Category Archives: Bulan Families

‘Ownership’ of the Hacienda de Angono

This is a repost of an article containing the researches of the blogger debrwall. This article was discovered by our cousin Christine Eustaquio, an Asuncion cousin coming from Romana Asuncion line, daughter of Antonio Asuncion (born 1794) , an older brother of Justiniano Asuncion (born 1816). Romana was married to Andres Trinidad Carrillo of Binãn. This is part of the interesting finds of my increasingly passionate cousins who work day and night as ancestry investigators. It’s nice to have such cousins. This article is to help us understand Antonio Asuncion, a painter, who married Remigia Sta. Ana whose family is mentioned in this article. We give our thanks to debrwall for this very valuable information. / jun asuncion
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General Don Domingo Antonio de Otero Bermudez consolidated a number of properties, the Hacienda de Angono[1], along with other lands and estancia (farms) of Binangonan and the lime quarries of San Guillermo. Señor Don Juan de Ozaeta y Oro, special judge of the Land Commission in 1699, pronounced the documents produced by Don Domingo as ‘good’. He was a member of His Majesty’s council, oidor (Associate Justice) of the Real Audiencia of Philippine Islands.  He also saw the record of proceedings instituted by the natives of the town of Binangonan before the Superior Government, claiming that some of the lands allegedly belonging to the estancia were theirs.

The original objection to the townspeople’s claims was that no one said or did anything to the contrary when the tape passed through their town that marked its boundaries. It was argued that no one pointed out a different stream or river from Mabalan. Rivers or streams separated the lands and traditional practice often used the stream as an unwritten kind of boundary. The people who revolted were subsequently forbidden to work the lands that they occupied without Don Domingo Bermudez, the owner’s consent. Otherwise, they were subject to penalty:  the gobernadorcillo officials and cabezas de barangay  (local native government leaders/heads) were to be deprived of their offices and to be confined with hard labour in the Cavite prison on ration and without salary.

The oidor favoured the claims made by Bermudez and approved the titles and the boundaries of the property based on the demarcation and survey that had just been made.

As an expression of gratitude for his blessings, Don Domingo formed ‘four capellanías (pious trust funds) with a capital of 2,000 pesos each ‘between 1733-1736. Three of these were offered to the Archdiocese of Manila and one to the Order of Preachers. Santiago (2002:30) wrote that ‘all four foundations are still extant.’ Professor Ligaya G. Tiamson Rubin pointed out that Justice Calderon Enriquez found a fake survey in Silang, Cavite that was undertaken in 1743, claiming that the lands belonging to the Binangonan townspeople were already given to the Dominican Order. The Clerk of Court of the Audiencia, Juan Monroy was suspended for two years and asked to pay a penalty of P2,000.[2]

The Royal approval was issued on the 16th December 1749. A comment associated with the issuance of the title was: it was issued ‘without prejudice to third persons who might show a better right’. I interpret this comment to mean that Don Andrés Blanco Bermudez’s (Don Domingo’s nephew) ownership and possession were not ‘absolute’. In 1745, the natives of Binangonan led by their town officials occupied the lands belonging to the hacienda by force of arms —  ‘several towns mutineed and revolted.’  Special Judge Don Pedro Calderón Enriquez, Ozaeta’s successor investigated the Binangoneños’ grievances.

In 1745, the following were recognized as the owners of Hacienda Y Estancia de Angono: General Don Domingo de Otero Bermudez; Alferez Don Andres Blanco Bermudez; Josep Blanco Bermudez; Don Miguel Cacho of Manila. According to Santiago, Don Andrés presented the certificate of the title issued by Judge Ozaeta in 1699 and thereupon, a re-measurement of the dimensions and retracing of the hacienda’s boundaries as described in the certificate were apparently painstakingly undertaken. The landmarks (natural — e.g. huge trees and boulders, and man-made — boundary stones) were still in place. Hence, in 1749, the judge declared the documents ‘genuine and legitimate’.

Don Pasqual de Sta. Ana of Pasig, after two years of negotiation, bought the Hacienda y Estancia de San Clemente de Angono y Lagundi measuring over 3,000 hectare on 14 September 1818 from Don Miguel Cacho of Manila for 12,000 pesos.

