And out of nowhere, this black-and-white photograph, that was hiding in the dark for decades, saw the light again.😎
But before I talk about the one above, let me tell about the one below - the photograph I stumbled upon five years ago that is about Don Felix Montinola and his guests at his birthday luncheon (read blog here). (Guess who came to lunch today.🍴)
With the help of certain people who were kind enough to share their memories, I was able to identify some guests on that table.
And all these years, I thought it was the only photograph taken during that special occasion celebrating the 76th birthday of the young town's 9th mayor. After all, in 1940, you would have to visit a photographer's studio to have your picture taken.
Or in this case, you needed to invite one to your house to capture the memories of the day.😄
And then, last week happened.😱
Just by chance, another photograph came to light, literally. I was told it was hidden in a tin box for decades along with a few other important black-and-whites and I presumed this one was taken before everyone sat for lunch that day. Some guests in the photograph taken at the comedor probably arrived late as they are not in this photograph taken at the sala.
Fortunately, this 'new' one was safely kept all these years, hiding in the dark. But it suddenly resurfaced as if the faces in the photograph yearned to be remembered once more.😊
This is the photograph, taken in 1940 and colorized in 2020, and taken by a photographer from Gamboa's Studios of Silay.😉
Behind them standing (among other guests) are Don Felix's children and his son-in-law.
From left to right and starting with the lady standing behind Governor Valing Gatuslao are Doña Quintina Montinola-Fermin, Victorino Fermin (her husband), Doña Salud Montinola (behind Doña Dorotea), Doña Luz Montinola (the lady in a white dress with black buttons), Don Hector Montinola (the 12th mayor of Victorias), Don Felix Montinola, Jr., and Don Benito Montinola (the 14th mayor of Victorias).
The gentlemen standing on the leftmost (with hands in pockets) is Don Epifanio 'Panyong' Torre, who had three children: Dr. Pablo Torre, Alfonso Torre (father of actor Joel Torre), and Lina Torre-Ascalon.
And just like the 1946 family photo of Don Viling Montinola taken in Jaro, Iloilo (read blog here), I was able to find how his (Don Panyong's) path crossed mine.
Don Panyong's daughter, Lina Torre married Gregorio Ascalon, who had a big house next to the school grounds of La Salle in Bacolod City - a house that they converted into a dormitory. And guess who boarded there? I DID! (I am from Victorias and I needed to stay in a boarding house in Bacolod City for convenience and probably for health reasons as well.) 😎
Their daughter, Mrs. Marilen Ascalon-Castellano, ran the dorm, which was separated by a creek from the school but was connected by a short footbridge. That black-painted pedestrian bridge was about ten steps long but I took less when I crossed into the school grounds.
The bridge was made of wood and steel bars that shook when students crossed, and on some occasions, some boys deliberately shook it to frighten the girls crossing. And yes, flirty girls could be heard screaming as if they were actually going to fall into the creek. Both sides of the bridge were covered with cyclone wires probably to prevent students from jumping off when they get failing grades in Business Math, Cost Accounting or even P.E.😂
I am grateful for that bridge; I was never late to class.😀 I stayed at Nang Lina's dorm for two years during my junior and senior years as I finished my degrees in Economics and Accounting at La Salle. 😍
Going back to the photo, on the opposite side, the lady standing and carrying a baby is Inday Lydia Ledesma Quiatchon. The boy is Jose Victor Fermin, while the seated lady touching the boy is Inday Elsa Ardosa. 👪
So, thanks to the photographer from Gamboa's Studios that day who went to visit the old Montinola mansion in Victorias and choreographed the family and their guests at the sala, and who captioned photo in Spanish, we are able to get a glimpse of the life Negrenses led in the early 20th century, although I am not sure if the colors painted by the colorization app I downloaded are as close to the story the original black-and-white told. 😉
Sadly, in about two years after this photograph was taken, on May 27, 1942, the people of Victorias finally came to terms with World War II when Japanese soldiers walked into the town (read blog here), although even before that, the Montinola family endured the tragedies of war when four of its family members became the first Victoriahanon casualties of WWII on December 16 (or 17), 1941 (read blog here). 😭
As my sources for this photograph could not recognize the other faces therein, I share this with everyone whose ancestor might have been one of those guests who were welcomed into the home of Don Felix that day in a time when peace and prosperity were enjoyed by the Negrenses. 🙏
Now, on to the next find...😛