Illegitimate or not, Teodora Alonzo is a pride of Biñanenses
2010-06-14 11:18:12
An answer to Mr. Ambeth Ocampo's Philippine Daily Inquirer article dated June 13, 2010 by Rosauro A. Sta. Maria, Jr., M.D., President and Executive Director, UACCD, City of Biñan Inc. 

There is no secret. People of Biñan and the Rizal family knew that Doña Teodora was an illegitimate child of Lorenzo Alonso Alberto since time immemorial.

Don Lorenzo Alonso Alberto is the father of Teodora Alonso. One baffling question is where the surname Alberto came from? Lorenzo is the son of Cipriano Alonso and Maria Florentina1.  Cipriano was municipal captain of Biñan in 1797 whose father, Gregorio Alonso from Quiotan was the head of mestizos in Sta. Cruz, Manila in 1763 and 1768. Therefore, the last name Alonso has been the surnames of both his father and grandfather. Now why the Alberto? Where did it come from?

It was customary during those times that the godfather or godmother's surname is attached to the name of their godchildren. One example can be derived from the story on one of the ancestors of Jose Rizal on his paternal side when Francisco Mercado married Bernarda Monicha on May 26, 1771. The frequent occurrence of the name of Monicha among the last names of girls of that vicinity was later ascribed to Bernarda's popularity as godmother2.  This confused the priests and the government hence the order to change surnames in 1849.

Could it be that Lorenzo Alonso was baptized with a godfather whose surname is Alberto?  And as such, Alberto was added to his name in honor of the godfather? Hope the archive of the parish church was intact but the church caught fire sometime in the past destroying this valuable documents.

Brigida Ochoa Quintos is the daughter of Manuel Quintos from Pangasinan, a prominent lawyer who graduated from the University of Sto. Tomas, and Regina Ochoa. The Ochoas are from Cavite and though without much documentation, is said to be from a rich clan whose lineage goes back to a certain Mariquita Ochoa that became a common-law wife of a deported Spanish nobleman named Marquis de Cañete. Marquiz was denied marriage to Mariquita because of his political indifference with the State church. She is the childhood sweetheart of Lorenzo Alberto. The Quintos was later changed (Claveria Decree of 1849) to Realonda. She is the mother of Teodora thus Teodora Alonso y Realonda.

Hence, Don Lorenzo, after all named Teodora carrying his surname which is Alonso. I use to think that Alonso was his middle name and in order to hide from public scrutiny he used this instead of his last name which is Alberto. The only thing is that on September 13, 1814, a certain Lorenzo Alberto, son of Cipriano and Florentina, Spanish mestizos of Biñan, province of Laguna married a Paula Florentino from Vigan3. And so the story goes as written by Mr. Ocampo.

All of these happened before the Claveria decree of 1849. One can assume that after which, Alonso Alberto has been used by the family until it devolved to the present Alberto, dropping the original surname Alonso.

Lorenzo Alberto had a son Jose Maria Alberto y Florentino (from his marriage to Paula Florentino of Vigan) who later married Teodora Mariano (Mariano later on changed to Formoso). She was the one locked up by Don Lorenzo. The poor Teodora, following the will of her father, took care of her namesake Teodora (her sister-in-law) but was branded an accomplice and hence punished. She was also accused of poisoning her. Doña Teodora spent two and a half years in prison till she was finally acquitted after having been represented by prominent lawyers in Manila. This must explain why there was the three year gap between Narcisa (born 1852) and Olympia (born 1855) among the children of Doña Teodora (Teodora gave birth to her first three children every year, Saturnina (1850), Paciano (1851) and Narcisa (1852). Prison must have caused the health of Don Lorenzo to deteriorate who died in 1854. Could this "garrison" like episode in the story of the Alberto house be that "dark moment" in the history of the house that the Alberto's speak of? It was probably the reason why the house was sold to Dona Magdalena Arevalo and later devolved to Señora Isabel "Abe" Marco whose daughter, Pilar married Don Zoilo Alberto4. The house went back to its original owners, an interesting twist of fate in history. Or, is it the house haunting the original owners like what seems to be going on now?

Jose Maria Alberto, half brother of Teodora probably never kept a grudge on his half sister. He became a propagandist together with Juan Luna explaining the oil portrait of Jose done by Luna which used to hang on the wall of the Alberto house. This showed that Jose Alberto supported the plight of his nephew Dr. Jose Rizal.

Jose Alberto and Teodora Formoso had a son, Lorenzo Alberto y Formoso who married Sofia Cruz. Their children were Zoilo III, Lorenzo, Luis and Gerardo. Mr. Gerardo "Gerry" Alberto is the only surviving descendant. He is the one who sold the house to Mr. Acuzar citing maintenance costs and indifference of the government in the care of the house.

I am not a historian and never dreamed of becoming one, but a driving force seems to push me to research and write about the story of the house. It is for the same reason that our group, the United Artists for Cultural Conservation and Development, City of Biñan Inc. (UACCD) of which I am at the helm has taken the initiative to call on our local government to stop the demolition of the house. Kudos to BJ Borja, our artistic director, Nancy Amador and the rest of the Board, staff and members of UACCD whose all out support has led us to whatever we have accomplished. I was talking earlier to Lisa Tinio Bayot explaining my weird feeling and it gave me goose bumps all over to note that Dr. Rizal's birthday is just around the corner.

It makes me wonder why Mr. Ambeth Ocampo came out with the story in the PDI today. Does it intend to insult the Rizal clan by exposing that Doña Teodora was a "bastarda"? Or does he want to shed light on the historical significance of the Alberto House so as to save it from being demolished? I talked to Gemma Cruz Araneta and she said "it is an old story" (Teodora being illegitimate), for her, being a direct descendant of Maria Rizal Cruz, sister of Dr. Jose Rizal, this is a "rags to riches" story of her family. The story of an illegitimate child rising to riches and fame by bearing a child who later became, no less than, our national hero....Dr. Jose Rizal!

1Craig, Austin (1913). Project Gutenberg EBook (Jan. 8, 2002 EBook #6867) Lineage, Life and Labors of Jose Rizal Philippine Patriot. page 57
2Craig, Austin (1913). Project Gutenberg EBook (Jan. 8, 2002 EBook #6867) Lineage, Life and Labors of Jose Rizal Philippine Patriot. page 46
3Delos Reyes, Tomas and Schaerpf, Frederick (1983). Ilocos Review Vol.15.
4Agulto, Antonio with references to Kasaysayan ng Bayan ng Binyang.