Monday, January 19, 2009

Remembering Jesusa Teodoro Martin (My beloved Lola Nena...)

Today is the 106th birthday of my favorite Lola, Lola Nena.  I am posting here a reprint from our Martin Clan Book about Lola Nena.

Lola Nena died when I was in 4th grade, that was way back in 1984.  But I always have vivid memories of her (Lola Nena always cooked sweet delights for us) 

Here's the reprint I'm talking about.  I think this was written by my cousin Mayo Uno and his Tatay, my favorite Tito Boy.

(Excerpts from the Martin-Teodoro Aklat Angkan...):

NENA

Jesusa was born on January 19, 1903 in Tondo, Manila . Like Dominador, she was the youngest of two children by Santiago Naguit Teodoro ("Iliong") of Bulacan and Elena dela Cruz ("Enang") of Tondo. The eldest was Sergio ("Ikong").

Jesusa was only six when her mother passed away so her aunt Petra ("Pitang"), sister of her father, brought up the two children up. Santiago 's second wife, Leonora Pantanilla ("Nena"), produced six more children:  Andrea ("Andring"), Juliana ("Julita"), Antolina ("Antoling") , Albino ("Binoy"), Fidela ("Dely") and Gregorio ("Gorio").

Unlike Dominador, she had gotten her name from the calendar (she was born during the Feast of the Sto. Niño) although no one knows why she was nicknamed "Nena."

She finished her primary studies in Bulacan Central School in 1920 and secondary studies at Bulacan High School in 1924.

Because a high school graduate was allowed to be a teacher in elementary schools, Jesusa was able to teach in the town of Bigaa (now Balagtas).

It's not clear as to what year she studied at Philippine Women's University, where Jesusa had mentioned befriending the first wife of Carlos P. Romulo, Virginia Llamas.

Her teaching stint was brief as a year after she had finished high school, her love affair with Dominador brought them to the church, and wedding bells beckoned.

***

Almost facing each other across the street in Bambang, Bulacan, Bulacan, were the old houses of the Teodoros and Perfecto Sanchez.

Like what has been said, it was in the old house of the Teodoros (which later became the home of sisters Petra and Anita) where Jesusa grew up after being orphaned.

Meanwhile, Dominador, together with his brother Tiburcio, grew up in the house of Perfecto Meneses Sanchez ("Pecto"), a widow who had married the boys' grandmother Andrea de Jesus ("Andring"), a widower.

The couple had a comfortable house--with fishponds and ricefield--and so were able to send the two boys to school. They both finished medicine.

No one really knows how Dominador and Jesusa started their courtship years. What can be gleaned, though, was that it was the proximity that made it easy for them to fall for each other.

They were married a mere one month after Dominador finished his AA and their first two children were born while he was studying medicine at UST.

***

Their eldest child, Ricardo, was born in 1926 in Paniqui, Tarlac, where Dominador's father, after whom the child was named, lived.

But because Dominador was still studying, the new family moved to Tondo and within a year came Elena (who was named after Jesusa's mother).

Jesusa then finally decided to leave teaching and take care of the kids. And because their only means was coming from Lolo Pecto's subsidy for Dominador's studies, Jesusa had to sell different food items for additional income.

When Dominador finally became a doctor in 1929, his first job was as a municipal doctor in Sta. Ignacia, Tarlac. It was in this town where their third child, Encarnacion, was born the year after.

From Sta. Ignacia, Dominador was once more detailed to La Paz where six of their eleven kids were born: Andrea (1932), Petrona (1934), Wilfredo (1936), Celia (1939), Santiago (1944), and Estrella (1947).

The remaining children who weren't born in Tarlac and Tondo, were Dominador Jr. (in Malolos, Bulacan; 1941) and the youngest, Perfecto (in Bulakan, Bulacan; 1951).

So how did they find themselves in Malolos? When Dominador took up a postgraduate course in public health at the University of the Philippines in 1940-41, the Martins moved to Malolos, Bulacan, where Dominador Jr. was born.

During the brink of World War II in 1944, the family moved back to La Paz where Santiago and Estrella were born.

In 1947, after the war and in preparation for Dominador's next assignment, which was in Bulakan, Bulacan, the four children--Elena, Encarnacion, Andrea, and Dominador Jr.--temporarily lived in the old Teodoro house under the care of  Lola Pitang. Meanwhile, Ricardo was taken care of by the couple Amalia and Francisco Talag of Obando.

In 1948, the whole family was reunited in the house of Perfecto Sanchez who had left the house to them (and in the end went to Domindor Sr.).

Perfecto has the distinction of being the only child born there, a year after the couple celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary (or boda de plata) in the Bambang chapel.

***

Within the span of 35 years, Dominador served as the municipal doctor of various towns in Tarlac and Bulacan.

Government doctors earn very little so it's a wonder how he was able to rear and put to school so many children.

His older children have interesting stories of how despite the financial constraints, the family was rich in vegetables, fruit, poultry and other products from the barrio--courtesy of the townsfolk who would give him these in return for his services.

This could very well be the reason why Jesusa (who was often called "Doktora") became active in women's groups both in Tarlac and Bulacan.

In these groups, "Doktora" would often teach her fellow members different skills wives and mothers could use, such as cooking sweets, creating household décor from local and cheap materials, and other means of livelihood for the family.

In other words, the lack of a comfortable salary did not deter Dominador and Jesusa from becoming active in local organizations that dealt with social development projects.

Dominador was active in organizations such as the local PTA, a doctors' association and other civic groups. He was also an active Mason (like his father Ricardo, and brothers Tiburcio and Horacio).

Jesusa often told her children Dominador was strict when it came to time. Whenever he would organize an excursion, they would leave on the dot for fears of being left behind. ("If  Doctor says we leave at five in the morning, we leave at five in the morning.")

Jesusa, meanwhile, was a leader of groups such as the 4H Club, homemakers club, rural improvement club, and the like, which explains her vast knowledge in making sweetened pickled (santol, guava, kamias, etc.) and vegetables (papaya, dampalit), and other dishes that's reserved only for family and guests, such as kamote and potato salad with coconut milk  dressing, and kinchay and bell pepper.

She also launched livelihood projects for women, married or otherwise. Such, it seems, comes naturally to someone who strives to augment her husband's meager earnings for a growing brood.

***

What was surprising to everyone was Jesusa's health of body and mind. In spite of bringing to the world 11 children, she remained strong and alert for 81 long years.

She rarely fell sick and the only time anyone remembers of her being in a hospital was when she accidentally fractured her hands after falling from bed early one morning.

Another amazing thing to note was that she had given birth to all her children in the house with the help of her doctor husband!

A health-conscious woman, she would always remind her children about the nutritional value of each fruit and vegetable at every mealtime.

Her only weakness was ice cream--she can finish a half-gallon in one sitting!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY LOLA NENA...