The Brothers when they were Young

            THE GONZALEZ BROTHERS:  Their Life in Apalit

There are no stories on file regarding the romance of Dr. Joaquin and Florencia Sioco.  But looking at the record of their marriage, they registered their marriage on June 22, 1884, five months before their eldest son, Fernando, was born. Then every year,  one after another,  came Jesus, Emilio and Augusto.  The four children were well-behaved, and people branded them “apat  a matua”, meaning  “four matured/elder ones”. “Matua” connotes a feeling of respect.  “Balamu matua ya” means “ he acts matured beyond his years.”  When it is imminent that a baby is on the way, parents instill in their  elder children the responsibility of caring for this baby.    Of course, there can only be one “eldest child”. But in this family, the “apat a matua” were more subdued in comparison with the next batch.

Octavio came in 1889, but he was sickly and died after ten years.  He didn’t count.

After  a two-year hiatus, the next three children came in succession again. Virgilio came in 1890 quickly followed by Javier (1891) and then Bienvenido (1893). They were such a handful, they were labeled, “atlung demonius” – three devils.  This is always the fate of “middle children”.  The mother is already washed out from taking care of a big family, she doesn’t have time nor energy to give admonitions to the middle children as she did with the elder children.

In two years (1885), Joaquin II was born. Then another two years (1887), came Fausto.  These two were called “aduang bunso” or  the two youngest ones. They probably were overwhelmed by the ruckus caused by the “atlung demonius” they didn’t have the heart to add more problems  to their mother and their elders.

These were just labels to distinguish the grouping between the children.  We all know that children go through phases. When the “aduang bunsu” went into the teen phase, they did things as naughty as the earlier batch.

One such story was about Fausto, the youngest child.   During one baile, or party with dancing, he brought a pair of horses to the sala (living room). One of the horses was dressed in a frocked coat and wearing a hat, and the other one was dressed in a “Maria Clara”, meaning woman’s gown.  The guests were all shocked, but since this was a party, the shock turned into laughter.   The guests were all probably used to Fausto’s “cute” antics.

Between Fernando and Fausto, a period of thirteen (13) years, Florencia produced ten (10) children, all sons!


Can you imagine the logistics of running a house with ten children? “Imang” Bets Rodriguez[1] remembers that the Gonzalez house was staffed with around twenty (20) maids.  Out of these, three (3) were mayordomas, three cooks, and four (4) men who did the gardening and cleaning of the cars.  They also had “balugas[2] who, at that time,  were not considered intelligent.

Florencia, the mother, supervised the kitchen very closely.  She would go to nearby Calumpit market, Bulacan, and buy everything in sacks.


The family owned six (6) cars, several caruajes, some tiburins or Victorias, A Buick, and some calesins.  They were all parked in the garage.


The house of Florencia and Dr. Joaquin Gonzalez was built in 1883.  It was built in the floral style of the late nineteenth century, with a tile roof, tall windows with glass panes (instead of capiz used in the older houses), and a brick-decorated base.  Inside, curved arches in the Art Noveau style defined the different areas of the house.  Red bamboo lacquered panel walls provided an interesting touch.[3] It also had an entre suelo to provide more rooms for its inhabitants.

The house was bombed in 1945 by the Americans. They thought that the Japanese were hiding there.   It was part of the carpet bombing operation to weed out the Japanese from hiding.  There are no pictures of the Gonzalez Apalit house on account of the bombing.


Everyone who went to visit the Gonzalezes always noted  the Diplomas that were hanged prominently in the living room walls.  All the Gonzalez boys went to college and received diplomas. There were three doctors – Fernando, Jesus, and Virgilio;  three agriculturists – Bienvenido, Augusto and Joaquin; one pharmacist – Emilio; two lawyers – Fausto and Javier.


Like any youngster, the Gonzalez boys loved potato chips.   They would be  peeled and cut round and thin, then soaked in salted water.  Then they would be dried before being deep-fried.

[1] Miss Beatriz “Imang Betz” Rodriguez is the eldest surviving member of the Rodriguez Clan of Bacolor, Pampanga, from which the Gonzalez-Sioco family of Sulipan, Apalit, Pampanga, are descended. She is a half-first cousin of Florencia Sioco y Rodriguez, since “Imang Betz” father, Felix Rodriguez y Bautista of Bacolor, was a younger half-brother of florencia’s mother, Matea Rodriguez y Tuason. The prefix “Ima” is given to an older woman as a sign of respect.

[2] Aetas.

[3] The description of the Apalit house was provided by Augusto “Toto” Gonzalez III, based on his researches on the subject.