ON the first anniversary of the installation of "President" A_NOY Cojuangco Aquino y HOCUS PCOS, let me talk of his family from the maternal side, the Cojuangcos. Let me talk of the controversial history of the where the Cojuangco wealth purportedly came from.
Why the Filipinos should run after the Cojuangco family, the famed family of the late President Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino and her only son, the "incumbent" Malacanang occupant, it is not only the land reform issue of Hacienda Luisita but more so, the first Philippine Republic REVOLUTIONARY FUNDS said to amount to several BILLION pesos.
During the Spanish period, Gen. Antonio Luna, then chief of staff of the revolutionary army, turned over revolutionary funds to his paramour Ysidra Cojuangco for safekeeping. When Luna was assassinated [apparently upon orders of the fledgling Philippine Republic President Emilio F. Aguinaldo, the Cojuangcos kept the treasure all to themselves — a tradition of treason and greed that has been kept alive by today's Cojuangcos, as well as, their Aquino branch.
Now, Ysidra Cojuangco y Estrella was the eldest child of the Chinese immigrant great grandfather of current Philippine "President" Noynoy Aquino. Jose Cojuangco (I), the lolo of the late ex-President Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino, was the son of a Chinese immigrant from Fujian. His Chinese name was Co Giok Kuan who received the Christian name "Jose." He worked as a carpenter before becoming a building contractor and marrying Spanish meztisa [Antera Estrella]... His children were Ysidra, born 1867; Melicio, born 1871; and Trinidad, born 1876 (Dobbin, pp. 150, 160-161)."
It's not only columnist Tiu-Laurel who is saying that the funds of the First Republic fell into the hands of the Cojuangcos. This has been discussed in the study of another columnist, Larry Henares. Devoting a series to reveal that Gen. Luna left a lovechild by Ysidra Cojuangco--who he concludes to be Antonio Cojuangco III of PLDT fame--Henares also bares how the Cojuangcos suddenly amassed a big fortune, affording their purchase of large tracts of sugar and rice lands.
Bed-ridden but sound of mind, she was irrepressible, regaling us with stories of Dona Ysidra, her neighbor in Sta. Rosa, Nueva Ecija, whom she met when she was 10 years old, and who was going to be her godmother, ninang sa casal, were it not for the distance and difficulty of travel. We recorded her saying that Ysidra admitted that Luna was indeed her very close friend, and that Luna left her valuables, not once but regularly on many occasions. When asked how much value was involved, Encarnacion replied that while she is not sure of the exact value, it was certainly in huge quantities since several huge caskets were involved. Manapat asked her if she knew that there were more than one shipment. She emphatically said yes, the shipments were a regular thing!! Not only was Encarnacion a friend and confidant of Dona Ysidra, she is also the daughter of Eulalio Saulo who confirmed to her the story as one of the military escorts of the gold shipment to Ysidra. As far as we know this is the first direct evidence of a Cojuangco (and Ysidra at that) admitting what many Luna contemporaries long alleged, that the source of the Cojuangco fortune was the gold commandeered by Luna and regularly turned over to Ysidra. The combined assets controlled by the Cojuangcos total about P200 BILLION." (bold supplied)
XXXX "There was an earlier account recounted by historian Carlos Quirino in an unpublished book commissioned by Danding Cojuangco, about a shipment of gold vessels commandeered by General Antonio Luna from churches in Pampanga, collected for him by Tiburcio Hilario, Pampanga governor, brought to Paniqui and entrusted to Ysidra for safekeeping before Luna left for Cabanatuan to meet Aguinaldo, only to be assassinated there. Aha, so gold was brought by Luna from both the Ilocos (through Saulo) and Central Luzon (through Hilario) to Ysidra! With the First Republic on the run and the Americans inquiring about the gold, Ysidra dumped the gold into a well, retrieved it later and used it to build the Cojuangco fortune."
-- Larry Henares
Another person who attests to how the Cojuangcos got hold of the wealth under the care of Gen. Luna as Chief of the Army of the Philippine Republic is author/historian.ex-Ambassador Rafaelita Hilrio Soriano, granddaughter of Pampanga's Revolutionary Governor, Tiburcio Hilario y Tuason. A cousin of the "Great Propagandist" Marcelo H. del Pilar, Gov. Hilario was elected in absentia as military/revolutionary governor of his Pampanga and known as the 'Brains of the Revolution in Pampanga.
Ms. Soriano relates that her grandfather, Gov. Tiburcio, kept the revolutionary treasures in sacks, including gold treasures such as gold plates, chalices, that were commandeered from Bacolor, Guagua, and San Fernando in Pampanga. Jose Cojuangco I received the treasure.
Ms. Soriano : I want to refute the statement that it was believed the money for the revolution did not go to the Cojuangcos. This is a statement of fact. The money, one million silver pesos, was brought by my old grandfather, Tiburcio Hilario, then governor of Pampanga, and given to Antonio Luna. Three days after, Antonio Luna was assassinated. After he was assassinated, where did the money go? The money went to the town where the Cojuangcos lived. Yes, I mean it. It was placed in the package of pacbet on the railroad. Because Luna was already dead, nobody made a claim for the money. They found that the money was with some old clothes. With the baggage and the old clothes, the money was first offered to a Mr. Garcia, Capitan Garcia. He was then the richest man in the town. Knowing where it came from, he refused it. The one who accepted the money was JOSE COJUANGCO [I]. (bold supplied)
The paramour of Gen. Luna did not lead actually lead a quiet or simple life following Aguinaldo's orders to have Luna assassinated. YSIDRA,Ysidra, or Isidra, was "considered one of the richest women in the Philippines in her time, from 1900-1950", helping found the Philippine Bank of Commerce (PBC) in 1938 (Crisostomo, p. 8).
