Category Archives: Bulan Families

Buildings designed with unique character finding market

From Philippine Daily Inquirer

Even when buying a townhouse or residential condominium, customers these days expect so much more from a brand. Chief among these expectations, particularly among high-end buyers, is that spaces have a certain unique character they can relate to or a strong “sense of place,” according to Digno “Ding” Asuncion, who, together with wife Isabel, heads Asuncion-Berenguer Inc. (ABI), a leading architectural and interior design firm.

Thus, when ABI drew plans for a boutique 280-unit town house development by Alveo Land in Pasig City, the firm shied away from safe-and-tested design solutions. It chose a contemporary theme focused on the cubiform for the townhomes. For the centerpiece of the community, the clubhouse, Ding designed an irregular L-shaped layout, with window recesses that play on irregular angles.

“Many people believe symmetry is beauty. In Ametta Place, we wanted to show that asymmetry can also be very attractive,” explains the architect, who, after working with international architectural firms in Hong Kong, set up his own design office doing design work in Guangzhou and Shanghai, and in the colony at the height of the construction boom in the ’90s.

Asymmetry is also very evident in a four-level clubhouse for Solinea Condominium Resort in Cebu, also drawn up by ABI. The clubhouse’s layout and facades likewise shy away from right angles.

The architect who paints abstracts in mixed media and creates metal sculptures to destress observes that more and more upper-end real estate clients are traveling these days and getting exposed to unconventional architecture that make a design statement.

Another ABI project that breaks the monotony of traveling on the North Expressway is an all-white Shell Station Food Hub along North Luzon Expressway, with a roof that seems to form a wave. Inside, the structure breaks away from the standard flat ceiling and follows the curves of the roof, allowing the visitor to experience that strong sense of place consistent with the works of ABI.

States Asuncion, who conceptualized that Shell Station design inspired by a handkerchief waving in the wind: “We want people to stop and think when they see our work. We enjoy deconstructing simple shapes and putting them back together in a unique way.”

To keep his creativity flowing, Ding dabbles in the fine arts. He works with mixed media on canvas and has a marked preference for acrylic and charcoal. His garden in the Quezon City home he shares with Isabel and their three children displays his metal sculptures that he leaves to rust—finding beauty in the oxidation process. Nevertheless, he does not exhibit or sell his works as a rule. The rare owner of three of his paintings is an ex-pat, who bought a Belleview flat in Tagaytay Highlands once owned by the couple. The buyer purchased the place on the condition that Ding’s paintings should be part of the package.

A descendant of Justiniano Asuncion or “Kapitan Ting,” one of the leading Filipino painters of the 19th century, Ding was once a University of the Philippines fine arts student. On his second year, he shifted to architecture and moved to the University of Sto. Tomas because it allowed him to “work on a more artistic and purposeful scale beyond that which a visual artist would normally encounter.”

In 2013, another ABI-designed structure in Bonifacio Global City is bound to make passersby pause and think. To maximize visual impact, the mid-rise headquarters of Alveo Land is composed basically of two attached rectangular masses, with one significantly smaller than the other. Its glass wall exteriors boldly display solid diagonal panels which continue beyond the roofline.

“Our client is a prolific developer that embraces green architecture. They continually explore new concepts for their projects and have grown leaps and bounds,” says Ding. He drew inspiration from the bountiful grass that grows in Bonifacio Global City’s open spaces, which are fast disappearing and may in the near future be immortalized only in this prime building beside High Street.

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The Moon Is Not Yet Round

by junasun

Ninong Ronnie just passed away… our thoughts and prayers are with him and may he rest in peace…

With him we have lost another one of the strongest pillars of Asuncion family. But he lives in our memories…

We sustain the family’s stability by being connected ever more. For what’s the use if we took everything for granted and if we kept  secret the things we know about our history? Knowing and appreciating one’s history strengthens identity and connectedness to one’s roots.

And one way of doing this is to continue the work that we have started here which is actually based on the early works of Dr. Ronnie Asuncion, et al.

