The Lopez- Romualdez Family Reunion
POINTILLISMS - Mike Acebedo Lopez (The Philippine Star) - June 23, 2012 - 12:00am

While I am writing this, many of my relatives in my father’s side are probably getting ready to converge at a convention center in Tacloban City for what has become an annual Lopez- Romualdez Family Reunion. This year’s host, I was told, is Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez. I was present at the one in Manila last year, but due to some travel arrangements made prior, I had to beg off from this one. My immediate family cannot attend as well, Friday being a school day for my siblings.

Since I cannot be there physically, I was thinking of organizing a complementary or parallel reunion here in my column as a contribution to the constant efforts to pay tribute to the familial ties that have bound us through the years, family feuds and political differences notwithstanding. But a special reunion here is what I intend to achieve—one that gathers both the living and the dead members of our colorful family, one whose history is marked by both accomplishment and controversy. So let’s start from the very beginning:

Don Francisco Lopez, a Spanish friar and silversmith from Granada, Spain, is the first of ‘our Lopez’ to set foot on Philippine shores. He was said to have founded the town of Tolosa in Leyte, and was also the parish priest of Pandacan in Manila. While having come from the Andalusian region of Spain, my great- great-great-grandfather also had noble Georgian blood (an amalgamation of Russian, Jewish, and Turkish roots). Not the perfect role model for a priest, our naughty forebear had a lifelong relationship with the Spanish- Chinese mestiza Maria Crisostomo Talentin, my great-great-great-grandmother.

They are the parents of Doña Trinidad Lopez- Romualdez (Lola Tidad or Trining), the Romualdez line grand matriarch, and Don Antonio Lopez, our Lopez line grand patriarch. Musicians all, they, along with their other siblings, formed the Orquesta de Lopez (Lopez family orchestra) and opened what is arguably the first music school in the region.   

Lola Trining had three children (from her marriage to Daniel Romualdez): Norberto, Miguel, and Vicente Orestes. Great-granduncle Norberto Romualdez y Lopez became Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines, and is probably the first in the family to have gained national prominence. An author, composer, musician, poet, he is also known as the Father of National Language Law—the law making Tagalog or Filipino the national, supposedly unifying language (not knowing about this bit of family history before, I used to complain about it, thinking that Cebuano is spoken more widely than any other Philippine language; well, perhaps because Manila is the capital and Tagalog is the language there).

His brother Miguel Romualdez y Lopez was among the first mayors of Manila and was the mayor of Manila during World War II. His son Daniel Zialcita Romualdez, Speaker of the House of Representatives, was married to Paz Gueco, an aunt to Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. This is the line where incumbent Cebu Rep. Luigi Romualdez Quisumbing comes from.

The youngest, and probably least ambitious of them all, was Vicente Orestes Romualdez y Lopez, the father of former Philippine First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos. This is the line where incumbent Senator Bongbong Romualdez Marcos, his sisters Irene and Governor Imee (her son Borgy), Rep. Martin Romualdez, his brother famed New York architect Daniel Romualdez all come from.

Don Antonio Lopez married Doña Maximiana Mendiola- Lopez, our great-great-grandmother. He was not into politics and was content in managing the family’s vast coconut and abaca plantations in Leyte. His eldest son, our great-grandfather Gil, was an engineer responsible for many roads and bridges built throughout the Visayas and Mindanao, many of which are still used to this day.

Gil’s eldest son, our grandfather Captain Generoso Lopez, a war veteran, is the first commercial pilot in the continent. Together with another pilot, he flew the first commercial planes of Philippine Airlines when his friend, Don Andres Soriano, opened what is now known as Asia’s oldest airline (according to some accounts, he was also the first Filipino pilot to have flown an international/ trans Pacific flight). He married the lovely Caridad Duterte Del Mar of Cebu, our Mamang Caring, daughter of Remedios Duterte, said to be the first Carnival Queen of Cebu.

This is the line where my father Mario (the first real DJ of Cebu, according to columnist Bobit Avila), siblings Bianca, Carmina, Jose Antonio and I trace our roots. My niece Arabella Maria Sofia Lopez Celdran would therefore be in the 7th generation since Francisco set foot in the Philippines some two hundred years ago. Actor and artist Ian Lopez Veneracion and writer Niña Terol-Zialcita, my first cousins, also come from this line.

From a philandering Spanish priest—to statesmen, Supreme Court Justices, Central Bank governors and a speaker of the house, a First Lady, a host of senators, cabinet secretaries, ambassadors, governors, and congressmen, an Air Force captain, engineers and professionals, visual artists, musicians, writers and poets—the Lopez- Romualdez family has surely gone a long way in carving our place in Philippine history, warts and all.

Cheers to everyone gathered in Tacloban to celebrate the ties that bind!



Twitter: @MykLopez


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