Gabriel Esteban, a cousin who is now President of Seton Hall University in the United States Of America, the first Filipino so far to hold this prestigious position. Bulan Observer congratulates Amado for his excellent achievement! jun asuncion

Here is Eduardo’s info about the family roots of Amado:

// We have an Asuncion relative who will be the first (and non priest) Filipino president of the well-known Seton Hall University . His name is Amado Gabriel Esteban. He is an Asuncion through his mom, Isabel “Lita” Munson Esteban. Lita’s mom is Paz Maria Asuncion Intengan (married to Amado Munson). Paz Maria Asuncion Intengan’s mom is Consuelo Asuncion (married to Dr Gabriel Intengan). Consuelo and sister Guia Asuncion came from Zacharias Asuncion, son of Justiniano and grand son of Mariano Kagalitan Asuncion. //

Filipino Amado Gabriel Esteban Seton Hall University President


“Other than the food, I miss the sights and sounds of Manila—the packed Sunday Masses, big family gatherings and going out with the ‘barkada,’” he said in an e-mail interview with the Inquirer.

“I have to admit though that the Manila of my youth only exists in my mind. You know you are getting old when I was looking for a CD of Basil, I was asked to go to the oldies section!”

Putting the Filipino brand of leadership on the international spotlight once again, 49-year-old Esteban was recently appointed president of Seton Hall University (SHU) in New Jersey.

Esteban had been serving as interim president of the oldest diocesan university in America and New Jersey’s largest Catholic university with more than 10,000 students before he was named to the post last December.

Two priests in the running withdrew during the search proceedings, according to a New York Times online report.

“As a Filipino, I hope I can serve as a reminder, along with all the other kababayan who have been able to advance themselves, of our potential wherever we are in the world,” Esteban said.

His mother, Lita Munson Esteban, and his late Tarlaqueño father, Jose Esteban, were both educators.

Building consensus

Esteban credits his upbringing for a leadership style that listens and nurtures.

“Growing up in a Filipino-Catholic environment, I learned early on the value of building consensus, learning from past mistakes and failures, and most importantly treating everyone with respect and dignity,” he said.

“In leading Seton Hall University, I hope to never forget something my late father used to say, ‘A great university is not made up of bricks and mortar, but people of great minds with good intentions,’” he added.

Serving a term of five and a half years, Esteban aims to pursue a strategic development plan that would entail “strengthening our Catholic identity, strengthening and increasing our investment in key academic programs, increasing our student selectivity, and developing the financial resources to fund our shared vision.”

Exception to rule

Esteban’s appointment broke tradition based on SHU’s 25-year-old by-laws, where only Catholic priests were qualified to head the university. The university’s board of trustees adopted an exception to the by-laws a week before his appointment.

Two other laymen had assumed the SHU presidency before Esteban, but his appointment was the first for a nonpriest since the university adopted its priests-only selection criteria in the 1980s.

Esteban received praise from the university for his calming presence after the tragic shooting of 19-year-old sophomore student Jessica Moore near SHU in September last year, when he was still interim head.

SHU officials called him the right fit for the job.

In a broadcast e-mail announcing Esteban’s appointment, Patrick Murray, chair of the SHU board of regents, said: “Dr. Esteban has successfully navigated through many challenges during his interim presidency; we are extremely fortunate to have such a proven, compassionate leader at the helm of our University. He is ideally positioned to carry on Seton Hall’s Catholic mission and its tradition of academic excellence.”

UP studies

Esteban finished a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and a master’s degree in Business Administration at the University of the Philippines before taking up master of science in Japanese Business Studies at Chaminade University in Honolulu.

He and his wife Josephine, a UP Economics graduate, came back to the Philippines in 1986, just as the country returned to democracy after 14 years of martial rule. He landed a job at San Miguel Corp. while his wife worked for the then Center for Research and Communications (now University of Asia and the Pacific).

The couple later went back to the United States for further studies.

“We had every intention of returning to the Philippines. In fact in the late nineties, I interviewed for and was offered a couple of faculty positions in the Philippines. As we were making preliminary plans to return, the Asian financial crisis hit,” Esteban said.

“Upon deliberation and reflection, we realized that over the short to medium term we had better opportunities in the United States,” he added.

Connecting home

But life seems to have come full circle for Esteban, as his connection to home has become even stronger with the position he holds.

SHU’s College of Arts and Sciences is studying student demand for the Filipino language, which it previously offered. At the university, Esteban has also met several Filipino seminarians and students.

“Seton Hall has a very active student group called FLASH (Filipino League at Seton Hall). We even have Simbang Gabi!” he said.

As an SHU official, Esteban has also established institutional relations with UP, De La Salle University and its College of St. Benilde and Health Sciences Institute.

“Since the establishment of relationships with sister institutions in the Philippines, I have been fortunate to be able to go to Manila almost every year for the past few years,” Esteban said.

The Internet has also made touching base with the Philippines easier, he said. “Connecting to home and friends in Manila was more difficult until the widespread use of technology, including YahooGroups and more recently Facebook.”

Esteban and his family came home for Christmas last year, their first since 1987. With Josephine and his daughter Ysabella, an SHU junior, he traveled to Boracay and Cagayan de Oro City and “spent almost all our time with family.” /


Faces Of My Fathers

 by jun asuncion

Early in life I have learned to accept that some things shall just remain as dreams, as persistent longings that I’ll be carrying around. Since the start of this search for my Asuncion roots, my longings to know more about my fathers (and mothers) and to find any related information have intensified. And how my great grandfathers may have looked like have greatly preoccupied my imagination but came to terms with the fact that this was all to it and nothing more since even the known self-portrait of Justiniano Asuncion was lost. I thought that was all, lost forever. I thought, but I did not know. I did not know that a certain family by the name of Quintos – Guirzon have been keeping my dream in their photo collection and that one day I’ll be receiving a copy of it from my cousin Ding Asuncion.

Unbelievable but this time it was true. I admit that in my age, even a lightning strike wouldn’t make my eyes bluesy and wet. But that moment when the image unfolds itself by the click of the mouse, I lost almost a river of tears from this great joy and this feeling of reunion with my ancestral roots. I was speechless when I saw the faces of Justiniano, Zacarias, Benita and Jacobo! Zacarias is my great-grandfather. What I remember to have seen in my childhood was just a piece of Zacarias’ gravestone in our compound in Canipaan which unluckily I didn’t find anymore when I came home a few years ago. When times were getting rough for the Asuncions in Binondo, Zacarias left for Bicol in search for new possibilities. A different time, indeed, for who would think today of going to a distant town of Bulan in search for better opportunities? Whatever his true motivation was, Zacarias’ travel estbalished the Asuncions’ connection with this town.

This photo has closed those gaps in my mind and fulfilled those deepest longings of seeing the faces of my fathers.

It was my younger relative Christopher Yatco who first drew my attention to the existence of a new book about Damian Domingo with the photo of Justiniano and his children. My excitement soared even beyond the moon. But being out-of-town, I still do not have this book. And then, a few weeks after, Ding Asuncion, grandson of Kenerino Asuncion and Lola Leny, sent me this copy of the photo together with some excerpts of this book.

Usually, I share such document to my relatives immediately but this time I kept this photo for a while, viewing it many times a day in the intimacy of solitude, immersing myself deeply in my own part of the story, staring at their eyes being my only possibility of communication as I try to imagine many things about them, their pains of living as second class citizens in their own country (a situation I cannot accept) during the Spanish time, their thoughts about the future…

Here, you see the master painter himself, Justiniano Asuncion, the creator of those art pieces we’ve been talking about, those portraits of the Asuncion women, those watercolor paintings at the New York Public Library, etc. He was the first Filipino painter who allowed himself to be ” drawn with light”. i.e., to be photographed. Luckily he posed before a camera, a kind of high-tech gadget in the early 19th century which, to my view, seemed to have been invented to ultimately challenge Justiniano’s perfect eyes for capturing details of the subject when all other painters had given up the fight.

In 1816 Johann Heinrich Schultz discovered that a mixture of silver and chalk darkens when exposed to light. But for our case, a star was born that brightened the world of 19th Century Filipino art when the baby Justiniano was exposed to light also in 1816. Justiniano possessed a pair of highly photographic eyes that perfectly fitted to the miniaturist, realism painting style of his time.

To this perceptual acuity, Prof. Santiago wrote: “In the state of boredom, he often used his skills to amuse and confuse his guests and admirers alike. He is remembered to have painted on the downstairs wall of his newly built house, right under the window balustrade, a life-size infant falling in midair. The picture never failed to startle or evoke shrieks from passersby who at first glance thought the child was real. Once he also painted on the top of the chest, a scattering of very realistic coins, causing embarrassment to guests who stopped to pick them up”.

It was ca. 1894 when Schultz’s mixture went off into action which today – 117 years later – would have a profound effect on many of us, up to this very moment as I try to write while poring over this photo which seems to me a gift fallen from heaven. I’m highly indebted to the prime mover of this event, Hilarion Asuncion, the man behind the camera, my great grand-uncle and for all those good things and chain of events that worked together – in obedience to the inner logic of Asuncion’s fate – that ultimately preserved this image over a century, over these rough and repressive times.

Like his father before him who served as cabeza de barangay of Sta. Cruz in 1805, Justiniano became cabeza de barangay in this community of mestizos in February 25, 1853. By this time Justiniano was already established as a master painter. Thirty years after, his son Zacarias, in search for more better business opportunities, set out for Bulan, Sorsogon in 1886. Hence, this year was a milestone in the history of Asuncions of Bulan. There, twelve years later, at the turn of the century – and of the nation’s colonial history – Zacarias became Jefe del Pueblo (old name for Municipal Mayor) of Bulan from 1898 – 1900.

If artistic genius was in the Family of Justiniano Asuncion and so was community leadership, I think. It was due to Zacarias’ successful Bulan’s adventure that brought Justiniano Asuncion to Bulan, already old and grey, a man behind the sparkle of success, within the silhouette of death. Bulan became his refuge, the sanctuary of his tired body and soul and the gate to his eternal rest. If the biographer Manuel Artigas called him “modelo de honradez, an exemplar of tacto y prudencia”, then it was an honor for Bulan to have such qualities be buried in its grounds. For these qualities had to come out again forty-five years later after his death in the person of Adonis Asuncion, my grandfather, who became Mayor of Bulan in 1941.

My grandfather Adonis Asuncion had led Bulan not in times of political Padrenos, vote buying, plundering and pork barrel but in times of foreign aggression where one must have to defend the basic rights of Bulaneños. So my fathers were community leaders when three superior nations ruled our land; Justiniano in Sta. Cruz during the Spanish time, Zacarias in Bulan just at the beginning of the American rule and Adonis, also in Bulan, during the Japanese occupation. All three men had their share of what I call the roughness of times but all came out hardened in their character, in their convictions. From their stories I learned the lesson that political leadership is about self-respect in the first place. Methinks that the political, civil and military leaders of today who are now facing corruption and plunder charges had failed to respect themselves and their very own families in the first place. Hence, how could they ever respect the community of people they don’t personally know?

The three foreign aggressors may have ruined the Filipinos by introducing to us the culture of corruption, aggression and militarism but it seems that the families of Mariano Kagalitan- Asuncion were among those Filipino families blessed with the immunity from these foreign viruses that they were able to keep their name clean and their being “modelo de honradez, tacto y prudencia” while serving the people – in those times of conspiracies, opportunism and collaboration with the aggressors (survival of the “fittest”).

Their thoughts about the future? That future is here with me in this very moment as I search for my past and found it here in my room where I have spent hours of thinking about my fathers, bending my six strings to soaring bluesy heights as I figure out their faces, how they had lived, to what degree had they suffered from the roughness of times, from the yoke of colonialism and how much they had longed for freedom and dreamt for a better future. I was born 59 years, my father, Andres, Sr., 19 years after Justiniano’s death. Indeed, it seems not too long ago but if I add to it my own life where memories fade out already after a short moment of recollection then everything about my fathers becomes an abyssal zone except for some floating traces they had left which serve only to tickle my inquisitive mind and my longing to know more, thus eventually blowing my mind away every time I was trapped in some of these black holes of imagination.

The first couple, Mariano and Maria de La Paz Molo Asuncion

Faces Of My Fathers

Mariano Kagalitan Asuncion

Justiniano Asuncion (1816 – 1901)

Zacarias Asuncion

Adonis Asuncion (June 14, 1889 – January 8, 1976)

 Andres Asuncion, Sr. ( November 9, 1920 –  November 3, 2005)

Remembering My Father, Andres Asuncion, Sr. (an old post added here)

The Primordial Pain

The demise of our father last November 3, 2005 was certainly a big blow to all of us. Now three years after, we all seem to have accepted the reality of our beloved father no longer physically with us. There are moments though when I am caught unaware and seem not to realize this fact. Then I feel instantly transported back to these moments of grief last November. It is surely not easy to lose a father and I think I will never get over it. There are absolute privileges that you get only once in your life time and that if you lose them you can not replace them. A father is one of these privileges. The pain that you experience tells you how much you love somebody who has been taken away from you. There is nothing on earth can equal that pain. There are no words to describe it. You can only try to express it in some other ways except in words. And you can not describe it in real-time with words. For it is an experience beyond our language. It is a primordial event and that is why it is just purely pain that comes out of our innermost being. It’s like when a newly born cries responding to a sensed change and discomfort , and yet it’s more than that for a newly born is not weeping, – you are weeping.

I don’t know how my mother and my brothers and sisters deal with such moment of despair and pain. We all experienced our father differently, we all have a different image of him that each of us has carried throughout those years. But there is one thing in common that I am sure of, and that is, that we all love him. The way that each of us remember him in his/her own way that sums up the whole image of our father. I am not referring only to the images arising from incidental experience of him as other people had of him but this exclusive experience of inner connectedness to him as his children. This blood connection that goes all the way to the spiritual sphere of our existence.

I have been deprived of my father physically, for instance, for many years. But not a day had passed that I did not think of him. If not in dreams then just in my waking hours are these flashings of his images in my mind, and his voice was and is just there; vivid scenes of my childhood days with him in Ilawod and Canipaan, in Manila and here in Zürich when he came with my mother. In all those years of being away from him there was always this desire in me to have a coffee with him and talk with him about the world, yes, just about anything else. With my father I had always enjoyed sharing thoughts or just sitting together in silence. I felt this freedom, this feeling of fullness as a human being whenever I was with him.

Smoke gets in your eyes

I was about to go to work when I got a call from my sister Menchu bringing me the sad news. My world literally fell apart. As I look back to this moment, I wonder how I could have reacted if I did not know how to use these six strings and a piece of wood that has always accompanied my life ever since. That evening I just bended the strings as high as I could to express what I could not with words. My father played piano not a guitar but he did love its sound. I particularly remember that moment when he was humming the song Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, saying this was one of his favorite tunes. In the meantime I have finally arranged this tune for solo guitar after a long time of wishing to be able to do it. I dedicate this song to my father and when I play it, it’s solely for him for when he left smoke really got in my eyes…

A man of peace

A man of peace that he was and very dignified in his ways, his presence was always a source of joy to those who love him and perhaps an irritation to those who believe in approaching things and issues the more aggressive way.Yes, he remained true to himself to the very last moment of his existence. That’s the measure of being a man. His quiet countenance radiated an inner strength that came from deep insights and wisdom about life and situations. His courage was never an issue of alcohol content in the blood (he never drunk) , but in his refined ways of dealing with things due to his education and his unending patience, sharp intellect, broad knowledge and humility.