So, pass around every helpful Asuncion “tidbit” if you have it. The article Tidbits from Sor Marissa was actually an e-mail which I received from my cousin Ed Rojas. I thank Sor Marissa for these tidbits which she shared to Ed. I mean these tidbits must be shared so that they won’t get lost forever. Dr. Ronnie had shared to us what he knew and so I really thank him so much.

With Zacharias, the Asuncions became connected with the town of Bulan. Coming from Sta. Cruz, Manila, I wondered how he must have felt on his first day in Bulan. I suspect well that his motivation in coming to Bulan was not business but his love –  if Zalvedia was a Bulaneña. He must have met  Juana Zalvedia – or any of these three women – somewhere in Manila and went to Bulan after this woman had left Manila for Bulan. Without internet and skype technology at that time, meeting  her in Manila was really the only way possible.

I don’t support the theory that he came to Bulan then in search of business for at that time- and even now- Bulan sounds like a place so far away from civilization. And the enormous exertions to travel with public transportation would surely kill your initial motivation. Unless it’s love- as we all know- for love moves mountains, conquers time and space.

So, if it was love then that explains why we love Bulan that much.

Here again that portion of Ed’s e-mail which I find extremely interesting and with questions posed which show Ed’s deep interest in his family’s history:

“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?”

If Juana Zalvedia was from Bulan this would explain why her daughters Consuelo and Ghia Asuncion could speak the Bicol dialect and it’s highly probable that Consuelo and Ghia Asuncion grew up and did their elementary schooling in Bulan. Remember that Zacharias- speaking for sure only Tagalog and Spanish- also had to learn the Bulan dialect. So I don’t think he was to be credited much for his daughters’ Bicol language acquisition. Still, it needs to be clarified precisely which kind of Bicol dialect had Cosuelo and Ghia spoken for it would show with certainty the origin of their mother Zalvedia- and if Consuelo and Ghia really grew up in Bulan.

With Benita, the daughter of Justiniano and older sister of Zacharias, I assume she came with her ageing Father and Master Artist Justiniano to Bulan. An unmarried daughter usually looks after her ageing parents and – under favorable circumstances – also becoming a guardian to her own nephews and nieces. Such was the case of Benita – and this information is new to me and I’m really grateful to Benita- and to Consuelo and Ghia-  for probably also looking after my little lolo Adonis when he was a highschool and college student in Manila!

Bulan is such a significant place for the Asuncion of Justiniano’s line. In the meantime so many Asuncions have already left Bulan. For those Asuncions who are still in Bulan, learn to treasure your history and abide by the Asuncion’s heritage of hard work, scholarship, bravery and honest public service. Corruption is not an Asuncion trait.

As I have said, many have left Bulan but who knows how many will be coming back? The moon is not yet round. Goodbye Tio Ronnie…

Addendum (December 18, 2012)

Last November I met two relatives in Manila who came from the Ghia line. They were Ed and Noel Rojas. From them I have learned that Juana Zalvedia (first wife of Zacharias) and Zacharias were cousins! This overturned my assumption that Zalvedia hailed from Bulan. Zalvedia could only come from Manila- unless she and/or her family were already there in Bulan before Zacharias (This would discard then our knowledge that Zacharias was the first Asuncion who came to Bulan!). Or was Zacharias not alone but in the company of Zalvedia when he came to Bulan? Until now I have assumed that Zacharias came to Bulan all alone in search of his beloved. In the light of this new information that they were relatives, I now assume that Zacharias came to Bulan in search not for business opportunities in the first place but for a remote hideaway where he could live with his cousin and wife Zalvedia in peace, away from the Asuncions in Manila. I just assume as I please since this is my privilege being an Asuncion. I would be more than beyond the moon, however, if my assumption would turn out true or not. For that would mean we have moved a step forward again in our search for these tidbits of our past.

