Things I’d like to read in my next life

Want to know some things about me?–so will I.

P.G.Aleonar

(Peary Gumersindo Aleonar, 1926-2004. If you wanted to know who you were in your previous life, wouldn’t you even want to know who was your father? The following was what ours wrote in a journal and left us. With the edit feature, this will be a collaborative effort and a work-in-progress page.)

Born 13 Jan 1926 Carcar, Cebu; baptized 17 Mar 1926 (Carcar, p. 211, No. 421: by Fr. Urbano Kintanar; Parents: Aurelio Aleonar-Dolores Vera [sic]; Grandparents: Pedro Aleonar-Paula Tigley; Matias Vera-Gaudiosa Rodosindo [sic]; Padrino: Felipe Lopez).

Died 5 Jan 2004 Cebu Doctors’ Hospital, Cebu City (cause of death: 1) End Stage Renal Disease secondary to Hypertensive Nephrosclerosis, 2) Uremia with metabolic acidosis with Hyperkalemia, 3) Pleural effusion prob. secondary to Lower Respiratory Tract Infection, PTB biopsied, 4) Coronary Artery Disease, 5) Chronic Hypertension, 6) S/P CVA: Attending Physician: Cesar Estalilla)

PGA’s Stories

Tatang and Nanang. Nanang first. Nanang, by which her family called our grandmother, had sent word one morning for me to come. The year was 1939, I was a high school sophomore, but it was the Christmas holidays. Nanang, nigh a month away from her 79th birthday, lived in the old family house in Cogon, in our hometown of Carcar. By this time, we’d already transferred to Papa’s new house, also located in the town center and less than a kilometer away from Nanang.

—o00—o0o—

“Feb. 21, 1934.” Before this date, Papa and Mama and me and my brother Boy had been staying at a rented hut–where I was born–near the central school. This was twice farther from Nanang than the new one. School days were spent at a rented house in barrio Perrelos, six kilometers before reaching the Carcar poblacion, where Papa and Mama were teachers in the public school there, he the head teacher. But the date, Papa himself etched on the front concrete stairway to mark the year he started constructing his own house on what is now addressed 442 Gen. Luna st. [He was 37 then, having been born on October 15, 1897, better known as feast day of Santa Teresa de Avila, after whom he was not named, not even secondly.  The day, however, is also the feast day of Santa Aurelia, a princess who became a hermitess, for whom he…–Vip]

Hard-earned savings augmented by loans from some moneyed lenders and through installment purchase plans from hardware and lumber stores was how Papa managed to build his own house, located where the Carcar Rotunda (a statuary project of then alcalde muncipal Mariano Mercado on the crossroads of the north-south-west Cebu highways) would be mid-way from Nanang’s.

Sleeping over at Nanang’s in Cogon on weekends, my cousins (uncle Apolinar’s children) and Boy and I would wake up early and race to Mana Iktay’s little store near the railroad station, and the old auntie would give us coins for puto maya sold near her stall. ‘Na Iktay was Papa’s elder half-sister.

[I hawked puto sulot , a sweet coco concoction, to train passengers. The railway system used to stretch from Danao up north to Argao down south. I was always thrilled when my parents took me to ride with them on the train. One of the things I learned then was that the Carbon market in Cebu started to be named this way because that area was where carbon was piled for the fuel of the locomotives.)

Through Nanang, we grandchildren learned that she and Tatang met during one of the latter’s freelance clerking in Barili, the town next to Carcar from the city, on the west side of Cebu island. Tatang had just become a widower with 4 children, not to include the ten-year-old boy who died a couple of days after the mother. She was Paula Tegley [more likely they must have been introduced to each other as Awa and Pidoy], a statuesque woman, stern but not stiff—as stern is statuesque, and stiff, more figurine-esque. She was born on January 25, 1861 to Crisanto Tegley & Prisca Vergara. Crisanto was a cabeza (head) de barangay, a copra dealer and landowner in Patupat, a barrio in Barili, where Nanang spent most of her years.