My father and the Japanese officer

My father experienced the cruelty of the Japanese invasion in 1945. He was then a young man of 25. He related his stories for the last time last August 2006 to me and my sons Cyril and Samuel, and I feel really privileged to have experienced this. This answered the question I’ve been carrying at the back of my mind for many years, a question that I always failed to ask him whenever I was with him: Why did you not take up your arms and fight side by side with your brother Agusto Asuncion ? (who at that time was the head of the Lapuz Guerilla movement in Bulan). His recounting of his war story last August finally revealed the answer to me. He said, his brother Agusto advised him not to shoot but rather to take charge of the logistics. My father had a very sharp memory and he could remember the details he experienced at that time, names of people and places, to the astonishment of my boys. I noticed his fair judgements of people and events involved. So Papa knew his own role in this war right at the outset. People like me would have instantly joined the front line at that time. But in the long run, justice and history is at the side of the wise and peace-loving people. One should know that my father came from a different tradition, from a tradition of love and compassion to all God’s creation. He came out right from a theological seminary in Paco, Manila when the war broke out.

The Japanese bombed Manila and that seminary where he was one of the three candidates for ordination. They had to separate ways and Pa went home to Bulan to his family, where his father Adonis Asuncion was the town mayor. He walked from Manila to Bulan, Sorsogon for around three weeks and survived the hazards in the streets, especially that critical moment when from under the tree trunk suddenly came out a handful of Japanese soldiers, stopped him, asked questions and inspected his backpack. “I remained quiet, and the officer caught an eye at the shaving blade (Labaha) I had and took it in his hands…(now the officer could have just swung this blade to his neck, if he wanted to.) He seemed to be interested in it so I just nodded my head and they let me go!” Wow, Papa would have flown like a bird if he could at this moment. Kidding aside, I thank this officer so much for letting my father go and, in retrospect, I respect this Japanese officer for his intuition. He must have felt that Pa was not an enemy. And, indeed, Pa did not kill a single Japanese soldier! Now the thing is, if you are proud that your father killed hundreds of Japanese soldiers at that time, I support that for it was wartime, and your father was destined to kill. That my father came out alive without harming anybody’s life, I’m certainly proud of this; he was simply not destined to kill. He was true to his convictions and fate was true to him whole life long. That unknown gentle Japanese officer was right.

The Family Man

I can imagine Pa in his prime: neatly dressed with hair soaked in pomade, misplacing probably his eyeglasses but never his smile. Beside him my mother, excited, and around them the eight of us.The flash went off and here is the picture on my table in front of me, taken about 40 years ago. I treasure this only family picture where we are complete. Those were memories to keep and live by, when my world was young and innocent in the true sense of the word. The family was my ground and I felt safe and fear was foreign to me. I was just happy being embedded in the family and that was everything that mattered most, not the hardships or the lack of other things. A boy who is happy has everything he needs to master the challenges and hardships that are normal concomitants to life. Deprived of this, you can not expect a better course of life.

So, I thank you Pa and Ma for laying down a solid foundation which was a mixture of fine ingredients, – of love, trust and compassion, coupled with patience and loyalty. This was how I perceived my parents and understand their role even up to now. How the rest of us had experienced my parents in our growing years, only they can tell. Throughout those years, there was one trait of my father that impressed me most, and that was his unassuming character. I’d never experienced him boasting around about anything. In fact there was always this permanent aura of understatement accompanying him throughout his life. Simple in his ways and in his daily needs, he would always put you first before him, giving you space and making you feel comfortable in the modest means available. He did not desire for more. For an opportunistic in character, a chance to attempt a coup’d’etat, for a sensitive in spirit a feeling of meeting with a teacher.

Unassuming and reticent that he was, the most profound insights and comments that I heard in life came from him. Being modest in his ways and putting others first, he showed them how to respect themselves. No wonder why he got respected in return by people around him. This was my first lesson about authority, not a coerced one nor based on a false assumption of something but a natural process of growth from within that manifests itself as a result quite naturally in your essence . So harmless that he was before you, you got no choice but to respect him and show the best in you. This was exactly this respect that we learned from him that kept us together in our long journey as a family.

The Hanging Bridge of Magsaysay

With my father, I learned to cross a hanging bridge for the first time in my life in the barrio of Magsaysay where he used to teach. For Papa that was a daily routine, for me an adventure and a source of anxiety. I nearly got sick when I looked down for it was deep and the river beneath was wild and the bridge swinging to its sides, step was not stable and there were holes on the floor. I was then 9 or 10. Pa did not say anything at that moment that I could remember. He just looked at me, stepped on it and I followed him. It was an incredible act of balancing and I became dizzy. I was alarmed, gathered myself together to make it to the other end. He was already at the other end and was watching me, smiling. Reaching the end a feeling of relief and I felt proud as I looked back at the now empty hanging bridge that was still undulating like a long snake. My tension was transformed instantly to fascination when I saw the wonderful garden all around the school buildings and the school children also about my age. Flowers of all kinds. I especially remember the red roses.

Barrio Magsaysay, a world so beautiful abounding with floras and faunas and friendly people. A piece of paradise, just nature as she is. Looking back now, I just realized that Papa spent almost his entire teaching career in places like Magsaysay. I knew that he was also assigned in Sta. Remedios and in other remote places I don’t even know the names anymore. Those years had cultivated in my father the love for simple people, for farmers and nature. I went back to Magsaysay a few times with Papa, most of the times carrying ballot boxes hanged on my shoulders. During election day the teachers were busy and so was Pa. I was always with him to carry those boxes. Crossing the hanging bridge became an enjoyable experience then. I began to love it and in fact now it keeps me wondering if it still exists. That was many years ago but the memories remain. That hanging bridge connected me to my father ever more. I wish to visit that bridge someday for on that bridge were those nice moments left hanging in time.

A schoolbag with guavas- and sometimes a bird.

As a young child it was always a highlight in my life when the day was about to close for then my father would arrive from school. I used to wait for him in the street in front of our house while I played with other children. Then I would run to him the moment I recognized his silhouette at the horizon moving in front of the setting sun that was about to disappear behind the China sea. I would literally dive into his bag to find out what was in there. I remember well the smell of guava fruits of his bag. Indeed, he always brought home fruits of all kinds everyday but it was always the smell of a guava that dominated inside his bag, even without guavas in there. And I loved that smell always. But it was not the guava fruit that I was excited to find, rather it was a bird or two! Pa used to bring home birds he received along the way from his pupils in Magsaysay and he would just put the cage in his schoolbag together with his pens and notebooks. At that time I came to know the most lovely local birds in Bulan through Papa. One time I discovered in that bag a Kingfisher and it was the joy of my childhood to have such a noble bird as a house pet for sometime. I thank my father now for all those nice little surprises every afternoon.

Dinner for the mind by candlelight

Everyday after dinner the same routine: Help wash the dishes and restore order on the table for then comes the next dinner,- the dinner for the mind by candlelight. I would empty my schoolbag on the table and I would begin to work on my homework while Pa on his lesson plan. This went on during my entire elementary years. I also remember my sister Malou being on this scene. I did my homework religiously at that time. But one evening I was so tired that I think I just left my notebooks open on the table, leaving my homework haf-done only as I scrambled for bed. I was then in grade three.

The next morning at school my teacher Miss Chavenia ordered us to open the assignments for checking. So, as usual, she went from one desk to another scanning with her sharp eyes every pupil’s work and with a look which tells you “with me you can’t bargain”, or “you better run for your life”. I was nervous then for I was not sure if my work was finished or not, for I never bothered at all to check my things before going to school. So you can imagine how I’d wished to disappear, to be invisible before she could come to my desk. As I opened my notebook, my eyes nearly fell out on the floor out of disbelief that my homework was done! I instantly remembered Pa and marveled if he finished my homework when I deserted the war zone and went already half-sleeping to bed. Until now this remains a mystery to me and, as usual, I never came to the point of asking Pa about it. In any case I was spared from standing still for an hour in a schoolroom’s corner, a punishment for lazy pupils in my time. Thank you Pa for saving my life – and for all those dinners for the mind by candlelight

(to be continued)


Some tidbits from Sor Marissa

From Ed Rojas

Dear fellow Asuncions,

Last Saturday I picked up Sor Marissa at her sister’s house, Dr Numen Gonzales, we were then to proceed to Noel’s (my brother) place. At Dr Numen’s house I met one of our second cousins Xavier Asuncion (son of Roberto Asuncion of Bulan). Roberto is the oldest sibling of Sor Naty Asuncion, Dr Iluminada “Numen” Asuncion-Gonzales and Sor Marissa Asuncion. The siblings are the children of Jacobo Asuncion (Jacobo married to Trinidad Rosales).

Jacobo Asuncion’s siblings include Adonis (line of Jun Asuncion ), Justiniano (founder of UPSILON), Kenerino (founder of Southern Luzon Institute: Kenerino Ramirez Asuncion Memorial School or SLI-KRAMS) and Rodolfo (married to Monica Gerona and dad of papa Ronnie).

Jacobo, Adonis, Justiniano, Kenerino and Rodolfo are five of the thirteen children of Zacharias with Remedios Ramirez (based on the copy of the Asuncion family tree I have)..

Some tidbits from Sor Marissa:

1) Zacharias had a second wife after Juana Zalvidea & before his wife Remedios Ramirez. Her surname was Loilo. They had a child, but the child died, and in the Asuncion family tree we have, no mention of their names appeared.

2) Zacharias must have done well in Bulan, as he was able to send his children to Manila to pursue higher education. According to Sor Marissa, when Kenerino came back to Bulan after college in UP, he was shocked that his elementary classmates never got to higher education (no high school and no college). That inspired him to establish the Southern Luzon Institute, which later became SLI-KRAMS.

The information is interesting; because we know our great grandparents (generation of the children of Zacharias) got to finish college, so that must have been in Manila . And if there was no high school in Bulan then, they must have been shipped to Manila for high school at an early age and on to college.

In a past family get together, Auntie Nellie Intengan Jocson remembers her mother Consuelo Asuncion and aunt Ghia Asuncion (both daughters of Zacharias with Juana Zalvidea) were brought up by their unmarried aunt Benita, the older sister of Zacharias. Since Consuelo & Ghia knew Bicolano, can we assume they took their elementary schooling in Bulan? Was their aunt Benita also in Bulan during their elementary school days?

Or was Benita the guardian of Consuelo and Ghia when they had to go to Manila for high school? Who took care of their siblings Jacobo, Adonis, Justiniano, Kenerino, Rodolfo when they too had to go to Manila for high school and college?

Hope the other Asuncions can help.




198 thoughts on “The Asuncions In Politics, Arts And Sciences

    • Yes Mrs. Remedios Asuncion Villamor is the daugther of Rodolfo Asuncion Sr.and Monica Gerona and the sister of Salvador, Rodolfo Jr, Ruben, Rizalina, Raquel, Ronaldo and Rene.

  1. To Oliver Geronilla,

    It’s great to have you around. Thanks for your “sharp” eyes for written English.
    I appreciate your help very much.

    Primus inter pares!

    jun asuncion

  2. Jun – great work not only on the genealogy but in keeping an eye on Bulan. I’d love to correspond even more with you on lineage…my mom is an Asuncion Teotico and through this article and various other sources, I’m getting a better picture of the Asuncion line. Looking forward to hearing from you.

    • Hi Raymund! Great to have you here. Please tell me more about your mother’s lineage, at least her father and grandfather and maybe we could go deeper into the roots. If you have done some reasearch on the Asuncion ancestry, please share them to us. I’ve written a few Asuncions in Manila and I’m waiting for their responses.
      Looking forward to hearing from you.

      About keeping an “eye” on Bulan, well, it’s just natural to be thankful to the place that have nurtured you in your first years of existence, to be loyal to the place where your cradle once was and where your ancestors were buried.

      We just watch what’s happening there and write our opinions. Bulan is a free town and belongs to everybody who lives there. Politicians should transcend local politics and bad tradition and come up with a greater understanding of their place in Bulan history and its future development. A bad attitude ruins the past and the future, whereas, a good one glorifies the past and brightens the future.

      To care for the collective other than personal survival is, in my opinion, a manifestation of higher evolutionary achievement. But the selfish animal in man is always there- the reason why a community or a democracy is always in danger.

      On the other side, higher achievements in the arts, sciences and humanities elevate our human existence and moral standards, transform us to cultured beings and broaden our political horizon.

      The people should also play an active role in making their town a better place to live- clean, peaceful and progressive and should actively support good governmental programs. At the same time they should be vigilant and must fight for what is right.

      jun asuncion

      • do you know the asuncion’s who are restaurateurs and chef who owned several gourmet Filipino restaurants in Los Angeles and Union City? I believe he is the brother of aurora salve? Where is he now?

  3. This article is great. Information like this is what we need especially in these times when the term “history” has become synonymous to “the Spanish period and the Filipino heroes.” As I wrote in one of my articles, there are also individuals who did not catch the attention of the history writers but were also able to make feats on their own.

    • Thank you J.A. Carizo for regularly keeping an eye on Bulan.

      Each family has a long history, too long that you can’t trace even with our modern tools. The rest is left unknown, left to the world of our own imagination…

      jun asuncion

    • To Jerry,

      Thanks for your visit. Yes, I was of aware Aurora Salve’s brother who ran such a business. I think he is Salvador “Boy” Asuncion, Jr- as far as I can remember how we used to call him. He and Aurora Salve are older than me and I had seen them only a few times in Bulan. I was more with Redentor and Shirley. I guess though that he is still in the U.S.
      From where are you Jerry?

      jun asuncion

      • Hello po,

        Thank you for the information. I am living in Los Angeles in the Melrose district. I was hoping that I can hook up with our relatives. I am studying/training to be a Pastry Chef for Westin Hotel. I thought that Tito Boy can provide me some tips in the industry. I heard that he is married to a well known rich scion from Makati or Cavite



  4. jun

    what a surprise even as far as Bulan, Pila Laguna, specially Binan my ancestral town..i am a decendant of Antonio Asuncion 2nd eldest, from Valentina Asuncion and Ignacio Yatco of Binan..Cheers Kadugo


    • Good to hear from you Maning! Are there some more Asuncions in Laguna?

      I’m trying to know more about Justiniano, an artist who even predated artists like Rizal, Luna and Hidalgo.

      Justiniano was 45 years old when Rizal was born, so already miles away in terms of experience, especially painting experience. He outlived Rizal (who died in 1896, age 35), was 85 when he died in 1901. Since the young Rizal was very inquisitive, informed and exposed to culture as a young man, I wonder if he ever met Justiniano personally. But for sure Rizal had known Justiniano and his works. I’m searching in this direction.

      Best Regards,

      jun asuncion

  5. Hi Jun Thanks for the reply..Here are some information i would like to share (not as much)..Maria de la Paz (half sister of Pedro Molo Paterno) married to Mariano “Kagalitan” Asuncion, an artist of Sta.Cruz,Manila..a son Antonio Asuncion_married to Remigia Sta.Ana….Romana Asuncion y Sta.Ana_ married to Andres Carillo Trinidad of Binan, Juliana Asuncion y Sta. Ana_married to a Bartolome of Pila Laguna, Valentina Asuncion y Sta.Ana_married to Ignacio Yatco..a Portrait of Romana Asuncion at the Cecille Yulo Locsin collection done by Justiniano Asuncion…I am currently working on the Yatcos (Ignacio,Jose,Manuel & Aniceto) and also link to the Tress Marias of Binan ( Salud Mercado Yatco de Perlas, Paz Mercado Yatco de Ocampo and Leonila Mercado de Yaptinchay who are paternal first cousin of Rizal ).. According to my Nanay ( Amelia Alzona Yatco de Villanueva) Dona Leonila is the first cousin of Lola Marciana,Grand mother of my Nanay…I am with the blood of “Ming Mong Lo” or Jose Molo of the Pedro Paterno family,Asuncion Kagalitan, Mercado Yatco, Carlos Almeda, Castrillo, Alzona, Evangelista and twice Yatco on paternal and maternal side, and my be a little bit of Rizal hehehe, and a 4th generation “Go We Co” Villanueva…my source Toto Gonzales, Noni Agulto, Sonny Rayos The family of old Binan.
    Too many yatcos of San Miguel Manila, San Pablo Laguna, even Yatcos on the Escoltas Department Store of the 60s,he he he Yatcos of Batangas, Yatcos of Bicol, my uncle Arch. Jorge Yatco Ramos of Heart Center, Conductor Oscar Yatco, Councilor Cesar Yatco of Makati, wheee!



