Sunday, March 11, 2012

RP Politics: Still a Family Affair

In a complicated and Byzantine manner, almost all former Philippine leaders, and many of the current, were and are related to one another, in one way or the other, others many times over. Most of all, these political leaders have paved the way for the perpetuation of kinship-based politics. Politics in the Philippines was, is, and has always been, like the interrelated Rajahs and Datus and Sultans of pre-Hispanic Philippines, a birthright.

To start off, one of President Emilio Famy Aguinaldo’s granddaughters, Ameurfina Melencio Herrera, served as an associate justice of the Supreme Court and was the second Filipina elevated to the high court. Two grandsons, Reynaldo Aguinaldo and Federico Aguinaldo Poblete, served as Mayors of Kawit, Cavite while two great-grandsons, Joseph Emilio Abaya and Emilio Aguinaldo IV served, respectively, as Cavite first district congressional representative and Kawit, Cavite councilor. President Aguinaldo's first cousin’s, General Baldomero Aguinaldo, great-grandson was Cesar E.A. Virata, a Prime Minster of the Philippines under President Marcos.

The Virata family, through marriage, is connected with the Acuña family. One Acuña member married into the prominent and rich Roxas family of Capiz, which is a branch of the Roxas famly of Manila. The product of this marriage was former President Manuel A. Roxas, whose son Gerardo “Gerry” Roxas was a former Senator and whose grandson, MAR Roxas II is a Senator of the Republic. Also, due to his dalliance with Juanita McIlvain, former Miss Universe Margarita "Margie" Moran Floirendo just happens to be President Roxas' granddaughter. Margie Moran is also married to Representative Antonio “Tonyboy” Floirendo. President Manuel Roxas' wife, Trinidad de Leon, was the daughter of former Senator Ceferino de Leon. Senator de Leon's brother, Jose, married Doña Narcisa "Sisang" Buencamino, who became one of the most successful movie magnates of her time when she chartered her family-owned LVN Pictures into a dominant position in post-World War II Philippine cinema. Narcisa's first cousin’s son was Philip Buencamino, who married Zenaida "Nini" Quezon, daughter of President Manuel Luis Quezon.

Further, another scion of the Roxas family was Margarita Roxas, who was the first cousin of President Roxas’s great-great-grandfather and whose marriage to Antonio de Ayala produced Trinidad de Ayala. Trinidad later married Jacobo Zobel and started the legendary Zobel De Ayala family.

Some of the minor branches of the ROXAS family married into the other aristocratic families of Manila: the Aranetas (Senator Gerry Roxas married Judy Araneta y Araneta), Ayalas, Elizaldes, Prietos, and more. One Roxas descendant is Enrique Zobel, head of the Ayala Group of companies; two others are the brothers Jose and Andres Soriano, current heads of San Miguel Corporation which their father started. Through the Roxas family's connection with the Aranetas, former Tourism Secretary and first Filipina Miss International titleholder Gemma Teressa Cruz-Araneta is also related by marriage to Pres. Roxas. Gemma Cruz-Araneta’s husband’s cousin, Jorge Araneta, married the first Miss International, Maria Stella Marquez, who now runs the Binibining Pilipinas Pageant. It must also be remembered that Gemma Cruz's paternal great-grandmother was Doña Maria Rizal, the sister of Philippine national hero, Jose P. Rizal. Furthermore, Gemma Cruz's mother, Carmen, married twice. Her second husband was Angel Nakpil, the nephew of Julio Nakpil, composer of a second version of the Philippine National Anthem, who in turn was the second husband of Gregoria De Jesus, the “Muse of the Katipunan”. Gregoria de Jesus was also the widow of Katipunan founder Andres Bonifacio, who, some historians claim, was murdered upon the orders of Emilio Aguinaldo. Similarly, two of Gemma's first cousins, Paz and Maria Cruz Banaad, married Bienvenido and Roberto Laurel, respectively, relatives of President Jose P. Laurel. President Laurel’s own father, Sotero Laurel, was a member of the Malolos Congress of 1898 and his pedigree claims descent from Gat Masungit, allegedly a son of a Sultan of Brunei in the 1500s. Several of President Laurel's children became famous politicians in their own right. His eldest son, Jose Bayani, Jr., became Speaker of the House of Representatives and a candidate for vice-president in 1957 (Jose Macario Laurel, the eldest son of Jose B. Laurel, was a former Batangas Representative). His younger son, Salvador Roman "Doy" Laurel, was Vice-President from 1986 to 1992. Three other of Laurel's children also became prominent in politics and business. Sotero Cosme was elected to the Senate from 1987 to 1992; Jose Sotero Laurel III became Ambassador to Japan; and Mariano H. Laurel became president of the Philippine Banking Corporation.