Don Pasqual, by oral tradition, belonged to the pre-hispanic nobility of Caintá and Pásig. Santiago referred to the Jesuit chronicler, Chirino who pointed out that at the time of the conquest, Caintá was one of the rare vast towns ruled by a rajah (Sanskrit root: ‘to rule’ — referring to ‘king’, ‘Chief’). During Don Pasqual’s growing up years, his family had ‘gone down in the world’ apparently as a result of the ‘devastation wreaked in these parts by another invader, the British military (1762-64)’. The Sepoy (from India) soldiers in the British army decided to settle in Cayntá, and Don Pasqual and his descendants employed them and their children with native women, in their farms. Although Don Pasqual’s grandfather lost their ancestral lands and his own parents were unable to redeem these lands, through hard work and entrepreneurialship, he and his wife were able to buy back the lands his grandfather lost. Don Pasqual bought two haciendas: Isla de Talim and Hacienda y Estancia de San Clemente de Angono y Lagundi.

As experienced by the other hacenderos, Don Pasqual ‘inherited from his predecessors the wearisome problem of tenants refusing to pay the customary fees (terrasgo) for their houses and fruit-bearing trees inside the estate (Santiago 2002: 32).’ On 22 December 1819, Don Pasqual filed a suit against the tenants at the Royal Audiencia. The outcome of the case was not available.

Don Pasqual’s granddaughter (a Spanish mestiza), Doña Dominga de Sta. Ana Lara of Pasig inherited the Hacienda. Doña Dominga’s father, Don Jose de Sta. Ana married a Spanish lady from an illustrious criollo clan of the city, Doña Maria Escalante, daughter of Don Mariano Escalante and Doña Clara Miranda. Doña Maria Escalante was the young widow of Don Jose Matheo de Rocha, son of Don Luis de Rocha, the owner of the Malacañang estate (the future site of the presidential palace). She was first married in 1842 to the Licenciado Don Benancio Gonzalez de Lara, a lawyer from Toledo, Spain. They had a son, Don Eugenio Gonzalez de Lara (1844-1896). When Don Benancio died, Doña Dominga and her son, returned to Angono to live in the casa hacienda for good. In 1852, the hacendera next married Capt. Francisco Guido, another Spaniard who hailed from Villafranca del Berzo, Leon Province, Spain. Doña Dominga and Don Francisco Guido were my great-great-great grandmother and grandfather, and the next owners of the Hacienda.

The State granted absolute ownership through the real cédula (certificate) on 15 October 1754 to those who legally acquired the estate under the Spanish regime: Don Domingo Antonio de Otero Bermudez, Don Andres Blanco Bermudez and their successors: Don Miguel Cacho, Don Pasqual de Sta. Ana, Doña Dominga de Sta. Ana and Don Francisco Guido.

The boundaries of the property were formed with important towns: in the South were with the town of Binangonan; in the Southeast, with the town of Antipolo; and in the North, with the town of Taytay (where my grandfather, Hermogenes Guido and his wife, Aquilina brought up their ten children — Esperanza, Alfredo, Eufronia – my mother, Gliceria, Priscilla, Rosa, Profetiza, Buenaventura, Buensuceso and Carlos).[3]

Based on the outcome of a court case [4] in relation to the Hacienda de Angono between Justo Guido et. al., plaintiffs and appellees and Agustin de Borja et. al. (defendants and appellants),  the de Borjas were tenants of the Hacienda until 1903. A judgment of the Court of First Instance of Rizal supported their claim that they were the owners of the Hacienda. The Guidos (Justo, Buenaventura and Juliana and others) appealed against that judgment and won their case. Consequently, the de Borjas were asked to return the property to the Guidos, pay the legal cost and pay in money and paddy (rice field) as owed them, considering that the fruits, crops and plantings on the Hacienda were not theirs. Justo Guido of Singalong, Manila, who had the Hacienda de Angono titled in his name under the Torrens System in 1909; Joaquin, Victoria, and Benito, children of Justo Guido who had the Hacienda subdivided and sold to different owners.