    • Maning and Jun,

      hello po, pwede po ba magtanong. kasi maski po daddy ko nalilito. kasi wala daw pong pinakilala si tatay po nila sa side nito na kamag anak po nila. ito po yung cnabi nya sa akin:

      Grandparents po ni Daddy sa father side
      Jose Alzona-Marciana Yatco

      Grandparents po sa Mother side
      Felix Yatco-Urbana Castrillo

      Parents po nya
      Cesar Yatco Alzona-Alicia Castrillo Yatco

      NAme po ng daddy ko
      MArciano Yatco Alzona

      Maning, Pinsang Buo po daw ni Daddy Si Nanay nyo po na si Amelia Yatco

      pwede po malaman kung sino po yung mga ancestor po namin.

      thank you po.

      • hi aicel,

        great to have you here, thanks to Jun Asuncion.
        its been a long time away from Binan,yes Lola Ely and Lolo can follow up this wonderful site and to add clearly new up date to our family line..regarding Jose Alzona’s father, Tinting Julio ( a Tenyete del Barrio) of Binan..thanks for dropping by


      • Kuya MAning,

        second cousin ko po kayo…. Related din po ba kmi kay mr. jun asuncion?? at kay jose rizal? hehehe..

  6. jun, again a correction, sorry… Cezar Alzona of makati…too much Yatco in my mind!



    • Maning,

      The search continues! I retraced your source today and end up with Sonny Rayos, an Asuncion who is also actively doing his research on our lineage. I know Sonny as he already communicated with me about two years ago. I haven’t written him yet about this idea of reprinting his comment about the Asuncions in Laguna in Toto Gonzales’ Blog.

      The purpose is to share his information to anyone interested in our family and to any relative who wants to share his or her Asuncion story.


      Sonny Rayos

      June 11, 2010 at 6:44 pm

      “Herewith is my contribution to this Binan’s who’s who. The families Carillo-Trinidad, Yatco and Yaptinchay are intertwined via marriage to the Santa Cruz, Manila family of Ming Mong Lo (which later became Molo and much later also became Paterno). Maria de la Paz Molo is the half sister of Pedro Paterno (of the Biak na Bato pact). She married Mariano Kagalitan (later became known as Asumpcion, then Asuncion). Name changes occurred because of the 1849 Claveria Decree which required locals to change native surnames to Hispanic surnames. Mariano Sr. is himself an accomplished artist.

      The Molo/Paterno-Kagalitan/Asuncion union produced several children, amongst which are Manuel, Antonio, Mariano, Leoncio (sculptor and my branch of the family), and Justiniano, the master portrait artist. It’s pathetic that the female Asuncions do not get any credit.

      Romana, the ninth child of the union of Antonio Asuncion and Remegia Sta. Ana is the favorite portrait subject of the master artist, Justiano Asuncion, her uncle. Ramona married Andres Carillo Trinidad and she bequeathed the following children: Petronila (married Fermin Yatco) Josefa (married Engracio Quintos), Joaquin, Angela (married gentleman surnamed Eugenio), Filomena (Castrillo), and Anicia (Hipolito Habacon).

      The Asuncion family tree shows a solid branch of the Andres Carillo Trinidad and Romana Asuncion. The eldest of this union, Petronila, married Fermin Yatco, which according to the Yaptinchay genealogy is the son of Simeona Yaptinchay and Aniceto Yatco. The sons and daughters of Petronila and Fermin, according to the Asuncion family tree, are Macario, Mariano, Catalina, Gertrudes, Feliza, Jose, Basilisa, Belen and Epifania.

      Besides Ramona, one other daughter of Antonio Asuncion and Remegia Sta. Ana married a Yatco. Valentina Asuncion Yatco’s children are: Eleuterio, Jose, Leoncio (married Teodora Marcelino) and Filomena (married Eugenio Alzona). The Alzona’s are also from Binan. Filomena Alzona’s children are Jose, Agripino and Cayo. Cayo (married Amoranto) relocated his family to Tayabas, Quezon his children are Encarnacion, Luz, Ceasar, Augusto and Octavio. The reader is further encouraged to read up on Encarnacion Alzona. There is currently a State Congressman from Maryland named Augustus Alzona – judging from his name (please note emperor’s name usage in the first names), he is related to Alzona family in P.I.

      In addition to Binan, the old town of Pila, Laguna also has Asuncion descendants. The second daughter of Antonio Asuncion and Remigia Sta. Ana, Juliana, married a gentleman whose surname is Bartolome. Juliana Asuncion Bartolome’s siblings are: Jacoba, Maria, Juan, Juana, Esteban, Simeona, Polenciar(?), and Mario. Juan Bartolome’s daughters are: Teodula (married Relova), Salvadora (married Alava), Asuncion (married Bartolome), Erundina (married Fernandez), Teresa (married Valenzuela) and Amelia (married Bartolome). Ppphheeewww, that’s a lot of estrogen in that family!

      My maternal grandmother is Feliza Asuncion-Palileo. My Lolo Jose Palileo’s ancestral roots, I believe are, from Pagsanjan, Laguna (still have to research this one). Feliza’s brother is Jose Maria Asuncion, who was the UP School of Fine Arts Secretary in the early 1900s. As mentioned earlier, Leoncio Asuncion, the sculptor, is our main trunk of the family tree.

      Thank you very much for allowing me to contribute to this forum. Finally, it is not only in historical notes that the Asuncions are related to the families in Binan, but also the Molo-Paternos/Kagalitan-Asuncions are in their blood.”


  7. jun

    please go to Toto Gonzales blog site, very interesting infor regarding Asuncion/Molo..thank


      • HI!

        What is your email address?

        My Asuncion lineage: Justiniano, Zacarrias, Guia Asuncion Carrillo, to my mom Gracia Asuncion Carrillo Rojas.


      • Hi Ed,

        Thanks for passing by!
        My e-mail address:

        From my father, Andres Asuncion,Sr., I’ve heard more about Consuelo, the sister of your grandmother Guia.
        So how’s the family going on? Your great-grandmother was Juana Zalvidea, the first wife of our common great-grandfather Zacarias. I come from Remedios Ramirez side, the second wife of Zacarias.

        Where are you based, Ed? If you have something to add to our data, please don’t hesitate to do so by e-mail or by posting it here directly. Otherwise, I’m really happy to have been connected to the Guia Asuncion side! Extend my best regards to your three brothers and their families.

        jun asuncion

  8. Hi , I’m Christopher Yatco and i descended from the Eleuterio Yatco line. After reading this portion of your blog, now i understand how my brothers acquired their talent in drawing and my other brother’s affinity with politics. There is still much of the asuncion blood running through our veins. I’m just wondering if oscar yatco ,the famous orchestra conductor is also a blood relative of the asuncions.

    • Good to have you here Christopher! I’m glad to have known another Yatco descendant. Here is your line as seen from the Asuncion side: Your main trunk is Antonio Asuncion (1794, hence older brother of Justiniano), married to Remigia Sta. Ana. Their daughter Valentina Asuncion married a Yatco and they bequeathed their children Eleuterio (your line and also of Maning Yatco), Jose, Leoncio and Filomena.

      Leoncio married Teodora Marcelino. Their children: Lutgarda, Isabel, Mariano and Franciso.

      Mariano’s children: Teodoro (Zalamea), Herminia (Geraldes), Ramon, Jose, Ester (Garcia), Ismael and Imelda (jimenez).

      Filomena married Eugeni Alzona. Their children: Jose (married Sofia), Agrifina and Cayo (married to Amoranto).

      Jose and Sofia and their children: Leoncio (Yaplimloy), Araceli, Socorro (Amoranto), Lydia(Bayandido), Maria (Mercado), Nestor (Gana) and Oscar (Bautista).

      (Note that Leoncio’s name keeps on appearing, in memory of course of the great Leoncio Asuncion )

      Cayo and Amoranto’s children: Encarnation, Luz (Nicdao, Zafra), Cezar, Socorro, Agusto, Octavio.

      Of course the other Asuncion who married a Yatco (Fermin) was Petronilla, daughter of Romana Asuncion (niece of Justiniano) who married Andres Carillo Trinidad.

      Yes, the story and search goes on. I just received some valuable materials from Sonny Rayos- Asuncion and I will soon share them with you all.

      Yes, for this kind of work we need to contact more blood relatives who would be willing to share whatever information they have. You see, it’s not ony for us but for the younger generations of Asuncions, Yatcos, Rayos, Paternos, etc., who may not be interested with this material today but who will have a rich source of materials later on when they begin to ask about their beginnings.

      Come again and thanks!

      jun asuncion

  9. Hi Cristhoper,

    Here are the following from our family line, The Eleuterio first married Maria Carillo their only sibling Sor Felicidad C. Yatco ( a nun ) second married to a surname Francisco the only son Emilio F. Yatco. on the 3rd married to Fernanda Evangelista and their sibling Domingo(maria san luis) Primo (Baldomera Reyes) Brigida(Gavino Carinio) Roque (Margarita) Asuncion (Teodoro Tanalega) Francisco (Asuncion Belezario)..Fernanda’s sister Basilia Evangelista ( the old Funeraria Tala of Binan) married Mariano Villanueva my Great grand father side a pure Chinese from Noveleta, Cavite.

    I dont think there is Asuncion blood line link to Oscar Yatco the Conductor and sister of Josefina Yatco the pianist, Jose Yatco their Great Grand Father is the brother of our Ignacio(Aniceto & Manuel)..There is existing picture of Ignacio and Valentina Asuncion.There was a portrait of Valentina done by our Great grand Uncle Justiniano but was lost and or i would say neglected during that time. ( Sayang!)

  10. Hi Jun

    We are very much thankful for your work and also to Sonny Rayos who will share to us regarding Asuncion family.

    The beautiful Filomena Asuncion(Mariano Villafranca) in the famous portrait collection of Dr. Eleuterio Pascual and the portrait painting of Mariano done by Justiniano now in the Central Bank Collection. And yes, Romana Asuncion(Andres Carillo) the sibling Filomena who married a Castrillo.

    My Great Grand mother and Great grand father married Urbana Castrillo(Felix Yatco a jewelry maker of Binan) and Rafael Castrillo are the Grand mother & father of my Uncle Arch. Jorge Y. Ramos(Hearth Center & Lung Center) and Grand father of my Uncle Edwardo Castrillo (GMA and Edsa P.Power monument fame)
    i am wondering if there is a connection to Filomena Asuncion Carillo Trinidad married a Castrillo… If yes, i believe Arts and Talent are inherited tru blood line and pedigree, it will be a full circle from Paternal and Maternal side of our family the Asuncion blood line to the Yatco, Alzona,Castrillo,Ramos of Binan..Yes trully history live.

    more power and more please


  11. My father was Caezar Yatco Alzona (b. 9-15-1925 d. 6-27-1997), youngest son of José Alzona and Adriana Yatco (b. 9-8-1880 d. 1-17-1973) of Calamba, Laguna. Adriana Yatco was the second wife of the widowed José Alzona and they had ten children: Rosario (b. 10-11-1905 d. 12-5-1983) married to Gregorio Del Mundo, Godofredo (b. 2-20-1902 d. 8-7-1995), Amando (b.11-13-1907 d. 11-6-2003), Agosto(b.11-13-1907 d. age 2 of malaria), Patrocinio (b. 5-1-1909 d. 199?), married to Felix Aguto, Ramon (b. 8-27-1911 d. ?), Purificacion (5-9-1914 d.10-30-2001), Cecilio (b. ? d. 3-21-1951), Emiliano (b. ? d. 3-21-1951), and my father Caezar (sometimes spelled Caesar). José Alzona’s first wife was Adriana Punzalan, and they had four children: Hermogenes (b. 4-21-1898 d. ?), Alejandro, Maria Alzona Alonso, and Agapito.
    To answer the question about the Augustus Alzona in the U.S. possibly being related to the Alzona family in the Philippines, he is indeed. He is my brother and the eldest son of Caezar Yatco Alzona. Our father, who was an officer in the Philippine Navy and is buried at Libingan ng mga Bayani, came to the U.S. in 1954 with his wife, the former Esperanza Soldevilla Cornejo of Pasay, and their two sons, Augustus and Eduardo. My sister Cezarina (named after our father) and I (named after our mother) were born at the U.S. Naval Medical Center in Bethesda and continue to live in the Washington, DC area, although we have gone to the Philippines a number of times over the years. We would like to find out more about our ancestry and roots in Laguna, particularly the Alzona and the Yatco lineage.

    • Hi Espi

      I met your father way back in 1983 in Marikina when he was then marcos minister, are you that cute little girlwho sometime visited me in Concepcion Marikina, how time flies..Naka neck brace pa father mo last time kami nagkita..i am still trying also to connect my family line regarding Asuncion to this wonderful Blog site..thanks Jun..


      • Well, Maning, I think I was pretty cute, and I am still pretty little (5’0″), and I happened to be in the Philippines in 1983, but it would have been my half-sister you met. Unfortunately, my parents separated and my mother returned to the U.S. with the four of us in 1967.

      • Hi Espi, I thank you for the reply and clarifaying something confusing with the family line and also with regard to Tito Cesar,Now i remmember the busines card the “Z” of Cezar, that was 1983 when i met your father at Philcomsen Ortigaz office. I am sorry for the mix up, Yes you are Cute.Anyway i thought he was a gradute when he showed me all the Photos in Japan including the group picture with Jose III and Tito Cezar.

        There are also Alzona in our line Ignacio “Enacio” Yatco(Valentina Asuncion) one of the son Jose(Leoncio,Eliuterio,Filomena) Their two children Rafaela Yatco married to Ciriaco Alzona and Marciana Yatco married Jose Alzona (also the line of Aicel Alzona) Its been very confusing to truck down on record acending line with regard to our “Jose Alzona “the son Tinting Julio Alzona, very Playfull kasi Alzona he,he,he ..(my mother said there is Lola Olimpia illigitimate dauther of Tinting Julio this would try to truck on record )

        Thank you again and regards to all


      • Hi Espi,
        I still remember the expresion of the face of Tito Cesar when the last time he visit me in concepcion marikina and if i’m not mistaken 1996 wearing a neck brace. There is the sadness in the eye and it still etch in my mind until now, yet i din’t know he passaway in 97 until this blog ( to be honest with you ) No one bother to informed me..i am sorry for not giving him the last respect.

        And regarding Adriana Yatco i will be going to informe or ask Tito Cesar Yatco ( a Leoncio desendant) regarding your Lola’s line into the Yatcos of Binan.Keep on bloging, Thanks


      • Kuya maning Thanks for the Info. now I know, ms. Esperanza’s grandfather Jose alzona is my greatgrandmother’s cousin marciana a. Yatco.
        and paano po kami naging related kay dr. encarnacion alzona. because of yatco.

        Thank you…

        i hope may info din po kayo about kay Lola alicia yatco and lolo jose Yatco alzona.. pareho din po silang yatco…. hehehe… magka Mag anak po kaya sila…??

