Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Arroyos of Iloilo: Blood Lines, Bad Blood and Family Feuds

Atty. Mike Arroyo is again in the news. The controversial First Gentleman raised not a few eyebrows when he claimed to have descended from the same bloodline as St. Theresa of Avila (parang Da Vinci Code a!). He also stated that he is related to Maria Teresa Arroyo y Lacson and Rosario Arroyo y Pidal, two Filipino nuns who are currently up for beatification in the Vatican. (Read: "Arroyos claim saints for allies" by Armand Nocum, PDI).

Indeed, the Arroyos of Iloilo were wealthy merchants but they were of Chinese origins. Their original ancestors first settled in Molo district (famous for its Pancit Molo), which was then known as the “Parian of Iloilo” because all the Chinese immigrants and local Chinese-Filipino merchants were then quartered there. At the turn of the 19th century, the Arroyos became politically influential when Jose Arroyo was elected to the Philippine Senate. His younger brother, Mariano Arroyo, became Governor of Iloilo province. They later married into other landed families like the Lacsons, Locsins, Aranetas and Tuasons. As a symbol of their family's power and influence in the past, the Rotunda/Fountain located in front of the Iloilo Provincial Capitol is named the “Arroyo Fountain.”

Aside from being known as wealthy merchants and famed philanthropists, the Arroyos of Iloilo were then famous for being THE Nacionalista Party leaders in Iloilo and die-hard loyalists of President Manuel L. Quezon. But a falling out with President Quezon led to their demise in Iloilo politics. To this day, the Arroyos have never recaptured their old political supremacy in Iloilo. Another “old-rich” family, the Lopezes of Iloilo, were also bitter enemies of the Arroyos. The book Phoenix: The Saga of the Lopez Family by author Raul Rodrigo vividly captures the historical context of the "bad blood" between the Quezon, Lopez and Arroyo families. Excerpts from the book (pages 105 to 106):

"In Iloilo in 1929, the king of jueteng was a Chinese named Luis Sane, widely known as Sualoy. He operated with impunity; his establishments were safe from raids; secured, it was said, by generous bribe money to politicians and the local police.

In September 1929, Eñing Lopez
(Eugenio Lopez, the founder of ABS CBN TV Network and the grandfather/namesake of network top honcho Eugenio "Gabby" Lopez III) and El Tiempo (a local newspaper owned by the Lopezes) began a crusade against jueteng in Iloilo and the corruption it created in local government. The winning number each day was printed in a box in boldface on page one. Eñing came out with one expose after another, alleging that top politicians such as Iloilo Governor Mariano Arroyo, Iloilo City police chief Marcelo Buenaflor and his brother Congressman Tomas Buenaflor, had been bribed by Sualoy to turn a blind eye on jueteng.

Eñing did not choose lightweight opponents. Mariano Arroyo was the most powerful man in the province. He was the brother of the late Jose Arroyo, a Nacionalista senator and good friend of Quezon. As the public's outrage over the corruption began to mount, Arroyo issued a statement that jueteng did not exist in Iloilo. That it did and that local officials benefited from it were matters of public knowledge in the city. The question was not what needed to be done, but who had the courage to do it. As it turned out, Eñing Lopez did.

In March 1930, due to the pressure created by El Tiempo, Sualoy's headquarters was finally raided; not by the do-nothing local police, but the Philippine Constabulary. Sualoy was arrested, found guilty and jailed. He was eventually deported and died in China. With Sualoy out, the conflict had narrowed to a match between El Tiempo and the governor. The crusade had captured the imagination of Iloilo and made El Tiempo the city's leading newspaper. In August 1930, pushed against the wall, Governor Arroyo sued El Tiempo for libel. Eñing struck back by filing administrative charges against the governor. He also called in his friend and former boss Atty. Vicente Francisco to lead his defense against the libel charge.

As the struggle intensified, some Lopezes sensed in it some unwelcome echoes of the political tempest that had taken the life of Eñing's father
(former Iloilo Governor Benito Lopez who was assassinated in his office by a disgruntled constituent) 22 years before. El Tiempo's editor, Jose Magalona, was badly beaten by a local thug who was believed to be in the employ of the governor's men. The older Lopezes were afraid that as the row grew more heated, Eñing might eventually share his father's fate.

