Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Love Story of Ysidra and Antonio Luna - Part Three: Is Tonyboy C. the great grandson of Luna?

The first Jose Cojuangco, father of Melecio and Ysidra, according to historian Carlos Quirino, settled in Malolos, Bulacan, as a Chinese carpenter and artisan. He is remembered for having built a staircase leading from the church to the convent, so that girlfriends may pass unnoticed into the friar's quarters.

Steve Latorre, Ric Manapat and I checked this out, and found a walled-in space at the end of the front balcony, with a wall not aligned with the wall in the next room. And right underneath this wall, is a wooden ceiling lower than the adjoining cement ceiling, over an iron gate separating the church from the convent, right beside the choir loft, where the girls are expected to be. If there was such a staircase built by Cojuangco for priestly assignation, it would be located here.

Steve Latorre, who used to run the Catholic seminary near Malolos, tells of the street named Sto. Nińo, also known as Calle de las Mestizas, where the elite of the town used to live, full of mestizas whose origins can only be surmised. Here Jose Rizal, Antonio Luna and our other heroes are said to visit, to court the girls and carouse. Malolos must have been an exciting town then.

A walking distance from the Barasoain Church in No. 540 Paseo del Congreso, the town's main street, stands the old mansion of the Cojuangcos, still owned by the family and attended by the Tecla Chichioco (wife of Melecio) side of the family. A young 17-year-old UST student, Jennifer Bantigue, recounts the family gossip. The house was used during the Malolos Convention as an informal meeting place of important delegates. General Antonio Luna used to sleep there. Aha!

Ric Manapat has long contended that Antonio Luna and Ysidra Cojuangco had long been lovers before their last tryst in Paniqui. And that if there was a love affair, it must have occurred in Malolos where the Cojuangcos continued to maintain their old house, far from the prying eyes of their townmates in Paniqui.

Indeed, at the time of Jose's conception, sometime between July and October 1895, the Cojuangcos were still permanently residing in Malolos, having moved to Paniqui in March the following year.

The other candidate Antonio was born according to his Ateneo 1918 Annual in the year 1899. In that entire Annual all graduates listed only the year of their birth, not the month or the date. It is surprising to note that all previous and subsequent Annuals, especially those listing the other brothers, gave the exact date, month and year of the graduates' birth. It is hard to believe that the entire 1918 Annual, like his tombstone in Manila Memorial, would be changed to accommodate the secrecy wanted by one single man.

As a matter of fact, if Antonio were born in Malolos instead of Paniqui, we will never know, because the Birth Registries in eight volumes, supposedly covering the period from October 1775 to 1904, stops at February 1899 before Antonio might have been born. What is most suspicious is that a tag that describes the missing volume was left inside the exhibit, suggesting that the missing volume actually exists but was stolen.

Assume that Antonio was born in the year 1899. He would have been conceived between April 1, 1898 (nine months before January 1, 1899) and March 31, 1899 (nine months before December 31, 1899). His predecessor Juan was born on April 18, 1898 -- which means that if Antonio were born of the same mother, he would not have been conceived anytime between April 1 and May 18, so soon before and after Juan's birth.

The Malolos Congress opened in September 15, 1898, and continued into the next year, well within the period of possibility. The love child of Luna and Ysidra was not probably conceived in the first week of June, 1899, a few days before the general was assassinated, as has always been assumed by those who read Quirino's book.

The love tryst must have occurred in Barasoain during the Malolos Congress. According to Vivencio R. Jose in his book, The Rise and Fall of Antonio Luna, “When the Republic formed the Red Cross Association, Luna requested that it `collect funds with which to give small gifts to the soldiers in the lines.' Moreover he invited the Red Cross Ladies to bring these gifts to the soldiers themselves... Consequently he had the ladies carried by train from San Fernando, Pampanga, to the frontlines.”

Could Ysidra have been one of those ladies, a virgin love-struck by an officer in uniform? Antonio Luna was known to be a romantic figure, who once published a book of poetry called Las Estrellas de Mi Cielo (Stars of my Sky), and who remembers: “The happy young women go running from the gardens because the dance is about to begin. On their bashful looks are sparkles of laughter; they gather their wide skirts of silk with the right hand, showing the small stockinged feet in climbing the stairs of the house to get to the hall.” A very erotic image at the turn of the century.

If indeed it is true that Ysidra and Luna fell passionately in love in Barasoain during the Malolos Congress, then Ysidra must have been already pregnant, or have already given birth to a love child, when Luna brought her the gold from the Ilocos and Central Luzon separately a few days before he died. And he would have probably assured her that he would soon marry her and make a respectable woman out of her. The gold might have served as assurance and insurance.

Moreover, while the Cojuangcos have been indifferent students, very few of them earning the highest scholastic honors in the schools they attended, the Lunas are a family of geniuses and achievers. Antonio's brother Manuel was a violinist and conductor. Jose was a doctor of medicine. Juan was a painter famous in Spain and all Europe. And Antonio Luna himself had excellent grades and was a pharmacist with a medico-legal practice of analyzing blood samples, won a science-literary contest, and was an expert in the use of the gun and the saber. The love child of Ysidra and Luna would inherit the genius of Luna, and still remain a Cojuangco.

We contend that the most likely candidate to be the love child of Luna is Antonio, the father of Ramon and grandfather of Tonyboy of the PLDT, for many compelling reasons.

First is the name Antonio, common to both father and son, and passed on to grandson Antonio Cojuangco Jr. who was killed by the Japanese with his parents, and to the great grandson Antonio Cojuangco III, the president of PLDT.

Second is that Antonio Luna was a pharmacist and medical technician, and Antonio Cojuangco was a doctor of medicine, with a natural desire to be in the same field as his father. All the other Cojuangco brothers -- Jose, Juan and Eduardo -- either took up law or business.

Third is the secret and almost conspiratorial way that his birthdate is being withheld from the public.

Fourth is that the descendants of Antonio Cojuangco the elder, unlike his brothers and their families, are excellent scholastic achievers like the Lunas. Antonio's son Ramon graduated from Fordham University with a business degree, cum laude; and Ramon's son Tonyboy, PLDT president, graduated summa cum laude with an economics degree in Ateneo.

The common physical features of Antonio Luna and Antonio Cojuangco, as shown by the photos above, cannot all happen in a million years, unless they have the same genes:

Fifth, to continue our enumeration, the hairlines of Juan and Jose are neat and straight across the forehead, while those of two Antonios form a V at the parting of the hair at the “hati” -- a sort of reverse widow's peak.

Sixth, the two Antonios have the same pout on the lower lip.

Seventh, they have bushy eyebrows on their right side, and less pronounced pencil-thin eyebrows on their left side.

Eighth, their right eyes are round and almond-shaped; and the left eyes are small, slant and located LOWER than those on the right.

Ninth, whose is the OTHER body buried with Antonio Cojuangco? If as we will find later, Antonio Luna’s body has disappeared from the face of the earth, and is neither in Batac where he was born, or in Cabanatuan where he was assassinated, then is it possible that the other body buried with Antonio Cojuangco, is that of his father Antonio Luna?? Easy to tell. DNA samples are available from present live members of the Luna family, and the same is available from the descendants of Antonio Luna. Blood will tell, and if the DNA element in the bones of both Antonio Luna and Antonio Cojuangco be compared, the final proof of their common genes may be verified.

Congratulations are in order for Tonyboy and his family. And we rest our case.

Related stories :

Part One: Seeking the Holy Grail on Good Friday

Part Two: Which Cojuangco is the love-child of Luna?

Part Four: Ysidra and Antonio Luna, The Road of Destiny

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