        Sabi nga po ni Daddy marami silang kamag anak na alzona pero hindi alzona kung di sa yatco po nila kamag anak…

        Sabi nga din po ni daddy meron daw pong cezar alzona sa makati noon na naging mayor.. pero di daw po namin kamag anak….

        may tinatawag daw po kasing alzonang bato, alzonang Plaza at alzona sa pulitiko..

    • Thank you Esperanza for joining us and for your valuable information. Now the question about Augustus Alzona is solved!

      But I’m now I’m beginning to lose my overview of the Tree that I only see the whole forest at the moment.

      You mean your main trunk is Antonio Asuncion: – Valentina Asuncion Yatco- Filomena Yatco Alzona (married to Eugenio Alzona)- Jose Alzona- Ceasar- and you, Esperanza. Is this correct?

      I will try to update the Family Tree according to your entry.

      For this is how it looks in my copy:
      Filomena married Eugenio Alzona. Their children: Jose Alzona (married Sofia), Agrifina and Cayo (married to Amoranto).

      Jose Alzona and Sofia and their children: Leoncio (Yaplimloy), Araceli, Socorro (Amoranto), Lydia(Bayandido), Maria (Mercado), Nestor (Gana) and Oscar (Bautista).

      Are we talking about the same Jose? Or is our data wrong in this section?

      Please confirm.

      In any case, thanks for joining this forum and may you have more to add. Your father’s story is extremely interesting but i still need to read more about him.

      Best wishes,

      jun asuncion

      • I never met my grandfather Jose Alzona, but he was married twice, both times to a woman named Adrian–not Sofia. So maybe there is another Jose Alzona? Also, I do know that Encarnacion Alzona was my father’s cousin because their fathers–Jose and Cayo–were brothers. My grandparents lived in Calamba, next door to the Rizal house. One of my aunts died and left the Alzona family property to the Peach sisters and this property has been in dispute because at the time 1.) other legal heirs to the property including one of her siblings Amando, were still alive and 2.) the Peach sister were not a registered legal entity.

    • Hi Ms. Esperanza,

      My Great Grand father named JOSE Alzona married to Marciana Yatco.

      My Grandfather Named Cesar yatco alzona married to Alicia Castrillo Yatco.

      maybe we are related sa Alzona or yatco..?

      We are wondering if your Mom adriana yatco had a sister…?

      • Wow. This is very confusing. Do you have dates and places for these relatives? So many similar names! I don’t think it is possible that my father, who is Caezar Yatco Alzona (b. 9/15/25 – d. 6/27/97), could be the same person as your grandfather Cesar Yatco Alzona. Adriana Yatco (b. 9-8-1880 d. 1-17-1973) was my grandmother from Calamba, Laguna, married to José Alzona. I don’t have much information about my grandfather, but he would have been born in the 1870s and died around 1930.

      • Thanks Mr. Alonzo for looping in and for the info.
        Only that I have no FB account, but this is perhaps
        a good reason to open one for me.

        Again my warning and disclaimer:
        There has been for a quite a long time already a jun asuncion Facebook with my Bulan Observer photo on it. For the informatiom of all who might have entered any transaction with it, please take notice that it is not from me and please stop any connection immediately!

        Thank you.

        jun asuncion

  12. Hi Jun

    There was a Caesar Alzona who was a former Assistant Minister of General Services Ceso IV during Marcos era, a Scholar and graduate of Japanese Imperial Army of the then Pres. Laurel Japanese sponsor government and also “Mista” of one of Laurel sibling, who also take up Law graduate at U.P. after the war.

    I believe (If i am not mistaken ) a son of Cayo Y. Alzona and Emilia Amoranto..( The Alzona “Bulik” of their in born skin marking or “Pekas”…He,He. sorry about that, its only a family related saying )



    • That was my father. He was the youngest son of Jose Alzona and Adriana Yatco, not Cayo Yatco Alzona. Interestingly enough, my father spelled his name both as Caesar and later (after he settled in the U.S. in the 1950s) as Caezar. His grave marker in Libingan ng mga Bayani has his name spelled with a ‘z’ however I have documents from his service with the Philippine Navy with he spells it with an ‘s’. He returned to the Philippines in 1964 and died there in 1997. There was also a Caesar Alzona who was the son of Cayo and Emilia Amoranto, my father’s cousin, so yes, you are mistaken, Maning.
      Both of my parents spoke Japanese and were interpreters during the Manila War Crimes Trials after WWII. My father served in the Philippine Navy not the Japanese Imperial Army. He was, however, a Matsumoto Scholar and was very involved with the Philippine Japan Association.

  13. Hi Jun

    Here is my contribution to the Asuncion in politics, sciences and arts… Jose Yatco(Victoria Carlos Almeda) one of the sibling Salud Yatco who became a single mother to a Carillo of Binan begot Iluminda who retained paternal name Yatco married Felipe Alfonzo former Post master of Binan.Their children Saul(Remedios Naval) former Councilor of Binan,Corazon(single) former teacher of Sta. Catalina de Senna for 35 years, Leonor(Joseph Trinidad), Rosauro(Carmen Garcia) a Lawyer and former manager of Develoment Bank of the Phippines and Bienvenido(Consuelo Alfonso) printing press businesman,Iluminada married Atty. Victor B.Javier former 1986 mayor of Navotas,their son Patrick Joseph A. Javier presently Vice Mayor of Navotas City a 9th Generation Asuncion blood line.

    I don’t think they know their descendants with regards to Yatco Alfonso Javier of Navotas, likewise even the whole Jose Yatco-Victoria Carlos Almeda clan..only at this time we begin to know our beginnings.



  14. hi jun

    Correction Erlinda married Victor sorry,the other sibling of Bienvenido (Consuelo Alfonso)Virgilio(Wilma Mendoza),Victoria(Alex Ang),Bienvinida(Anthony Salamat)..8th generation Asuncion..thank you


    • Good work Maning and Christopher! Continue your search and hopefully you will be able to come up with a more clearer picure of our tree as we add more and more branches to it. You know these are things we probably have never known without today’s technology. Thanks to internet really.

      Try to find out more about the musician Oscar Yatco for music is also in the Asuncion-Paterno blood.

      Nice to know also about our Navotas connection, namely, Victor B. Javier (former 1986 mayor of Navotas) and their son Patrick Joseph A. Javier who is presently Vice- Mayor of Navotas City, a “9th Generation Asuncion blood line”, according to you Maning.

      Thanks again for the infos and please understand my late responses.

      I hope you’re all doing fine.

      jun asuncion

      • Hi Jun,Cristhoper

        In our last posted entry for Leoncio and Filomena, i was wondering if our listing are correct with regard to our copy from the last reunion many years ago…Here are the following data of the family decendant of Ignacio Yatco and Valentina Asuncion as follows,

        Leoncio A. Yatco m. Isidora F. Cruz
        Lutgarda___ remain single
        Isabel ___ single
        Francisco__ 1st m. Josefa R.
        __ 2nd m Monica Vidad
        Mariano __ Raymunda Almeda
        Jose __ Generosa Gana*take
        note this entry*

        Filomena A. Yatco m Eugenio Alzona
        Sofia Y. Alzona_Alejandro
        Rufina _ a Lizaro
        Cayo _ Emilia Amoranto

        Jose A. Yatco m Victoria carlos Almeda
        (our line)
        Maria _Juan Geronimo
        Felicidad – single mother to a Baylon of
        Cabuyao, Laguna
        Salud – single mother to a Carillo of Binan
        Sixta –_ Estanislao Padua
        Marciana_Jose Alzona(my g.grand P.)
        Ignacio__ Isidra Guico
        Bernardo_Adriana Amoranto
        Rafaela __Ciriaco Alzona

        For Eleuterio was posted, i forgot to include Soccoro for this entry,thanks


      • Hi Jun,
        Again my new entry regarding politics arts and science for the asuncion blood line.

        For Sixta Yatco m. Estanislao Padua of Bae
        Jose — Olimpia Oltiveros
        Augusto– Anastacia Dosdos
        Oscar — Thelma Carino
        Loreto — Bernardo Relova of Pila Laguna
        Milagros Relova
        Sosoy Relova
        Atty. Antonio Relova

        *The Sunday Times Feb. 14, 1965 “Wonder Boy”- Pila tyke shows prodigious memory”
        by; Alberto Rous

        This happens when Tony meets the public to demonstrate the prodigious memory that has earned him fame. His eyes remain open the whole night, and he seemed to be in deepthought, probably recalling his second encounterd with some of the brightest scientist in the counting at NSDB friday.for Tony who is only four “amused ” the scientist again with sample of his rapidly developing mind,proving to them that even if he was not rated a genius, his plotter like memory was something realy out of the ordinary, only four when he remember and write down the structural formula of benzene, antharacens etc..

        Former Bocal of Laguna 1986
        Former Laguna Govt. Administrator
        Public Servant and Civic Leader
        Parents: Loreto Yatco of Binan
        Bernardo Narona Relova former
        teacher of Laguna High School.

        from Manning

  15. Hi again, my grandfather is francisco yatco who was married to asuncion belizario. their children are the ff: josefina yatco (married to andy francia) digna yatco (married to momoy concepcion) thomas yatco (married to florinda sabater) ruben yatco (my dad: married to adelaida ponce) ernestina yatco (a spinster) .

  16. To manning yatco villanueva, have you heard about gloria yatco known as mona lisa in philippine movies . her grandfather is isidro yatco brother of leonila yatco yaptinchay.

    • Hi Cristopher,
      sorry for the late reply regarding monaliza or Gloria Lerma Yatco her father was Manuel Yatco and her grand father was Don Isidro Mercado Yatco and first cousin of Rizal and also cousin of our Leonila married to Pablo Gana Yaptinchay. Our Ignacio Yatco is a first cousin Leonila on Yatco side.


  17. hi pho im looking forward to know “CESAR G. YATCO” because i a’m a daugther of Cesar from “NENETH CAÑITA i want you to contact this number (09081223366 or 09205051071) i’m hoping for your concern.tnx and god bless.

  18. this is great. the written history has many gaps. it is only through these sharing and exchanges of information that we can fill-in these gaps. let’s not wait for others to do the work for us but let us help reconstruct history by sharing and exchanges like these. more power and continue the work!

    • Thanks Mr. Carizo for your concern for the work that we are doing. I hope you’re making progress with your work on the past governors of Bicol and that some have shown support in whatever form to your project. It’s not always easy to find level-headed, scholarly people in our region, particularly in Bulan. I mean people who see beyond what they simply feel.

      I have approached some in Bulan for instance but they don’t respond. It could be this crab again at work in their mentality or the Schadenfreude, or perhaps just hopless passivity.

      Some don’t want to share any valuable information or materials they have, hence, help fill-in these gaps, and would rather prefer to be buried with them someday.

      In whatever case, we will just go on our own way and focus on the good things we learn in relation to this work.

      I also understand the hesitation of many in Bulan to help reconstruct history for either they don’t get the point of it or they just want to suppress unpleasant historical facts to come out.

      jun asuncion

  19. Hi,I thought that isidro mercado yatco and leonila yatco are siblings because they are both cousins of Jose rizal.Tito manning,do you know the names of their father and their connection to our Ignacio yatco.

    • Hi,
      There are plenty of confusion and misinterpretation of data with regards to Yatco and Mercado family line, as far as i knows there are no hard facts on record, yet i assumed that we are related “as in law ” with regards to Rizal lineage, in fact i recently talked to Tito Cesar Yatco regarding this ( Leoncio descendant)…Our Ignacio’s real name was “Enacio” on record and the father of Don Isidro Yatco was a Gregorio Yatco and first cousin of our “Ignacio or Enacio”…and by the way Dr. Ismael Yatco of Dapitan Manila Eye specialist is an Asuncion blood, a Leoncio descendant.

      There is possibly a Big reunion of “Ignacio or Enacio” this coming Nov. 28, 2010, please contact or inform “Eleuterio line” and keep in touch.
      and thanks Jun,we may invite Jun Asuncion as Special Guest speaker to add more relevance to our family history.

      thanks again from maning

      • Thanks Maning for your consistency. Continue with it. I’ve been working on our on-line Family Tree but I need a lot of time to do it for you know how busy we are with other things- family, working, teaching and playing live gigs for I’m also a jazz musician.
        As for your intention to invite me as guest speaker for the coming reunion in November, well I thank you for it, but timewise it’s inconvinient. Beside that we need to work first on many other questions and put our data in order.

        Stay around.

        jun asuncion

  20. Hi, I believe that Isidora Cruz, wife of Leoncio Yatco, has a brother who married one of the sisters of Jose Rizal and from that union descended Gemma Cruz Araneta .

    • Hi Jun, Christopher
      Yesterday i was able to comprehend Rizal lineage with regard to our Yatcos side and in relation to the Mercado family. I have to correct ( as far as the family reaseach ) that Gregorio Yatco a cousin of our Ignacio “Enacio”as resently posted.

      The Gregorio is one of the brother of Ignacio(Jose,Manuel,Aniceto) who died as a young father of the only son Don Isidro and married a sister of Don Francisco(Rizal father)..The mother of Isidro remarried to a Merfori…one of the tres Maria Dona Leonila Mercado Rizal Yatco de Yaptinchay are yes a first cousinof Rizal.In this case,therefore Ignacio are the grand father in laws of Rizal and our Eleuterio,Jose,Leoncio and Filomena are Rizals Uncle and Aunte in laws.

      When we go down to the family line of Leonila (Tia Ilay) a direct decendant begot Flora Yatco who married the gentelman from Bulacan Teodoro Evangelista Sr. and their son Teodoro jr. incidentaly the Biological father of Nino Mulach ( Kanya pala maliit dahil Rizal he,he) and finaly Nino is a 5th cousin of our Yatco side and also 4th cousin of Rizal on Mercado side, whooo! Yes atlist we have the artista’s including MonaLiza.

      The decendant Leoncio married Isidora F. Cruz and are most related in blood to Rizal the Cruz family and that again another story..and yes my bueaty Queen pa tayo!

      My second eldest son a Music teacher and a Band lead guitarist, i like Jazz.


  21. Hi tito jun and tito maning ,we should meet up. I’m inviting The two of you for dinner or maybe lunch at Florabel in Podium. Let’s meet Wednesday next week.

    • Thanks Christopher for the invitation, very nice of you, indeed. Florabel would be a nice venue to talk and dine.

      But I can’t come on Wednesday next week. I’ll invite you though one Wednesday evening once I set foot in Manila. You’ll hear from me-

      So hold on and my best wishes to the family!

      jun asuncion

      • Hi Tito Jun, that will be great. I hope that Tito Maning will be able to join us. Good day and God bless!

      • Hi Christhoper,
        Thank you for the invitation, sorry for the late reply, i am so busy with my work and always out of town, construction are my line of busines geotechnical and drilling work, again thank you for the invitation and regards to the family.


  22. Good day jun and d rest of the authors!

    I really admire ur post regarding d clan of Asuncion, where it came from and where are they right now… also, i’m very thankful for ur blog guys because it make me feel that i’m on my birth place even i’m so far away from my beloved bulan.. this blog gives me an update on what is the real score of bulan in terms of growth and development.. one thing for sure, i really appreciate this piece of work by you guys!

    i just want to comment about the Asuncion Clan, first, they are the so-called elites in bulan, as a matter of fact, one school was founde by the late Kenerino R. Asuncion (KRAMS also known SLI-KRAMS today) and i’m proud to be part of it’s alumni. The large part of the Asuncion clan is we can say a “good ones” except the self-driven radio commentator (commenting on all issues even w/out knowledge of it), he is also a loser – losing to elections for so many times aspiring as a Vice-mayor, and councilor just last recent elections and a land-grabber (ousting residents residing in peace on their small parcel of land, even claiming the part of brgy. aquino as his land and part of PNP 509th Mobile Group camp and also led the demolition team in sabang as he claim his parents land that they won via technicality.)
    Maybe you already know this person that i don’t want to name. This type of person is the rotten tomatoe of your clan that stains your good name, putting your clan in shame.
    The Asuncions are good. but, except this person because he doesnt carry the true character of the Asuncions..
    Jun A. you are good. But not this person who is self-centered individual.
    i’ve just expressed my sentiments to the people i hated and admired.
    This is just my personal view and will not represent the opinion of the entire religious, political and social group i belong.

    thank you very much and more power to Bulan!