Fortunately, news of the case had reached Manila and attracted the attention of
(American) Governor General Dwight F. Davis. Governor Arroyo and his cohorts came under minute scrutiny. As a result of the scandal, the Nacionalistas and Quezon began backing away from Arroyo.

When Arroyo asked Quezon to recommend to Davis that he be acquitted of the administrative charges filed by Lopez, Quezon refused. Instead, Davis swiftly dispatched Judge Manuel Moran
(later chief justice of the Supreme Court), to investigate the libel case. Moran established that Arroyo and the police chief were in fact heavily involved in illegal gambling. They even ran a gambling den as a means of generating money for the upcoming 1931 elections. Moran concluded that Eñing and El Tiempo had not been guilty of libel.

In Arroyo's trial on the administrative charges, even more damning evidence against the governor came out. Pio Sian Melliza, a boyhood friend and active supporter of the governor, testified that when he had asked his friend to finally crack down on jueteng, the governor told him: “Compadre, why are you so determined to get rid of jueteng? Isn't it clear to you that most of the jueteng runners and sellers are our own political ward leaders? The elections are nearing, and I am running for re-election. Not including the money they are giving us for election expenses, they can hurt us in this election, because there are many of these jueteng runners in this province.”

On October 7, 1930, Governor General Dwight F. Davis ordered Governor Mariano Arroyo relieved of his post for corruption. Timoteo Consing, a friend of Eñing, was named as his replacement. Iloilo Mayor Eulogio Garganera and Marcelo Buenaflor were suspended. The ex-governor staged a protest rally and attempted to make a political comeback, but his disgrace had been marked and he sank into obscurity."

It is funny to note that the long-standing “family feuds” between oligarchic Filipino clans are still very much alive today. It only proves that the elite do not only inherit the money but also their family's enemies and their long-standing "bad blood." Reprising their role as present-day "crusaders" ala El Tiempo, the Lopez-owned ABS-CBN has been "consistently critical" of President Arroyo. In turn, the Lopezes are said to be "persecuted" by this administration. Madam Nini Quezon-Avanceña (the daughter of President Quezon) is one of the leading endorsers of the 2nd impeachment complaint against President Arroyo. Incidentally, her father-in-law Chief Justice Ramon Avanceña is from Arevalo, Iloilo City. Likewise, the father of close GMA ally DOJ Secretary Raul Gonzalez lost his post as Mayor of Jaro for incurring President Quezon's ire. President Quezon "collapsed" his municipality (via Presidential Decree) and subsumed it (together with Molo, Arevalo and La Paz) as part of a bigger Iloilo City. Reading our history, one can almost say that Philippine politics is just one big "family feud" between contending elites. Nothing really changes in this country.


mlq3 said...

it might be wrong to give the impression this is about personal animosities. for example, the grandmother of atty. arroyo was, to the end of her days, one of the best friends of my grandmother, but friendship is irrelevant to politics: so in the case of my aunt, mrs. avanceña, her mother's close friendship to the first gentleman's grandmother was not a consideration to endorsing the impeachment (nor was her late sister ma. aurora being the godmother of one of president estrada's brothers an obstacle to her participation in the estrada resign movement).

until you pointed out the fate of sec. gonzalez's father, neither i nor i think anyone in our family was aware of his having been removed from the mayoralty of jaro. it would be silly to base any present-day decisions on such a thing.

Iloilo City Boy said...

Thank you for your comments. I've met Maam Nini a couple of times in the RSR campaign and I know her to be a very principled person. I have great respect for her and I know that in her case, personal animosities/bad blood have no influence in her decision to sign the 2nd impeachment complaint. I just wanted to point out the 'history repeats itself' angle wherein a century later, the same family names find themselves at the same opposing political fences as their ancestors.

ALso, I believe friendships and family ties are relevant to Philippine politics and has in fact an all-encompassing effect on our country's political dynamics.

taga ilog said...

According to the link below, the Araneta Family tree,


in which Jesusa Lacson(172) married Mariano Arroyo while in the inq7 archives claimed that late Senator Jose Ma. Arroyo(died Mar 8,1927) was also married to Jesusa Lacson(daughter of Gen.Aniceto Lacson).