According to Professor Tiamson Rubin, it wasn’t clear whether the entire territory of Hacienda y Estancia de Angono owned by the heirs of Dona de Sta. Ana had been declared ‘Public Lands’ that, in due course, were given to various people who had constructed under their own names their titles through the Torrens Title System. She speculated that due to the scarcity of documents pointing to legitimate Deeds of Transfers concerning the estate, it could be construed that the heirs of Doña Dominga had not shown sufficient interest in asserting their ownership of the property.

[1] Santiago distinguished the hacienda from an encomienda. The hacienda formed boundaries with entire towns and ‘comprised a whole barangay or barrio or a combination of barrios and sitios which eventually developed into a town itself.’ An encomienda was a royal grant of the tributes (not the land) ‘of a particular locality’. The encomenderos’ privilege lasted for two or three generations of the beneficiary’s family (see Santiago, L.P.R.1990.‘The Filipino encomenderos’, Philippine Quarterly of Culture and Society 18: 162-84)

[2] Tiamson Rubin, L.G. 2003. Angono Rizal: Mga Talang Pangwika at Pagkasaysayan. Espana, Manila: UST Publishing House, p. 63.

[3] Santiago, L.P.R. ‘Don Pasqual de Sta Ana (1762-1827): ‘Indio Hacendero.’ Philippine Studies, Vol 50 (2002): 23-49 First Quarter, Ateneo de Manila University Press, p. 29

[4] Philippine Reports, Vol 12, February 4, 1909; case no 4013


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Filed under Art And Culture, Asuncion's History, Bulan Families, History

Old Master found again: He had fun

by: Eric Torres

from The Times Journal, Sunday, October 26,1975


Any one who wants to study the works of early Filipino painters will find a small if lacklustre collection in our National Museum to start with. The real glories, unseen by many and unknown even to connoisseurs, hang in ancestral homes – or are kept in the garages – of some of the premier families of Manila and neighboring provincial towns. Just to see these masterpieces in a house –to-house quest is a matter of such Odysean resourcefulness and frustration to make one imagine that a camel’s passage through the eye of a needle simpler.

The relative obscurity today of painters born in the early decades of the 19th century is undeserved though explainable. Perhaps the cultist attention to those late 19th-century laureates who made it to the fashionable salons of Europe, Juan Luna and Felix Resurrection Hidalgo, has made many lose sight of the genuine, and no-less-brilliant, achievements of such artists who stayed home and contributed to the development of a native aesthetic tradition as Antonio Malantic, Lorenzo Guerrero, Simon Flores, and the legendary Justiniano Asuncion, alias Capitan Ting.

At the peak of his creative life Capitan Ting enjoyed a reputation matched only by that Master of Tondo, Malantic. A work done in his prime, which has been in the possession of the Castrillo sisters of Biῇan, Laguna, for generations, is an oil portrait of his grandniece, Romana Asuncion Carrillo, dated 1870 and signed “J.A.” is a florid script. It is as sophisticated as one could ask for, in late Renaissance style characteristic by a mirror-image illusionism, classical clarity of outline, and veristic modelling. It is certainly more full-fleshed than any portrait by Damian Domingo, the mestizo who directed the first school of fine arts in Manila; by comparison, Domingo’s portraits look like whimsical dolls or mannequins.

Idealized Rendering

The portrait of Romana tells us much about the conventions of portraiture at that time. The subject is idealized: forehead, nose and mouth are rendered with pearly smoothness; no trace of epidermal imperfection is allowed to appear; eyes peer at the beholder in a manner piercingly limpid and alive; not one strand of the well-combed hair is out of place.

One convention demanded that the appearance of the sitter be impeccably correct, in unimpeachable taste, for the portrait was meant not merely to decorate the growing expanse of the walks in the house of Indios whose wealth derived from trade and commerce. It was also a cachet of status for the rising ilustrado class eager to win the respect of everyone and to perpetuate an image of superior education and breeding in the best possible light.