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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 has 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 established 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. However, being out-of-town, I couldn’t get this book. Luckily though 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 to  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 past 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: Mariano and 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 town 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)

Seeing the faces of my fathers and my roots this way has finally given me that solid ground, sense of continuity and peace of mind, a privilege that I know not everybody has in this world. So I’m thankful to my relatives for all their help in our search for our lineage as I hope for contributions in any form to come more.

Remembering My Father, Andres Asuncion, Sr.  (older post added)

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 using the railways as his guide 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!

A song Fields Of Gold.

 (to be continued)

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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.

 
                                                                               —–end——

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Genealogy of the Asuncion

These documents were sent to me by various cousins. It took me a long time to release them because of technical problems. Now that they’re out, I hope that these will inspire the young Asuncions of today and move the older ones in possession of some relevant documents to share them to these younger ones. jun asuncion

 

The Sketch

(Justiniano Asuncion’s sketch of his parents Don Mariano Asuncion and Doña Maria de la Paz Molo)

A family that recognizes the remote origin of spouses

Don Mariano Asumpcion and Dona Maria de la Paz Molo San Agustin.

In Memory of Mariano Asumpcion

(by Macario Carillo, written June 12, 1926)

Of these spouses, we were able to preserve their photo drawn only in crayon by one of their children who was a celebrated painter in the mid 1900’s. He was Don Justiniano better known as Capitan Ting. The photo measures nearly one foot high, and for the first time was reproduced and published in the No. 4 Vol. 1 of the Revista Historia de Filipinas (page 60). The frontal sketch of this remembrance is a reproduction of the same by Corazon, the third grandchild of the photographed.

We do not have personal details of the family’s parents. We only know that they were principal neighbors of the town of Santa Cruz in Manila. It is possible that Captain Ting who was naturally artistic in detailing and untiringly compiling data, wrote memorable events about his parents, but his writings could have gotten lost or destroyed during the revolution, or acquired

by some members of the family that we now ignore. To him we owe the list of succession of Governors that went to the union of “meztizos” in the town of Santa Cruz, Manila. Since its foundation in the year 1741 until 1889, the list became public in the No. 4 and 5 of the Revista Historica de Filipinas.

In this list ( of which the original has disappeared ) we found out that this great head of the family, Mariano Asuncion Cagalitan, was Governor in the year 1805. And because the author of the list was also one of them, it now appears an opportunity to enclose what he refers as follows: “Justiniano Asuncion took possession on the 25th of January, 1853 and was revealed on the 27th of June,1854, opened the second street of San Lazaro, now, Oroquieta Street, in the entrance of General Novaliches.” As it is seen in the said list, it has found more notable inserted events that took place during the term of the Governor.

– CHILDREN –

1. MANUEL ASUMPCION – Born on the 24th of December, 1792, Sunday at 6:00 a.m. and baptized on the 10th of January, 1793 by Bro. Vergara, Canon Magistrate and Licensed in Law, making interim priest Br. D. Mariano de los Santos. His godfather D. Juan Morat.

2. ANTONIO ROXAS ASUMPCION – Born the 10th of May, 1794, Saturday at 2:00 p.m. and was baptized on the 15th day of May by Bro. D. Buenaventura Ubaldo. His godfather was the Head Priest and Secretary of the Archbishop of Manila, Br. D. Raymundo Roxas.

3. VICTORIA PAZ ASUMPCION – Born the 23rd of December, 1796, Wednesday 6:00 p.m. and was baptized the 25th of December by the Priest, Br. D Ramundo Roxas. Her godmother was Dona Josefa Bogan.

4. MAMERTA PAZ ASUMPCION – Born the 11th of May, 1798, Friday 7:00 a.m. and was baptized the 13th of May by Br. D. Baltazar de Ventura. Her godmother was Dona Marcelina Bonifacio.

5. JUSTO ASUMPCION – Born the 9th of August, 1800, Saturday, 6:00 p.m. Was baptized on the 15th day of August by Br. D. Joseph. His godparents were Br. D.Mateo Ramos and Dona Maria Magdalena. Died the 15th day of December, 1803.

