The Noodle In Asuncions’ Soup

 by jun asuncion            



Clarifying some confusions.            

Old Sta. Cruz, Manila


  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 or 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, Mariano, Jr. and Antonio. 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 confusions in my search because of this:            

Old Binondo, Manila


 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 Lakandula, 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?             

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 Joseph Agustin (Molo) 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 Micky 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 here 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:  Sonny Rayos- Asuncion, Toto Gonzales’ Remembrance Of Things Awry, Micky and Jean Paterno, Resil B. Mojares, Wikipedia            


14 thoughts on “The Noodle In Asuncions’ Soup

    • For sure, Mr. Carizo! By the way, your work on the Imperials is great, just read them all yesterday. Continue your research on local history for it is valuable.

      jun asuncion


      theme-related article:

      Salcedo Auctions opens with ‘The Well-Appointed Life’
      (The Philippine Star) Updated July 12, 2010 12:00 AM Comments (0)

      “Señor San Jose (St. Joseph)” by Justiniano Asuncion (1816-1896) Estimate: P1.5M to P2M(US$32,500 to US$43,000)

      MANILA, Philippines – Salcedo Auctions, the first and only auction house in the Philippines specializing in fine art, jewelry, decorative arts and collectibles, recently opened its office and galleries at Unit 104-B, ground level, Three Salcedo Place, 121 Tordesillas St., Salcedo Village, Makati City.

      It will hold its inaugural auction titled “The Well-Appointed Life: Philippine Art + Objects of Desire” on July 24 at 2 p.m., at the Nash Room, Mandarin Oriental Manila.

      A preview of the 90 pieces on offer will be held at the Salcedo Auctions galleries from July 19 to July 23 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

      “The Well-Appointed Life” highlights the breadth and scale of Philippine artistic practice from the late 19th century to the present through paintings, drawings and sculptures. A special auction will also introduce other collection categories at Salcedo Auctions: jewelry, international art, decorative arts, and collectible accessories.

      Highlights of the sale include an exceptional and rare oil on wood by the old master Justiniano Asuncion, a drawing by Dionisio de Castro, only the fourth known authenticated work by the artist in existence (the other three being in the collections of the BSP, Dr. Eleuterio Pascual and Danny Dolor), an important sculpture by Isabelo Tampinco, and a 4’ x 5’ oil on canvas painting by Ronald Ventura — the only recent work by the artist of this size available in the Philippines — exclusively offered through Salcedo Auctions.

      The auction concludes with spectacular estate jewelry, including a platinum 10.12-carat diamond ring and a 22.57-carat emerald and diamond Edwardian-style brooch set in 18k white gold, award-winning pieces by Jul Dizon, and vintage Hermès bags.

      “The Philippines richly deserves having its own auction house considering that the country has long been regarded as one of the great artistic centers of the Asia-Pacific region,” says Karen Kua-Lerma, president of Salcedo Auctions.

      “Salcedo Auctions is the expression of our pride and confidence in the Philippines not only as a source of some of the world’s finest works of art and decorative pieces, but also as a country of discerning collectors with impeccable taste and an eye for acquiring investment quality pieces. Quality knows no boundaries; which is why we also carry pieces by renowned artists and artisans from overseas. Here, you will find a Ronald Ventura together with a Francisco Goya, or have Bulgari displayed side by side with Jul Dizon,” she adds.

      Salcedo Auctions has a team of specialists, formidable names in their respective fields, who bring with them a passion for the arts and a reputation for scholarly expertise.

      Prof. Santiago Albano Pilar, who was recently appointed senior specialist-Classics of Philippine Art, is the country’s foremost expert on Old Master Philippine paintings and sculpture.

      Ramon Villegas, noted cultural historian and antiquarian, also joins Salcedo Auctions as senior specialist-Pre-Colonial and Colonial Philippine Jewelry, and Objects of Vertu.

      A full program of auctions, lectures and special exhibitions will be held throughout the year. Printed auction catalogues may be ordered through e-mail at A free e-catalogue is also available at provides a step-by-step guide to the auction process and illustrations of the lots on offer.

      For information, call Feanne Mauricio at 964-4996, 659-4094 or SMS 0917-5912191.

      • BY GO BON JUAN

        It is common knowledge that there were many Chinese mestizos among the ilustrados in the second half of the 19th century.

        But the more well-known Chinese mestizos are the famous personalities of the propaganda movement and of the subsequent Philippine revolution—in other words, in the literary and political arena.

        While reading the book of Alfredo Roces, Adios Patria Adorada: the Filipino as Ilustrado, the Ilustrado as Filipino (De La Salle University Press, 2006), it was pleasant to find out that two famous Filipino painters during that period were also Chinese mestizos.

