Family Affair of Familia Locsin in the Philippines (By DinggolAranetaDivinagracia – IlonggoNationMovement)
Prologue: “On the 9th of April, 2010, the illustrious Locsin clan celebrated their eight (8th) grand family reunion in the City of Silay, Negros Occidental dubbed as the “Paris” of the Philippines.
The short but lively welcome address was ably delivered by a young scion of the Locsin clan, Solomon Ledesma Locsin, a grandson of former Philippine Senator Dr. Jose Corteza Locsin.” ~~~
Welcome Address during the 8th Grand Reunion of the Locsin Family on April 9, 2010, in Silay City in Negros Occidental, Philippines
Ladies and gentlemen, dear family, good afternoon.
Until this moment, I feel very awkward; here I am about to deliver a speech for a grand nationwide reunion, a noble task usually reserved for people who possess senior citizen cards.
I was hesitant when tito Larry Lacson told me yesterday that I was chosen to act upon this noble task. In 1974 my lolo, Dr. Jose Locsin, in this very venue delivered the 1st welcome address during our first grand reunion, three years later, he was dead.
But kidding aside, the organizers of this grand affair reasoned that for a change let us have somebody young and I must say; I feel so honored to be standing before you today.
In preparation for this address, I tried thinking of how to go about it. Usually, words of inspiration are uttered but look at us, we already look very inspired. so I thought of something different, something that will make us understand why we are here. As Dr. Cecilia Locsin Nava puts it, “for every season, there has always been a Locsin”. Dear relatives, let us journey together, look back on the many events that have shaped our family to what it is today.
Let us start with China.
Towards the mid-1700s, the golden age enjoyed by the Manchu dynasty of China was slowly slipping away. Corruption in government is rampant and the resentment of the masses planted seeds of rebellion in the countryside. Despite these social ills, emperor Quinlong indulged himself in the arts and other luxurious pursuits. He still believes that China is the center of the world and anything beyond its borders are barbarians.
In this era of turmoil, a merchant from Amoy (present-day Xiamen) realized that his future in the empire is uncertain. China was considering closing its doors from foreign trade. The emperor has declared that his empire does not need anything that had to do with the ‘barbarians’(the west). The merchant’s name is Sin Lok and after hearing stories of wealth across the seas embarked on an adventure that will change his life and author the destiny of a family for generations to come. His decision was timely because a few years later, emperor Quinlong totally closed China from foreign trade after a British trade mission refused to kowtow before his empty throne.
Sin Lok arrived in Molo, Iloilo in the year 1750. It was not a good time. People from China are viewed by Spain as rebellious pagans. The 18th century saw several uprisings lead by the Chinese outside Intramuros and the neighboring provinces. The Spaniards thought that it would be a matter of time when the same bloody event might happen in the Visayas. It was a false perception, no Chinese ever lead an uprising, it never occurred in the Visayas.
It was recorded that only 7 Chinese vessels were allowed to enter Manila in the entire 18th century. Looking at this pattern, it is easy to speculate that a similar regulated entry in the ports in the Visayas islands was imposed by Spain. One of the few Chinese vessels that were allowed to enter the colony in the year 1750 was carrying Sin Lok.
On September 3, 1754, King Ferdinand ordered the expulsion of the non-Christian Chinese from the colony, but a term was allowed for them to settle all their affairs. By June 30, 1755, 2,070 Chinese left the colony but 1,108 were permitted to remain because they claimed they were studying the Christian faith. Sin Lok was probably one of them. He took the Christian name Agustin.
If you noticed, on several occasions, Sin Lok is always at the brim of misfortune but in a way, he was able to bypass them. There will be no Locsin family if he was trap in China, no Locsin family if he was not permitted by Spain to stay here.
He is indeed a man of destiny.
Sin Lok married a native named Cecilia Sayson and had eight children. In order of seniority, they are: Josef Manuel, Domingo, Juan, Jose, Lucrecia, Agnida, Benedicta and Ana.
Among his sons, only Josef Manuel was married. The other three brothers entered the priesthood – believed to be not out of piety but by convenience. Fr, Juan even fathered children of his own. The three priests were the only known ‘religious dynasty’ in Philippine history. Fr. Domingo was a parish priest of Bugasong, Antique until 1817 and was succeeded by Fr, Juan in 1834 and by Fr. Jose in 1840.
Every time a person encounters a Locsin and would inquire where we came from, we would automatically say that we originated from Molo, Iloilo. Molo at the time of our ancestors was a “Parian” or Chinese enclave, the Chinatown of that era. .
Now, let me tell you why they call Molo, Molo. The Panay coast during that time was frequently hit by Moro pirate raids, and since it was a Chinese district, our ancestors, upon seeing the approaching marauders would scream Molo! Molo! instead of Moro because they usually had difficulty pronouncing the letter R.
But Molo was also a rich district and with it culture flourished. Sin Lok, like any success story of a modern-day taipan, started small , it is easy to speculate that he peddled goods; he was a merchant as we all know. From peddler maybe he ended up venturing, like the rest of the families in Molo and Jaro to textile trading. The wealth of the sinamay and jusi trade gave the couple the means to send their three sons to seminaries to become priests. It is a fact that the clergy wielded enormous influence during colonial times – like a true “intsik”, Sin lok was investing through his sons.
