Part of History

Part of History

Gemma Cruz Araneta
Many people enjoy reading biographies because there is nothing more engaging than learning about the details of a famous person’s life.

To me, when a biography is intertwined with the history, it becomes even more edifying for it makes me realize that our lives, like it or not, are part of the nation’s saga. We tend to deny our own protagonic roles and are content to watch other personages, in silence and from a distance, forge our collective destiny with their own vision or lack of it.

Recently, I had a chance to peruse the yet unpublished biography of Mayor Calixto Cataquiz of San Pedro Tunasan, an exemplary public servant whom I had the honor to meet some years ago. Written by Jose Maria Alas and Arnaldo Arnaiz, the biography blends the intriguing history of the town with the rise of Calixto Cataquiz from young businessman to outstanding mayor.

Biographers Alas and Arnaiz relate that it all began: “..Before the Spaniards arrived and created what is now known as the Philippines, Mayor Cataquiz’s hometown was then called Tunasan (after the medicinal plant “tunas” which used to grow in abundance by the lakeshore). It was then heavily forested and swampy. Wild boar and deer used to thrive in this area. There was no social organization to speak of that was comparable to pre-Hispanic Manila. Thus the native Tagalogs who used to occupy the area were scattered in the jungles of Tunasan. At the onset of Spanish colonization, Tunasan was then a territory of Tabuco (known today as Cabuyao).

“Township began when the Spaniards, with the initiative and planning of the Franciscans, invited the scattered indigenous people into organizing themselves into a town (reduccion a pueblo, literally “reducing” scattered individuals into a component town) for their own benefit. With this in mind, the Spanish was able to easily disseminate its culture, religion, social organization, and other Western concepts of civilization to the indigenous (and oftentimes warring) tribes throughout the archipelago. Tunasan was then called Tunasancillo by the Spaniards and some of the natives who learned the Castilian language. Years later, Tunasancillo was separated from Tabuco. It became known as San Pedro Tunasan, with Saint Peter as its patron. For many years also, the Jesuits attended to the spiritual, social, economic, and cultural needs of the people.”

Often enough, you meet people (specially those in elected positions) who talk and act as if history started with them, absolutely nothing existed before they were sworn into office. Continuity seems to have become a national defficiency so we are cursed to go back to square one in utter disdain of history. Now, a glimpse at the other side of the Cataquiz clan: “During the American period, San Pedro Tunasan became a part of Biñan. Years later, in 1907, it became once more an independent town. But it sold a large part of its territory to nearby Muntinlupa; that part is now known as Barangay Tunasan.

“In 1914, the town simply became known as San Pedro…Thus, a unique mix of native and occidental was the cultural environment imbibed by the people of San Pedro from centuries of Western rule. This hodgepodge culture shaped the San Pedroeño heart and mind throughout the years…. In this unique setting a young Rosa Ramirez was reared. Unlike the Cataquiz clan, Rosa’s family was neither rich nor poor…Years later, while on a business trip to nearby Pateros, Rosa of San Pedro, Laguna met her future husband Rodolfo of Unisan, Quezon. Rosa was then observing the itik and balot industry of Pateros; she was planning to pioneer an itikan business in her hometown. Incidentally, Rodolfo was then visiting his brother who was living in the same area.”

Mayor Cataquiz told his biographers– “One of my mother’s close friends was actually the sister of my tio’s wife, And that’s how it all began.”–so Alas and Arnaiz wrote: “This same circle of Pateros acquaintances pulled them both towards their first meeting. And upon first glance, each other felt a surge of emotion that both knew immediately would blossom into a partnership that was written only in the stars…” This Tagalog union brought forth on 29 December 1948 the future mayor, of San Pedro, Laguna. And the town was never to be the same again. Entitled A DATE WITH DESTINY: One More Challenge! (The Life Story of San Pedro, Laguna Mayor Calixto R. Cataquiz) this biography promises to be a good read.

We thank Ms. Gemma Cruz Araneta for featuring our little book in Manila Bulletin. Her popular column ‘Landscape’ comes out every Tuesday.

Agradecidos por su amabilidad, Sra. Cruz- Araneta.

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6 responses to “Part of History

  • Disappointment over my unofficial hometown « FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES

    [...] haven’t seen nor talked to each other for about a month or so. The book’s 99.99% done. Gemma Cruz Araneta has even reviewed it already. And Arnaldo is now busy with other historical projects. Furthermore, we’ll be moving out of [...]

  • Lai

    Hi, I left a comment on your friend, Pepe’s, webblog re:Bonigago, :-) I just want to ask, what happened to Mayor Calex’s biography. Parang wala na kasi kaming balita. Napublish na ba? Natuloy ba yung project niyo?

    • nold

      They plan to publish it this coming October, as far as I’m concern the publishing is up to them – but we hope that there would be no alteration.

      Thanks for dropping by!

      Saludos!

  • Levi

    I can’t wait to get hold of a copy of this pare. I would prefer a copy signed by you and Pepe. Excellent piece brotha!

    • Nick Flores

      It was so interesting to read such successful story because I knew some parts of the life of the family of Mayor Calex. I am a relative of his father from Quezon province. My tatay, who is Canor Cataquiz, died on 1996, was then a caretaker of their fishpond in Unisan, Quezon. Then later on, in the year 1962 or 1963, my two elder sisters Puring and Paulita was hired by them as katulong sa bahay. The family of Tio Dolfo and Tia Rosa, then was already rich because of their established business in Balutan, Rice Mill or Kono as they called it and likewise Tio Dolfo pioneer the business of reality in San Pedro, Laguna, it was known then as Cataquiz subdivision. On his younger days, Mayor Calex, though can afford all what he wanted for luxury in life, remain so simple and ordinary.

      I was just deposing the truth that in 1964 and so on, the parents of Mayor Calex are financially stable.

      Unlike, other politicians in San Pedro, before aspiring to become local executive was a poor man but when he occupied public office became rich.

      So, it is interesting that when he became Mayor of San Pedro,Laguna, a much improved and develop San Pedro is visible.

      It is normal that political criticism might be inferred to Mayor Calex especially now, when another election is fast approaching, however I am advising my family,friends and other voters to become practical in choosing candidate, there are those people with hidden personal agenda in public office, be aware of these people. One of their manifested act was to divide the municipality of San Pedro. Instead of guiding the people to progress, they are directing them to retrogressive status.

      Another, when we are about to choose public servant, try to analyse his motive, consider his economic status , many persons who run for public office now is perceived, the public office as a lucrative business conduit.

      Well, good morning, and good day to all.

      Nick Cataquiz

      • De AnDA

        I know the Mayor personally. He’s a good man. Never met the father. When I met Calex, his father was already bed ridden. Last year he died already. The son talks fondly of his days with his beloved Papa.

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