Saturday, 8 August 2015

A Historical Photo of the Day: A Piece of Victorias City's History


Whenever I fly home, I sometimes rummage through my mom's photo albums full of black-and-white photographs. And sometimes, I chance upon some pretty historical photographs. 

And this photograph is definitely one.

It is a photograph taken at the house of Don Felix Lozada Montinola in Victorias, Negros Occidental in the Philippines. Then, it was a town; now, it's a chartered city.

Just like my 'fotos y recuerdos' blog in 2014, I stumbled upon this black-and-white photo and put in words the story this image was telling us:

Don Felix Montinola (seated in the middle) served as the 9th mayor of Victorias from 1935 to 1941. To his left is his wife, Doña Dorothea Magalona Montinola, whom everyone fondly called Lola Theang, and surrounded by, presumably, guests from the US government considering this was during the American-led Commonwealth Period (1935-1946), or Americans working at the Victorias Milling Company at that time. 

Doña Dorothea, or Lola Theang, was related to Enrique B. Magalona, after whom Saravia was named. Enrique B. Magalona was a former senator of the Philippines; he was the father of the actor Pancho Magalona and the grandfather of Francis Magalona, the late rapper. Lola Theang's regular visitor at the Montinola residence when she was alive was Betty Magalona, the sister of Susan Magalona, who was known to be the most beautiful in Negros at that time. (See my blog about Silay City's Balay Negrense for the photo of Susan Magalona). Betty, Susan and Pancho were Enrique B. Magalona's kids.

A high school owned by the Montinola family was named after Don Felix, whose great-great grandfather was Geronimo Fuentevilla Montinola, born in May 1785 to Juan Montinola and Maria Ysidra Fuentevilla, a lady from Spain. The school's name was Don Felix Montinola Memorial Institute and was one of the private high schools in Victorias. It is now closed.

This photo was taken on Don Felix's birthday, February 17, 1940, at 11:45AM. I'm not sure what the lunch menu was, but I see a bowl of 'pancit molo' and a plate of oysters. Since it was a Saturday, I presume lunch started early and this photo was taken when everyone was having dessert, wine, and conversations about local politics presumably carried in English. I can only guess if they actually had brazo de mercedes for dessert, but if they did, I am almost sure their guests would have wanted more...like I would!

The gentleman on the right of Don Felix is Don Valeriano Gatuslao, who was the governor of Negros Occidental at that time; he was the provincial governor from 1937-1940, and from 1954 to 1965.


The gentleman with eyeglasses and moustache on the right is Don Jose Gaston, the father of Monsignor Gigi Gaston, and owner of the famed Gaston Mansion at Hacienda Rosalia, where scenes of Peque Gallaga's masterpiece, Oro, Plata, Mata, were filmed. Don Jose Gaston's father, Don Victor Fernandez Gaston, built the Gaston Mansion in Silay City. That mansion is now known as Balay Negrense, Silay's most popular tourist attraction.

The gentleman on the right foreground with a nice haircut and is seen stretching his left arm is a priest.


The men at the table at the back must be playing the card game blackjack as they seem to be very interested in what was going on on the table. We wouldn't know who won big at their game that day, but how I wish the lady (with hair in a bun) helping the guests on that table would have told us. She is Doña Quintina 
Montinola Fermin, or Lola Tinay to all her grandkids, and was the eldest daughter of Don Felix and Doña Dorothea. Lola Tinay's sons, Jesus and Renato Fermin also became mayors of Victorias, and her younger brothers, Hector and Benito, were the 12th and 14th mayors, respectively.

Although I grew up in this small city, I still have a lot to learn about its history. I guess this 77-year old photo, taken before World War II, is a start.

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