    • To Dugong Bulan

      I acknowledge freedom of speech, hence, your comment is published.
      I know whom you are talking about, met him this year.
      First, let me thank you for reading BO and for not mentioning his name and respecting his right to anonymity as we respect your right to it.

      Second, I will not comment on the issues you brought out but only on the term “loser” if you mean by it a character trait for I think it’s not fitting if you would look at it a little bit deeper and within the context that it occurs or viewed against.

      A loser type of person is generally characterized by attitudes of resignation and negativistic view of the world and experience. Such personality is grounded on fear, anxiety and feelings of inadequacy.

      Hence, a loser type avoids challenges in life in general and competitive situations like exams, elections, etc., in particular.

      A political candidate, however, who is never intimidated by prior failures but continues to hold on to his goal can never be designated as a loser type of person. On the contrary, I think it’s much fitting to call him a fighter, somebody who never easily gives up and I think my cousin is in this respect a fighter type.

      In this connection, I would also encourage everybody in Bulan to view the Guyalas according to this definition.

      Kind regards,

      jun asuncion

  23. Hi Kuya Manning and Kuya Jun,

    Thank you so much for the vast information on our lineage…. My sister Aicel, informed me of your extensive research… it answered some puzzles on my mind…. Before I was always wondering, about our inclination in the arts and politics… not that as good as of Aicel (She’s a Pastry Chef and into fashion).. our father (Marciano Yatco Alzona, named after her grandmother Lola Marciana) and his 11 siblings are all very artistic and do fine sketches, which i think are very innate in them….
    I hope I can share some valuable information, next time… as far as I can remember my Tita Dory and Tita Nilda kept a Family Portrait of Lola Marciana’s Siblings.. I hope our aunts will lend us the picture, so that we can post it….or send it through email….
    And about the Conductor Oscar Yatco my officemate, Ate Maricel, told me that her father is the brother Oscar Yatco.. I think I must inquire this to her ASAP….
    Question: Vice PJ Javier, is in our bloodline? I’ve met him before in VMLP…..
    Maraming Salamat po…


    • Hi, Alice!

      It’s nice to have you here also. The first Asuncions- Justiniano and his brothers were very creative artists in the old Binondo. That explains the creativity of the Asuncions and blood relatives of today, not only in visual arts but also in other fields.

      Yes, please post here any information that you have relevant to this work. Thank you in advance!

      It’s good to know that Aicel is a pastry chef and into fashion. There is currently a relative living in Los Angeles in the Melrose district who is “studying/training to be a Pastry Chef for Westin Hotel” and who is in need for some tips in this industry. Maybe Aicel could be of help. His name is Jerry Asuncion. He has a comment above. Please communicate with him.

      My best regards to your family and to Aicel.

      jun asuncion

  24. Hi Alice, there’s going to be a yatco clan reunion on November 28 . There’s no venue yet but I’ll keep you posted. Hope you will attend.

  25. Hi again Alice, i believe that you are closely related to Encarnacion Alzona,the first woman who obtained a phd in our country. Like us she also came from the asuncion yatco clan. She wrote several books during her lifetime.

  26. Hi,
    My mother is an Asuncion and we know Dr. Ronaldo Asuncion. Im just not sure which ones are my ancestors or which lineage I’m from. The name of my grandfather and first names of my great grandparents is as far as I can get.
    Ive been very interested with the Asuncion history and family tree and I kept asking my mother about it and she keeps telling me that uncle ronnie has a copy.
    I don’t live in the Philippines anymore so it is hard to get a copy of it and so I want to thank you so much for posting this! 🙂

    I now know where my mother and my siblings get that artistic talent from!

    • Hi Bettina,
      Nice to have you here. Just tell me the names of your Asuncion grandfather and maybe we can trace back your lineage.
      Dr. Ronaldo Asuncion is our “Ninong sa kasal”.
      My greetings to your mother. Is she a visual artist,too?

  27. Hi kuya or tito i guess haha 🙂
    My grandfather is the late Justice Elias B. Asuncion . His father’s name is Perfecto Asuncion married to a Saturnina.
    My mum is a doctor but her hobbies talaga is painting, drawing and anything to do with art. She even designed our house (in and out) back in the Philippines.

    • Hi Bettina,

      I tried to trace your lineage but I have problem finding the names you have given me. It could be that we need to start a new branch but for that we need to search and for the time being hope that somebody can help give the first hint.
      So hold on.


  28. Thanks for including me in the loop. I am the daughter of Kenerino Digno M Asuncion. My lineage is –

    * Zacarias Asuncion with Remedios Ramirez had Kenerino.
    * Kenerino Asuncion married Leonor Manas (not Leonora Paras) and had Kenerino Digno. Together, Lolo Ino and Lola Leny founded Southern Luzon Institute, now KRAMS – Kenerino Ramirez Asuncion Memorial School), Celeste Asuncion came to them later in life. She is now married to Aaron Tanhueco.
    * K Digno (Dig) married Dolores Peñaflor has 5 of us: Elcee (me) now in KL and married to Juan C Villa Jr; Carina now in Florence; Ding (K Digno Jr) back in Manila married Isabel Berneguer; Kerry (another Kenerino) married Joy Dawis; Tina married Arnie Alafriz.

    Jun – we have the same great grandfather, so that makes us 2nd cousins! Hey! I will complete my fuzzy memories with more concrete ones from Dad and write more later. Dad by the way is now 86, had an above knee amputation when he turned 80 and is now much healthier without that leg. Like many his age, he has long-term memory and tends to forget the question that he just asked 3 minutes ago =)

    • Hi Elcee! Thank you for looping in. Tio Digno’s name is very familiar to me as I used to hear it from my parents and from Lola Leny herself since I was a kid. But I haven’t got the chance to meet him. Give my warmest regards then to your father.
      Thank you also for supplying additional information and I eagerly wait for your next visit with your stories. Celeste was my contemporary and my classmate during primary school. Since then I haven’t seen her anymore.
      Bye cousin and come again.
      jun asuncion

  29. Hi Jun. I’ve just given Celeste your blog details. Now to wait for her to go on Facebook to see it =)

    May I tell Dad how we are related? Which of the names you gave is your father/mother?

    One more memory. The Asuncion reunions began with Papa Rony and his siblings, Mama Choling and her siblings and Dad. Whenever people asked us about our roots, they all said we’re the Asuncions from Pasig. But I remember that when Dad and Mom hosted one we had people arriving from Baguio, Ilocos and everywhere. They tried to figure out roots right there at the party =) Nice huh? I stopped going when i move to HK in 1984.

    Bettina, maybe I met your father and mother or aunt at one reunion at Papa Rony’s. Your mother or aunt was very close to Monina, th eldest daughter of Papa Rony.

    Jun, when did the Asuncions start living in Bulan? How and why?

    • Thanks Elcee.
      Bettina’s ancestors were from Leyte, I guess. Can you ask Monina about Bettina’s lineage?

      The Asuncions first settled in Bulan in 1886 with the coming of our great grandfather Zacarias from Binondo who was in search of a greener pasture when the Chinese increasingly gained the monopoly of business establishments in this old city. In Bulan he was said to have founded the first supermarket. Twelve years later, in 1898, he became the first Jefe del Pueblo and served for two years in this office during the colonial transition period. There he married Remedios Ramirez from Masbate. Justiniano visited him in Bulan and stayed there for the rest of his life.

      Until next time.

      jun asuncion

  30. Tita Elcee,
    Yes, my mom still talks to tita monina and tita dianne on facebook.
    Wish someone would make a facebook group for the Asuncions! Would be great to know who’s who.

    Tito jun,
    My mom grew up in Leyte then they all moved to Laoag, Ilocos Norte (loads of Asuncions are still there) then my grandparents went back to Manila. 😀

    Happy Holidays everyone! 🙂

    Bettina x

  31. hello thank you po sa information!! I am one of Lolo Ruben’s grandchildren, and curious po talaga ako sa lawak ng clan natin.

    • Hi Ruben, sorry for my late response for many things went in between and knowing that you are much younger than me, I know you still enjoy the luxury of time.
      Is your lolo also an engineer, like Tio Rene?
      Give my best regards to your lolo.
      Till next time.

      jun asuncion

  32. Greetings of Peace! In behalf of the Bulan Lions Club I would like to thank for your generosity. The medicines you donated was distributed during our Medical Mission at Sabang Pavilion Zone 2, last August 2010. The ff. are our 2011 activities discussed during our Club meeting. Feb. 26 Medical Mission at San Francisco, Bulan. March 19, Vision Screening Catanusan Elem. School. and Gubat Elem. School. April 16 Med. Mission at Brgy. Beguin and for the mo. of May, a medical mission for coastal Barangays to be identified during our monthly meeting this Feb. 2011.
    We hope for your continued support in our future Medical mission activities. Again our sincerest appreciation of your assistance.

  33. I am Jose Reynaldo Ocampo Cobarrubias. Son of Jose Livioco Cobarrubias Jr. and Norma Nolasco Ocampo Cobarrubias. Our great great grandfather is Dr. Jose Rizal y Mercado from Lola Bonifacia Rizal y Mercado(sister of Jose Rizal’s father Francisco Engracia Rizal y Mercado).
    Let me start with the Ocampo family tree.
    Lolo Gil Ocampo married Lolo Magdalena Leyva Arevalo, son was Lolo Edilberto Ocampo, Mayor of Binan 1906-1909.
    2nd Generation
    Lolo Edilberto married Lola Ma. Paz Yatco y Rizal.
    3rd Generation
    Sons were Mauro Y. Ocampo and Vicente Y. Ocampo.
    Mauro Yatco Ocampo (Lolo Bolo) married Adoracion Amante Nolasco (1st wife Lola Adoracion),2nd Gregoria Ongkiko, 3rd ? & 4th wife?
    4th Generation
    Their children are Magdalena, Lourdes, Dolores, Norma & Mauro Jr.
    Magdalena (Nitang) married Felicito Gonzales, Lourdes (Ditas) married Dionisio Capunitan, Dolores (Lolita) Married Ramon Raymundo, Norma (Normie) married Jose L. Cobarrubias Jr. & Mauro Jr. married Imelda Morales.
    5th Generation
    Magdalena-Felicito has 6 kids: Mariano,Felnito, Jacobo, Pedro +, Felicito Jr. & Fernando
    Lourdes-Dionisio has 4 kid: Roberto; Josephine, Evelyn & Susan
    Dolores-Ramon has 4 kids: George; Fe Caridad, Jesus +, & Jim Anthony
    Norma-Jose has 6 kids: Jose Luis, Jose Fernando; Jose Reynaldo; Jose Marie +; Jose Victor & Ma. Kristina
    Mauro Jr.-Imelda has 5 kids: Adoracion; Mauro III, Erickson, Normadia, & Nowelyn
    Vicente Y. Ocampo (Lolo Enteng) married Maxima Mercado (Lola Chimang)
    3 kid: Leonardo, Renato & Erlinda
    Lolo Ysidro Yatco married Lola Bonifacia Rizal has 3 kids. Ma. Salud married Pablo Perlas, Ma. Paz married Edilberto Ocampo & Ma. Leonila married Pablo Yatpinchay.
    Bustamante (Amante) Clan
    Adoracion Amante Nolasco clan. – Married Mauro Yatco Ocampo
    Padre Santiago Bustmante married Juana Villamor- only son Mariano
    Mariano V. Bustamante married Ma. Sorbito Regular only daugther Catalina.
    Nolasco clan.
    Eifemio Lim Yuatco Nolasco married Ma. Blasica Fernandez, only son Bibiano.
    Catalina Amante y Regular married Bibiano Fernandez Nolasco. only daugther Adoracion Nolasco y Amante (Lola Adoracion)

    • To Jose Renaldo Ocampo Cobarrubias,

      It’s great to have a direct descendant of Jose Rizal visiting Bulan Observer!
      Your great-great-grandfather Jose Rizal has always been “my hero”. In fact, I’ve never stopped reading his writings until now for he continues to inspire and his ideas and Weltanschauung shall always have a place in our modern world. To me, he was more modern than many of today’s thinkers and leaders. They would pale beside Jose Rizal and would never be able to hide their primitivism.

      Now, with regard to my searchings on the Asuncion linage, it has been my question if your great-great grandfather Jose Rizal ever met or mentioned in his writings my great-great grandfather Justiniano Asuncion. I have always felt that Justiniano never escaped Rizal’s inquisitive eyes and mind for as a painter himself for sure he was aware of all the major Filipino master painters in his time.

      About the Asuncion and Rizal blood connection, I find a clue in the comments above by a relative Manning Yatco of Laguna.

      Manuel Yatco writes: ” the Tress Marias of Binan ( Salud Mercado Yatco de Perlas, Paz Mercado Yatco de Ocampo and Leonila Mercado de Yaptinchay who are paternal first cousin of Rizal ).. According to my Nanay ( Amelia Alzona Yatco de Villanueva) Dona Leonila is the first cousin of Lola Marciana,Grand mother of my Nanay…I am with the blood of “Ming Mong Lo” or Jose Molo of the Pedro Paterno family,Asuncion Kagalitan, Mercado Yatco, Carlos Almeda, Castrillo, Alzona, Evangelista and twice Yatco on paternal and maternal side, and my be a little bit of Rizal hehehe, and a 4th generation “Go We Co” Villanueva…”

      Your entry about your lineage is very interesting and is a treasure. I know this will be of great use for some people. I also need to study the details and hope to find some important links.

      May you visit us again.

      jun asuncion

      • Gloria Lerma Yatco aka the actress Mona Lisa is the daughter of Manuel Yatco and Melicia Lerma. According to an article in Phil. Inquirer, her grandfather is Isidro Mercado Yatco, a first cousin of Jose Rizal. Is Isidro Mercado Yatco a son of Y
        sidro Yatco (husband of Bonifacia Mercado and son of Gregorio Yatco )?

  34. To Reynaldo Ocampo Cobarrubias/Maria Relova
    i hope this would help. the following;
    I.Ignacio “Enacio” Yatco_mValentina Asuncio
    a. Jose “Coseng” Yatco_m Victoria Carlos Almed
    b.Leoncio A.Yatco_m Isidora F.Cruz
    c.Eliuterio A.Yatco_m 1st. Maria Carillo
    d.Filomena A.Yatco_m Eugenio Alzona
    II. Jose Yatco_m 1st. Widowed Mother Of Concha Leyva
    a.Justo Yatco_1st Amoranto
    _2nd_m Marcela Laurel
    b.Alfredo L. Yatco Sr._1st_m Unknown
    _2nd_m Josefina F. Flores
    III. Manuel Yatco_m Unknown
    a.Laureana Yatco_m Teryo Bayabo
    b.Jose Yatco_m Trinidad Belezario
    IV.Aniceto Yatco_m Simiona Carillo Trinidad Yaptinchay
    a.Fermin Yatco y Yaptinchay_m Petronilla Asuncion Carillo Trinidad
    b.Exequiel Yatco
    V.Gregorio Yatco_m (a Marfori)
    a.Ysidro Yatco_m Bonifacia Mercado
    ( Salud Mercado Yatco de Perlas, Paz Mercado Yatco de Ocampo and Leonila Mercado de Yaptinchay who are paternal first cousin of Rizal )
    Thank You

  35. Hi,Isidro Mercado Yatco, the grandfather of Gloria lerma Yatco was a violinist who performed in paris during his time. His wife Maximina Gonzalez was a Soprano singer. I got this info from mona lisa’s daughter.