As in Renaissance icons of European nobility, the portrait of a lady was calculated to show the comfort and leisure of her class, and to show these by her putting on the finest and most expensive clothes – fulsome panuelo and camisa of piῇa, billowy skirt of brilliant silky stripes and such accessories as perfumed lace handkerchief and ivory fan. Sitting for a portrait also provided a splendid excuse to deck herself with the treasures of her jewel box, and these consisted of comb, petache (a hair ornament), earring, tamburin (pendant) or rosary – all studded with pearls and diamonds – and rings on most fingers (three for each hand was a standard number). Each exquisite detail of rococo embroidery and filigree was delineated with a virtuoso precision designed to astonish.
Above all the artist was expected to capture an ambience of decorum and highmindedness, which among other things meant keeping the sitter’s mouth shut.

Delicate tension

What gives pictorial clout to early portraiture by painters of Capitan Ting’s calibre was a certain delicate tension created between the exuberant linear and textural details of finery on one hand, and the rather plain Pilar expression of the face on the other – and again between the stiff transparent planes of dress and the roundly sensuous modelling of the face, hands and sometimes forearms, if shown at all. Evident in Capitan Ting’s best portraits is a wide-eyed, provincial curiosity about the status-seeking attitudes and material splendour of his ilustrado patrons, whom he saw at their Sunday best – a curiousity mixed with just the right measure of enthusiasm and detachment, which accounts for the crisp sentimentality in the portraits he did of the women in the Paterno family of Quiapo.

Capitan Ting was born in Sta. Cruz, Manila, on September 23, 1816 to a family of Chinese extraction. (In a double portrait he did of his parents, his father strikes a pose which clearly displays his Chinese queue.) He was second to the youngest of 12 children. Five of his brothers were all-around painters and sculptors, the most gifted of whom was Leoncio, who carved fine religious images in ivory and baroque furniture as well.

Barrio captain

About 1855 he served as barrio captain for Santa Cruz, and was well liked for his worldly wisdom and congeniality. That he had a stone house built on Calle Quiton is a sign that he enjoyed some measure of economic prosperity from commerce. There he lived most of his long life, raised six children, and supported a number of relatives. In his late years, he retired to Bulan, Sorsogon, where two of his sons, also painters, had settled down. In his Bicol retirement, he raised some of the best fighting cocks in the region. He died in Bulan in 1896 at the age of 80.

A self-taught artist, he painted for pleasure rather than for money. Like the other masters of his time, he applied his prodigious skill to all kinds of art work, including colourful genre illustrations depicting such local types as a mestiza cooling herself by the river, a vendor of mats, an aficionado of the cockpit coddling his gamecock, and so on, which must have delighted foreign visitors.

Miniatures, too

He did works of monumental scale as well as miniatures no larger than the size of one’s palm. His one magnum opus of imposing dimensions depicting bigger-than-life figures of four saints, Jerome, Agustin, Gregory, and Ambrose, painted on the pendentives of the Santa Cruz church, was destroyed by fire, before World War II.

But the miniatures have survived as heirlooms among fourth generation Asuncions. These are portraits in oil or watercolour on thin, flat pieces of ivory whose texture was used to enhance the luminescent quality of his hues and to give the superfine rendering of the skin and hair the highest degree of verismo.
A branch of the Asuncion family tree, the Gomezes of Ongpin street, has a few examples which clearly reveal the miniaturismo method. This consisted of first polishing the surface of the ivory to a fine sheen and then drawing the outlines of the figure in pencil. The last stage, the most painstaking, called for the application of paint by means of a tiny brush (which appears for all intents and purposes to have had no more than three or four hairs) in a pointillistic system of dots, or points.

The result was a pellucid illusion of the model which no mere photography could possibly achieve.
“He must have had a sense of humor,” comments one of his descendants, Mrs. Corazon Galang of Cubao, Quezon City. Compared to Capitan Ting’s, Malantic portraits look glum, somber and unsmiling. A quiet cheer or optimism pervades the canvases of the Master of Santa Cruz, especially when he painted women of all ages, of which the portrait of Dolores Paterno, the composer of the languid “Sampaguita,” in the Carmen Gabriel collection, is a fair example.

