Joaquin J. Gonzalez at 50 years old

Joaquin J. Gonzalez was the 9th of the ten children of Florencia Sioco and Dr. Joaquin Gonzalez. He was   born on April 23, 1895.

As a child  his grandmother, Impong Matia (Matea Rodriguez Sioco)  often called his mother (Florencia)’s attention on him “Folorencia, Folorencia, lawen me  y Joaquin, lilindayug yang lilindayug”.  What exactly that means is beyond my vocabulary of  the dialect .  It sounded like he was a super- active little boy.

Joaquin  finished  B.S. Agriculture in U.P Los Baños.  His brother,  Bienvenido M. Gonzalez, was already then a faculty member of the school when Joaquin entered college. Bienvenido took care of Joaquin, as his “guardian” and “mentor”.

Joaquin and Julia

Joaquin  married a fair lass, from San Fernando,  Julia Salgado, the heiress of Dña Teodora Salgado with whom he had thirteen live births,  three of which died as infants.

With four brothers who were doctors and one pharmacist,   inclination to medicine must have rubbed into Joaquin.  It is  said that second brother and eminent doctor,  Jesus,   gave  Joaquin his secret formulas.  From these formulas, Joaquin compounded ointments which were very effective for skin diseases which he administered himself (rubbing the ointments into pestering wounds with his bare hands) for free to the poor,  mostly the farmers who farmed his lands in Pampanga.  He was also known to have cured asthma, and the beneficiaries had all but high praises and love for him.  He held free clinic twice a week in his farm in Pundaquaqui, Pampanga,  taking time off from his very colorful social life,  to help the less fortunate .

Parties commonly called “bailes” or balls were held very often  by Joaquin and Julia’s circle of friends. Julia was pretty, vivacious, a match to Joaquin’s charm and social background. They  lived the high life, which was normal to people of their social standing.

Every year, it was de riguer that Joaquin would choose a place in the known world to visit.   Travel was via luxury liners that took months to complete.  Joaquin had an intimate group of two other gentlemen friends who shared his passion for fun, discovery, and the high seas, and they travelled together, calling each other as “The Three Musketeers.”

He didn’t travel with  his wife Julia because he was afraid that if anything happened to both of them, their poor ten children would be orphaned.  It was also unthinkable that the couple would be away together, from the family for long periods of time. But this did not mean that Julia stayed at home.  She had her own group of fun-loving friends, and Julia and this group took turns with Joaquin to travel abroad.

Julia was an unselfish, loving wife. She worried about Joaquin because he was a diabetic, and would need someone to give him tender, loving care in case anything happened to her.

As luck would have it, one of their younger children, Elvira, was taken by Joaquin’s elder brother, Fernando, during one of  the latter’s surprise visits to Joaquin’s house. Fernando and his wife, Clementina, or Tinang, saw Elvira alone in her baby crib. Their own children had long been grown up, and they missed having a child in their home.  So they took Elvira without her parents’ permission, and brought her to San Luis, now a 30-minute ride away from San Fernando, where Joaquin and Julia lived.

When Joaquin and Julia came to fetch their child, they saw that Fernando already bought baby things for Elvira, and she had already become part of their household. So Joaquin decided to acquiesce to his older brother’s desire to allow Elvira to grow up in his brother’s household as their own.  Elvira had a happy childhood in San Luis. Her “Tio Joaquin” and “Tia Julia” would visit her on important occasions, such as “Holy Communion” and other important events.  During family gatherings, she would cling to her “Mama Tinang”’s skirt, and no one made any comment otherwise.

When Fernando got sick, he had to go to Manila to be confined in the hospital. Elvira was given to Tinang’s sister, Maxima Manankil.  Maxima’s children were also grown up. Her daughters Luz and Charing, were teachers, and they were just too happy to have Elvira into their household.  Joaquin and Julia would now visit Elvira in her new home.  Julia noted the lovely person that Luz was, and she made a mental note that this would be the woman who would replace her, should the need arise. She also divulged this wish to Joaquin, who probably dismissed it as a silly, but loving, thought.

