I have been working on the Gonzalez Doble Zeta Family Tree for twelve years now. I joined an established core group of the fourth generation, if one considers the first generation as that belonging to Friar Fausto Lopez, a Spanish priest who started a family with a local Baliuag girl with the name of Mariquita Gonzalez. They had five children, two boys and three girls.
I must say it hasn’t been easy, specially when you get into the conflicts between family members, or if the family does not want their in-laws to find out that their branch came from an illicit relationship. But when you lay down the fact that all you want to do is to document the facts, then everyone sort of calms down and accepts that you are not here to ruffle feathers.
I started off with just making the trees– parents, grandparents, and their children. It took me six months to get all the pictures of the families together. I hired two of my family members who didn’t have a job and were happy to get a job that wasn’t stressful. In any case, I was able to print 300 copies of the finished book that I made.
Twelve years later, I have bought newer versions of the Family Tree software, and somehow, I couldn’t print the trees anymore. The pictures were “crunched” and could no longer be “extracted.” Tonight, I was able to see the pictures of the people in the tree. The original pictures. Then another thought dawned on me: all the older people were now either dead, or would have pictures of themselves that they wouldn’t want to see in print, and I needed to update all the baby pictures of those members who were now in their adulthood.
So, I have a lot of work to do again. Making a Family Tree Book is never ending. You have to continually contact family members, and update their information.
As I was looking at the pictures, I saw how fortunes went down for many of my family members. The Gonzalez family were a landed family. All of that disappeared when Martial Law under the Marcos era took away all the lands of those who owned more than the magical number of 25 hectares. Some of them quickly divided them among their children, but the requirement that the children should be tilling the land themselves, or managing the tilling of the lands, broke the camel’s back. Being law-abiding, many of our family members surrendered their lands, and eventually became poor during their lifetime.
I promised Brother Andrew that I would do my best and work on the stories of the family members. Cousin Renan P, who is also retired like me, offered to edit what I would write. Yes, what I would write. That means that the burden of writing would still fall on me. That means that, whatever I write will be subject to the scrutiny of the family members who can vent their anger on me for putting a not-so-complementary picture of their family member.
But the stories ought to be told. I was watching a movie tonight, and the hero said, “When everyone who knows that person has died, that person will also vanish from the face of the earth, since no one will know anything about him anymore.” Therefore, unless stories of people are kept in print, when no one knows about them anymore, they will truly no longer exist.