Please see:
Pidal was great-grandmother of First Gentleman Arroyo


Moreover, Lourdes Zaragoza Tuason Arroyo whose first husband was Manuel Matute

Related link:
A wedding anniversary on sad day for Arroyos


mlq3 said...

good point -i realized something similar researching government campaigns against jueteng!

Iloilo City Boy said...

Yes it is quite ironic that a century later, the descendants of disgraced jueteng-coddler Governor Mariano Arroyo were themselves linked to jueteng. Truly, a case of "history repeats itself." The only difference was that their ancestor got punished and they were not (at least for now). This shows that politicians then had the political will to eradicate jueteng. Also, people in those days did not vote for candidates linked to jueteng. A different time...

vic said...

Remember writing a comments to talking points about this so-called "Oligarch and "The Ruling Class" which is Actually the real cause of what we today known as a perpetual Crisis of Governance. And I quote that leter below:
"The biggest problem that besieges the country is not the current crisis that hunts the government of the day, but the same one that has been there from the start. It is the economic inequity between the majority -- the masses -- and the very few in the "ruling class" who control just about every aspect of the economy and thereby control the political landscape.

The government keeps changing hands among limited groups in the "ruling class." These are the only ones who can contest the positions and, hence, maintain the status quo. And so the problem continues. While the population (thanks to the "church") has doubled or tripled, the same "rule makers" control most of the agricultural land, the mega-businesses and the political parties to protect their interests.

Tackle this "crisis" and everything will just fall into place."


Anonymous said...

PV8280.1342 May 23, 2005 77 EM-lines (860 words)
PHILIPPINES Dominican Nuns Document Cures In Hope of Founder's Beatification
ILOILO CITY, Philippines (UCAN) -- "Miracles" in the lives of a leukemia patient and an ill nun have been documented for the beatification process of the founder of a Philippine congregation of Dominican sisters.

Members of the Dominican Sisters of the Most Holy Rosary of the Philippines are hopeful that appeals answered in the name of their founder, Mother Rosario Arroyo, will multiply and lead to her quick beatification.

Speaking to UCA News May 18 at the sisters' motherhouse, Sister Maria Serafica Tolentino said the Mother Rosario Arroyo Commission has recorded a number of favors believed to have been come through "Madre (mother) Sayong," as the founder is fondly called. Sister Tolentino is secretary general of the congregation based in Molo, near Iloilo City.

Among these favors are the cases of a congregation member who survived an aneurysm in May 2004, a woman who survived leukemia and another woman, now deceased, who lived for 20 years after being diagnosed with cancer.

Dominican Sister Eleanor Garlito told UCA News the "first known miracle" attributed to Madre Sayong happened in 1983, when Angeles Palma, a Manila woman, was diagnosed with cancer. A native of Iloilo City, 450 kilometers southeast of Manila, and a devotee of Madre Sayong, Palma prayed to the nun she revered for a recovery. To her doctor's surprise, Palma was cured and lived for 20 more years until her death in 2003, Sister Garlito recounted.

In May 2004, one of the Dominican nuns, Sister Maria Nemia Daral, developed an aneurysm and was airlifted to Manila to undergo surgery. Prior to the surgery, Sister Tolentino took a portion of Madre Sayong's "bendico" (headdress) and wrapped it in plastic for Sister Daral to pray with. Sister Daral, principal of St. Joseph Academy in Bugasong, Antique, Iloilo province's neighbor on Panay Island, "is now in perfect health," no longer takes any maintenance drugs and is "very active," Sister Tolentino said.

The most recent case is that of a poor woman surnamed Dalumpines from Patnongon, Antique, who was diagnosed with leukemia. Sister Garlito told UCA News Dalumpines was "miraculously cured" and found free of the disease as of April without undergoing therapy or blood transfusions prescribed by her doctors. According to the nun, Dalumpines asked Madre Sayong for good health.

Six Dominican sisters make up the Mother Rosario Arroyo Commission, which the congregation created in October 2004 to document cases of miraculous intercession attributed to Madre Sayong. "We are continuously gathering testimonies of more people to strengthen every case," Sister Garlito said. The commission was a preliminary step toward seeking the founder's beatification.

