Kiki & Lala

Generations and Legacies

Posted on: August 12, 2009

The weirdest thing happened to me last night.  As I was falling asleep, as my mind was slowly shifting to dream mode, as the heaviness of my breath was lulling me to sleep, I thought about my dad.  And it wasn’t the kind of thought that seamlessly weaves through your other thoughts until it steals your attention.  It was a sudden thought, a jolt, like a shot of adrenaline. Think Uma Thurman after her overdose in Pulp Fiction (OK KIKI, you don’t have be too dramatic!)… but that’s how this thought startled me.  And then the reality settled:  he’s gone.    And for a few minutes I felt myself breathing faster and my body couldnt decide whether it wanted to cry or not.  I didn’t cry. 

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

Instead I had this obsessive urge to google him.  As if reading more about him would bring him back.   It didn’t bring him back, but it sure made me feel better!  So in this frantic googling, I came across this article.  It’s probably one of the last articles written about him.   Do you remember this?


MANILA, MAY 7, 2007 (STARweek) By Rowena M. Orejana – He speaks lyrically, with the grace of speech from an era when time was slower, people were more polite and living life meant more than making money.

Emigdio G. Tanjuatco, Sr., at 94, is a source of pride for his children and an icon to his grandchildren. Everyone in the family notes with something close to awe how he just never stops working.

“He is almost 95 but he still goes to the office everyday. He doesn’t have to but he still goes. He makes sure the office is being run properly. In fact, even though he says he is retired, all we do, all documents that go in and out of the office, still passes through him. Once in a while, he even checks grammar. And I think that’s a manifestation of his discipline,” grandson Emigdio III, known to his family and friends as Dino, says not with little pride.

Discipline, perseverance and a willingness to work hard are but a few of the traits that the patriarch has passed on to his son, which were in turn passed on to his grandchildren.

Don Meding is satisfied with what he has achieved in his life—so far. “Wala akong masasabing hindi katuwaan, sapagka’t sa gitna ng aming pangangailangan sa buhay, ay silang lahat ay nakapagtapos ng kanilang hinahangad na karunungan. Ako ay natutuwa sapagka’t sa gitna ng mahigpit na pangangailangan, eh sila ay nagkaroon ng magandang kinabukasan,” he says.

He was born on Aug. 5, 1912 in Tanay, Rizal. His life was marked with trials which he did not deem as tragedies, but merely as part of life.

His father died when he was eight years old, and he took up the task of being a helper to his mother, doing chores around the house and running errands for the general merchandise store owned by his family in the public market.

Though it was his mother’s dream to have a doctor in the family, fate conspired that he follow a different path. Already enrolled for pre-medicine at the University of Sto. Tomas, his family experienced financial difficulties that forced him to stop schooling.

The Grand Old Man, Eulogio “Amang” Rodriguez, a family friend, told his mother that the young Meding “is not meant to be a doctor, he is meant to be a lawyer.”

He worked by day at Rodriguez’s law office and studied by night at the Far Eastern University. Once again, hard work, diligence, perseverance, plus innate intelligence landed him in 12th place in the bar exams.

“Hindi mo naitatanong, ako ay nagsimula sa pagka-abogado nung 1938,” he relates. “Ako ay napasok sa Zaragoza-Araneta law firm hanggang panahon ng Hapon, Sept. 1944. Nung pumasok ang mga Amerikano, ako hinirang dahil kay Sec. Confesor na district director ng civilian relief supply office hanggang ako ay pakiusapan ni Don Jose Cojuangco na tulungan siya sa pagbubukas ng Philippine Bank of Commerce. Ako ay nanatili (duon) hanggang 1948 ng ako ay kunin ni Andres Soriano na legal counsel ng Philippine Airlines. Yan ang kahus-ayan ng law office na pinuntahan ko.”

The practice of law is somehow inexplicably and inextricably linked to politics. And though he was not destined to be a public official, he did foray into the arena.

“Ako ay nasa politika nuong 1957. Ako’y kandidato. Nakakalungkot na ang aking nakalaban ay ang aking bayaw na si Francisco Sumulong. Bagaman hindi ko gusto nuon, ako ay kuman-didato. Ako ay pinakiusapan ni Speaker Yulo, na siyang kandidato sa pagka presidente, na kung maari, e, ako ay lumaban sa pagkadeputado sapagka’t wala silang mailaban. Napakasakit na magkalaban kami ng aking bayaw,” he narrates.

He lost in that election but it started a career in public service. He later became a member of the Board of Directors of the National Waterworks and Sewerage Authority (NWSA) as well as the Philippine National Bank.