        Justiniano Asuncion, according to Roces, was “cabeza de barangay of the community of Chinese mestizos in Santa Cruz, which is the reason why he was affectionately called Capitan Ting.” We surmise that Ting was Justiniano Asuncion’s Chinese surname.

        The other Chinese mestizo was Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo (1853 to1913), “who was from a wealthy Chinese mestizo family from Binondo.” Hidalgo’s “Las Jovenes Cristianas Expuestas al Populacho” gained nine of 15 silver medals in 1884 at Madrid’s Exposicion Nacional de Bellas Artes.

        Together with Juan Luna, whose painting “Spoliarium” took the first of three gold medals, these two Filipino painters, with their “uncontroversial proof, attested to by Spain’s cultural games themselves, that the Filipinos could excel among insulares at their own game. Such was the prison through which the ilustrados viewed the artistic triumphs of Luna and Hidalgo.

        “The signal recognition gained by the duo was utilized to demolish the malicious myth spread by Hispanic zealots that the Filipinas was genetically and racially incapable of any cultural achievement. Here was the perfect squelch to all those loud voices out to marginalize the natives (the native-born Spanish and mestizos included) of the Philippines to a permanent inferior status.”

        Admittedly, I didn’t have much knowledge and interest in painting before reading Roces’s Adios, Patria Adorada. I didn’t even appreciate the significance of the gold and silver medals won by Juan Luna and Hidalgo in 1884 in Madrid. But all that changed when I learned from Roces about the significant of the historical event.

  1. Pingback: The Asuncions of Bulan, Sorsogon « Bik-Lish

    • Thank you Mr. Carizo for this article in your site. Yes, Information Sharing is the keyword for works like this.

      Marhay na adlaw sa mga taga-Albay!

      jun asuncion

  2. Hi,

    Thanks for the amazing blog post. I know you’re an Asuncion and a descendant of these people, so I thought it would be better if I asked someone with more expertise. I’m a Yamzon, and my paternal grandfather was a Yamzon, and was born/raised in Tondo, Manila around 1892. Is there a possibility of a relationship between Miguela Yamson and the Yamzons/Yamsons that exist today? Seeing as she hails from Santa Cruz, Manila, I wouldn’t be surprised if her Yamson relatives have dispersed to other nearby cities. Do you happen to have any record of her Yamson side? Like, does she have any brothers, does her father have any brothers and sisters, maybe cousins? Anything would help!

    Also, why is it her father, Juan Yapson, changed the family name to Yamson? I’m a bit confused as to why….

    I hope to hear from you soon!

    • Thank you chocobuniii-

      Your question is very interesting but unfortunately I do not have any records of the Yamsons and no knowledge at all why the change from Yapson to Yamson.
      But logic tell us that Yapson and Yamson are the same- at least where it involves the family of Miguela Yamson. But we never know how many families adopted the family name Yamson and Yapson at the time of the Claveria decree (1849) and also we have to ask what was the pre-Claveria name of Juan Yapson(Yamson), the father of Miguela,- or the Yamzons (like you) of today. Notice that you write it today with Z, not with S. Or was Yamzon already an independent name at that time, meaning another variation of Yamson being adopted by another family or families??
      I really do not know…
      But assumming only Juan Yapson adopted this family name and that there were no other variations of this name, then today’s Yamzon could only hail from Juan Yapson. Maybe you’re one of the descendants of Rajah Soliman. Your paternal grandfather may have been a descendant of Miguela Yamson whose mother, Maria de La Cruz, was a descendant of Rajah Soliman, nephew of Rajah Matanda and his brother, Lakan Dula. Lakan Dula was the King of Tondo, the place where your paternal grandfather was born and raised.
      Hence, you have to verify or concentrate your research on the history of your name before and after the Claveria decree and find out how many families adopted the Yamson name.

      • Hi again!

        Do you have any recommendations as to why methods are effective in discovering my family’s older history? the farthest I can go back to is my great grandfather, born in the 1860s, so at this point, I’m a bit stuck as to how to pursue further back…..none of my relatives can spare any information relevant to such matters, so that makes it even more difficult…

        If I understand correctly, you are also a descendant (however, very distant) of a yamzon…in this case, miguela yamzon. Could this thus strengthen the idea that we are related somehow?

        Thanks again!

  3. Hi Jun, in another article i just read, Don Mariano had Portuguese blood? And you can glean that from the sketch that Capitan Ting made– he certainly did not look like an Indio in that sketch. But you assert in this article that he was surely a 100% Filipino as he had to change his family name from Kagalitan to Asuncion.

    • Thanks Christine for the link. The Silverlens profile video was very interesting. Patricia is such a very serious artist.
      There’s a lot of good things coming. It just takes a little time more.

      Till next time.

      jun a.

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