Tag Archives: Northern Samar

Relative finder: Di-um Justa revealed

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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.

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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

http://www.kaisa.org.ph:16080/tulay/archive/2012/061912/061912-V25Ns1&2.html

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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.)

Relative finder: nine months

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Nay Lourdes’ brother, Rufino Chan, was also known in China as Huang Jin Sha (黄金沙) and Zeng Jin Sha (曾金沙) in Eni village. Photo shows Chan with his wife Lin Ji (林及). (Top) Nay Lourdes is flanked by (counter-clockwise) her daughters, son-in-law and a granddaughter.

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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

http://www.kaisa.org.ph:16080/tulay/archive/2012/061912/061912-V25Ns1&2.html

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It was noontime but it rained so hard the sky dimmed as if dusk. The sky wept endlessly and streets began to flood.
A small procession of cars, pedicabs, and people in white were slowly winding its way through the narrow streets of coastal communities in Catarman, Northern Samar.
It was a difficult journey, as if to reflect the difficult life of the woman being laid to rest.
This is the story of my grandaunt, Nay Lourdes.
A widow, Lourdes Dy Chan-Gallano was 82 when she died early last year. Affectionately called Nay Lourdes, she was grandfather’s cousin, thus grandaunt to us. She lived in Barangay Baybay, a fishing village. Some of her 10 children and grandchildren live as fishermen in this coastal community.
Nay Lourdes never went to high school. Unskilled, unschooled, she could not earn a living. So, she stayed home as a housewife. She was poor most of her life.
Her skin was brown from the beach’s sun. She spoke fluent Waray and was very Filipino in her ways. Only the almond slant of her eyes suggested that she is pure Chinese. She does not speak, read or write Chinese.
In 1994 when I was doing interviews to seek out relatives in China, an aunt mentioned that my grandfather had a cousin, Nay Lourdes, whom they said was pure Chinese but spoke no Chinese.
A lot has happened since that interview but my curiosity about her story continued to nag me like an incomplete school assignment.
Today, I have found my relatives in China and when dealing with extended families in two different countries with an almost different culture and language, it is very difficult to explain to both sides how one is related to the other.
So I created a family tree to show relationships with photos and names. Pictures do speak louder than words, especially when words fail, most especially because I do not speak Chinese.
And when these pictures spoke, they told a touching story of siblings lost and found. And that of Nay Lourdes.
May 2010: tale from China
Completing our family tree was the main reason for my third visit to the family hometown near Quanzhou City.
I presented my draft to uncle Zeng Huan Zhang (曾焕章), second cousin to my mother Nimfa. He liked the family tree very much and recounted so many stories but I could not understand him. So he wrote down some of them so someone in the Philippines can translate them for me.
For great-grandfather’s generation on the family tree, he added more names to show four brothers.  He gestured towards the sea, indicating they left for the Philippines. Great-grandfather died and was buried in Samar.  Did the other three return to China?
He did not know.
His daughter, Zeng Na Na (曾娜娜), said two years back, she and uncle had traveled to Xiamen for the funeral of a distant relative. Under great-granduncle Julian Chan’s name she added two more names: great-granduncle’s sons. The younger son was the relative who died recently. The elder had been forcibly drafted into the Kuomintang army in his youth and never heard from again.
That was all they knew.
June 2010: tale from the Philippines
A month later, in Catarman, a family tricycle stopped in front of our house.  Onboard is grandaunt Nay Lourdes, 82. She paid a rare visit to mother. She was ill and needed to see doctors in Tacloban City, Leyte. She asked for money and a ride from my father, the provincial administrator.
Meanwhile, mother asked about her life history and took notes for our family tree.
Nay Lourdes was born Oct. 8, 1928, in Brgy. Polangi, a village in the hinterlands of our town. Daughter of Julian Chan and Dy Ken Yu, both immigrants from China, Nay Lourdes said her father was brother to my great-grandfather, Maximo.
She had two elder brothers, Francisco and Rufino. Her mother died of illness a few months after she was born. Three days after his wife died, Julian, overcome with grief, drank poison and died. Orphaned, the three children were taken in by great-grandfather Maximo who raised them as if they were his own.
Misfortune followed in 1937, when Maximo died of an unknown disease that caused ulcers on his skin.
Orphaned again, they were to return to China with their Di-um Justa Macaso, a Filipina married to their father’s second eldest brother – Emilio Chan (Zeng Da Mu 曾大目),     also my second eldest great-granduncle.
Justa was living in China at the time, and had traveled to the Philippines to fetch them.  The older boys went back to China with her.
Deemed too young to travel, the young Lourdes was left behind in Catarman with an elderly Filipino couple. At 15, she was wed in an arranged marriage to a farmer nearly 10 years older.
In conversation with my mother, Nay Lourdes admitted her unrelenting search for her brothers since their separation more than 70 years ago. She learned only that one of her brothers had become a soldier, nothing more.
She knew the Filipino names of her parents and brothers, as told by acquaintances when she was still young. She had no pictures, no documents and letters, no physical evidence to trace her brothers’ existence.
July 2010: Questionnaire
When mother gave me her interview notes, stories from my Chinese relatives and Nay Lourdes seemed to click.  I had a strong feeling these were of the same family but I had no proof. I had helped others find their relatives. Surely I can do the same for my own kin.
I asked cousin Zeng Na Na for a contact with the family of our deceased granduncle, Chan Bon Tieng Meliton (Zeng Wen Cheng 曾文呈), in Xiamen. He was cousin to my maternal grandfather. If Nay Lourdes was who I thought she was, he would be her cousin as well.
I got a phone number, then asked my sister Christine to email her Chinese colleague in Shanghai to call for a house address. I sent a letter with my questions. The response came by email.
August 2010: Di-Um Justa
During our town fiesta, we invited Nay Lourdes over. We had good news for her. But first we wanted her to tell her story again. Mother asked: What was the name of the person who took your brothers away?
“I was told it was our Aunt Justa Macaso,” she said.
The aunt who had separated the siblings became our cementing evidence, the missing link that would bring them together again.
I asked Nay Lourdes’ newly-found relatives to visit her, especially now that she is frail. In November, her niece Huang Yu Lian (黄玉連)     and grandniece Wu Yu Xia (吴裕霞) arrived in Catarman. These were granduncle Rufino’s daughter and granddaughter. Cousin Zeng Na Na also came to visit for the first time.  We had a grand reunion and gave them a taste of the famous Filipino hospitality.
December 2010: an era passes
Northern Samar experienced an unusually wet Christmas that year.  It would rain for weeks on end. By mid-December, Nay Lourdes succumbed to pneumonia and other complications from her long fight with myoma. She was in and out of hospital for a week.
A few days into 2011, she passed away.
For my family, 2010 was a historic year.  In nine months, our family tree took shape, traced from a single root that branched out across history, across the sea, and across generations to bear very diverse fruits but united in one familial bond.
Looking at the family tree, the death of grandaunt Nay Lourdes, the last of grandfather’s cousins, signaled the closing of an entire generation.
But in its wake, a new realization sets in, particularly with my generation. There is now a deeper understanding of our lineage and of how we came to be. The story of the previous generation, previously buried in memory and might have stayed buried forever, has been unearthed and will live on in hearts and minds.