Comfortable Past and Uncomfortably (Contemporary)
I have been away quite a long time now since our latest class reunion at The Mabini Academy. Nevertheless, news bits about Lipa and its people kept on pouring in – mostly from friends and contemporaries and from not-so-biased sources: transients to the city. And then, under such a short notice as a long distance call from Doming Katigbak a night away to date, he ordered me to write. “About what? ” I asked, “Anything about Lipa. Just write, ok? And send it through Luis Katigbak tomorrow! ” Forthwith I dug my files Art Sales’ writings came in handy.
Now I have a treasure chest; its contents ready for instant piracy. For the credit line – This is a reprint from Art. Almost. Practically. aWitness: In the 1850s Lipa was one of the places in world, repeat, in the world that was considered a leading coffee producer. Around the time, the name Batangas coffee was regarded as one of the world’s best coffee. And as in any economic boom, some families gained prominence and fortune. One of these families is the Aguilera clan. The family is Castilian in origin from Spain, aristocratic in many ways and very continental in modes of living.
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The story is told that Dona Consuelo Aguilera Lozada wore diamond encrusted sandals, would not touch money (unless “deodorized”? ) and would meet guests only by appointment. This was in the 1880s. Present day descendant include Jose Lardizabal. Another clan which gained prominence during the coffee boom is the Solis Family which like the Aguileras, is of Iberian descent. This, according to our grandparents, explains the prominence of the mestiza features of the Solis. One gentleman, a very handsome and gentle person, married a beautiful lady.
The union bore Dona Salustia Solis who married Don Nicolas Olaguivel whose only daughter, Didi, married Alberto Katigbak, a former Ambassador. Of course, who would forget and therefore must place on this record the nicest and most amiable and talented Father Lee (Eleno Olaguivel) who, in our times during the 46s through the 60s, provided us with contemporary views on religion, education, music, and fitnesse in youth behaviour? Then there is the Katigbak family. To this day, I am still confused whether, as the old folks insist, a distinction must be made in the ncestral lineage, i. e, whether the end letter in Katigbak must be a “k” or a “c”. Does it really matter now? Anyway, the record is uncontested that the Katigbak family is a wealthy clan. It started with some royal members of the Bornean settlers of Lake Bonbon, now Taal Lake. Three sons carved names for themselves: the descendants of eldest Lino Katigbak, are the landed gentry of Lipa; the heirs of Norberto Katigbak are the professionals in the family; the offspring of Cayetano Katigbak are the business entrepreneurs.
And there are more from Art Sales writings. These are about the families of Roxas, Kalaw, reyes, etc. , etc. , etc. To do a digest about all of them needs a volume. Specially, about the 3rd ETCETERA where, I mistrust, the Velos and Paalas are a part of. The second era in the economic life of the city was known as the import control days of 1949 to 1953. Great fortunes were made out of dollar quotas and allocations. Some names were made to match the grandeur of the old families. These included the Custodios, Enricos and Lirags.
They tried to outdo, and did indeed really in many ways , the elegance and the mode of life of the old families. The third economic push came in the middle 50s when the citrus plantation was “in”.
Of course, the beneficiaries were the landed gentry of the coffee era and the new rich of the preceding period who at this time have acquired large tracts of agricultural lands and other real properties. Some names who made it during the business flourish were Don Felino Katigbak, Dr. Jose Roxas Katigbak, Don Fidel Reyes, Dr. Alberto Dimayuga, and Dr. Tomas Reyes. In the 1970s, the big business was poultry. Then, Lipa has the largest concentration of poultry farms in the country. Again, the Katigbaks hugged the business landscape. Of recall are Jose “Pepito” Katigbak and Pio Katigbak Luz’s St. Anthony Farm and the poultry farm of a Batangas socialite, Mila Katigbak. Not outdone in volume of business and covered acreage is the poultry empire of Claro Malleta who, by close trace, is said to have come from the Katigbak family tree too.