I recall being brought while still small by Papa to Patupat, and to Hiluktog, another barrio in Barili where Nanang’s younger sister, Filomena (Menang), lived with her husband Ciriaco Hisola and their children. As large as the bigger town residences in Barili and in Carcar, the Hisola house was so striking in its mountain setting.

But even more striking to my childhood impressionability, it was in Barili on that trip where I was introduced to the means by which houses communicated across the hills–Morse code. Patupat and Hilugtog people were already using the code. They used a bamboo gong (agong, they call it), which they tapped with a stick to send messages through the air. It was Morse code and, on hindsight, also wireless. Some enterprising postmaster had undertaken to teach them Morse, the barrio folks quickly grasped its usefulness, and transmitted this knowledge to their children.Yes, tapping–but on hindsight, too, a dot would be easy but I am still puzzled how they tapped a dash.

And Tatang. Papa had little memory of his own father, Pedro Aleonar, nicknamed Pidoy. But the absence may only have fueled a compensating hunger for his ancestry, so that he’d written on the Bible his father and mother’s names, and even those of his grandparents. And that was how we learned that our great-grandparents were Apolinario Aleonar and Berenguela Barcelo.

Tatang and his first wife, Anacleta Tangarorang, actually had 6 children, two girls each framing the two boys in the middle. The 3 surviving sisters from the first family didn’t marry, all reaching their 80s, and stayed with their half-brothers from the second family. So, ‘Na Eding (Praxedes) lived with Papa and us, and the eldest, ‘Nang Maria, was brought by uncle Momoy (Felicisimo) to his own home in Nellas, the area between the Carcar Central School and Awayan. ‘Na Iktay, the youngest, was given the old family house.

We do not have personal copy of Tatang’s handwriting, but according to Nanang, Tatang was a town escribiente (scribe) at the time when they were still using pen-and-ink, and flourishes characterized their script. Indeed in a government journal, there is a letter to the provincial government dated 14 January 1893 from D. Pedro Aleonar, secretario municipal of Carcar, the gobernadorcillo then being D. Francisco Velez. Church books also recorded his name as a cabeza de barangay in the 1880s.

(photo through the kindness of writer-historian-genealogist Todd Lucero Sales, who saw this signature in some document in the protocolos de Cebu in the National Archives and took a shot for me–Vip)

“Plus he played the violin during his leisure hours.” He had really been an ample provider for her growing family. Tatang, she said, was able to acquire land in upper Cogon where the railroad passed through later on. So his early death was a painful blow to his widow and young children.

Tatang died before turning 53 on 11 September 1905 from what is now commonly attributed to bad cholesterol and fatty food. As far as I know, he must have been the first victim in the family of what is now the most familiar killer-disease trio prevalent–endemic, epidemic–in Carcar – high blood pressure, diabetes and heart attack – perhaps traceable to the town’s love for the most inviting, and the most dangerous, food: lechon, humbà, dinugo-an, paklay, sitsaron and hagoshos (actually kinuposan, dried pig fat embedded in mashed boiled sweet potato).

And from Tatang onward, most of his own children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren would acquire one or a combination of the trio. Diabetes and heart disease killed Papa, while Padre Boy was parish priest of Minglanilla when a fatal heart attack took him away at the promising age of 42. How those diseases attracted the Aleonar family like a magnet–so much so that we feel we contact them just by looking at one another!

—o00—o0o—

I hurried to Nanang’s place, knowing her impatience when she needed someone or something. She knew school was closed for the Christmas season. The old lady had come to rely on me for certain errands after I’d reached Grade 5 at the Carcar Central School where I transferred after my primary years at Perrelos School. “Good that you’re here,” Nanang said when I arrived as she handed me a postcard. I felt proud when I read that the picture postcard was addressed to me. A thirteen-year-old lad do not often get mail; sixty years more and every grader would have received an electronic card. Written were:

“I’ll pick you up tonight, and we will go to the 1939 Chicago World’s Fair. So, take a nap this afternoon.” It was signed, “Uncle Didoy.”

