The ‘unica hija’ of Si­lay

Sun Star Bacolod - - Opinion -

COUNT­LESS ‘mu­jeres’ (women) in Si­lay con­tributed a lot in the mak­ing of the ‘pue­blo’ (town) as the ‘Paris of Ne­gros’ at the turn of the cen­tury. Some were in the fields of business, teach­ing, phar­macy and agri­cul­ture. There were even Si­laynon women who were se­cretly in­volved in ‘movimiento fem­i­nista’ (women’s lib).

Among them, I have cho­sen one … Rosario Mon­telibano Loc­sin (our Tita Charet), the niece of Sen. Jose Corteza Loc­sin of Si­lay. Sen­a­tor Loc­sin ini­ti­ated the ‘First Filipino Pol­icy’ that was adopted by Pres. Car­los P. Gar­cia. When I was still the tourism of­fi­cer of Si­lay, Tita Charet was our num­ber one project sup­porter … her prayers, in­spi­ra­tion, and hum­ble food for our staff and vol­un­teers.

Tita Charet was born on De­cem­ber 12, 1927. Her ‘papa’ was (fa­ther) Rosario was Loc­sin En­rique Mon­telibano. Corteza Loc­sin She and was her num­ber ‘mama’ 11 (mother) out of 12 chil­dren … the ‘ju­nior’ of her mother. There were three gen­tle­men in the fam­ily: Armando (First Farm­ers’ Milling), Teodoro Sr. (Phil. Free Press) and Joe­marie (the pop­u­lar JML of Si­lay).

The ladies were En­car­na­cion (in­no­va­tive housewife), Ma. Luisa (As­sump­tion Sis­ter), Con­cep­cion (man­aged Hda. San Vi­cente), Je­susa (en­tre­pre­neur and ha­cienda man­ager), Fe (died at an early age- af­ter the Ja­panese Oc­cu­pa­tion), Emma (sec­re­tary of Dr. Mana­han in Manila), En­ri­queta (sec­re­tary of Vice-pres­i­dent Em­manuel Pe­laez), Charet (sugar bro­ker), and Tere­sita (Catholic so­cial worker).

The fam­ily of Tita Charet be­longed to the ‘ha­cen­dero’ class. Some spoke Span­ish, en­joyed opera and zarzuela at Si­lay Kahirup The­ater, hosted banquets for na­tional and for­eign guests, and en­joyed im­ported com­modi­ties from Europe. In Si­lay, they were known as mem­bers of the ‘buena fa­milia’. The chil­dren of the ‘buena fa­mil­ias’ were given the

op­por­tu­nity to study in Manila or abroad to be­come lawyers, doc­tors, priests and sub­ver­sives. They were called ‘ilustra­dos’, the en­light­ened ones. The ‘ilustra­dos’ were not ac­cept­ing their ‘in­dio’ sta­tus dur­ing the Span­ish col­o­niza­tion.

In the early 20’s, Tita Charet at­tended pub­lic school at Mabini El­e­men­tary School in Ba­colod City un­der an Amer­i­can Thom­a­site teacher, Merle Zane Ba­gley. Merle and her hus­band were fond of Tita Charet be­cause they were child­less.

The Ba­gleys would bring the young Charet home in their ‘ kalesa’ and would in­vite her for cook­ies (the best ac­cord­ing to Tita Charet). Mr. Ba­gley was a sought-af­ter baker in Ba­colod. They con­sid­ered Tita Charet as their own daugh­ter. Even the par­ents of Charet, Ique and Char­ing, didn’t mind.

It was Bishop Lladoc (fam­ily friend of the Loc­sins) who ad­vised that pub­lic el­e­men­tary school ed­u­ca­tion un­der protes­tant teacher is dan­ger­ous for their child. Char­ing, a ‘catolica cer­rada’ im­me­di­ately sent Tita Charet to Sta. There­sita’s Academy (STA) in Si­lay. No one, even a Loc­sin, could say ‘no’ to a bishop back then.

Mr. and Mrs. Ba­gley later on adopted a boy, whose fam­ily would even­tu­ally give them sanc­tu­ary dur­ing the Ja­panese Oc­cu­pa­tion. The Ba­gleys re­turned to the US af­ter World War II… and that adopted son even­tu­ally be­came an Amer­i­can cit­i­zen. Merle Zane Ba­gley died in 1969. Tita Charet be­longed to the first grad­u­ate batch (af­ter WWII). WWII). St. St. There­sita’s There­sita’s Academy Academy dur­ing dur­ing that that time time was was an an ex­clu­sive school for girls (most of them are daugh­ters of ‘ha­cen­deros’; some are work­ing stu­dents). She re­mem­bered that the most awaited mo­ment in school is the beauty and brain pageant, Search for Rose of Sta. Tere­sita (Oct. 3).

At times, there were folk dances. They had lot of masses and nove­nas for re­li­gious ob­ser­va­tions. At times, they were also re­quired to join the town pro­ces­sions. That was the world of the young Charet. She grew up in a prayer­ful en­vi­ron­ment.

That was her mem­ory of the ‘Paris of Ne­gros’. Her sim­ple life was not af­fected by other women who adored pieces of jew­elry and made them­selves ‘bes­tias car­gadas de oro’ (gold­bear­ing beasts). (To be con­tin­ued)*

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