6. MARIANO ASUMPCION – Born the 15th of August, 1802, Sunday at 9:00 a.m. Was baptized on the same day by Br. D. Pablo de Mendoza. His godfather was D. Mariano Estanislao de Borja.

7. EPIFANIO ASUMPCION – Born the 7th day of April, 1806, Monday, at 7:00 a.m. Was baptized on the same day by Br. D. Bonifacio. His godfather was D. Juan Gualberto Antonio. Died in the year 1837.

8. AMBROSIO ASUMPCION – Born the 7th of December, 1808, Wednesday at 11:00 a.m. and was baptized the next day by Bro. D. Menandro Obispo. His godparents were D. Manuel Bonifacio Pitex and Dona Maria Eloriaga.

9. PASCUALA PAZ ASUNCION – Born the 17th of May, 1811, Friday, at 2:00 p.m. and was baptized by Br. D. Cristobal de los Angeles. Her godmother was Dona Potenciana de San Agustin.

10. LEONCIO ASUMPCION – Born the 12th of September, 1813, Sunday, at 7:00 p.m. and baptized by Br. Raymundo Roxas. His godfather was Br. D. Juan Nepumoceno Mijares priest of the town of Binondo.

11. JUSTINIANO ASUMPCION – Born on the 26th of September, 1816, Thursday, at 8:04 p.m. and was baptized by Bro. D. Ramon Pineda. His godfather was D. Benito de los Reyes and for confirmation by his own brother, D. Epifanio Asumpcion.

12. CANUTA PAZ ASUMPCION – Born on the 19th of January, 1819, Tuesday, at 4:30 a.m. and was baptized by Bro. D. Gregorio de Jesus. her godmother was her own sister, Dona Mamerta Asumpcion.

D. Mariano had as a cradle, the town of Santa Cruz, Manila, which was also the same for all his children, where he lived for the rest of his life. He was born from a modest family. His complexion was white and his nose was pointed like his mother of Latin blood who came from a family that was traditionally Portuguese or half Portuguese. A bit more noticeable on the picture was the observer’s being notorious for remembering faces. His Caucasian origin of which he appears, is coordinately in contrast to his attire and the pigtail that he carries on his well formed head. This pigtail, according to D. Jose Ma. Asuncion great grandchild of the person we refer here as the biographer, ” was of importance in these towns where French fashion was in vogue and therefore had to be a prototype of elegance and good taste” (Revista Historica de Filipinos page 61, No. 4 Vol.1). We also believe that its use was made influenced by our neighbor, Imperial China.

We know nothing of the level of instruction, undoubtably, it was most instructed in its local ambiance.

His wife, Dona Maria, was the only one with whom he united his fortune. She was the niece of Dr. Molo, father of Captain Paterno Molo, ascendants of those that now constitute the distinguished family of the Paternos of this city. She was a mestiza by blood and was very fond of her children. She outlived her husband by 15 years, of which he passed away when the one who was to be Captain Ting was only 12 years old, according to the daughter of the latter, and also as told by the same. This daughter, Doña Benita has already surpassed her 71st year dedicated to the_________________of virtue.

(Note: The foregoing is the English translation of a friend of Ms Lourdes (Nelly) I. Jhocson, daughter of Consuelo Asuncion and Dr. Gabriel Intengan, of the original Spanish text writen by Macario Carrillo, husband of Guia Asuncion. The blank space in the last sentence of the account referred to an apparently illegible word. On closer scrutiny in a computer scan, the word appears to me as “rezo” which in English means prayer. The Spanish text would therefore read as “… sus 71 anos dedicados al rezo y a la virtud.”. In English, ‘…her 71 years dedicated to prayer and to virtue.”. (Eduardo C. R ojas, Jr. )

………………….

Original Spanish text  of Macario Carillo

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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- Asuncion

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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 of 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 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

                                                       —–end–

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