    • hi cris,
      how are you, i will revise and up date with regard to Mona Liza’s lineage. there any reunion to take place this year regarding Yatcos? i hope we can make it this year,my mother is nearing 83 years and very much like to attend this reunions..Your grandfather Dr. Francisco E. Yatco “Lelong Kikoy” was the Ninong of my father and mother wedding.Your grandmother Asuncion Belizario was very Beautiful Tall Lady, “sabi ni Nanay, Napaka gandang babae” (not like maxima!)


  36. hi tito jun, Antonio Asuncion became gobernadorcillo of Pasig in the mid 1800s, his father in law Don Pasqual de Santa Ana was gobernadorcillo in 1798 and in 1818 ,he acquired the hacienda de angono.

    • Hi Christopher and Maning,
      I enjoy reading your conversation and input of information. I hope that you’ll be able to motivate other Yatcos-Asuncions to be active in the reunion planning and in a constructive conversation. Existence is real only when it is shared.
      Chris, where did you get this info about our Lolo Antonio Asuncion? Do you have some more documents abou him or about Don Pascual de Santa Ana.This is a very interesting historical link.

      A peaceful Easter Season to you all.

      jun asuncion

      • hi cris, junasun
        i was able to log in- Philippines Studies Ateneo de manila author by dr.Luciano P.R Santiago regarding “Don Pasqual de Sta Ana Indio Hacendero” well interisting bits of history regarding Asuncion-Sta Ana of Pasig it prove our well documented historical link from the past to the present.

  37. Tito Manning , I’m good. I hope we’ll have a grand reunion this year. It will depend on tito Cezar if he still has the energy to convince our anti social yatco relatives to have it this year and make it a yearly thing. I can no longer remember lola asuncion’s face but it was said that she was very beautiful.Do you have photos of her and lolo kiko.

  38. Hi Tito Jun, in the Pasig municipal government website, you’ll find the names of Pasqual de Santa Ana and Antonio Asuncion in the list of gobernadocillos . Don Pasqual de Santa Ana based on historical documents was also known as indio haciendero of angono and talim island. His name was also mentioned in the book entitled LIFE, ART AND TIMES OF DAMIAN DOMINGO which was written by Luciano Santiago.

    • Hi Cris,
      i was browsing Florabel article, Crisostoma resto was name after you,well it good thing Noli’s character and name of menu,Rizal will be 150th birth anniversary this year. .there is a street name A.Asuncion in Pasig near Pasig Municipal Cemetery along C.Raymundo near Rizal Hi school annex may be
      attribute to our Great Grand Father Don Antonio Molo Asuncion,i will try to visit Pasig Library and Museum..Regarding wedding picture i am trying to contact my Tita’s & Titos in Binan, i hope there was a remaining existing pictorial of the wedding.. There is Portrait picture of Basilia Evangelista the sister of your great grand mother Fernanda Evangelista in our possesion still hang at our ancestral house in San Antonio.i will keep you in touch regading this.

  39. Tito Jun and Tito Manning, In the book about Damian Domingo, it was said that in the last will and testament of Don Damian Domingo, there was a list of people whom he owed money to which is stipulated in the document and Dona Maria Salome, daughter of Don Pasqual de Santa Ana and sister in law of Don Antonio Asuncion was one of them.

  40. The writer of damian domingo’s book also pointed out some similarities between don antonio asuncion and don damian domingo. Aside from being great painters, they also married well which elevated their social standing in society.

    • hi cris,
      great bits and pieces of history regarding Don Antonio Molo Asuncion of Pasig, great find, may this also help us construct our linenage like the intensive research done by Jenne and Mike of the Paterno. maybe Sonny Rayos and Jun Asuncion will help us share their contribution to our Asuncion-Yatco of Binan line so other will be enlightened (our anti social Yatco ! hehehe may be they are too busy to give them the benefit of the D! )

  41. Tito manny , do you know the history of lola asuncion and lolo kiko’s house near funeraria tala. i heard stories that the house is haunted and it used to be a morgue.


    • Thanks a lot Christopher for your valuable tips. Continue the good work and may your instinct brings you to more valuable materials.
      I don’t have this book about Damian Domingo. With your tip, I’m already excited to see the picture of Capitan Ting for I really thought I would never see the face of our great-great grandfather anymore when his only self-portrait was lost.

      Thanks again!

      jun asuncion

  43. our relatives from the juliana asuncion bartolome are the ff. former central bank governor jobo fernandez, eloisa fernandez yan , zita fernandez feliciano

  44. Tito Jun ,the book is available at fully booked stores. you can also buy it on line. the books title is “The Life, Art, And Times Of Damian Domingo”. I believe that this book can inspire you to come up with the book of our own Capitan Ting .

    • hi cris,
      interesting find,i will be going to buy it also..then i will try to visit the pasig city museum and the said ancestral house of Don Pasqual de Santa Ana still preserve intime..this will be my May (historical) vacation he,he,he.

  45. Tito Manny , it’s great to know that don pasqual’s ancestral house is still extant. Do you know its location. i also want to visit it.

  46. hi jun,
    i was just reading the damian domingo book, interesting story but not in-depth, have you come any across publications that details justiniano asuncion’s life? would you know were i can get a copy of our family tree? is it available in the web? great to have stumbled into this blog, browsed through your article above, hopefully i will have time to read them next week.
    thanks. ding

    • To Ding,
      Thank you for passing by. I don’t have a copy of this Damian Domingo book which seems to be a very important document as far as our search for Justiniano is concerned. But for sure I’ll get one when I’m back in town next year. Regarding the details of Justiniano’s life, I would advise you to read Professor Santiago’s article above entitled “A 19th-century burgher records the faces of his people “. There you’ll find a biographical outline of Justiniano including of course the author’s reflective analysis of his subject.
      I photographed my copy of the family tree of six pages. I’ll send them to you per e-mail. Who’s your grandfather?
      Thanks again!

      jun asuncion

  47. Hi Jun. Ding’s new to this and may not have seen your response. Ding is my brother, and our grandfather is Kenerino Asuncion. He is one of the artists in our family – he and his wife Isabel Berenguer Asuncion own Asuncion-Berenguer Inc, an architectural and design firm based in Manila. Ding paints, sculpts and photographs when he has time or when he wants to chill.

    Our family tree is quite simple because Lolo Ino (Kenerino) and Lola Leny (Leonor Manas) had only Dad and Celeste. Dad, Atty K Digno Manas Asuncion (Dig), has the 5 of us – Elcee, Carina, Ding (Digno Jr), Kerry, Tina.

    Please also email me the family tree that you compiled? Thanks Jun.

    My best

  48. thanks jun, will wait for your email of our family tree. send me your email address too, i can have excerpts of the book scanned that relates to justiniano and emailed to you.


    • Thank you Elcee and Ding. I’ve just sent the Tree per email.
      Ding, it’s nice to know that you also paint. Do you still remember the painter Benny Buendia? I met him privately in Tarlac not long ago and I got some paintings of him. I’m planning to publish this encounter with Benny here in Bulan Observer.
      Till next time.

      jun asuncion

  49. Hi Sir Jun,

    Good day to you. I am John Paul Carino Carrillo from Binan, Laguna. My grandfather is Dr. Antonio Carrillo Sr. I saw your blogsite regarding the Asuncion Family roots and lineage and the connection to the Carrillo’s of Binan. I saw one of your comments regarding a certain Guia Carrillo who has a sister Consuelo. My great grandmother was Guia and she had a sister named Consuelo Carrillo (which my dad, tito’s and relatives refer as Lola Elo). I’m just wondering if we are referring to the same people mentioned. I grew up in our ancestral house in Binan but now it is already demolished. I can still remember two paintings in our sala. My dad told me they were my great great grandparents though he is not sure of their names. He believes that they were Juan Carrillo-Trinidad and Francisca Gana (due to the initials “F.G.” indicated in the “panyo” that she held. As far as I remember, from the stories of relatives, the paintings were done by Justiniano Asuncion. I remember that it was written on the lower right portion of the painting of Lolo Juan Carrillo-Trinidad that it was painted in Pebrero 1880. I researched some of the paintings of the great “Capitan Ting” labeled as Teodora and I can see the strong resemblance from the paintings of my ancestors. Unfortunately, my relatives sold the two paintings to I think Mr. Jaime Laya. I am very interested about our family tree and ancestors as I am fond of listening to elders talk about the past and their experiences. Maybe you can give me some idea regarding Carrillo Family. I also saw the blogsite of Mr. Toto Gonzales which was very interesting as well. And also, would you happen to know the possible location of the paintings of my ancestors? Central Bank? Museum? I love the arts and cultural heritage. I hope I will be able to see the two paintings again so I can share it with my family and future children. Thank you for the information.

    John Paul

    • Hi John Paul,

      Romana Asuncion was one of the daughters of Antonio Asuncion(1794), brother of Justiniano Asuncion. Romana married Andres Carillo Trinidad, one of whose daughters, Petronila, married Fermin Yatco and one of their sons, Macario Carillo, married Guia Asuncion whose mother was Juana Zalvidea, first wife of my great grandfather Zacarias Asuncion! The only thing that confuses me a bit was that Macario was better known as Macario Carillo, not as Macario Yatco. For this, I need help from relatives who may know the story better.
      One thing I know was that Guia had a sister named Consuelo Asuncion who married Gabriel Intengan. Take note also that one of the daughters of Guia and Macario was also named Consuelo! So, this Consuelo Carillo you were referring to might be Guia’s daughter, not the sister (Consuelo Intengan).
      You should also consider studying any existing Carillo Family Tree since according to the Asuncion Family Tree, it’s Andres Carillo Trinidad, not Juan Carillo Trinidad.But it could be that Juan Carillo Trinidad was a relative of Andres, a brother or whatever. That’s why I’m curios about what the Carillo Family Tree would tell us about this case. But the fact that Justiniano was said to have painted those paintings your family once had, tells us that we are “more or less” talking about the same people. Romana was a niece of Junstiniano and one of his favorite Asuncion models for his portrait works.
      As I have said, the existing Family Tree has also some errrors. Hence, any credible correcting argument from relatives from the Asuncion and Carillo sides is very much welcome and should be considered as an update of the Tree, or of any branch of it.

      Hope to hear from you more, John Paul.

      jun asuncion

  50. Hi, Jun!

    I’m from Irosin Sorsogon. Kenerino Ramirez Asuncion and his brother, Justiniano, happened to be founding members of the oldest fraternity in Asia when they were in the University of the Philippines. hope I could have your email. Thanks!

    • Hi Jon, thanks for your info. Actually, Lolo Kenerino remains an unknown personality for me. I’ve seen him several times with Lola Lenny when I was just
      a little boy of Canipaan. I know that he owned a school, the SLI during his lifetime. Otherwise I really know nothing more about him and his brother Justiniano.
      My email:

      I hope you’ll bring us a bit more of our history next time.

      Thank you.

      jun asuncion

  51. Hi Jon and Jun.

    Yes, Lolo Ino (Kenerino Ramirez Asuncion) and his brother Justiniano were two of the founding members of Upsilon Sigma Phi. Justiniano was the first IF (Illustrious Fellow) and Lolo Ino was the second. My father Digno Sr is also an Upsilonian, and so when my brother went to UP the Upsilonians hoped to get their first 3rd generation from a founding member to join them. Ding was not interested =)

    Dad told me that when Upsilon started and for a while thereafter, members were carefully screened – members had to excel in both academics and non-academics. And so it attracted a lot of members who eventually became prominent figures in their chosen fields.


    • Hi Elcee,

      Nice to have you again here in our Net town Bulan Observer.
      Elcee, do you think it’s possible for you or your brother or Celeste to
      write something about Lolo Ino and Lola Lenny, especially about the background story of the founding of SLI? That would be a nice addtion to
      this post. I think Lolo Ino deserves this. He was a Bulan figure as educator.
      Thanks and till next time.
      jun asuncion

  52. Sure Jun. It will not happen too quickly though. But as soon as I’m in Manila again, I’ll ask Dad to tell me the story. I’m sure that will trigger memories of Lola Leny’s own stories to me. Good excuse to see Celeste for coffee too.

    Dad is almost 85 now, had an above knee amputation on his 80th birthday and is still very strong. Only, he is now hearing challenged =) I should print pages of this blog for his reading pleasure.

    Btw I always knew that Lola Leny was an angel on earth (Lolo Ino died when I was only 8 and I don’t remember him as much), but wow the eulogies from KRAMS alumni at her funeral blew me away. It was a story of how Lola Leny and Lolo Ino helped many families with little funds to send their children through schooling at SLI/KRAMS. They were educators with a heart of gold.

    • Thank you very much Jon, I got them. Priceless photos. I never knew they were Upsilon pioneers, with Justiniano (not the painter Justiniano) as founding president and Kenerino as founding member.
      You see, there are lots of things to know and discover about our very own people only that no one bothers to ask or tell, we just take for granted our own family history or assume we already know when in fact we know nothing about our lolos, perhaps even about our own parents, brothers and sisters. I am a Nepomuceno on the mother’s side, for example and to tell you, I know nothing about the Nepomuceno lineage which I think also as important as my Asuncion lineage, and I love the phonetics and rhythmic pattern of this name Nepomuceno, it is 5/4 (Like the jazz piece Take That by Dave Brubeck ), the Asuncion being waltzy 3/4 (like the west Coast Blues by Wes Montgomery) but these two meters are related. Funny, but one of the contemporaries of Justiniano Asuncion was Transfiguration (what a name!) Nepomuceno, also a known painter and considered as rival of Justiniano.
      I wish you good luck on your current project and when you think Bulan Observer is a suitable venue for it, please don’t hesitate to publish even just portions of it where the Asuncions are involved.
      Thanks again!
      jun asuncion

  53. Hi Jun,
    Would you happen to know the parents of Juana Zalvidea, your great grandmother? Could she also be an Asuncion through her mother?

  54. Correction. I just realized Juana Zalvidea was a first or second wife of Zacarias and your great grandmother was Remedios Ramirez. I have a Juana Asuncion Zalvidea in my tree who is a daughter of Canuta Asuncion, sister of Justiniano “Capitan Ting”.

    • Hi Maria!

      Canuta(1819), sister of Justiniano, was married to a certain Zalvidea Revilla whose daughter married Zacarias Asuncion. But I guess her family name is Revilla, not Zalvidea, hence distinguishing her from Juana Zalvidea, the first wife of Zacarias Asuncion, my great grandfather. Now I’m wondering who is this other Zacarias Asuncion who married Canuta’s daughter Juana!?!. If they were all the same persons, and if my theory on the family name of Juana was wrong, then my great grandfather had married a second degree cousin…(???) who gave birth to Guia (married to Macario Carillo) and Consuelo (married to Gabriel Intengan), the great grandmother of Amado Esteban, the president of Seton Hall University.
      However, I need advice from the other Asuncions who may know this case much better. And we should also take note that our present Family Tree really needs update/corrections in some places of it.

      jun asuncion

  55. To Malou Relova,

    I have sought advice from Ed and Noel Rojas (great grandsons of Zacarias Asuncion and Juana Zalvidea) and instantly got help and encouragement from them. Noel did the research. It really feels good to have some Asuncions who are not only interested in our genealogy but are also willing to help. So, thank you Noel and Ed and I hope to meet you someday.

    There was a very interesting series of email exchange among us till I came to the point of asking them for permission to make their findings public- the Asuncion public, I mean specifically. And they both agreed, with Ed saying ” Have no objection, it is an interesting bit of history” and Noel, ” Same here, no objection. Unless Juana’s birth or baptismal certificate shows differently, we will have to assume that she is”.