Ysidra was no ordinary woman for she "was charged with life and commercial drive." She dealt not only with rice and sugar but also with gango or small dried shrimps, money lending and more (Pan, p. 153). She helped established the Paniqui Sugar Mills in 1928, producing sugar for domestic as well as export markets, and likewise, alcoholic drinks. In the early 1930s, she and her brothers also partnered with the Jacinto and Rufino families, venturing into stockbroking to establish the Finance and Mining Investments Corp. Later in the same decade, the three families set up the PBC, which was the first bank in the country to be exclusively owned by Filipinos.
With the death of the father Don Jose, Ysidra the spinster became the head of the family. The Cojuangco family owned some 12,000 hectares, controlled the rice trade of the province and lent so much money to planters and businessmen of Tarlac, Pangasinan and Nueva Ecija that Justice Antonio G. Lucero, the family lawyer thought she practically owned Central Luzon.
Newsbreak also reports:
Ysidra and the four brothers were determined to make money work for them. They gave out loans to townsfolk for expenses in fiestas, litigation, gambling losses and other reasons, with rice lands as collateral. Many of the borrowers were not able to pay back the loans, so the Cojuangcos’ landholdings expanded by leaps and bounds. By the 1930s, they were considered the biggest land-owning clan in the whole of Central Luzon with tens of thousands of hectares to their name.
Note that Gen. Antonio Luna was assassinated in 1899. Ysidra, according to Isabelo Crisostomo's biography of Cory, became rich in "her time" that began in 1900. Now, where did her money come from?
Necessarily woven into this story is the real identity of the child of Ysidra. Her younger brother, Melicio (or Melencio) Cojuangco, married Tecla Chichioko and fathered four sons: Jose, Juan, Antonio and Eduardo (Pan, p. 154). [The eldest, Jose Cojuangco, Sr., is in turn the father of Cory and Jose "Peping" Cojuangco Jr. The father of Cory and lolo of Noynoy Aquino, Jose Cojuangco Sr., who married Demetria "Metring" Sumulong of Rizal, became a banker, sugar magnate, hacendero and elected Tarlac congressman.]
Antonio Cojuangco, whom Milecio and wife professed to be their child, seems to be the real son of Ysidra. Henares cited a host of evidence, including physical and mental resemblance to the Antonios and differences with the Cojuangcos, the "Antonio" name that has been passed on to PLDT's Tonyboy, the "almost conspiratorial" secrecy of Antonio C.'s birthdate, and the issue of an unnamed body being buried with Antonio C. vis-a-vis the disapperance of Hen. Luna's body. Ayon kay Henares:
A walking distance from the Barasoain Church in No. 540 Paseo del Congreso, the town's main street, stands the old mansion of the Cojuangcos... General Antonio Luna used to sleep there. Aha!
XXX The other candidate Antonio was born according to his Ateneo 1918 Annual in the year 1899. In that entire Annual all graduates listed ONLY the YEAR of their birth, not the month or the date... all previous and subsequent Annuals, especially those listing the other brothers, gave the EXACT date, month and year of the graduates' birth... the entire 1918 Annual, like his tombstone in Manila Memorial, would be changed to accommodate the secrecy wanted by one single man. (bold supplied)
As a matter of fact, if Antonio were born in Malolos instead of Paniqui, we will never know, because the Birth Registries in eight volumes, supposedly covering the period from October 1775 to 1904, stops at February 1899 before Antonio might have been born. What is most suspicious is that a tag that describes the missing volume was left inside the exhibit, suggesting that the missing volume actually exists but was stolen.
No doubt, the Cojuangcos made great use of the wealth that came into their possession. Jose, who was "Left a great deal of money" by Ysidra, was able to enter politics (Pan, p. 154), becoming a Tarlac congressman. His father, Melicio, earlier entered politics, utilizing the family wealth to his political advantage (Yoshihara). And of course, there were the three Benignos who all run for public office, including the present "President" Noynoy C. Aquino.
Arguably, it had been better that the Republic's wealth fell into the Cojuangco's hands instead of the imperialist American's hands. Also, in fairness to Ysidra, she did tried to help the poor by being a philantrophist. As according to Henares, when she died at the age of 93 on July 13, 1960 at the Makati Medical Center, she left IOU's of laborers and the poor that totaled P2 million.
Ysidra used the First Philippine Republic money wisely, letting the treasures earn instead of, well, simply keeping them buried or, worse, spending it. Nevertheless, it's LONG OVERDUE that the nation's money be RETURNED by the COJUANGCOs to where they belong. The Cojuangcos never truly owned the First Republic's treasures and besides, their greed has already borne them much more than they have returned, which brings to mind the rather infamous case of their land-grabbing the Hacienda Luisita way. To return these funds is the moral thing to do. I'm sure that such is what Gen. Luna would have wanted as well, right Tonyboy?
If the Cojuangcos ever return the treasures f the First Republic, I'll surely change course and support Noynoy Aquino as "President," no matter his HOCUS PCOS status. Although that seems like wishing for the blue moon further turned yellow....
Dobbin, Christine. Asian entrepreneurial minorities: conjoint communities in the making of the world-economy 1570-1940. Taylor & Francis, 1996
Crisostomo, Isabelo. Cory--profile of a president. Brandern Books, 1987.
Yoshihara, Kunio. Philippine industrialization: foreign and domestic capital. Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1985.
Parreno, Earl g. "Where did the Cojuangcos’ wealth really come from?" Thursday, 24 September 2009.
THE FAMILY TREE OF CORAZON COJUANGCO AQUINO