His son Ding, the second Emigdio to test the political waters, was luckier.

In 1984, the human rights lawyer felt it was time to take the fight against the oppressive Marcos regime to the next level.

“I thought that human rights lawyering with Mabini, during the time of Marcos, would salve my conscience. Then when Ninoy was assassinated, we became involved in the parliament of the streets. When I saw the reaction of Metro Manila to these mass actions, I thought, why not bring it to the South where I come from. So we did a series of rallies, marches in the province. Before we realized it, andyan na. The elections for Batasan Pambansa was starting off,” Ding relates.

Two candidates were needed to represent the province of Rizal. With the deadline fast approaching, his uncle, Francisco Sumulong, turned to him and said he had better reconcile himself to the fact that he will also be running for a seat in the Batasan.

“I said, ‘that’s impossible. We’ve thrown everything at the Marcoses, including the kitchen sink against nepotism etc. and then, I’ll run.’ He said ‘no that will not be an issue’,” he recalls.

And run he did. He admits that he wasn’t that hopeful—people could not even spell his name. “I figured even if I lose, if I fought I’d be given a chance to present my credentials to the people. I’d be an acknowledged opposition leader,” the second generation Emigdio says. He won by a wide margin which surprised him the most.

And the now torch has been passed to the third generation Emigdio. Dino is run-ning for a seat in the provincial board of Rizal.

The 37-year-old Emigdio is not unfazed by the political legacy handed to him. He may be a minor royalty in the long line of Sumulongs and Tanjuatcos of Rizal, but he is a blue-blood, nonetheless. His first foray in 2001 is evidence of this. He had the most number of votes as a board member of the province.

The first Emigdio offers a historical and genealogical perspective to politics and the Tanjuatcos.

“Ang masasabi ko ay ang politika ay nasa dugo namin. Sa panig ng aking ina na taga-Pasig lahi ng Habson, nasa politika sila. Katunayan, ang natatandaan ko, ang isa sa naging deputado (congressman) ng Rizal nuong araw, Leandro Habson. At ang mga sumunod na politiko ay sina Dr. Sixto Antonio. Yan ay sa panig ng aking ina.

“Sa panig ng aking ama, sa Tanay, buong Tanjuatco ay matagal nang nasa larangan ng paglilingkod sa bayan. Sa katunayan sa ngayon ay ang alkalde ay Tanjuatco.Nuong mga panahon ng Kastila, ang aming mga ninuno ay Kapitan municipal. At ng pumasok ang mga Amerikano, naging presidente municipal. Ang aking tinutukoy ay yung Crispulo Tanjuatco at Pedro Tanjuatco, presidente municipal at siyang nagtanggol sa usapin ng bayan laban sa isang pang-aangkin ng lupa ng bayan. Sa panig ng aking asawa na Sumulong, simula’t mula pa ay nasa politika.”

Of a certainty, theirs is a formidable political dynasty.

Ding explains though that political dynasty, as a concept, has already become moot “not only in the Philippine context, but internationally. Because one of the factors for someone to make it in the field of public service, aside from capability and experience, is also what I would call endorsability. Endorsability comes into play when the particular person seeks office not only on the basis of his capability and experience, but also on the basis of who he is and where he comes from. Somehow, although he will have to do his part, there is an advantage in coming from a group or a family that has been known for its service. I would call it silent endorsement, (a statement of) his willingness to be a credit to his family.”

But he points out that the family name is only a boost, a step-up in the political ladder and a sort of track record for one who is really still new in the game. It can only take him so far. The rest is up to him. “That’s only at the start. If he performs well, then he’s on the way to a series of successes, but if he disappoints, no matter what legacy is handed to him…” Ding trails off, leaving the dire consequences of such a failure unarticulated.

Dino is both aware and grateful of what he has to live up to. “I wouldn’t say afraid but I would say there is a constructive pressure to live up to the legacy. It keeps you in check. Any lack of prudence or negligence in public service will not only reflect on you but will reflect on the past generations. I wouldn’t want to be the one to destroy it. It is a sort of check and balance in some sense. I have a legacy, a past, experience that I would have to live up to. I have to make good. Nakakahiya eh,” Dino says.

Their family name is almost like a brand, a trusted name in Rizal politics. The Tanjuatcos say it is a dynasty steeped in public service, not self or familial interest.