    Yes, it’s about the history of the Asuncion and I appreciate Ed and Noel’s attitude of “transparency” and objectivity. Historical facts should be taken as they are and be written and shared as they are but with open mind because new facts could change the whole picture again. In any case, I feel that with such Asuncions as Noel and Ed, our search for our roots is moving forward (as we move backwards!).

    Now, let’s listen to Noel:
    I had to revisit the Asuncion Genealogy book of Macario Asuncion to know more about Canuta Asuncion (born Jan 19,1819). Jun is quite correct but here is some clarification.

    The entry of Macario shows that Canuta, younger sister of Justiniano and the youngest of 14 siblings, as married to Aniceto Zalvidea y Revilla. This would mean that Aniceto’s father is Zalvidea and mother, Revilla.

    Canuta and Aniceto had 14 children namely: 1) Melecio, 2) Quintin, 3) Sergia, 4) Buenaventura (Ventura), 5) Buenaventura (Venturita?), 6) Sofronio, 7) Juana, 8)Felix, 9) Ambrocia, 10) Vicenta, 11) Pantaleon, 12) Florencia, 13)Antonia, 14) Eduviguis.

    Justiniano Asuncion, elder brother of Canuta, is married to Justina Farafina Gomez. They had 6 children namely: 1) Benita, 2) Zacarias, 3) Marcelina, 4) Jacobo, 5) Gabriel, 6) Martiniano.

    Zacarias, 2nd child of Justiniano, is shown as married to Juana Zalvidea which in all likelyhood is the 7th child of Canuta Asuncion Zalvidea above, sister of Justiniano, and therefore a first cousin. Though the maternal surname of Juana is not shown she is likely an Asuncion.

    This first marriage of Zacarias to Juana Zalvidea bore 2 children namely: Maria Guia and Consolacion (Consuelo).

    Maria Guia Asuncion married Macario Carrillo Trinidad while Consolacion (Consuelo) married Gabriel Intengan.

    This shows that the decendants of Zacarias and Juana Zalvidea (1st marriage) have bloodlines from Zalvideas and Revillas.

    I noticed that an Agueda Asuncion, daughter of Manuel, eldest sibling of Justiniano, married a Maximo Revilla. There must have been very few families to marry into in those days.



    Dear all,

    Same here, no objection. Unless Juana’s birth or baptismal certificate shows differently, we will have to assume that she is:

    Before marriage: – Juana Asuncion y Zalvidea meaning child of Asuncion (Canuta) and Zalvidea (Aniceto) following the Spanish way of names (see Aniceto Zalvidea y Revilla).
    After her marriage to Zacarias Asuncion ( here I am not sure of the Spanish way): – Juana Asuncion Zalvidea Asuncion. It may look awkward but it is a good way of tracing paternal and maternal bloodlines. Probably it would just be Juana Zalvidea Asuncion or even Juana Z. Asuncion. But again, only a marriage cerificate would really show us her married name.

    Alternatively, in the familiar American way we use ;

    Before marriage: – Juana A. Zalvidea.
    After her marriage to Zacarias Asuncion: – Juana Z. Asuncion or Juana A. Zalvidea-Asuncion. After marriage, I notice that a woman’s maternal surname e.g. Asuncion, is dropped and the paternal surname becomes the middle initial. However I also notice many professionals (lawyers, doctors, dentists,etc.) who are already well known or licenced by their maiden names to use a hyphen to add their husbands surname so as to preserve their maiden names by which they are known. But not all middle initials represent the maternal surname, e.g. our uncle used Romulo Z. Carrillo for the longest time I remember although he is the son of Guia Asuncion married to Macario Carrillo. He said the Z stood for Zacarias. That would mean the middle initial stood for a second given name rather than the maternal surname. Interestingly, my mother’s (Gracia Asuncion Carrillo-Rojas) second given name is Juana. For all we know, these second names are the names of their grand parents, Zacarias and Juana, all the more to show that Juana Zalvidea is really an Asuncion. Wow!

    Genealogy is really interesting! Best regards.


    • Dear Jun,

      What a discovery!! Thank you so much Ed and Noel for sharing and Jun in your earnest effort and finding the right link at that.

      Politics is really in the blood of the Asuncions. Antonia, sister of Canuta, married Celso Lobregat.

    • Hi Jun,
      Sorry. Yes, I meant Antonia (1859-1942)), sister of Juana and daughter of Canuta (1819). Antonia married Celso Lobregat (1839-1914) who is the great grandfather of Celso Lorenzo Lobregat. (1948).

  56. Hi Maria, Is Antonia Asuncion Zalvidea the grandmother of Celso Lorenzo Lobregat or great grandmother? The mother of the present mayor of Zamboanga is Maria Clara Lorenzo who is the sister of the late Luis “Moro ” Lorenzo.

    • Antonia Asuncion Zalvidea is the great grandmother of Celso Lorenzo Lobregat, Antonia/Celso Lobregat>Celso/Concepcion de Jesus> Celso/Clara Lorenzo>Celso.

  57. Dear Mr. Jun,
    Prof. Santiago A. Pilar, known as Jac Pilar is my professor at UST Graduate School. He is currently also teaching at the UP Fine Arts.

  58. Hi Budji,

    Kindly give my best regards and thankfulness to Prof. Pilar whose article on Justiniano Asuncion in that Archipelago magazine is simply fantastic and serves as my best reference so far.
    Thank you.

    jun asuncion

  59. Hi Friend, accidentally I opened this website, because I am looking for my friend in Google Images and I saw your Blog. I am Domingo Asuncion, my Lolo is Still alive he is now 98 years old. He tells me that his Father Domingo Asuncion Sr. is from ILOCOS, napunta lang sila ng Visayas Region sa katatago nila ng panahon ng Kastila, but yong ibang kapatid at pamilya nya ay naiwan sa ILOCOS. My Grandfather, mahilig mag Business..nakaka-abot pa sila ng Pampanga para mag tinda. My Lolo tells me that may mga kapatid pa sya sa ILOCOS, ngunit di na sila nag kita. To know more your ancestors, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints( ay makaka-tulong. Sa Geneology ko, positive ILOCOS talaga kami nag mula, tama ang sinasabi ng Lolo ko.

    • Hello all,

      I am Allan Asuncion, great grandson to Jose Maria, grandson to Vicente Asuncion, Sr, and son to Vicente Jr. I was fortunate to find this page during a routine web search of the name “Asuncion”. I have had the honor of meeting Lolo Rafael when I was very young and am lucky to have several of his paintings gracing my dining room today. There are a few of us originally from, and still residing, in NYC and happy to see many more Asuncions out there. My sister has had the pleasure of viewing Justiniano’s watercolors at the NY Public Libraryand I will be doing the same very soon. Maybe one day we can all get together and get better acquainted. Thanks for the informative and comprehensive page of our ancestors.

      Yours truly,

      • It’s nice to have you here, Allan, and my greetings to all my relatives
        in NYC.
        Keep those paintings that you have for the next generations. They’re valuable for all of us.
        If I’m not mistaken, your great, great, great grandfather is Leoncio, Justiniano’s brother.

        My best regards,


      • hi jun,
        its nice that you have another connection from our relatives,i have been in touch with other relative,its been difficult for me to trace other asuncion clan and Judge maximiano asuncion our relative? and other asuncion still leaving in around manila,like ka pinning of tayuman manila. can you send me our family tree..

    • Hi Maning!

      It’s nice to have you here again- and pardon my delayed response- very busy as always.
      Yes, I’ll send you a copy of our tree- and it’s a big one, so be sure you have enough space for it when it comes.

      Till next time.

  60. hi jun asuncion my name is Teodorico “Teody” Asuncion 111. I’m a filipino artist base in here in canada. I have a feeling that we came from the same root my grandfather was from Sta. Cruz Manila name TEODORICO ASUNCION, but i dont know my great grandfather.

    • Hi Teodorico!
      I’ll search in our Family Tree though I don’t really rely much on it
      because it can not really be complete. But give me any other info that you may have.
      The first Asuncions originated from Sta. Cruz. May I know your grandfather’s birth year? This would help much.
      Thanks, and hold on!


  61. Mariano Asuncion, Sr., was the first person (according to what we know) who adopted the family name Asuncion. His youngest son was a certain Theodoro whose identitity and even the exact birthyear is unknown, though I may guess that it was around 1820 or 1821. If Elias Asuncion was his son, then he could be your great, great grandfather.
    But Elias rhymes well with Zacharias, my great grandfather, son of Justiniano. Please ask your father if he is sure about the name or ask him if Justiniano Asuncion was his great grandfather.
    There was actually a certain Elias Asuncion who was a former judge of the Court Of First Instance of Manila during the Marcos years- but of course he couldn’t be your great grandfather yet it is interesting to know if your family is related to him. I’m trying to know this Judge Elias myself – or maybe someone from his line might be able to help us.
    Assuming that the family name Asuncion was issued only to Mariano Kagalitan and to none others by the Spanish authorities at that time, then there is only one of us.
    Do you paint?


    • Hi again Jun. “Do you paint?” indeed. The most awesome thing that happened recently is when my sister-in-law found a direct descendant of the great Damian Domingo – a mentor to our great, great grand lolo, Kapitan Ting. Damian Domingo’s descendant Elaine Herbosa (a reknowned painter herself), now teaches my 8 year old niece Erika Asuncion Alafriz how to paint. Gave us goosebumps; awesome, awesome, awesome. Erika’s first creation is a still life oil painting – she definitely has the Asuncion artist gene. The same gene runs through my brother Ding, my sister Carina, my son Juan Miguel, my nieces Anna, Kat, Neroli, Erika, etc etc. I need to scout out the person who offered to include more Asuncion art pieces in a planned exhibition that will feature Kapitan Ting’s paintings.

      On another note, I read somewhere in your post about how involved our great grand lolo Zacharias was in the revolt against Spain. My grandmother once told me that Lolo Ino’s full name was KKK – Kenerino Karim Kiram Asuncion – and yes he was born in 1898 the year we gained our independence from Spain! How cool is that? I guess SLI could have been renamed KKKRAMS =)

      Ding gets this blog. How can I rope in the rest of my siblings?

      Thanks for all Jun!
      * daughter of Kenerino Digno Manas Asuncion, born in 1926 to Leonor Manas and Kenerino KK Ramirez Asuncion (1898-1969). Lolo Ino/Kenerino was the son of Remedios Ramirez and Zacharias Asuncion, who in turn was the son of Kapitan Ting.
      * sister to Carina, Ding, Kerry, Tina

      • Greetings to you Elcee and Teody! Interesting story Elcee and awesome works Teody.

        The cycle of art goes on as our story continues and sometimes it takes some mysterious forms as it unfolds yet in strict obedience to the inner logic of our fate.

        So it’s nice to witness it in our lifetime as it gives us the comfort of continuity and inner connectedness.

        Already the very first work that unfolded before my eyes when I clicked Teody’s website has hit me right off to the bone: It was the painting “Out Of Tune”. Nowhere in the world had I expected to find such a title describing in colors my daily experience of tuning an out of tune guitar several times a day, or even expected to find such a painter whose main theme seems to be music and musical instruments, the guitar in particular.
        If you ask “Do you play?”, definitely I say yes- as all my brothers and sisters do.

        I should have asked this question to Teody. I surmised though that he also plays!


  62. Just a correction, etc. from “some tidbits from Sor Marissa: it’s Dr. Numen- Asuncion Guzman and not Dr. Numen-Asuncion Gonzales. Also, Roberto’s (father of Xavier Asuncion) siblings are: Sor Naty, Dr. Numen, Consuelo (my mom- siblings are Bambi A. Antonio-Lorica and Joey A. Antonio), Ofelia, and Sor Marissa- children of Jacobo Asuncion (one of the children of Justiniano Asuncion) and Trinidad Rosales.

    • Hello Anne,
      It’s nice to have you here. You’re right with your corrections. Dr. Numen’s husband has always interested me because by better half is also a Guzman actually. But until now I haven’t find the time to dig it. I often heard the name Consuelo from my father.

  63. Hi! Interesting blog you have here! My great grandmother was an Asuncion. Her name was Pilar Asuncion born 1886-1953 in Sta. Cruz. She married Dr. Baldomero Roxas. Her sister, Dolores, married Telesforo Chuidian, and her 2 other sisters married Teoticos from Sta. Cruz. I’m wondering if anyone would know which line she came from.

    • Hi Miguel,
      All roads lead to Sta. Cruz when we talk about the Asuncions. I’m familiar with Dolores and her husband Telesforo Chuidan, one of the financiers of the Katipunan. So in a way, the Asuncions were also almost at the front line during the Revolution. Dolores,- and maybe even your great grandmother,too,- may have met Andres Bonifacio personally. As of this writing, I’m not sure which line your great grandmother came from but I suspect she came from Antonio Asuncion, an older brother of Justiniano. But I’ll check it out tomorrow.

      Till tomorrow then.

      jun a.

      • I’m back with my corrections. We are from the same line, from Justiniano Asuncion. Pilar, your great grandmother, was the daughter of Jacobo Asuncion whose wife was Tomasa Isaac. Jacobo was the fourth child of Justiniano. Justiniano (1816), we may recall, was married to Justina Farafina Gomez.
        Dolores, a younger sister of Pilar, was indeed married to Telesforo Chuidan.

        My best wishes to the Roxas.

        jun a.

  64. I am distantly related to the Asuncions through my grandmother, Carmen Oliva Zalvidea who married Alejandro Camara Venzon, whose mother is Florencia Zalvidea Asuncion and grandmother is Canuta Asuncion the sister of Justiniano. Since I am completing our family tree, I had to encounter your wonderful blog and has supplied me with lots of information regarding my grand mother’s family tree. Thanks

    • Hi! I believe you are my tito! I’m Alejandro Camara Roxas. My maternal great grand-father is also Alejandro Camara and my Paternal great-grandmother is Pilar Asuncion (Justiniano Asuncion’s grand daughter) married to Baldomero Roxas. I saw your work on the familia camara website. Just wanted to say hi and thank you for the information you have saved for future generations to look up!

      • HI Alejandro!
        You must be Pinky’s son and you are double related to the Asuncions thru your Mom and Dad. I am glad that we have other Camaras interested in their roots and genealogy. I would like to invite you to our Camaraderie Facebook group and perhaps meet you when I come home this coming January. Your Tito Wee

  65. The information on Mariano Kagalitan (Asuncion) on the Geni (Genalogy web site) was he was born in 1732 or 1792 in Portugal? This must be wrong since his children started getting born (Manuel) in 1792 so if we approximate him to be around 20 years old should be around 1772. The 1792 year must be his marriage year. I doubt also that he was born in Portugal with his parents and siblings born in Sta Cruz, Manila. I wonder where all this information came from?

    • My greetings to Emmanuel and Alejandro!

      It’s interesting how relatives find their way to this Asuncion page. Before you came, I didn’t know anything about the Camaras. There is indeed a wealth of materials still waiting to be explored or exposed for other relatives to find their way to us also. I understand that only a handful of us take the time and spend efforts for this subject. But it’s enough that a few feels this need to trace our beginnings.

      You said you were “distantly” related to the Asuncions through Canuta, Justiniano’s younger sister. If you view yourself from the maternal side, you are directly related to the Asuncion because you are an Asuncion genetically speaking, which means that you carry the same genes of Justiniano, Canuta, me and all other descendants of Mariano Kagalitan Asuncion. Strictly speaking you are my fourth cousin. This ordering into first, second, third, fourth cousin and so on is just a matter of time, of generations. But the genes, they don’t change, they’re all the same over generations. So aside from being a pure Camara, you are also a pure Asuncion. How are you related to Alejandro, or who are his parents? Only then I would know how I’m related to him. We have this imprecise habit of calling any older relative as Tito or Tita, uncle or auntie when in fact he or she could be a cousin of any degree.

