Monday, February 23, 2015

How My Great Grandmother Remedios Lopez Cuenco Died

Remedios Lopez Cuenco, right

I have become the keeper of my family's genealogy. People share information about my father's and mother's families. The recent information I got came from my aunt, Teresita Cuenco Gonzalez, about my Great Grandmother Remedios Lopez Cuenco. Remedios married Mariano Albao Cuenco; they were parents of my maternal grandfather, Mariano Jesus Cuenco; they were the grandparents of my mother, Concecpcion Cuenco Manguerra.

In my mother's family, Remedios was considered a powerful personality. She bore 16 children, although many died during infancy. Those who survived inclued a senator (Mariano Jesus), an archbishop (Jose Maria), a representative (Miguel), and a story teller (Remedios Borromeo). A boy, Jaime, who seemed to have a disability, died in his teens.

l-r: Remedios Lopez Cuenco, Jose Maria Cuenco (older boy), Jaime Cuenco (holding hat), Mariano Albabo Cuenco, holding Dolores Cuenco, Mariano Jesus Cuenco

Remedios was always referred to as "ruling" her family. She ruled, not only her own children, but her grandchildren as well.  My mother and her siblings always spoke of "Nanay" with great respect. Remedios was Nanay to them.

Remedios was widowed at the young age of 39, and she forged on raising her children and grandchildren. She also became the Philippines' First Woman Publisher when she took over the publishing business of her husband who died.

While I had mental images of Remedios as a warrior woman ruling her home and business in Colon Street, Cebu, I knew nothing about her old age and how she died.

Seated l-r: Lourdes Cuenco, Filomena Alesna Cuenco, Remedios Lopez Cuenco, Unidentified woman, Concepcion Cuenco; Standing l-r: Unidentified man, Identified man, Jose Maria Cuenco, Mariano Jesus Cuenco, Miguel Cuenco;children seated in front unidentified

I learned from my aunt that Remedios continued living in her house on Colon Street. She was in her seventies during World War II. Apparently, she smoked cigars. She also had undiagnosed diabetes.  One day, she lit one of her cigars and embers fell on her foot. Unaware that she had hurt herself, she did not take care of it, and even got her feet wet.

The wound became infected and developed into gangrene. In a matter of days, she died.

Unknown to family members, she kept paper money (and lots of it) in a small pillow on her bed. After she died, the family removed her beddings, including the small pillow, and burned them.

There was some family quarreling between her youngest son and an aunt over what happened to the money, until they figured out that the money had been unwittingly destroyed.

My aunt said Remedios was the out-of-wedlock daughter of a Spanish Admiral. A relative, from the line of Remedios' sister had written me that the father of Remedios and his ancestor Concepcion was a Spanish priest. I don't know which story is correct, but the common denominator is that Juana Lopez (the mother of Remedios) had a relationship with some Spaniard who was an absentee parent.

I had always wondered why family lore never talked about Remedios' father; the man didn't even have a name. In her own dogged way, Remedios made a name for herself and her family.

l-r:Maria, Filomena (woman standing), Concepcion (child with doll), Juana Lopez, Dolores, Jose Maria (priest), Lourdes (child seated), Manuel, Miguel (older boy in back), Remedios
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Tags: Cuenco, Remedios Lopez, Cebu, Philippines, politics
This is all for now

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