DR. JESUS GONZALEZ Y SIOCO

 Dr. Jesus Lope Gonzalez y Sioco was the second son of  Dr. Joaquin Gonzalez and Florencia Sioco.   He was born on September 25, 1885, just less than a year from his elder brother, Fernando.  He, Fernando, and Virgilio became medical doctors.

Dr. Jesus and Eliodora

MASELANG BABI

When you mention Dr. Jesus Gonzalez’ name to any relative who knew him, the first way they would describe him would be “maselang babi”, meaning “meticulous pig” as he was very scrupulous in his cleanliness.  As a young boy, he forbade Mena, one of their  beluga[1][1] cleaning women, to sweep his floor with a broom when he was around.  He said that whenever she did this, the dust would fly into the air and infect his room with germs.  So he preferred to clean his own room himself.  But he was so busy, his room would remain messy and untidy for a long period, a situation which drove his mother up the wall.  So everyone called him, “maselang babi.”  He was so meticulous, but would not get himself to clean his own room.

One anecdote along this line was that, whenever Jesus washed his hands, he would use three bars of soap—one for washing his hands when they were still dirty, the second bar after his hands were already relatively clean, and the third for the final rinsing.

His children remember that, during Christmas time, when friends and relatives would give coins to his children as presents, Dr. Jesus would be so worried that his children would get sick from what he thought were “those dirty coins”,  so he forbade the children to touch the coins. Instead, he put them himself into their piggy banks.

When his second wife, Mercedes, got sick with typhoid, his cousin “Imang” Betz Rodriguez was requested to give Mercedes her injections.  Jesus asked Betz not to wipe her hands after washing.  Instead, she should dry her hands by flailing them in the air until they were dry. This was to prevent her from catching germs from the towels.

FIRST WIFE  ELIODORA ESPIRITU

Dr. Jesus married his wife Eliodora “Orang” Espiritu when he was 26 years old and she was 25.  Orang  came from the well known family of the Espiritus of Sulipan, Apalit. This was considered a good match for the two well-known families in Sulipan– the Gonzalezes on one hand and the Espiritus on the other.

Orang  also shared the fastidiousness over cleanliness of Dr. Jesus. She would tell her grandchildren from her adopted daughter,  Julia,

“Don’t touch me”.

She continually washed her hands with alcohol, when they were soiled. .

She would change her beddings and pillowcases every day. But she allowed her grandchildren to sleep on her bed.[2]

Dr. Jesus and Orang had twins, but they were still born. She preserved them in a jar until her death in 1975. Her granddaughter buried the jar with Orang’s remains.  When daughter Julia gave birth to twins, Renzi and Rendell, Orang was ecstatic. She  felt that they were the reincarnation of her own twins.  She would be seen crying in front of the jar at times.

Orang was of strong character. She would put on her helmet and drive around in a car with the top down.  She enjoyed eating good food, and her favorite was “paros-paros”—a shelled prawn that was fried with laurel and crispy minced garlic. She loved imported chocolates. She had a whole tocador—a dresser — full of imported perfume and jewelry boxes.

Unfortunately, her individuality later caused the break-up of her marriage.

SECOND WIFE:  MERCEDES VELOSO

Mercedes was the exact opposite of Orang. She was soft, loving, and totally subservient to her husband.  How Dr. Jesus and Mercedes met is not known to anyone within reach anymore. Eventually, the first child of Mercedes was born. Her name was Imelda, and Imelda was born on October 3, 1921.  Two other children came in succession—Leonardo (1922)  and Cristina (1923).

The first cousins, children of Friar Fausto and Mariquita Gonzalez, were very close to each other. They would spend their holidays together.  They went to dances and other social gatherings together.  The children of Dr. Joaquin were in Apalit and Dr. Joaquin’s siblings – Soledad, Carmen, Jose, and Francisco—stayed in Baliwag.  So the cousins took turns visiting each other.  When they married, they stood as godfathers to each other’s children.  For instance, Dr. Virgilio, son of Dr. Joaquin, was godfather to Ruben, son of Soledad with Mariano Gonzales.[3]

When Dr. Jesus was already deep in his involvement with Mercedes, he needed to do something to house his growing family.  So he asked Ceferino, who was his close friend, whether Mercedes and her children could stay with them.