Good cheer

This optimism radiates with an inspired luster in a portrait of a favourite niece, Filomena Asuncion, a moon-faced beauty whom he painted with a robust sensuousness and a discreet smile ready to break out from her moist lips – a relief from the general uptightness of portraits by his contemporaries. This one, signed “J.A.” and dated 1860 carries a matter-of-fact notation, “A los 22 aῇos y 10 dias de edad,” as if to twit the vanity of human wishes, especially for recuerdos of one’s youth. In doing her portrait, perhaps the best he ever did, Capitan Ting raised the quality of lifelikeness to the level of trompe l’oeil.

His facility for the fool-the-eye lifelikeness was once put to a severe test when he chose for a model the image of no less a celebrity than Our Lady of Antipolo. The final version he did, now in the possession of a descendant who lives in Paco, is in pencil and opaque watercolour. Earlier versions were dismal failures. Each time he painted her the trompe l’oeil turned out gloriously for the rich gold embroidery of the cape and gown and the numerous diamonds that studded her apparel and the gold jewelry she wore from head to fingers. But he just could not get the cool, aristocratic face right. Somebody suggested the reason why she was so elusive was that he was not approaching her properly enough. He had better paint kneeling down, he was told. And that was how he painted the face in the final version, on his knees.

Two anecdotes show Capitan Ting’s humor to advantage, and both deal with his reputation as a magician of visual effects.

Gasps and giggles

He used to hang an oil painting on a wall in his house facing the street and visible to pedestrians (through an open door). Its purpose? To gull the unwary passerby into seeing a baby falling off a split-bamboo bed, or papag, as much as to draw gasps of amazement from the unsuspecting witness of the “accident” – and giggles from the painter and his household who were in on the joke, of course.

Another Capitan Ting fool-the-eye steals a leaf from the Zeuxis, that hyper-realistic painter of ancient Greece who was said to have painted a bunch of grapes so accurately that birds came to peck at them. For want of something better to do in his late years, he painted on the flat top of a wooden trunk, or baul, a scattering of coins painted with such finicky fidelity to the real thing that house guests would try to pick them up.

Did he leave any self-portrait?

Mrs. Galang recalls one which he painted of himself as a gaunt-looking old man with thinning gray hair, deep-set eyes, and mouth unceremoniously open. The children of her sister, who inherited the autoretrato, used to play with it as a means of scaring other kids in the neighbourhood with cries of “Mamaw!” When last heard of, it lay in the basement of her house, a rolled-up piece of canvas gathering dust. And now this sister thinks it might have been inadvertently thrown away.

Tracking them down

One of these days, a great grandnephew of Capitan Ting, Rafael Asuncion, a painter in his own right (whose father, Jose Asuncion, a painter of prewar renown, was the grandson of Leoncio Asuncion), intends to carry out an ambitious plan: a family reunion of all living Asuncions in an attempt to track down and recover extant works by their illustrious ancestor. “None of Lolo Ting’s relatives ever paid very much attention to his paintings,” confesses Mrs. Galang. “None of us ever imagined he would be historically important someday.”

What might yet turn up, if ever the project pushes through, is that missing self-portrait of an artist who is all but forgotten in our time and who, in his peak years, painted masterpieces which now deserve to be declared National Treasures.

A tale likely to be recounted in this planned grand reunion has to do with the last years of Capitan Ting in his Bulan retirement, the best I have heard yet.
His fighting cocks proved to be such persistent winners in the pit that in time (so the story goes) nobody wanted to put up a fight against his champions, as though they had charmed lives. So he decided to employ a little cunning. He changed the colors of his champions by dyeing (one version says “painting”) their feathers so nobody could recognize them, and this way managed to con his fellow cockers – a master of illusion, or deception, to the very end.


Transcribed from the clipping by Anna Rojas, September 28, 2017.


Filed under Art And Culture, Arts, Asuncion's History, Bulan Families, History, Uncategorized

Asuncion Grand Reunion 2018 : jun asuncion’s closing remarks


I’m sharing this video message uploaded in youtube also here on Bulan Observer so that all other relatives and friends in Bulan and in all other places  have also the chance to see it and be connected with Asuncions in Manila, or at least be updated on what is going on there. Recently they have just made an exhibition at the Ayala Museum entitled ” Art And Family: The Asuncion Legacy” which showcased the works of the Asuncion Artists of Sta. Cruz, Manila of the late 19th century. Of course, Capitan Ting’s huge oil portraits of the Asuncion women- Romana, Filomena and Donã Teodora De Vera, the wife of Don Paterno Molo, his uncle, dominated the exhibition.