“Walang masasabi na sa aming angkan e kami ay gumamit ng graft and corruption. Ako ay naglingkod sa pamahalaan, walang masasabi. Katunayan nuong ako ay nasa Anti-Dummy Board, ang sabi sa akin ni Justice Pedro Tuazon e, baka daw hindi bagay sa akin ang pagkadirektor ng Anti-Dummy Board. Ang sabi ko, Mr. Secretary, kung sa palagay ninyo ako ay walang kakayahan at ako ay hindi nakapagbibigay ng karangalan sa katungkulan, ako po ngayon ay nagbibitaw. Ang sabi sa akin, Hindi ko sinabi yun, gusto kitang gawing huwes,” Don Meding narrates.

“Maidudugtong ko, sa aking karanasan, maging pagtakbo at panglilingkod ni Ding sa lipunan, marami kaming natulungan. Si Ding nung siya’y naging deputado, marami siyang iskolar. Bayan-bayan, meron siyang iskolar na pinag-aaral. Ako naman, nung ako’y nasa pamahalaan, maski nung ako ay wala na, marami akong nabigyan ng trabaho, na nakapagpatuloy ng kanilang pag-aaral. Meron naging mga enhinyero, merong naging depotado, merong naging mga negosyante,” he says.

The grandfather did not really want his grandson to enter politics. But since it was a path Dino wanted to pursue and it is in the blood, he has his habilin to his apo.

“Ang gusto ko ay magkaroon sila ng magandang katayuan sa buhay. Sa politika ay makatulong sa bayan, makapaglingkod sa bayan hindi para sila ay magsamantala. Sapagka’t ang nakagisnan ko sa politika e, ang makapaglingkod sa bayan. Nuong panahon na yun, wala yang mga pork barrel. Kami nuon ay nanunuyo sa governor general para magkaroon ng item sa public improvement. Malaki ang pagkakaiba ng politika nuong araw at ngayon” he says.

Ding’s view is, in turn, shaped by his dad. “Everyone of us is well aware that the problems of the world are so multifarious and there’s not one family that would be able to solve (them). But I believe that if we can do our little bit and if everybody else does the same thing, then perhaps a solution can be found. And that is why we went into the practice of law. It’s a public service. As a matter of fact, given the compensation of lawyers on the average, its really more a public service than anything else. The field of politics, that’s also public service—unless you delve in shenanigans, in graft and corruption.”

That lesson seems to have been internalized by his children. “I know later on, the baton will be or is already being passed to the later generation, my cousins and my siblings. If history will judge my grandfather and my father, I know it will also be upon us, and we would want to continue that tradition,” Dino says.

And while Dino responds to the call of politics, his brother Dax will man the law office that grandfather Meding built from the ground up.

“Mas gusto ko yung ako nagsasampa ng kaso kesa ako ang kinakasuhan,” Dax explains with a laugh. “For the meantime, I think the law office needs attention within the family. Politics is a calling. I have not heard that call. This is my calling.”

Time will tell how long Dax will remain deaf to the call of politics. His father, Ding, is already being sounded out by Sumulong relatives who are urging him to encourage Dax to run for a seat in Antipolo.

As for grandfather Meding, he says it is time to take things slow and easy. “Sa ngayon, wala na. Retired na ako. Yun na lamang aking pangka nga, personal and family properties and small business enterprises.”

But just keep in mind that “small business enterprise” includes a newly-opened rice mill.

He lived his life well.  He left a legacy of integrity, hard work and honesty.  My dad, the selfless dreamer, got to live his dream.  And with that, I fell asleep.  


5 Responses to "Generations and Legacies"


hard to find these days… integrity, hard work, honesty…

i miss your dad…

Siiigggghhhh! It puts things in perspective. Sure we’re not rolling in money but we were raised with the right values…It’s up to us.

and that’s something money can’t buy…

Kiki, I miss your dad, too!

I could not look at Lala at the funeral mass because I was going to burst, and didn’t want my dad to see that.

Girls (and cousins), I figure, if we’re not going hungry, and can still afford to send our kids to good schools, plus have a little extra for good clean fun, we’re doing just fine.

Yes, it is up to us. We have what money can’t buy, thanks to the lessons we had the chance to learn because we were comfortable enough in our own lives to be open to them. So as my dad has told me since I was 8, because we have been so blessed, we MUST find a way to give back.

Hmmm…Friends kaya sila ni Uncle Ben? I heard him say something similar to Peter Parker about 2 decades later. Hehehe.

But seriously, the same thing will be said throughout human existence, until everyone who can has made a difference. And I believe every individual can!

Suit up girls, our time has come…

Funny you mentioned that, Mik because that’s the subject of my next post…once I get around to doing it!

You know, we are also so blessed to have Dad’s who have lived or are living exceptional lives…dad’s to emulate. Believe me, they are a dying breed. This is really what comforts me when I miss dinky boy.

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