Beatification, the first step towards sainthood, requires a miracle confirmed by the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints as due to the candidate's intercession, unless the candidate is declared a martyr. A person who is beatified is given the title "blessed." A second miracle is required for a blessed to be made a saint, though martyrs again are excepted.

Archbishop Angel Lagdameo of Jaro gave his "blessings and go-ahead" on Feb. 9 this year for the commission to start its formal bid for the beatification of Madre Sayong. The archbishop also has given his imprimatur to a prayer for Madre Sayong, which was approved by the Archdiocesan Liturgical Commission. Jaro archdiocese covers Iloilo and Guimaras provinces and Iloilo City.

In March the congregation circulated copies of the prayer in "petition form" allowing churchgoers at the chapel of the motherhouse and people in Molo community to write out their appeals. The commission is tracking the appeals to see if any favors have been granted based on the petitions.

The commission also continues research started in the 1970s by one of its members, Dominican Sister Veneranda Mission, who is documenting the life of Madre Sayong.

Madre Sayong was born Maria Beatriz del Rosario Arroyo in 1884 in Molo to rich parents. Her father was a town leader and her mother was of Spanish-Philippine descent. She entered Religious life, while her two brothers established the family in politics. Congressman Ignacio Arroyo Jr. and his brother Jose Miguel Arroyo, husband of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, are two of her grandnephews.

Madre Sayong founded the Congregation of the Dominican Sisters of the Most Holy Rosary of the Philippines on February 18, 1927, after her parents obtained Church approval for a diocesan congregation of Dominican nuns in Iloilo.

She died of heart failure in 1957 and was buried at the Molo cemetery. Her body was exhumed 18 years later in 1975 to be transferred to a crypt at the congregation's motherhouse. Nuns found her body still intact when her coffin was opened.

The motherhouse stands on one hectare of property donated by Madre Sayong's parents. The couple also donated the property that hosts Asilo de St. Louise de Marillac, a home for the elderly run by the Daughters of Charity in Molo district.

The 2004 Catholic Directory of the Philippines lists the Dominican Sisters of the Most Holy Rosary as having 271 members. All the nuns except one are Filipinas. They work in the congregation's 31 schools, two dormitories, two retreat houses, one charitable institution and one clinic. Fifty-four Filipina sisters also work in foreign missions.


Allan said...

this comment is for TAG ILOG and is way far too late. If you are referring to Don Mariano Arroyo, the doctor governor of Iloilo in the 1930's, then his wife is Clarita Zeller, who is of spanish german descent. Jose Maria and Jesusa Lacson are the right partner

martin said...

ilo ilo city boy,how come ou know so much of the arroyo's?do you thier family tree?can you pls email me @ martin995rt@yahoo.com


The Observer said...

Iloilo boy I congratulate you for this very timely and relevant information about the Arroyo kind of animal breed. It's true they're hiding their legally corrupt mind and exceedingly crooked tongues behind their prominent provincial names.

The daughter of the poor man from Lubao, Pampanga marries the grandson of former Iloilo governor Mariano Arroyo who is known to Pres. Quezon as the protector and coddler of Iloilo jueteng lord Sualoy.

This crooked political family must be stopped at all cost.

petpol said...

petpol said:

to anonymous, you might be concerned the "arroyo bad blood" will adversely affect the beatification/cononization of mother sayong to sainthood, don't worry because God's love is all-inclusive to all of humanity - good or bad. in fact, God raised great saints who were great sinners before they became saints like saint paul (who was then saul the great persecutor of Christ's people, was converted and became paul the great follower of Christ) and saint peter who denied the Lord Jesus 3 times during Jesus' passion and death on the cross. so, don't worry ok?

buchikikay said...

there are few misleading content from bloggers. Don Mariano Arroyo the former governor was married to Dona Lolita Vasques an Australian . The couple had three kids Remedios Arroyo, Manuel Arroyo, Marquita Arroyo..

Frederick Evans G L Jardenil said...

woah it's been 11 years haha. i've been wondering if the good author is in possession or has knowledge of some of the old family trees in Iloilo City, and Jaro. if so, i ask you to please contact me. comments are emailed to me, thank you! (: