Sunday Lifestyle

Noynoy, Gibo, Edu: All in the family

- Tingting Cojuangco -

Of what significance are ancestral lines and family trees? To know our ancestors whose blood flows through our veins. What else? Because in the beginning and end of our days, relatives are always near and care for kin, although most of us were brought together more by fate than by choice. We love, honor and revere our parents and ancestors who, without their foresight and care, we would not be here today. And then, if by God’s will we have been blessed with loving relationships with our kin, we have even more reason to thank God.

To adhere to family tradition, as our family does, is yet another reason to take interest in our ancestors. Isn’t it a reward to bring every child along on a trip even if he is 10 years old, as my in-laws Jose Chichioco Cojuangco and Demetria Sumulong y Sumulong used to do? That rule has since changed. It’s now as Mommy requests, with the exception of the adults such as the single China. Another family tradition by which we honor our family’s elders is the Sunday reunion, during which our family members regale us with stories of adventures, misadventures of the past week. Often, our descendants’ stories remind us of our ancestors who had similar experiences or character streaks. Then we conclude, “No wonder we’re like that!” It’s so easy to lay claim to the positive attributes we possess, as if we had acquired these all our own, and to attribute the negatives to our ancestors! The trend to trace one’s genealogy to find our genetic links underscores the importance of knowing more about our ascendants. By knowing our ancestors and family history, we can better understand ourselves and know our place in the world.

In the 1870s, my paternal great-great-grandfather, Crisanto Mendoza de los Reyes y Mendoza, was a patriot involved in shaping minds, as was my maternal great-great-grandfather General Adriano Dayot Hernandez. Crisanto was a mestizo Sangley from Binondo; Adriano was of the Creole class from Iloilo. Both were engaged in the libertarian movements. Crisanto was a freemason who was involved in the Cavite Mutiny of 1872; Adriano, in the Battle of Cry of Barrio Lincud of October 28, 1898, was chief of staff of the Liberating Army, otherwise known as Ejercito Libertador of 1898. He was also later the first governor of Iloilo (1902-1904) and the first director of the Department of Agriculture.

As I was discussing our family tree with my cousins, Carmela de los Reyes Abas and others, I remarked that a bride and groom marry, take in new relatives and expand the branches of the family tree. I found that my marriage to Peping, and other relatives’ marriages further reinforced our family tree. As my Tita Teresing, my dad’s sister, has often said of our family tree, “Ours is not an oak tree but a balete tree with many lateral roots and unending expansion.” This, it seems, is how a family tree is for every Filipino.

I have the distinction of being related by marriage to presidential candidate Noynoy Aquino; by blood and marriage to presidential candidate Gilbert C. Teodoro; and by blood to vice-presidential candidate Edu Manzano. First, everyone knows Noynoy is Peping’s nephew from his elder sister Cory; Noy is the only son of Ninoy, a national hero, and Cory, the mother of Philippine Democracy. Gilbert is the only child of former SSS administrator Gilberto de los Reyes Ortiz Teodoro and former Batasang Pambansa representative Atty. Mercedes “Ditas” Murphy Cojuangco-Teodoro. Edu is the son of the brother of my mother Adriano “Adi” Manzano y Hernandez and Nenita Barrios. I am truly proud to have them as my kin.

My paternal great-great-grandfather Crisanto de los Reyes y Mendoza was born in 1806 to a mestizo Sangley lawyer named Don Gregorio de los Reyes y Antonio and Doña Dominga de Mendoza y Sebastiana of Spanish descent. Crisanto was married to Dorotea de los Reyes y Silverio. They had four children: Juana, Escolastica, Manuel and Teodoro.

Crisanto’s eldest daughter Juana took the reins of the family businesses when her father was arrested in 1872. She latter married Atty. Tomas del Rosario of Bataan, a judge in Manila, and was involved in the Revolution. Nevertheless, Crisanto was not in favor of Tomas as a son-in-law and took the entire clan on vacation to a seaside town to effectively boycott Juana’s wedding to Tomas. In 1898, during the Malolos Congress, Tomas distinguished himself for his lengthy five-hour speech about the Separation of Church and State. There exists a photograph of Emilio Aguinaldo and Tomas, seated in a horsedrawn carriage on their way to the Malolos Church.

Crisanto’s second daughter, Escolastica, married Mariano Ocampo y de Leon. They had two children but a daughter died in infancy. Only their son, Jose “Peping” de los Reyes Ocampo, survived. He married a mestiza German-Filipina named Louisa “Nena” Mueller y Reyes. They had several children: Leonardo, Trinidad “Trina” O. Cañiza, Filomena “Mimi” O. Barrera, Blesilda “Bessie” O. Buencamino, Lucina “Lulu” O. Teodoro and Gloria “Dodit” O. Reyes. Incidentally, architect Blesilda Ocampo Buencamino was the family De los Reyes’s second Miss Philippines. The first was Pacita “Ting” Ongsiako T. de los Reyes, she of the Manila Carnival Queen fame of 1929. The third and fourth Misses Philippines in our family were sisters Yvonne Berenguer de los Reyes (Bb. Pilipinas-Universe of 1955) and Simonette Berenguer de los Reyes (Bb. Pilipinas-Universe of 1970).

Crisanto’s elder son, Manuel, was a very mestizo Chinese with a handsome oval face. He married the mestiza Sangley Sergia Tanquintin. He died when he was only in his 20s and left Sergia with two infants, Manuel Jr. and Trinidad. Of these children, Manuel Jr. (“Lolo Maning”) married Paz “Nena” Ongsiako. They had two children: Victor and Pacita. Victor married the beautiful Emiliana Miranda and had two children, Victor Jr. and Atty. Vicky de los Reyes (we both work for The Baguio Country Club). Atty. Paz “Pacita” Ongsiako de los Reyes-Philips or “Tita Ting” married Dr. Ralph Philips of Ohio. Both Victor and Ting are first cousins of Imelda Ongsiako-Cojuangco, the second wife of Ramon Cojuangco, who is first cousin of Peping and Danding.

Lolo Maning’s daughter, Atty. Pacita or “Tita Ting,” was a Far Eastern University law professor, who met Dr. Philips in Caloocan in 1945. She acceded to his request that residents provide his medical team with clean water as they were nag-iigib ng malinis na tubig. After the wedding, Tita Ting found that Dr. Philips suffered from shellshock. Tita Ting would often tell us that Dr. Philips was a highly-decorated war surgeon in WWII in the Philippines.

Manuel Sr.’s daughter, Trinidad, our “Lola Trining,” married Generoso Reyes, a relative of Nicanor Mendoza Reyes Sr.; Nicanor Sr.’s son, Nicanor “Noring” Reyes Jr., married Josephine Sumulong Cojuangco-Reyes, the eldest sister of Pedro, Cory, Passy and Peping. Nicanor Reyes Sr., together with his first cousin Mendoza-Roces (their mothers were sisters), founded Far Eastern University.

Generoso’s and Lola Trining’s daughter, Maria Trinidad de los Reyes Reyes (“Tita Neneching”) married Jaime Valera in 1937. Jaime was a brother of the designer Ramon Valera. Whenever Ramon would design a wedding gown, he would ask Tita Neneching to execute all the dresses of the members of the entourage, and even design the gowns of the bridesmaids, mother of the bride and sponsors, following the wedding theme as envisioned by Ramon. Tita Neneching made a name for herself as a designer of beautiful outfits with the finest handiwork. That tradition is carried on by her daughter Paching Valera-de la Fuente.

Generoso’s and Trinidad’s daughter, Carmen de los Reyes Reyes de Reyes (“Tita Menggay”) married Vicente Reyes, an accountant. Tita Menggay has the great honor and privilege of serving as the camarera of the Nuestra Señora del Santissimo Rosario (Our Lady of the Rosary of La Naval). She carried the image of the Virgen and placed her in the vault, so that the Virgen survived the bombing and fire at Sto. Domingo Church in December 1941. The union of Generoso and Tita Menggay has been blessed with many children. To this day, Tita Menggay’s family is in charge of the Reyes’s family accounting firm. For some reason, their family could never get away from the “Reyes” surname — my cousin Vicky Reyes y Reyes married surname is King.

Crisanto’s fourth child was Teodoro de los Reyes. He married Margarita Sandoval of Taguig. They had four children: Carmen, Dominga, Crisanto and Geronimo. Carmen de los Reyes married Atty. Marcelo Arabiran of Bulacan, was widowed, then married Felino Abas of Batanes; Dominga de los Reyes married Sabino Padilla who became a Supreme Court Justice, and their son, Teodoro de los Reyes Padilla also became a Supreme Court Justice who married Tita Lou Ellen Belling. They had several children including Dr. Minguita Padilla. Crisanto was the father of the two Misses Philippines, Yvonne of 1955 and Simonette of 1970. Geronimo Sr. was my grandfather. The two brothers, Crisanto and Geronimo married two sisters from the Linares Berenguer family of Arayat, Pampanga. Crisanto married Marietta, and Geronimo married Lutgarda “Gloria.” I am descended from the line of Geronimo and Lutgarda “Gloria” Berenguer-de los Reyes.

Crisanto de los Reyes y Mendoza had a fifth child, a son born of an “unknown mestiza.” He was Ramon Ortiz, born in August 1872, about six months after Crisanto was sentenced to exile and deported to Cartagena, Spain for his complicity in the Cavite Mutiny of 1872. The “unknown mestiza” left Manila and settled in Baliuag, Bulacan where it is said that she married an Ortiz and gave birth to Ramon. According to Geronimo (“Lolo Moy”) and, later on, my Tita Teresing and cousin Carmela, who, many years ago, along with Tita Trina Ocampo-Cañiza interviewed Lola Fe Ortiz-Teodoro at the Teodoro-de Asis home in new Manila, Lola Fe could not recall the name of Ramon Ortiz’s mother. Thus, everyone referred to her as the “unknown mestiza.”

Lola Fe, however, was certain that, sometime after August 1872, the unknown mestiza brought her infant Ramon Ortiz to his older half-sister Escolastica “Caching” de los Reyes and “inentrega siya ng nanay niya kay Lola Caching sa Calle Mendoza, Quiapo.” Tita Fe said that Ramon grew up in the care of his eldest half-sister, Lola Caching, who was like a mother to Ramon. The unknown mestiza had another son, Juancho Ortiz whom Ramon and family used to visit in Baliuag and Sta. Mesa. The siblings, Lola Caching and Lolo Teodoro de los Reyes cared for their half-brother Ramon as if he were a sibling of full blood. By 1895, Ramon Ortiz then about 23 years old was employed as the right hand man of his elder half-brother Teodoro at the latter’s shop, La Industria, on Plaza Cervantes, Quiapo. Lolo Moy used to tell his children that Ramon was his half-uncle but more like an elder cousin to him. 

My dad, Desi and his siblings used to call Ramon Ortiz “Tio Onching,” but he was technically their granduncle, Lolo Onching. Lolo Moy helped Ramon and partner, Arcadio Arellano, to set up the La Higiene sanitary plumbing works at 54 Caller Orozco and at 337 Carriedo, Sta. Cruz, Manila. La Higiene imported American plumbing materials. When Lolo Moy built his “GSR Building” on Plaza Cervantes around 1928-29, all the plumbing materials were supplied by Tio Onching to the exact specifications of Architect Juan Nakpil.

Ramon Ortiz married Nicolasa Concepcion. They lived on Calle Vergara near Ayala Bridge. They had several children: Fe Ortiz (born around 1903), Victorio, Caridad, Esperanza, Lope who married a Da Roza, Ramon II and Ernesto. When wife Nicolasa passed away, Ramon had other children, including Ciro and Nena. The Ramon Ortiz family remained close to the de los Reyes family, particularly the Peping de los Reyes Ocampo branch.

Ramon Ortiz’s daughter, Lola Fe Ortiz, married Judge Jose Teodoro Sr. y de la Paz. They had nine children: Nena, Jose Jr., Alfonso, Lily, Lourdes, Ramon, Clarissa, Gilbert and Rosita. Gilberto Ortiz Teodoro was “Tito Bert” whom my dad, Desi and his brothers Benny, Ding, Bot and Tony called “primo” (cousin). Gilberto married Atty. Mercedes “Ditas” Murphy Cojuangco, a first cousin of Peping. Gilberto and Ditas had a child, Atty. Gilbert Cojuangco Teodoro (“Gibo”). By blood relationship through my and Gibo’s paternal lines, Gibo is my cousin. By my marriage and through his maternal line, he is my nephew.