At this time, Ceferino had also gotten himself  in the same predicament as Dr. Jesus.  Ceferino had also started a second family.  He had gotten involved with his wife’s cousin, Magdalena de Lara, who was working in their house. They had a daughter, Crescenciana. Two other children followed later, Edita and Gaston.

Ceferino, therefore, allowed Dr. Jesus to move his growing family into their house.  Dr. Jesus put up a wall in one of their bigger rooms, installed a lock, through which one could enter.  When Ceferino died, it was the turn of Dr. Jesus to allow Magdalena and her three children to move in with them. Dr. Jesus moved the family of Mercedes to Quezon City in 1939.  By this time, he had ten  children—one of whom, Carolina, died in infancy, Milagros (1927), Antonio (1928), Geronimo (1929),  Adelaida (1931), Jesus  Jr. (1937) and Remedios (1940)..

After a while,  Orang also moved to Quezon City.  She had a house from Apalit that was owned by her father, dismantled and rebuilt.  She lived on Blumentritt Street in La Loma, at the border of Quezon City and Manila until her death on March 12, 1975. She adopted a baby whom she named Julia (1932), whom she trained well in the matters of running a house.  Julia was the source of Orang’s great happiness, especially after Julia married the son of the brother of Dr. Jesus, so that Julia became a Gonzalez herself.

THE PROFESSIONAL LIFE OF DR. JESUS GONZALEZ

Dr. Jesus trained in Munich, Germany for four years after getting his degree in medicine.   People would travel far and wide to be cured by him.

One such story close to my heart was about a certain  four-year old boy from nearby San Luis, Pampanga. [4]  His name was Luis Franco, and he had been stricken with the deadly disease, typhoid fever.  San Luis was a small town without a hospital, so the doctors advised him to go for treatment to the clinic of Dr. Jesus Gonzalez. This was located in Manila, most likely in Tondo.

Luis and his mother travelled by banca[5] to Calumpit, located along the Pampanga River. From Calumpit, they took the train to Manila, where Dr. Jesus had his clinic. Luis was already having difficulty in breathing.   Dr. Jesus quickly inserted a tube in Luis’ trachea, and the young patient immediately started to regain his rosy color.  Luis’ mother  P300, enough money in those days to buy a few hectares of land. But she did not mind forking the money over, since Dr. Jesus had saved the life of her only son. What was money in comparison with the life of your own blood?

Luis grew up to become a doctor himself.  He married the niece of Dr. Jesus, Eglantine, daughter of  his elder brother, Dr. Fernando.  At one time, there were six  houses on the same street (then called South 9th) owned by the brothers.  Three belonged to Augusto—his second wife Doña Rosario and her children, another one to Rogerio, Augusto’s eldest son, another to Sabina Escaler, his aunt—and the others belonged to Fausto (opposite that of Mercedes), plus that of Fernando and Mercedes.  When Dr. Jesus moved to Quezon City, Dr. Fernando and his other brothers followed suit. They all became neighbors.  After Dr. Jesus died, Dr. Luis Franco became the doctor of Dr. Jesus’ widow, Mercedes, and cared for her until she died in 1970.

LOVE ‘TILL THE END OF HIS LIFE.

Dr. Jesus had a very happy life.  His wife, Mercedes, adored him.  He fondly called her “Hija” (my daughter).   There was a thirteen- year gap between them. She responded with a soft, “Jesús, Mio”  (My Jesús).

Orang accepted the fact that she lost her husband to a woman who was more compatible with him.    When she learned that Dr. Jesus was seriously ill,  she went to visit her husband in Mercedes’ house, in a sincere manifestation of forgiveness toward him and sympathy toward his family.

Dr. Jesus died in Quezon City on September 23, 1941. He was 55 years old.


 [1] Aeta—  curly haired aborigines who came from the mountains of Zambales, and were considered as having very low level of intelligence.

[2] Rendel Gonzalez, son of Rene and Julia Gonzalez,  as narrated to the author, on June 2011.

[3] Eva Iral, on her memories of her father, Ceferino and Dr. Jesus Gonzalez, as narrated to the author on October 13, 2009.

[4]  Dr. Luis Franco, in his memories of Dr. Jesus Gonzalez, as narrated to the author in 1998.

[5] Banca was a small boat without any rigs at the side.

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