When Fernando died in 1937, Joaquin tried to get Elvira back.  Tinang told him, “I already lost my husband.  Please don’t take away Elvira from me. That would be a double loss.” So Joaquin acquiesced again, but  they agreed Elvira would join the original Joaquin-Julia family after  she finished her elementary days.  However, Elvira had come to prefer the house of Maxima.  She refused to return to the house of Clementina.  Elvira told Tinang, “I like this place better than yours.  I don’t want to return to your house anymore.” So Elvira continued to stay in San Luis, this time with the house of Maxima Manankil.

Then  World War II erupted.  The family of Joaquin moved to San Juan, Metro-Manila, where Julia’s mother had a huge house.  She took in all her nieces and nephews from the Salgado side.  Elvira joined her siblings in that house as a temporary guest. The children had many happy memories in that house. Then Joaquin’s family moved to Sta. Ana, Paco, where they stayed for twenty years.

When World War II ended in 1945, the couple, Joaquin and Julia, resumed their happy life of parties, bailes, fiestas—that which the war interrupted.  During the fiesta of Sta. Cruz, San Luis, Pampanga, Joaquin had a car accident.  His wife Julia died during that accident.

By this time, Elvira already knew that Julia was her mother.  She had long been informed by her “Ati[2]” Nena of her real parentage.  Apparently, Nena studied Psychology and studies showed that it  was deemed better if adopted children were informed of the truth. But Elvira refused to accept Nena’s statement that Joaquin and Julia were her parents.

Elvira said that she found out about Julia’s death when the Priest who was saying the Fiesta Mass, asked within hearing distance, “Who was the one who died?”  Elvira was inconsolable over this incident.  She cried so much, that her Ati Charing, the sister of her Diti  [3]Luz, asked her neighbor to give Elvy a sedative.  Elvy said this exacerbate the pain in her heart, because the sedative didn’t allow her to release her pain.

Joaquin remembered his wife’s Julia’s wish that he marry Luz Manankil.  Elvira was still in the house of Luz, so Joaquin started visiting her.  Elvira hated the thought of “this Widower with ten children” marrying her virginal and beautiful Diti Luz.   She was vehement in her rejection of Joaquin, even if  she knew he was her father.  But then, another suitor appeared on the scene.  He was Pablo Leuterio, one of the scions of the known families in San Luis.  He was good looking, rich, and single. Elvira was now confused.  When faced with the choice, Elvira chose Joaquin over Pablo Leuterio. So the marriage was clinched.

When the marriage took place, Elvira was again inconsolable.  Her older sister Zeny asked her,

“Why are you crying?  He is, after all, your father….”

Luz moved in with the big family in Sta. Ana.  Elvira slowly moved adapted from being the sister of Luz to being her child.  She would often stop herself from calling Luz “Dit—“ and moved on to calling her “Ima”[4].

The marriage of Joaquin and Luz was blessed with three children , Flo, Nina and Freddy.

Luz, Joaquin and Elvira, Nina, Freddie and Mariflo

At the beginning, Joaquin tried to do the same things he did with Julia—the travelling, the parties… But Joaquin was already 52 to Luz’ 39 years.  Moreover, his diabetes was giving Joaquin more problems. Luz and Joaquin had 21 years together.  But Joaquin was already a very old man when he died at  73.  Julia was right in choosing Luz.   Luz cared for Joaquin selflessly until the end.

[1] Much of this was taken from discussions with Elvira Gonzalez and Eglantine “Nena” Franco.

[2] Ati  is Capampangan for “Ate”. It is given to (1) an older sister, or (2) someone who is older than you.  In Elvira’s case, it was for an older sister, because Nena was the eldest child of Fernando, and Elvira considered Nena as her blood sister.

[3] Diti is the “second” sister. It comes from the Chinese “di” meaning “second”.  The third is “san” and the third sister older than you is called :”sanse”

[4]Ima” means mother.