Further into the Araneta family, two more of its members married presidential daughters; the first one being Juan Miguel Arroyo (of Binalbagan, Negros Occidental and a great-grandson of Negros Island Revolutionary leader Gen. Aniceto Ledesma Lacson and Rosario Emilia Araneta). He married then Ms. Gloria M. Macapagal, daughter of President Diosdado Macapagal. Of course, GMA was the country's 2nd female Chief Executive. First Gentleman Mike Arroyo’s grandfather, Senator Jose Maria Pidal Arroyo, married a Lacson, thus linking him to Senator Panfilo Lacson. Also, because the Macapagals have always maintained that they are direct descendants of Lakandula, the last King of Tondo, they can also claim to be related, albeit very distantly, from the royal family of Brunei. Thus, not only are GMA and President Laurel related many times over by marriage, they are also blood relatives because of their claimed descent from the royal house of Brunei.

The second Araneta to marry a presidential daughter was Gregorio Maria "Greggy" Araneta, who married Irene Romualdez Marcos, the youngest child of Ferdinand Edralin Marcos and Imelda Romualdez. Another Araneta, Atty. Louise Cacho Araneta, a distant relative of Greggy Araneta, married Irene’s brother, Governor Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. This Araneta-Marcos marriage further stretches these already complicated family connections.

Ferdinand Marcos' grandfather's sister, Crispina Marcos, married Hilario Valdez. Their daughter, Angela Marcos Valdez, married Ambassador Narciso Ramos, who was also a district representative of Pangasinan from 1934 to 1946 and was the father of Fidel V. Ramos, also a President of the Republic, and Leticia Ramos-Shahani, a former Senator. Two nephews of President Ramos, Ranjit R. Shahani and Hernani Braganza, served as Governor of Pangasinan and Mayor of Alaminos City, Pangasinan, respectively. Narciso Ramos, after becoming a widower, married Alfonsita Lucero, whose father's maternal family, the Birondos of Argao, Cebu, married into the Almendras family of Cebu and Davao.

One of Alfonsita's cousins, William Birondo, married Kukit Tecala, whose uncle, Pedro Tecala Sr., married Sofronia Almendras. Two of Sofronia's siblings married into political families. Her brother, Paulo Almendras, married Elisea Durano, the daughter of Demetrio Durano and progenitor of the Durano family that has ruled Danao and Sogod, Cebu for many years. Its most popular member is Ace Durano, the present Tourism Secretary.

A son of Paulo Almendras was Senator Alejandro Almendras, whose marriage to a Bendigo of Davao City connected them to the ruling families of Davao: the Banggoys, Palma Gils, Lizadas, Nograleses, and many others. The current Speaker of the Philippine House of Representatives is Davao City congressman Prospero “Boy” Nograles. The current mayor of Davao, Rodrigo Duterte, is also of the Duterte family of Danao, a rival political clan of the Duranos but one allied to them maritally, many times over. Senator Almendras' brother, Josefino, married Rosita Dimataga, the sister of Leonila Dimataga, who in turn was the wife of President Carlos P. Garcia. President Garcia’s father, Policronio, served as a mayor of Talibon, Bohol.

Several other cousins of Narciso Ramos’s second wife Alfonsita, married into other political families or were themselves personalities in the Philippines: one cousin is Hilario G. Davide, Jr., former Chief Justice of the Philippine Supreme Court and now the country’s permanent ambassador to the United Nations; another, Simeon L. Kintanar, served as Cebu’s second district representative to Congress; still another, James Lucero, married Nazarena Soon, whose sister, Nerissa Soon-Ruiz, is currently a member of the House of Representatives; still another cousin, Procopio C. Lucero, Jr. married Gliseria Gullas, the daughter Paulino Gullas and sister of Eduardo and Jose Gullas, all of whom served as members of the House of Representatives; still another cousin was Januaria Taguenca Cabrera, who married Don Victoriano Osmeña, an uncle of President Sergio Osmeña. Among all the Philippine presidential families, the Osmeñas of Cebu have had the most number of members who served in the government to date. Excluding Sergio Sr., the family has had four senators and four members of the House of Representatives. The clan has also produced a governor, a vice governor, a provincial board member, mayors, vice mayor, and several councilors. The Osmeña family remains the premier political dynasty of Cebu, and one of the most enduring dynasties in the country.