The exhibition ended last January 14. I know that many Asuncion relatives have – for various reasons – not been at the exhibition and even at the Grand Reunion of last January 22 at the Kalayaan Hall of the  Club Filipino in Manila. There were 248 Asuncion relatives who came, according Malou Asuncion. A big group for the Kalayaan Hall, but small when we think that we are by the thousands. It’s not possible to gather us all together, but today’s social media platforms enable us to reach out to the biggest unknown relatives, not only in the Philippines. The Asuncion reunion is inclusive in nature, not reserve only for the better situated ones in Manila. It’s out of the question, however, that the Asuncions in Manila are very much active in trying to gather us all! Hence, they truly deserve our respect and recognition.

Bulan Observer, an Asuncion Blog from Bulan, contributed much in our search for our roots and branches by initiating the  first open on-line dialogues among us, thus linking us to more and more relatives. It’s one among those sparks responsible for the fire now raging! There is  a lot of  lively and exciting exchanges going on now in private platforms like Facebook, e-mails, etc. among old and new-found branches, as there are more and more information and materials coming in. So the Tree is getting bigger and bigger as the excitement that goes with it among those who are passionate with genealogical research, first of all our cousin Ed Asuncion Rojas, whom I also met here on Bulan Observer.

So, join the fire!


Ed Asuncion Rojas, Samuel , Mila and Jun.


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Art & Family: The Asuncion Legacy

Ayala Museum, with the support of Bench, DivinaLaw, Araneta & Faustino Law Offices, and AuraStrat, will be presenting an exhibition of 19th century paintings, illustrations, and sculptures by preeminent Filipino artists of the time, the brothers Justiniano, Leoncio, and Mariano Asuncion.

Entitled Art and Family: The Asuncion Legacy, the exhibition will be on display at Ayala Museum’s Third Floor Galleries and will run from 8 August 2017 to 14 January 2018.

Justiniano Asuncion
Portrait of Filomena Asuncion
Oil on canvas
81 x 61.5 cm.
Dr. Eleuterio Pascual Collection

Selected works include paintings and sculptures, miniatures, medallions, portraits, and watercolor illustrations by the aforementioned artists loaned from both private and institutional collections.  Many are commissioned by the artist’s patrons and families and showcase both popular religious and secular motifs of the time.





The union of Mariano Asumpcion and Maria dela Paz Molo de San Agustin of Manila produced 12 children: Manuel (born 1732); Antonio (1794); Victoria (1796); Mamerta (1789); Justo (1800); Mariano(1802); Epifanio (1806); Ambrosio (1808); Pascuala (1811); Leoncio (1813); Justiniano (1816); and Canuta (1819),  who had devoted their lives to the arts through paintings and sculpture.  As a big family, art kept them a closely knit clan. Many of the original works of the Asuncion family have been lost through fire, earthquakes, floods, and wars.

The descendants hold regular meetings and reunions and have initiated this exhibition to honor the memory and legacy of the Asuncion family, whose works are held in high esteem in Philippine art history.

Mariano Asuncion (1802-1888) is the eldest of the featured artists and enjoyed a wide patronage of religious clientele. His subjects were mostly about the miracles of saints, the Passion of Christ and images of the Virgin Mary. His works are compared to Italian painters of the 13th – 15th centuries. Leoncio Asuncion(1813-1888) is considered as the Father of Modern Religious Sculpture. He is remembered for his santos made of ivory and wood. Justiniano Asuncion (1816-1896), fondly remembered as Kapitan Ting after having served as cabeza de barangay of Sta. Cruz, Manila, in 1853, was a painter known for his portraits. Aside from exposure from practicing artists in his family, he also received artistic training under Damian Domingo (1796-1834) noted painter of portraits, miniatures and religious imagery, who established an art school in Tondo in 1821.

Additional support for this exhibition was provided by Via Mare. Talks and activities will be scheduled during the exhibition run and will be announced through Ayala Museum’s website and social media channels.

For more information, visit or call (632) 759 82 88 or email


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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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