Didoy was Dioscoro, Nanang’s youngest child, who as a bachelor had gone to the United States “to seek whatever fortune he could find in America.” Like everybody who went to America, going there was all about chasing the American dream which– who’d’ve read Fitzgerald among them?–actually had been dreamt while still back home, in ‘No Didoy’s case, Carcar, Cebu, Philippines.

I translated the message to Nanang. She smiled, “It’s a long way.” She always reminded us to pray for her youngest’s return from America; she’d already missed him a lot, the youngest and, taking after her, the only fair-skinned of her brood. She handed me something wrapped in Manila paper. “What is this?” I asked. Nanang said, “It’s one manoto (hand) of choice, well-cured tobacco leaves which your uncle had asked for. He told me no American tobacco tastes better than ours here.” ‘No Didoy rolled his own smoke by hand (tinustos) like the way he’d learned over here. “Cuban cigars?” he had written to Nanang, “They’re nothing to our tobacco.”

I muse now how such climatically-dependent curing methods our people were using back then could have produced tobacco that vastly superior–per ‘No Didoy, who was never seen without a stogie clenched between his teeth. That was everyone’s image of him–and suspenders. We have this photo of him and his bride at their wedding when he’d finally returned to Carcar after the war. In a suit and characteristically, suspenders showing, but no cigar. I wonder how long he suffered the ceremony through before he lighted his cigar.

Paula Tegley-Aleonar and Grandchildren.

Paula Vergara Tigley, widow of Pedro Aleonar, with her grandchildren. We posed on the stairs of Papa’s new house. [PGA is the one on the left, second row from the top.] Three more cousins were to be born after this, but only two on the picture are still alive today–Yoya, on the left of Nanang, and her older sister Inday Aurora, behind Nanang. Of the three additions, only one, Alfred, still survives, and is living in Carcar.

———-

What I’d always remembered ‘No Didoy by was what Mama told me. “Didoy,” she’d said, “had fetched the midwife when I delivered Boy.” Boy (Benjamin) was born on March 31, 1927, and by mid-April, my youngest uncle had left for America the Beautiful.

Now Nanang said, “But have this first before you go to the post office.” She poured me a half cup of a favorite chocolate drink, a concoction of hers and of her circle of fellow old ladies in town, mostly family, who occasionally gathered for snacks. The sikwate was so thick it was almost like a chocolate bar, one needed a teaspoon to scoop it. Nanang & Co. would have this chocolate go with puto maya (special coconut-milked pasty rice delicacy) or budbod (little banana-leaf rolled puto-maya really). I flopped some puto into the chocolate cup, stirred, and then gulped down the mix.

Many years afterward, I learned somewhere that this chocolate drink was also rich in cholesterol. But Nanang and her company all died of old age, she at 80, despite their thick chocolate. I doubt anyone had ever measured the ladies’ blood pressure or taken their ECG anyway. As long as you followed what the folks observed as a rule: “After a hot chocolate drink, don’t take a bath immediately afterward, or you’d die.” A cousin, who’d become a physician, belittled this warning; this doctor died while taking a shower after a chocolate-y breakfast. Don’t ask me his name, though.

So to the post office I went and posted the tobacco for Chicago. Mailing anything to or receiving mail from the US then was no hassle. One dollar was two pesos, and the post office took care of the exchange; one merely had to fill-up certain easy forms. No customs, no red tape, no Central Bank, but also no RICO.

Of course, despite a most powerful wish, I knew my uncle was just kidding about his invitation to the world’s fair. When could I ever see America myself? He, however, sent us posters, pictures and banners about the World’s Fair. And he often wrote to us about his experiences, especially on the wonders in America where he had found a job. He had worked as a card dealer in a casino (he was, like Apolinar, also a gambling enthusiast). When I asked if he wasn’t scared of the Chicago Mafia I had learned about in the movies, he sardonically replied: “Never. The gangsters were more afraid of the balisong I was always carrying around.” It is a typical Carcar comic bravado, probably taken from linambay, which the town gulped as greedily as sikwate.

Nanang passed away on June 19, 1941. I was near her bed when she died. She did not see my uncle Didoy come home from America after World War II, when the oceans and air was safe for travel once again.

