Relative finder: Di-um Justa revealed


Zeng Wen Juan, Justa Macaso’s daughter, with bound feet. Both mother and daughter died in China. (Right, above) Lucas Chan died in Catarman in 1949; and (below) Justa’s grandson, Mariano Chan, now retired, was a cook at the Northern Samar Provincial Hospital.


By Eduardo Chan de la Cruz Jr.

Published by Tulay Fortnightly

Chinese Filipino Digest – June 19-July 9, 2012 ~ Volume 25 ~ Issue Nos. 1 & 2


Chinese Filipino: Filipino citizens with Chinese ancestry.
Filipino-Chinese: Chinese citizens with Filipino ancestry.
This describes some of my relatives in China. They descended from great-grandaunt, Justa Macaso, an Ilocana.
We know very little of her, this woman whom grandfather called Di-Um. In fact, because we didn’t know any better, we thought Di-Um was the name of a man.
Today, having delved deeper into our Chinese heritage, we know Di-Um describes the family relationship. Justa was grandfather’s aunt, married to his second eldest uncle Emilio Chan (曾大目): di for second, and um for the paternal uncle’s wife.
We first heard of great-grandaunt Justa from my deceased grandmother, Arsenia Lomagdong-Chan. She said grandfather had a relative he called Di-Um from Ilocos.
Ilocandia is home to many Chans descended from people who lived in my family’s ancestral village – Eni in China (中國福建省晋江市池店镇御辇村).
This was confirmed by the Chan-Cu family association: there were so many Chans in Ilocandia from Eni the association set up a separate branch for them in San Fernando, La Union.
Perhaps this was where my ancestors first landed, and where great-granduncle Emilio met his future wife.
One week after the visit of Rufino Chan’s descendants in Catarman, 70-year-old Mano Anong (Mariano Chan) came to see Aunt Cecilia Chan-Lim.
At the entrance of our ancestral house in Catarman, he met one of my cousins who did not recognize him.
Irritated, Mano Anong complained to Aunt Cecilia that he was excluded at the welcome party for our Chinese relatives, and the younger generation no longer knew him.
Until then, we only knew his surname was the same as ours. It turned out his grandfather was Emilio Chan, brother of our great-grandfather. (Previously, we had known great-granduncle as Zeng Da Mu. This was the first we heard of his Filipino name.)
He said his grandfather Emilio married an Ilocana named Justa Macaso!
The next day he gave us letters dated 1938 sent from China to his father Lucas Chan
(曾羅加) in Catarman.
Mano Anong said his father often traveled to China. He helped bring my grandfather to China when he was very young and brought him back when grandfather was a teenager. He also went with his mother to bring Rufino and Franciso back to China in the 1930s. This made him a party to the separation of Nay Lourdes from her two brothers.
The turbulent years in China the following decades did not allow Justa to return to the land of her birth. She died in China in the 1950s.
Mano Anong said Justa often wrote to his father for help because they were going hungry. So bad was the food situation in China they sometimes ate paper or rice dust!
Great-grandaunt Justa had two children: the son Lucas, and a daughter Zeng Wen Juan (who stayed in China).
Justa Macaso played a central role in my family’s history, a microcosm of the interaction between China and the Philippines. Most of what little we know of her surfaced in the past seven years.
More information about her may yet come to light. (Eduardo Chan de La Cruz Jr.)

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