President Osmeña's half-sister was Doña Modesto Singson-Gaisano, the matriarch of the affluent Gaisano family of Cebu City. Modesta was a progeny of Don Pedro Gotiaoco, whose other descendants include Atty. Agusto Go, President of the University of Cebu and Honorary South Korean Consul; John Gokongwei, Jr., a great-grandson of Don Pedro Gotiaoco and the owner of Cebu Pacific, Robinson’s Mall, JG Summit, and many more; and the Sy-Gaisano family, who operate chains of shopping malls all over Visayas and Mindanao. A grandson of the brother of Don Pedro is Andrew Gotianun, who owns the FILINVEST Group and the East West Bank.

Imelda Romualdez's marriage to Marcos also brought in many famous personalities. Imelda’s son, Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., has served as Governor of Batac, Ilocos Norte while a daughter, Imee, currently a member of the House of Representatives, married Tommy Manotoc (whose first wife was Aurora Pijuan, the first Filipina to win the Ms. International title), whose mother, Nena Lao Manotoc, was the sister of Chita Lao, wife of Eugenio “Genny” Lopez, Jr., whose family owns ABS-CBN, MERALCO, Sky Cable, and other major corporations in the country. A son of Imee Marcos and Tommy Manotoc is Borgie Manotoc, a model.

Aside from being a capitalist clan, the Lopezes are also into politics: one member, Fernando Lopez, was a former senator and served as Vice-President under President Elpidio Quirino and Ferdinand Marcos; all in all, six members of the Lopez clan have served as Vice-President, Senator, and House Representatives. A great-nephew, Manuel “Beaver” Lopez, Jr., married Jacqueline “Jackie” Estrada, daughter of President Joseph Ejercito “Erap” Estrada, whose own wife, Dr. Loi P. Estrada, and son, Jinggoy, have served as Senators of the Philippines.

Imelda’s own niece, Marean Romualdez, daughter of her brother Leyte Governor Alfredo Romualdez, married Thomas Pompidou, the grandson of former French President Georges Pompidou.

Imelda's first cousin, Senator Danieling Romualdez, married Pacita Gueco of Tarlac. In an ironic twist of fate, Pacita Gueco happened to be the first cousin of Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. Of course, the Aquinos themselves are one of the premier political clans of the country and a scion of the Aquino clan was Senator Eva Estrada Kalaw, one of the Philippines' very first female senators. Ninoy Aquino’s own grandfather, Don Servillano Aquino, was a member of the Malolos Congress while his father, Benigno Aquino, Sr., also served as Philippine Senator. A sister of Ninoy, Tessie A. Oreta, also became senator of the Philippines while uncles Agapito and Herminio and nephew Jesli A. Lapus, served as members of the House of Representatives. Ninoy’s own son, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, currently sits as a Philippine Senator and, as already mentioned, is a presidential hopeful for the 2010 elections.

Ninoy's marriage to the heiress Corazon Cojuanco also allied his family to another political dynasty. Corazon Aquino, after her husband's heroic death in 1983, later became the country's first female Chief Executive. Her maternal family, the Sumulongs, have also produced several lawmakers: her grandfather, Juan Marquez Sumulong, was a three-term senator while an unlce, Lorenzo Sumulong, and cousins, Victor Sumulong and Emigdio S. Tanjuanco, Jr., served as members of the House of Representatives. The Cojuangco family, on the other hand, owns one of the oldest-existing haciendas in the country today, and the Cojuangcos control many of the country's business enterprises. They have also done very well in politics: Cory’s own grandfather, Melecio, was a member of the HOR. Her brother Jose “Peping” Jr., cousins Eduardo “Danding” Jr., Mercedes, Carlos, and Marcos, and nephew Gilbert C. Teodoro, have all served as representatives to congress. Gilbert C. Teodoro, as mentioned above, is another 2010 elections presidential hopeful.

