11 May 2007

The untold story of Luis and Jesse

BICOL MAIL'S issue for the week came out this morning; expectedly, the May 8 indignation rally was given substantial coverage.

But what greatly aroused my interest is this frontpage article written by editor Joe Perez. In the absence of the Mail's updated online version, I am taking the liberty of publishing it in full.

Luis Villafuerte, Robredo are related by Chinese blood

By Jose B. Perez
Editor-in-Chief


IF THERE is one thing common between Camarines Sur Rep. Luis R. Villafuerte and Naga City Mayor Jesse M. Robredo, it is the blood of Confucius that runs in their veins.

In fact, the two came from the same great grandfather from China who upon residing in the Philippines adopted the Filipino name “Robredo”, a name that both of them have to share, whether they like it or not.

The rest of their character, traits and beliefs, political and otherwise, however, are worlds apart.

Their great grandfather Lim Pay Co, with his son Lim Teng by his first wife, arrived in Manila at the turn of the 19th century. As a young boy, Lim Teng was tutored by the Spanish friars. He and his father were later baptized by a Spanish friar surnamed Robredo.

The friar baptized Lim Pay Co and Lim Teng as Serafin and Juan, respectively, and gave them his surname. Since then, they were known as Serafin Robredo and Juan Lim Robredo.

While it was not clear what happened to Lim Teng’s mother, Serafin while settling in the country took a second wife by the name of Josefa de la Trinidad, a widow. Juan Lim Robredo (Lim Teng), meanwhile, married Luisa Chan, a local Chinese girl.

His stepmother, Josefa, bore four children, Soledad, Jose, Juan II and Serafina, who became Juan’s half-brothers and half-sisters. They were all surnamed Robredo with their original Chinese name Lim Payco sometimes attached to their Filipino name. All of them, including Juan Lim Robredo, were educated by the American school system.

Juan Lim Robredo
Juan Lim Robredo became proficient in four languages, Filipino, Spanish, English and Chinese. While his wife tended to their sari-sari store, Juan was employed as a court interpreter because of his language proficiency. On his free time, he also had a photo studio and worker as a photographer. Later, he and half-sister Soledad became teachers at Anglo Chinese School in Naga City, where Soledad met her future husband, Mariano Villafuerte, a co-teacher at the same Chinese school.

At the age of 21, Juan married Luisa Chan and from their union were born six children, Serafin, Adelina, Juanito, Josefina, Jose and Juanita. Both Serafin and Adelina died at very young age due to illness. Josefina died before the start of the world war, or a few years after the death of their father Juan. Juanito, along with their mother Luisa, died during an attack by the Japanese soldiers while hiding in Sipocot, Camarines Sur. It was also at this time that young Jose was wounded by a bullet that pierced his stomach but survived through the help of friends and foot doctors who came to their aid.

Today, only two of Juan Lim Robredo’s six children are alive, Jose Robredo, Sr. and Juanita Robredo Hao Chin.

The Villafuertes
Mariano Villafuerte, a fine orator and speaker was to become a congressman and later as governor of Camarines Sur when the Japanese Imperial Army invaded the Philippine islands. It was a tragic chapter in the history of the country, as it was in the rest of the free world when people died as a result of the war. Then Gov. Mariano Villafuerte and his wife Soledad, with their eldest son Jose, died in the hands of vengeful guerillas as the Americans were advancing to free the Philippines from the fleeing Japanese soldiers.

The couple left behind six young children: Pura, Fe, Mariano, Jr., Carmen, Luis and Lina. Luis was to become a powerful political leader in Bicol while the rest of his brothers and sisters became successful professionals in their own right.

Jesse and Louie
After the war, Jose married Marcelina Manalastas, a young Filipina from Navotas, Rizal. Together, they built their house in Tabuco, a village across the river town of Naga. They soon bore five children: Jocelyn, Jose Jr., Jesse, Jeanne and Josephine.

In 1986, Jesse was picked by his uncle Luis, then an Assemblyman, to run as mayor of Naga City and won. Four years later, they would part ways and become bitter political rivals, with Luis even denying in public that they were blood relatives.

Luis, the province’s top political kingpin, on at least four elections would field his own mayoral bet to challenge Robredo, including his elder sister Pura Luisa, Jesse’s aunt, but as always Jesse would come out as the runaway winner.

Now congressman, Luis Villafuerte only recently had a falling out with his own blood, his son LRay, the province’s incumbent governor who is running for reelection.

LRay is now being challenged by a man handpicked by his own father, a scandalously unexpected quirk of fate that even the shrewdest of politicians could not imagine to happen.

Meanwhile, Luis is not letting off his disdain for Robredo. He accuses Robredo of being a Chinese citizen, an alien who should not be allowed to hold office reserved for Filipinos unlike Jojo, his other nephew, who ironically also comes from the same great grandfather that found the Philippine islands an ideal place for his forebears to multiply and become good Filipinos.

19 comments:

mschumey07 said...

Now its clear who between the two is a true Filipino. Its not Luis Villafuerte.

Willy B. Prilles, Jr. said...

Methinks it has all the elements of a Greek tragedy.

I kept on going back to that pre-war family portrait when everyone seemed young and the country in general was hopeful. Then the Japanese invaders came.

If there is one thing I really want to find out, it is the impact of the war on the young Luis Villafuerte's life and psyche. Wordsworth after all says that the Child is the father of the Man.

Maybe Maryanne can give this angle a thought.

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Excellent way to redact a blog. I think he was a young boy with an extremely knowledge about the real world , Lim Teng was tutored by the Spanish friars. He and his father were later baptized by a Spanish friar... something atypical in the era.

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Anonymous said...

Guys, I think you did not read the story well and follow clearly the family three here ... It is clear that SOLEDAD married MARIANO VILLAFUERTE - so, how can they share one grandfather? It is clear here that they are not blood related. It only shows where Jesse came from and how he became associated with the Villafuertes, by name (as the friars then will not baptize you with a Chinese surname ... so that where the name Robredo came about). Kindly refer to Section1, Article 4 1987 Constitution - "In determining the kind of citizenship, we follow the jus sanguinis principle. Under the jus sanguinis principle, blood relationship is the basis for the acquisition of citizenship. " - Jesse Robredo's family might have been all baptized by a Friar who gave them Christian family name, but this does not prove that they are not Chinese because their father, Jose, never took allegiance as a Filipino. Jesse, in effect, is Chinese according to the "jus sangunis" law of the Constituion.

Anonymous said...

Correction - Family Tree or diagram of the relationship.

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