By the time Sin lok and his wife Cecilia died, the Locsins are already well off. Eldest son Don Josef Manuel supervised and helped financed the construction of the Molo Church, an early example of Neo-gothic architecture in the Philippines. Out of Molo Church, Don Josef Manuel Locsin contributed something important to all of us, something the Locsins enjoy so much – the pancit Molo. During the Molo church’s construction, Josef Manuel Locsin used crush coral, lime and egg whites to put together the massive structure. Not wanting to waste the egg yolks it inspired them to create out of it meat dumplings swimming in hot chicken broth, Yes dear family, the Locsins if not invented pancit molo, inspired the creation of the dish.
We have been to China, we visited Molo, Iloilo, now I think it is fitting that we end our journey in Silay.
Josef Manuel had sons and daughters; out of his offsprings formed most of the branches of our family tree. Like his father, Josef Manuel sent three of his sons to the seminary. They are Roman Manuel, Eusebio Manuel, and Luis Manuel. Roman became parish priest of Bacolod. Less known Luis was assigned to Bantayan island.
On November 1, 1840, Fr. Eusebio Manuel Locsin became the parish priest of Silay. He immediately started the herculean task of rehabilitating the town still recovering from decades of Moro pirate raids and plague. Fr. Eusebio also initiated the construction of a church made of stone masonry and bricks to replace the one made of bamboo and nipa.
A visionary, Fr. Eusebio saw the economic potentials of the island of Negros. He wrote his relatives and friends in Molo and Jaro to come to Silay where the land is plentiful and fertile. They came and established haciendas all over Negros.
Fr. Eusebio was dear to the faithful he administered. On June 20, 1848, however, Governor-General Narciso Claveria issued a decree committing the Recollect friars to Negros. Fr. Eusebio refused to vacate his post, fearing that the uneasy relationship between the Spanish clergy and the natives will be detrimental to evangelization and development. Furious, the Recollect Provincial tagged Fr. Eusebio and his brother Roman as “trouble makers”. A Filipino parish priest can still swallow, but a Filipino parish priest with Chinese ancestry, they believed is too much. But the Spanish Religious Orders soon realized the overwhelming support of the faithful to the two secular priests and decided to allow them to remain until they die and then and only then would the friars take over the parish. Decades before Gomez, Burgos and Zamora, we already have kin fighting for secularism in the church and the rights of men.
Fr. Eusebio died on July 17, 1882 (September 10, 1881 in our family records). He served the longest among all parish priests of Silay and is arguably the most influential among all of them. The first street to be named in Silay was called “Eusebio”. I have always believed that without Fr. Eusebio and Fr. Roman, Negros would have remained under develop. They are the real founders of the sugar industry.
Out of our many branches sprung Locsins in the frontlines and in the sidelines. Locsins who helped shaped history. It is typical of us; we always wanted to be involved.
To kindle the fire of patriotism we have Maestro Manuel Locsin, founder of Instituto de Molo, who helped inspire the Illongos to fight for independence, one of whom is another kin, Leandro Locsin Fullon, who moved by the massacre of the 19 martyrs of Kalibo, waged a long and audacious struggle against Spanish rule. Let us not forget Miguela Locsin Montelibano’s zarzuelas that planted in the consciousness of the masses that all men are born free. We have Silay’s very own Leandro dela Rama Locsin, treasurer of the revolution who secretly encoded in his prescription book the donations of individuals to the struggle. The list continues to the likes of Alfredo Montelibano, Aurelio Locsin and his wife Soledad, Sen. Jose C. Locsin, Teodoro Locsin Sr. of the Free Press, their valor and zeal for service echoes beyond.
Our family has produced governors, mayors, cabinet members, public servants, industrialists, artists, movers, and shakers. The Locsins can inspire, create, change, build and even destroy. Yes my relatives, if we look back we have been influencing society. And we continue to do so until today. Just imagine if we take out all our contributions in the last 260 years. Silay would be different, Negros and Iloilo would be different; the Philippines would be very different. Our world would be different.
, Yes the world would be a bit quieter, but…but.
It is part of our common heritage and experience to impact the world around us.
We are Locsins, together we make a difference.
Thank you and maayong hapun sa inyo na tanan.
Epilogue: “May the spirit of our early Locsin ancestors, guide us and the future generations now, and forevermore” -dinggol.d (Locsin serial #1.127.723)
~~~~~~~~~~ oo0oo ~~~~~~~~~~ Addendum:
Before the Locsin progenitor “Sin Lok” married the former Cecilia Sayson of Arevalo, he had a natural daughter named Leonarda who married Fausto Estanislao from Mandurriao in Iloilo City.
To conform with Spanish Governor-General Don Narciso Claveria y Zaldua Executive Edict of November 21, 1849, the family name Estanislao being residents of Mandurriao was changed to “Militante”. The couple had four (4) children: Petrona, Luis, Juana, and Maria.
They were the ancestors of the Araneta y Militante, Melliza and De la Rama y Militante, Pison y Militante, and the Montelibano y Militante of the Molo-Mandurriao area in Iloilo City.
(Photo: The Donato Militante Pison Rotunda Memorial in Mandurriao, Iloilo)