Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Love Story of Ysidra and Antonio Luna - Part Two: Which Cojuangco is the love-child of Luna?

Luis Taruc recounts a joke that dates back to the last century, about a Spanish priest who was enraged to find his cows' ears cut off, and ordered an investigation by the sacristan. The sacristan said, “No need to do that, Padre. Everyone knows that you can manufacture ears to replace the missing ones!” How is that? asked the priest. “Well,” answered the sacristan, “You have often been overheard telling the pregnant women in the parish, whose husbands are out of town, that they should regularly visit you at night, because their unborn baby may need ears which only the priest can provide in good order.” Catholic bishops when installed in office make a solemn oath to preserve the Baptismal Registers entrusted to them above all things, especially during fires and natural disasters. Many entries in these old records register the baptisms of children born with unnamed fathers.

Whatever happened to the alleged love child of Ysidra Cojuangco and General Antonio Luna? We assure the reader that there is nothing to be ashamed of in being the only descendant of our national hero Antonio Luna who has an illustrious bloodline known for brilliance of intellect and genius. The love child of Ysidra and Luna is not illegitimate; he would be classified as “hijo natural,” natural son, because Ysidra and Luna were both single, eligible to be married, and their relationship was not adulterous. Moreover, such a child would still be a Cojuangco in addition to being a Luna.

We all drove to the house of Carlos Quirino in Ayala Alabang, and found him in good health and willing to help at age 83. According to historian Carlos Quirino's unpublished manuscript on the Cojuangco family, Ysidra Cojuangco, spinster in her thirties, gave birth to a son outside the bounds of matrimony, which the Cojuangco family claims was sired by an unnamed Chinese mestizo who died before he could marry her. The family claimed further that the love child also died in infancy. But there are others, specially those in family of Tecla Chichioco (wife of Melecio), and many other independent witnesses, who say that Ysidra was Luna's sweetheart and that the child was sired by General Luna. There is absolutely no record we can find to prove that the child died and was buried. Assuming for the sake of argument that the love-child survived to manhood, it is only logical to assume that the baby would have been adopted by Ysidra's brother Melecio and his wife, who were childless for two years after their wedding. Which of the four Cojuangco boys is the love child of General Antonio Luna? Is he Jose, the father of Cory Aquino and her siblings who now own Hacienda Luisita? Juan who married twice and was childless? Antonio, killed by the Japanese, father of Ramon and the grandfather of Tonyboy, the president of PLDT and former chairman of the Philippine Air Lines? Or Eduardo, the father of Danding Cojuangco, alleged Marcos crony, lately chairman of San Miguel Corporation and Cocobank, who almost made it to the presidency of the Republic?

We can only deduce this if we know the birthdate and the time the baby was conceived, and whether or not Antonio Luna was in the Philippines to do the impregnation. Additionally there are certain characteristics of the Lunas that are admittedly not present in the Cojuangco clan, and may be matched with those of the alleged son of Luna.

The first candidate for this distinction is Jose, the father of Cory, Pete and Peping Cojuangco. He was born according to Carlos Quirino on March 19, 1896. According to his tombstone in Manila Memorial Park, his birth date is July 3, 1896. And according to an entry in the Baptismal Registry of Barasoain Church (Malolos, Bulacan), dated July 8, 1896, he was baptized, “un nińo de seis dias nacido,” a child six days old, which puts his birthdate at July 2, 1896. Whatever birthdate, Jose may have been conceived in the womb of Ysidra between July and October 1895. At the time Luna was in the Philippines, having affairs all over the place and earning a reputation as a ladies' man and loverboy.

In March 1896, according to Quirino, the Cojuangco family moved from its residence in Malolos, Bulacan, and resettled permanently far to the north, in Paniqui, Tarlac. Why travel several hundred kilometers away in a horse cart with a pregnant mother, or the newly born baby Jose, unless trying to escape from the effects of a family scandal???

The next candidate is the childless Juan. He was born on April 18, 1898 in Paniqui; if so, he was conceived August 1897. Six months before, February 1897, Luna left for Spain, and was in Barcelona at the time Juan was conceived, and did not come back till May 1898 via Hong Kong. So Antonio Luna could not be the father of Juan.

The next is Antonio Cojuangco, father of Ramon and grandfather of Tonyboy, the president of the Philippine Long Distance Co, (PLDT). His birthdate was not available in the book of Carlos Quirino, so we will leave him awhile, and go to the next candidate, Eduardo Cojuangco, father of businessman and presidential candidate, Danding Cojuangco.

Eduardo Cojuangco (the elder) was born on October 13, 1904, having been conceived in the womb in February 1904, long after Antonio Luna was assassinated on June 5, 1899. Therefore Eduardo could not have been the son of Luna.

Ysidra's brother, Melecio Cojuangco, aggrieved by an argument with two Americans claiming the seats of his sons, died of a heart attack on a train on the way to Paniqui on March 13, 1909. Of all his heirs only Jose and Antonio may be suspected of being the love child of Ysidra Cojuangco and Antonio Luna. The only missing link is the birthdate of Antonio C. Cojuangco. A check with the Tonyboy's office at the PLDT, drew a blank; nobody there knew. Who would know? Carlos Quirino cannot explain how he missed this date. Even the birthdate of Martin, the original Cojuangco born in Amoy, is known and documented, so why not Antonio? We figured there will be a record in the man's tomb, so we went to the family mausoleum (Plaza of Dignity, Lot 405-406) in the Manila Memorial Park. There was none; and even the tombs of his wife and his son Ramon were unmarked by any dates, even though their dates of birth and death are known. Only the names appeared. Was this a deliberate act to hide the fact that Antonio's birthdate is secret? The tombs of his brother Jose and wife Demetria in the next lot were marked by dates in the usual way.

Another curious thing. Records at Manila Memorial show that the remains of Antonio Cojuangco, killed in 1945 in the Liberation of Manila, was originally buried in La Loma Cemetery in Quezon City. When it was transferred to Manila Memorial, the latter noted that there TWO bodies in the crypt – it was claimed that the other body was that of his Chinese amah (yaya). Really now, is it possible that Ysidra Cojuangco who survived to the 1960s, put the body of Antonio Luna there with Antonio Cojuangco? Where is the body of Antonio Luna? Ricardo Manapat, Steve Latorre and myself went to the Ateneo Archives in Loyola Heights, and looked over the appropriate Alumni Directory of Ateneo de Manila. All four siblings were listed on the same page. Jose graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1915; Juan in 1916; Antonio in 1918; Eduardo in 1920. There is an 8 year gap between the birth of the eldest Jose (1896) and the youngest Eduardo (1904), yet there is only a 5 year gap between the dates of their college graduation. Does that mean that Jose started his schooling late and Eduardo started early? Or does it mean that their stated birthdays, that of Antonio especially, are not accurate?

Between the dates of birth of the second born Juan (1898) and the last born Eduardo (1904) is a gap of four years, as there is between their dates of graduation (Juan, 1916; and Eduardo, 1920) with Antonio graduating exactly halfway between (1918). Was the third son Antonio was born halfway between the second (1898) and fourth son (1904), that is, in the year 1900?

No, the Ateneo Annual of 1918 listed Antonio's birth year as 1899, the month undetermined.

With this crucial data of Antonio's birthdate, the way is now paved for our final conclusion as to which of the four Cojuangco boys is most likely to be the love child of Ysidra Cojuangco and General Antonio Luna.

Related stories :

Part One: Seeking the Holy Grail on Good Friday

Part Three: Is Tonyboy C. the great grandson of Luna?

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

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