Tita Lulu Mueller Ocampo (a second cousin of my dad, being a daughter of Lolo Moy’s first cousin, Jose “Peping” de los Reyes Ocampo and Louisa “Nena” Mueller-Ocampo) married Felix Teodoro Jr. y de la Fuente, a grandson of Lola Fe Ortiz-Teodoro. In brief, Tita Lulu Ocampo (great granddaughter of Crisanto de los Reyes) married a relative belonging to a younger generation (great great grandson of Crisanto). Such inter-generational marriages could make genealogists’ heads spin.

Lolo Peping’s daughter, Mimi Mueller Ocampo-Barrera had several children including Aissa Ocampo Barrera and Miguel Enrique Ocampo Berrera. Aissa married Atty. Fernando Ignacio “Nando” cacho Cojuangco, a son of Peping’s eldest brother, Pedro, and Sari Cacho-Cojuangco. That places Aissa, who is my third cousin in our de los Reyes line, at the level of my niece by her marriage to my nephew, Nando. Thita Mimi’s son, Miguel Enrique Ocampo Barrera married Margarita “Tina” Oppen Cojuangco, a daughter of Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco and Gretchen Oppen-Cojuangco. Tina, who is Peping’s and my niece is placed at the level of my cousin be her marriage to my third cousin, Miguel Enrique Ocampo Barrera. Tina also happens to be one of the ninangs at the wedding of my third daughter, Mikee. Such relationships make our family balete tree so interesting and intriguing.

All this family information doesn’t end yet. Gilbert’s running mate is Edu, my first cousin. Edu’s father was Adriano “Adi” Manzano y Hernandez named after our great great grandfather earlier mentioned, General Adriano Dayot Hernandez of Dingle, Iloilo who married Carmen Gavira y Mapa of Jaro, Iloilo. Their daughter, Lucia, married Angel Lopez-Manzano from Asturias and Taverga, Spain and Atimonan, Quezon. Angel’s mother was Josefa Samson y San Pedro a Chinese-Filipina who married Narciso Lopez-Manzano. The Manzanos of Atimonan, dealt in tobacco with ships coming to and fro. Family memorabilia exhibits a picture of Lola Josefa “Pepay’s” grandfather, a Chinese dressed in a Mandarin robe.

Josefa Samson Manzano bore Narciso seven children. The eldest Angel was my grandfather as well as many more first cousins including Edu, Raul and Rene. Angel our Pappy studied in Spain and graduated from a business course. The second was a daughter Matilde, named after her grandmother Doña Matilde Garcia de Hedrada who never married. The next child was Paz. She married a Pardo de Tavera and had a daughter, Dr. Mita Pardo de Tavera. Paz is the grandmother of Josine Manzano Pardo de Tavera Elizalde, my cousin. Then, there were Jose, Narciso, Soledad and Carmelo. Jose married Ninay Lopez, grandaunt of Marybeth and Deanna Jean Lopez. Marybeth is the mother of Monica “Nikki” Prieto-Teodoro and mother-in-law of Gilbert.

In this generation, two Guingonas are married to two Cojuangcos: Ben Guingona’s daughter married Peping’s nephew, Martin Cacho Cojuangco. Ben’s twin brother, Joe from his marriage to Marilou Tuason Paterno’s produced a son, Francisco “Jojo” who married my second daughter, Josephine.

My mother, Angelita, and Adi, father of Edu, had a younger brother, Ramon Hernandez Manzano, who married Pilar Lim Tuason. As it turns out, Tita Pil is a cousin of Marilou Tuason Paterno Guingona, mom of my son-in-law, Jojo.

 I used to think marriages brought together persons not otherwise related. Not for me! Just think, these marriages were not arranged.

Truly, wherever they may be, only two degrees maximum separate a Pinoy from a kababayan. My balete tree and your own make ours an interesting, interrelated and ever-expanding or contracting world.








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