Monday, May 24, 2010

Tales from my Grandfather

It is probably more appropriate to call this piece Tales (from and/or of) my grandfather. Since there are numerous narratives of the “tales of” genre which I intend to dwell upon later, I decided to settle for the “tales from” angle for now.

The urge to take stock of one’s legacy comes natural in the twilight of my years. A reckoning on my heritage is an equally urgent need, if nothing else but to provide the necessary backdrop to the narrative, which may have been told before in one form or another.

The story I heard from my grandfather, who was one of 7 or 8 siblings, was that his father’s family owned a sizeable church-front property in one of the towns in Bohol. I don’t recall having heard the specific name of that particular town. Maybe some of my older siblings can fill that in later. The property was unceremoniously confiscated or expropriated by the friars.

Instead of fighting back what would have been a certain lost cause, his father just picked up and moved his family* to Mindanao, using ‘Asumen’ as the new family name, replacing the original ‘Alonggi’ or Alongi. Among his siblings grandpa Insoy (short for Lorenzo or Lorencio**) was the only one who eventually ventured to the mountainous part of Surigao, where virgin forests for homesteading were still available aplenty.

He became one of the pioneers in Wangki or Wangke. That he managed to claim a place for himself, undaunted and unbridled by the subterfuge of some of the more domineering clans, was a tribute to his fortitude which we, his descendants later dubbed as “the Asumen trait.” The rest settled in the rice plains adjacent to the nipa swamps of Gigaquit (Bunot).

The most relevant point is: for any Asumen (or Asumen-associated*** person) whose family originally hailed from Mindanao, I’m certain the ancestral tree can be traced to mine, based on grandpa Insoy’s account. So for whatever it is worth to you, I hereby claim some sort of familial relations with you, be it consanguinity or conaffinity.

With a song in my heart: regards and carpe diem, I wish you well. Or as Spock, one of my all time favorite movie characters would none-passionately say, “live long and prosper.” May the winds (of change) be at your back.

*This reflex to “get up and go,” I later identified in my memory bank as “the Asumen resilience,” and claimed it to be an Asumen trait. I relied on it heavily when I was confronted with the thankless task of making a choice that would irreversibly alter my career trajectory. It was an event which resulted in “a wealth of memories screaming to be told,” as a casual acquaintance would reckon. Thus, I was disconnected from the Asumen family for a while and have not completed the tedious and toilsome process of reconnecting.

**I recall vividly when we were in the process of writing grandpa’s grave marker that even father was not quite sure what grandfather’s formal name was. When one is in the process of establishing a new identity somewhat obfuscating formal labels vestigial of the old identity has its advantages.

In my personal memory banks, I have this to retrieve: My younger brother’s name Florencio was deemed to be derived from a combination of grandma’s name Florentina, and grandpa’s name presumed at the time, circa 1951 or 1952, to be Lorencio.

***Father was the only son of three siblings. Amongst grandpa’s direct descendants we count some Samontina’s and at least one Tadem as my immediate (first degree remote) Asumen-associated cousins.


  1. The Dagohoy Rebellion was quelled in 1829, 128 years before Tatay Insoy's passing on. He was reputed to have been 108 years old when he died, that puts him at 20 years old at the end of the Dagohoy Rebellion.

    It is safe to assume that he moved to Mindanao as his father's dependent. Putting him at age 10 when he moved to Mindanao is a viable proposition. I don't have any idea which position he occupied in the siblings seniority order. So 10 is just splitting the difference.

    By and large the story line is viable. What makes it dubious is the hint that it was the Simpron end of the clan who was from Inabanga. Mana did tell me today that Tatay Insoy's family was from Cliape.

  2. The original town in question was Calape, Bohol.