Further, two Cojuangcos, sons of Cory's cousins Ramon and Eduardo, respectively, married Rio Diaz (Charlie Cojuangco), sister of former Miss Universe Gloria Diaz and Gretchen Baretto (Tony Boy Cojuangco). Gretchen's sisters are Claudine and Marjorie, themselves married to actors. Cory's niece, equestrienne Mikee Cojuangco, married Dodot Jaworski, son of basketball legend and Sen. Robert Jaworski. Senator Jaworski, on the other hand, married Susan Bautista Revilla, daughter of Sen. Ramon Revilla Sr., whose son Bong Revilla was a former governor and Senator. One of Sen. Ramon Revilla, Sr.'s partners and mother of several children is Genelyn Magsaysay, an illegitimate daughter of Ladelyn Madrigal and Senator Genaro Magsaysay. Senator Magsaysay was the brother of President Ramon Magsaysay.

Clearly, this Byzantine illustration of family connections is proof of the intricacies of Philippine politics. In this short presentation, we have already linked no less than 14 of our 15 Presidents, one Prime Minister, two former Ms. Universe and three Ms. International titleholders, several senators, and many other personalities, political or otherwise. We have even connected our "Philippine Family Tree" to a former French President and the Royal family of Brunei! Imagine what further research into the other family trees could reveal?

Philippine politics, undoubtedly, is still a family affair.


Author’s note: (1) The original title of this article was RP Politics: Family Affair. I have, since then, made a lot of improvements to the original article and now have actual charts to show how these people are related. (2) All the abovementioned facts can be checked. To give the readers an idea of where these information came from, I have collated genealogical data from several internet sites (GMA7’s research during the SONA2007 really helped a lot), from books such as the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism’s “The Rulemakers”, and Alfred C. McCoy’s “An Anarchy of Families”. Many of the information here were collected over many years of research, and, just like an actual tree, this article will continue to expand as more genealogical data will come to light. Of course, corrections or additions to this article will be appreciated! Thanks also to ROLAND OSCAR ARANETA for sharing the Araneta Family website and for the many information I got that helped connect many personalities here. (Todd Lucero Sales).

Author’s request: The writing of this article was a laborious process. While I am not asking for any payment for every reposting of this article, I would like to request all those who wish to cite or repost this article to please, please cite my name as a source. Thanks!


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. wow interesting... very informative

  3. do you have articles about the current political relations of the Zobel de Ayala? This is for academic purposes only. Your referral would be highly appreciated. Thank you so much!

    1. What kind of articles / information do you need?

  4. Joseph Emilio Abaya Jr, Francis Gerald ''Blueboy'', etc. are the sons of Joseph Emilio Romualdez Abaya Sr. (aka Jopeng) and they are BBM's cousins. and they are like a family business.

  5. Joseph Emilio Sr is the son of Marciana Romualdez and Wigberto Peralta. Joseph Emilio Sr is BBM's uncle. Joseph Emilio Peralta Romualdez Abaya Sr was born 1934 in Pangasinan died in 2002 in Vigan Hospital. Joseph Emilio Sr is the brother of Fernando Tiburcio ''Pepe'' Abaya whom actor Marc Abaya is their cousin. Lorenzo Tagean Abaya is Jun Abaya's uncle from his father who is the uncle of Joseph Emilio Sr's father Wigberto he is Marciano Juanito Vicente ''Minggoy'' Tagean Abaya VI who is the descendant of King Mariano Tagean I of the 1300s before Spanish colonial rule. His cousin, Prince Enrique Lorenzo Francisco ''Kikong'' Abaya VIII died in 1945 after the end of World War 2 in California, USA. The Tagean Royalty married the Romualdez whom Pedro Marciano ''Pepoy'' Romualdez is BBM's uncle.

  6. In Mindanao there are lots of Romualdezes one is Juan Francisco ''Paco'' Yrastorza Romualdez V (died 1962) who served in Cagayan De Oro during the 1930s until early 50s. His uncle in Batangas was Jaime Jose ''Jopet'' Gonzaga Romualdez IV.