      Till then,

      jun asuncion

      • Dear Jun,
        I believe your connection to Alejandro Camara Venzon is through his wife Carmen Oliva Salvidea through Canuta. I agree that we are cousins 4 times removed as the English refers to the lineage. Alejandro’s family tree has been completed by myself and I have traced the Camaras all the way to Spain. In addition, through the internet, I was able to connect with my cousins 5 to 6 times removed in Spain and visited 4 families who are Camara cousins in Gerona, Jaen, Seville and Madrid. There are more and I plan to meet all of them when I go back. We had researched our tree and found the connection through Diego de la Camara, brother of their ancestors Jose Camara. Alejandro’s mother is a Garcia Venzon, and her grandmother Ysabel del Fierro is the mother of her father Jorge Garcia del Fierro. They all trace themselves to Fernando Miguel Del Fierro who was last Spanish Governor Mayor from Galicia in Spain and that is our connection to President Ramon Magsaysay and artist Anita Magsaysay Ho.
        However, I think the artistic and scientific genes of the Camaras come from the Asuncion line, which is consistent with artists, painters, musicians and scientists. My mother Solita Camara Oliva was chairman of Biochemistry of UP studied painting under Carlos “Botong” Francisco. I enjoy reading your blog which is very informative and informs me of the achievements of the Asuncions. Carry on..

    • Today at 9:14 AM
      Hi Jun!

      It would be interesting if anyone can come up with the updated family tree of Canuta Asuncion (1819), younger sister of Kapitan Ting (Justiniano Asuncion 1816).

      Based on the family tree lifted from the Macario Carrillo journal (provided by our cousin Architect Augusto “Tito” Galang), Canuta had the following children with Zalvidea Revilla:

      Quintin married to Macaria Guevarra;
      Sergia married to Felix Moya;
      Buenaventura married to Gregoria Severino;
      Juana married to Zacarias Asuncion (son of Justiniano);
      Felix married to Irene Navarro;
      Ambrocia married to Juan Domingo;
      Florencia married to Florencio Oliva;
      Antonia married to Celso Lobregat;

      From this generation (children of Canuta), I see the offspings of Quintin; Sergia; Buenaventura; Felix; Ambrocia; Florencia and of course Juana Zalvidea whose lineage I came from.

      No recorded offspring (either never married or died early) were Melecio, Buenaventura (1st one), Sofronio, Vicenta, Panteleon, and Edunguis.

      In your blog, Emmanuel Besa Camara’s lineage comes from Canuta through her daughter Florencia (married to Florencio Oliva), in turn latter’s daughter is Carmen Oliva Zalvidea (married to Alejandro Camara Venzon). Carmen is the grandmother of Emmanuel Besa Camara. In the Macario Carrillo journal, Florencia’s daughter Carmen is shown.

      According to Alejandro, his paternal great grandmother is Pilar Asuncion (granddaughter of Justiniano). In the Macario Carrillo journal, Pilar is the daughter of Ambrocia Zalvidea (married to Juan Domingo).

      It would be nice to see a more expanded and updated Canuta family tree indeed!


  66. Hi Ed,
    Information I can supply will be the Oliva branch from Canuta. who married Aniceto Zalvidea Revilla whose daughter is Florencia Zalvidea Asuncion (Lola Enciang) has following Children: 1. Vicente Oliva Zalvidea married Felisa Sobrepeñas with ff 11 Children: Lourdes Oliva Sobrepeñas, Philip, Otilla, Willy, Nestor, Florencio, Thelma, Rebecca, Valeriano, Vicente, Felicitas. Carmen Oliva Zalvidea married Alejandro Camara Garcia and had following 5 children: Justita (Tia Nene) married Carlos Barretto with 1 child Elizabeth (Elsie), then my mother Solita Camara Oliva with 4 children: Vicente Besa Camara, Emmanuel Besa Camara (myself), Tristan and Amelita. Jorge Camara Oliva died age 11 years old, then Augusto Camara Oliva who married Feling De Guzman with 12 Children: Jorge, Sylvia, Crisanta (Crissie), Enrico, Felipe, Miguel, Leopoldo, Patricia (Pinky) mother of Alejandro), Joey, Armando, Mona Lisa and Martin. 4 are MD-Jorge, Rickie, Miguel and Armando. and the Youngest daughter Isabel Camara Oliva, married Luis Garcia with 4 children Carmen Garcia Camara, Josefina, Alejandra, and Criselda. The other son Florencio Oliva Zalvidea married Calixta Lejano (I don’t have list of children) and Magdalena Oliva Zalvidea (Tia Nena) married Mariano Villadolid whose only son is Victor Villadolid Oliva.

  67. Would Emmanuel know where his Camara side is from? Vicente Bartolome, a descendant of Antonio Asuncion, brother of Justiniano, married Conchita Camara of Bicol. Vicente is a brother of Candido Bartolome of UP

  68. I don’t be;ieve we are related to the Camaras in Bicol. Our line comes from Diego de la Camara who settled down in Botolan, Zambales.

  69. Hi, my great grand mother is Teodula Bartolome Relova from Pila, Laguna. I have been told by my elders that our ancestors are Paterno-Asuncion. Glad to come across your entry.

    • Greetings to you Jon Hernandez,- this almost after a year! So pardon for the delay. You’re absolutely right, you descend from Antonio Asuncion (1794), older brother of Justiniano, Mariano, Jr. and so on. Antonio married Remigia Sta. Ana. Their daughter Juliana married a Bartolome and their son, Juan was the father of your great grandmother Teodula Relova. The Paterno and Asuncion blood got mixed together with the union of Mariano Kagalitan Asuncion, Sr.(the patriach of today’s Asuncions) and Maria De La Paz, daughter of Ming Mong Lo, who later changed his name to Jose Molo. How the Molo became later known as Paterno, the answer to that is an article somewhere here called The Noodle In Asuncion Soup.
      Thanks and bye for now.

      jun asuncion

  70. good day jun,

    i’m fr. Nunilon Bancaso, from the archdiocese of Caceres, Naga city. I’m the director of the Museo del Seminario Conciliar de Nueva Caceres…

    first, i would like to thank you for sharing your stories about your family. i am grateful for the valuable information regarding the Asuncion,

    secondly, i would like to ask if you can give us more details particularly on the life and works of Mariano Asuncion, jr.

    any information will greatly hep the Museo.
    you may email me in this email add,

    thanks a lot. god bless

    fr. nunilon

    • Thanks Fr. Nunilon for your visit. Mariano Asuncion, Jr.(1802) is actually also a big question mark for me and I guess also for many of us. All those years, I’ve been hoping that any relative from his lineage would one day knock at the door and tell us some stories about his family. He was also a great painter and the one in your museum is generally considered to be his. He has some works also hanging at Central Bank in Manila. The post I just reprinted here is written by Budji, an art graduate student at UST whose professor is none other than Prof. Santiago Pilar, the author of the article on Justiniano Asuncion which is reprinted somewhere here.

      All we know about Mariano, Jr. is that he also left behind a huge number of descendants. There was in fact Mariano, Jr. III (1834), Mariano, Jr. IV (1870) and Mariano, Jr. V (1906). It was Mariano, Jr. IV who expanded the family whose children were Faustina, Joe, Francis, Mariano, Jr. V, Bella A. Wachtel, Polly, Terry, Baby A. Calibo and George. American time already that’s why the English names! So, some of them founded their own families while some others did not. There are at present many descendants of the original Mariano Asuncion, Jr. The only problem is that we still don’t have contact with them.

      I do hope that anyone from them may bump into this place someday and start to share his or her story. For the time being, we just wait and we’ll provide you with relevant information as soon as we get them.

      Thanks for now.

      jun asuncion

  71. good day jun.

    in a note found in our museum, it states there that he married a bikolana. how true is it? and we also trying to know the provenance of the painting… that’s 150 yrs old already, 1865. it needs restoration… try to see the museum page museo del seminario conciliar de nueva caceres or my fb yellow ochre.

    thanks a lot jun. god bless.

  72. I am Fr Francis Oliva Gustilo and in searching for the age of my maternal grand-aunt Lola Nena (Magdalena Oliva Villadolid) I chanced upon this blog. My family lineage goes to Florencia Asuncion Zalvidea who married Florencio Oliva [according to my mother Otilia Sobrevinas (not Sobrepenas as alleged by Emmanuel Besa Oliva) Oliva was not actually having an Oliva family name but Gavino hailing from Calauan,Laguna].

    I saw and have a copy of the Asuncion Family Tree going as far back to Mariano Asuncion married to Maria dela Paz Molo. With your blog, I am happy to know the Chinese lineage of Maria dela Paz Molo.

    On my end, Florencio and Florencia (Zalvidea) Oliva correctly had four children plus another who died early named Evelyn. Her name can be found in the family cemetery grounds in Nasugbu Batangas.

    Lolo Enchong and Lola Enciang bore Vicente Sr, Carmen, Magdalena and Florencio Jr. Lolo Enching was administrator of the Pedro Roxas Sugar Mill and Hacienda in Nasugbu.

    Vicente Zalvidea Oliva Sr married Felisa Sobrevinas (original of Nasugbu) and their children are: Lourdes, Philip, Otilia (my mother), Willy, Nestor, Florencio, Thelma, Rebecca, Valeriano, Vicente Jr and Felicitas.

    Lourdes Z. Oliva married Antonio Sevilla and she had four children, Maria Luz, Reynaldo Antonio, Elsa Christina and Judy.

    Philip died a bachelor (killed by the retreating Japanese soldiers) who was a local Nasugbu hero for having assisted the guerilla movement.

    Otilia, my mother, married Josue Hechnova Gustilo (from Manapla, Negros Occidental). My mom was a seamstress who learned her craft from her maternal uncle’s wife Caridad Lobregat Maffei. Caridad had an Academia de Artes y Hogar (teaching painting, music, dance and dressmaking). The building can still be found standing (though now in ruins) functioning as a tire repair facility(last time we took a picture of it with my brother Enrique Oliva Gustilo).

    My mother lived to 100 years celebrating her100th birthday last November 27, 2015. We had over 450 guests in Bel-Air III Village Clubhouse. Sadly she passed on to the Lord’s vineyard seventeen (17) days after this celebration on December 14. In her 90th birthday my brother Eric and I dedicated a coffee table album (semi-book) in her honor. It is entitled Otilia and carries the pictures of Florencio Oliva and Florencia Oliva Zakvidea, together with their four children Vicente, Carmen, Magdalena and Florencio Jr. It contains my mother’s reminiscences about her significant others, foremost of whom is Lola Enciang.

    My brother Eric lives in Makati in our ancestral home (built by my Dad and Mom in 1962) while I stay in Better Living Paranaque where Digno Asuncion also lives. Eric is married to Mary Anne Jalbuena of Bacolod and they have three sons: Francis, Vincent and Jeric.

    Instead, I am a Salesian priest (37 years a priest and 44 years a Salesian religious) and a professor of theology for 34 years to date. I got the privilege to serve my religious Congregation (Salesians of Don Bosco) as the first Filipino Provincial of the North Philippine Province from 1999-2005, had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live in Jerusalem (Israel) for 10 months as a visiting professor (September 2005 to June 2006) as well as to be a member of the International Theological Commission of the Holy See in its eighth quinquennium (2009-2013). Currently I am serving as spiritual adviser of the covenanted community of the Couples for Christ Foundation for Family and Life, consultant to the Episcopal Commission for Family and Life (ECFL) and Vice-Dean of our School of Theology for the Institute of Salesian Studies and Spirituality.

    • Dear Fr. Francis,
      This is a great addition to our knowledge of the tree,- only of a good tree, namely, the Asuncion Tree from the Canuta wings. The figure, or rather, my figure of Canuta in my mind has always interested me. I have not seen any photo or sketch of her…I see her only as a shrouded woman in black but with this sense of something’s going to unfold…
      And this before I saw anything or anybody linked to her. And so when Ed Rojas sent me an e-mail about your mother Otilia, it was a revelation, this sense of something about to unfold suddenly came into being. Yes, through her soulful eyes, I have almost seen Canuta herself.
      I have spent hours and hours of deep reflections about our ancestors in my attempt to transcend the lack of available materials. Only against this background will someone perhaps understand the joy that I experience every time I get a new material.
      Thank you cousin Fr. Francis and to all relatives who take joy in this search for the roots. Have you been to the Exhibition already?

      • To answer Fr. Francis question Magdalena (Tia Nena) Oliva Villadolid was born July 22, 1890 and died in 1975 at age 85 years.

    • Dear Fr. Francis,
      My name is Emmanuel Camara Besa, the grandson of Carmen Oliva Camara through my mother Solita Camara Besa. I am sorry to mistake your mothers name Otilia Sobrevinas (not Sobrepenas) Oliva Gustillo. She and my mother are close cousins and she attends their personal celebration. I believe you said mass during my father’s funeral. I just visited with Victor and Fe Villadolid, the son of Lola Nena in their New York apartment and we had a nice visit reminiscing about the good old days and relations. I also do the family genealogy so thank you for the information in your post. What I am missing is the brother of Lola Mameng Florencio Oliva or Tiyo Tsingching (not sure how it is spelled). Hope to meet when I come home to Manila in December since I reside in Philadelphia, USA.

  73. Dear Fr. Francis, Emmanuel Camara Besa,

    My name is Eduardo Carrillo Rojas. My line from Canuta Asuncion Zalvidea, through her daughter Juana Asuncion Zalvidea. I read that you are also doing your family genealogy. We are requesting our Asuncion kin to please help update our Asuncion
    Family Tree by sending the updated data to: Thanks, Ed

  74. Hi Jun. I just came across your article, a decade after you wrote it. It brought me shivers to read about all the Asuncions of the past and present. I am an Asuncion too, and is currently a prosecutor in our province. I grew up not knowing who my relatives are because I am an only child and my parents sheltered me too much. But I recall that my grandfather mentioned he hailed from Vintar, Ilocos Norte, but his father was born somewhere in the Visayas. My grandfather’s name is Celestino Cababat Asuncion and most of his descendants live in the province of Cagayan.

    • Thanks for joining us, Liz! Happy to know that you are also in search for your Asuncion roots. Let’s just hope that we will someday find your exact lineage- with the help of our relatives. Even now, my search is also far from over as there are still so many unanswered questions left. I am aware of the Asuncions from the Ilocos and Visayan regions. We just need more materials to help us solve the still missing links.

  75. Hello everyone!
    I am Mary Rose Asuncion Blanes, I am the youngest in our family.
    My mother’s name is Lualhati Bigtas Asuncion. I did not get the chance to meet a lot of our relatives in Bulan due to some unknown reasons. However, I got so curious when I went and sang in one event in Sorsogon and people were asking me where I am from, I told them that I am from Albay but our ancestors in my mother-side are originally from Bulan.
    They told me that there are many Asuncion in Bulan and one of them founded a school called KRAMS. Upon reading this article I’ve had an amazing feeling, but in the other side of the story, my mom did not get the chance to meet her mother and father for she was taken away when she was little by so-called aunt but she found out long after that they were cousins. She was maltreated and taken from Bulan to Lucena.
    Her mom’s name is Magdalena Bigtas and her father’s name (my grandfather) is Eduardo Asuncion. She said that he was a Chemist. Additional information is Aurora Salve is her second cousin same as Leo Asuncion.
    I hope that before my mom leaves her life on earth she could meet some of her relatives and find out what is the truth about herself.
    Can you please help me?

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