That enviable Carcar Education. n Barili on that trip

The Sophomore Class 1939-1940, Carcar Academy

The Sophomore Class, 1939-1940, Carcar Academy. PGA (top row 5th from right) with his classmates and teachers front row from left Catalino Alfafara, the school founder, Mr. Mondigo, Cecilia Alfafara-Florido and Dr. Paulino Lopez. Cousin Cesar Aleonar is rightmost top row.

cmc-orchestra.jpg

The Carcar Music Circle Orchestra pose on the front steps of the St. Catherine’s School (now College) with Maestro Bindoy, their conductor, arranger, music teacher. Formed war-time and originally called Carcar Marine Band, the name was changed to a less martial one, perhaps to assure the Japanese “masters” that the group was just into music. Instruments for the group were bought with funds from the parish priest, Padre Anastasio del Corro.

L-R (Front): Oscar Aleonar, Alvaro (Baring) Bargayo, Cipriano (Cipring) dela Cerna, Maestro Brigido (Bindoy) Lakandazon, Cesar Quijoy, Ricardo (Dodong) Lorenzo, Vicente (Inting) Mancao; (Second): Benjamin (Boy) Aleonar, Federico (Coycoy) Noel, Peary Aleonar, 4. Antolin Alcudia, 5. Anastasio (Ondò) Manguray, Eduardo (Danding) Noel; (Third): Vicente (Inting) Noel; (Back): Cayetano (Caet) Echavez, Cesar Caballero, Primo (Mimong) Poncardas, Placido (Idok) Bargayo, Bolivar (Ibar) Aleonar, Marciano (Manciong) Paculaba, 7. Hermogenes (Menes) Alfafara. Ricardo Lorenzo was the first violinist. Notably missing was Antonio (Tonying) Abellana, the best Carcar violinist.

16 Responses to “P.G.Aleonar”

  1. Thanks Unc Vip! I’ve always wanted to read this one. I know this story (biography?) is quite long, and tedious to read, nevertheless, please keep ’em coming. =)

  2. Brett Aleonar said

    Vip,
    Keep them coming

  3. Brett Aleonar said

    Vip,
    Keep them coming, Tito Peary really is a very interesting writer

  4. Teodoro 'Ted' Alcuitas (Doring) said

    Hi Noy Perry,

    Enjoyed your site… Fascinated with the way you presented your genealogy. I’ve been trying to do our own family ‘history’.

    anak ko ni Bentong ug Babing Alcuitas. balay namo atbang sa kang Dr. Enriquez. Ang inyo bang balay katongtupad sa ilang Noy Tinong Abellana?

    Doring Alcuitas

  5. vip said

    Doring,
    this is a work in progress but i didn’t know it was already published…so okay ra man ‘sab. Anak ko ni Peary and I am editing his journals to put it into this blog. I am still deciding how to continue it with the material I have. That Aleonar tapad sa ilang Regis and Abellana was the older brother of my grandfather. Brett who also commented above is a grandson of that Aleonar, Tatay Momoy (Felicisimo). I have this other blog carcarfamilies.wordpress all about carcar family histories.

  6. orlan aleonar said

    i am wondering if you are distant relatives of aleonar family in laguna and cavite.

  7. vip said

    I also wonder the same thing. I’m very interested in the genealogy of Laguna/Cavite Aleonars, especially since I’m reconstructing the Aleonar Family Tree of Carcar, Cebu.

  8. Eduardo D. Aleonar said

    Ako po ay taga biñan laguna ang aking pong nuno na pinag mulan ay si Justo Aleonar kilala sa bansag na justong banal
    panahon ng hapon sya ay isang taga pag dala ng sulat sa mga gerilia dito sa laguna at cavite sabi po ng lola namin ang pangalan inang aning bilin po ng aming nuno na kami daw po ay may kamag anak sa cebu subalit wala pa pong nakakarating doon kahit isa man lng sa kanila maraming salamat po ^^

  9. vip said

    Pinsang Eduardo, pardon I have to answer in English, my Tagalog is almost non-existent. As you have read the person before you, Orlan Aleonar, he said his family was also from Cavite and related to Laguna Aleonars. His grandfather was named Justiniano. Almost the same as Justo? If only you or someone of your clan can make a family tree back to Justiniano and preferably to Justiniano’s ancestors!

    Two questions: What is your clan’s town of origin? And are there many surnames in your town that also start with the letters Al-?

    Pls let us continue to continue our communication. My email is vipaleonar@gmail.com. Thanks.

    Vip Aleonar

    • eduardo d. aleonar said

      good day po .si orlan aleonar po ay aking pinsan.ang lolo nya po ay kapatid ng aking lolo na nagmula din sa cavite.sila pong magkakapatid ay labingdalawa.6 na lalaki at 6 ding babae.sa kasawiang palad ang natitira nalang po ay 1 babae sa edad na 85.sya po ay nandito sa amin sa binan laguna.ang lahat po nang aleonar sa cavite at laguna ay iisa ang pinagmulan.ang amin pong ninuno na si justo aleonar sa akin pagkakaalam ay may 2 kapatid lalaki at babae.kung inyo pong mamarapatin ay ipapadala ko ang litrato ni justo aleonar noong sya ay bata at may edad na bigay ng aking lola.ipagpaumanhin nyo po.saan po kayo ngayon naninirahan?maraming salamat po sa inyong pagtugon.

  10. Gilbert Aleonar said

    sir,
    I am gilbert Aleonar, presently working here in saudi arabia, I just want to ask if you may… by the way, my father’s name is Liberato Bonghanoy Aleonar, the oldest of the two sons and a daughter of Ceferino Aleonar and Victoriana Bonghanoy,my question is, is there any relation between aleonars in lanao and in carcar, cause as far as i know based on the information and explaination of my grandfather before he left us,cause he passed away almost decade now. They just migrated to lanao from carcar, I think even my father’s birth place is also in carcar. May i know our family tree since you expert on that, and i realy appreciate if you can.

    • vip said

      Dear Gilbert, i am in carcar right now and so my computer family files are in cebu city and i cannot refer to it. but from what i remember, if your father is a first cousin of the late roberto, then he and i are 4th degree cousins. i met a girl at roberto’s wake and she may be your sister but right now i can’t remember her name but i think she worked for globe ba?
      when i get back to the city saturday evening, I’ll look over the file again and answer you more fully. thanks for writing.

      • vip said

        @gilbert, I’m back in cebu city. yes, the one i met in Carcar was jet aleonar-escamilla your 1st cousin. it’s correct, your father is my 4th degree cousin. I hope our Aleonar Family Tree can be updated by the family tree of Liberato that you can make. thanks.

  11. Jojo Aleonar Honoridez said

    Vip,
    Daghang salamat! I appreciate your work & I’m proud of you.

  12. SANDRA CERNA KIRCHBERG said

    Jojo,
    I sang at Marlborough with Ging Cabiluna, Ever Tenchavez, Chubb… We were very good friends (personal and phone songs)… I’m in Las Vegas, bay!
    Write back also if you remember me. You can also cc your letter to me to r7693k@lvmpd.com.
    Miss you!!!
    Sandra from Pleasant Homes Subdivision

  13. Cherry Lim said

    URGENT! Is this Vincent Aleonar? Are you the son of Peary Aleonar?

    I am a managing editor of Sun.Star Cebu. I am doing research on Cebu journalists who joined the International Visitors Program (IVP) of the US Embassy. Those who join this program typically take a tour of several states in the U.S. for weeks to a month.

    I’ve contacted Shirley Aleonar, who is not a direct descendant of Peary. She said she doesn’t go to Carcar that often and doesn’t have the contact info of any of Peary’s chidren. She said the name of Peary’s son is Vincent. I hope you are the Vincent she was referring to, because I need info urgently on (a) the year that Peary joined the IVP, and (b) the theme/purpose of that visit. That’s all I need for a book I’m producing and will publish this month.

    Pls. contact me at managingfeatures@sunstar.com.ph or call me at 0917-613-8000 or 254-9991 if you have this info or if you know a direct descendant of Peary (I’m not sure his wife is still living) who might have this info. Thank you very much!

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