Remembering Sundays at Barbosa
Throughout my childhood, lunch on Sunday was always at Barbosa (the former name of A. Bautista Street). This was how we referred to Bahay Nakpil-Bautista back then.
My earliest memories have us attending 10 o’clock mass at San Agustin Church in Intramuros and driving to Quiapo for lunch with Lola (Grandma) Teta – as my paternal grandmother, Enriqueta Sancho Nakpil, liked to be called.
She hailed from Cavite and was married to Ramon Nakpil (Julio’s youngest brother) with whom she had three children: Angel, Antonia, and my father Jose. Lola Teta was a great cook and we never tired of her special beef tapa, molo soup, asadong manok (roast chicken), and at Christmas, pabo (roast turkey).
On our way home, we would circle around to Echague (now Carlos Palanca St.), and stop by the Magnolia Ice Cream plant to purchase a week’s supply of ice cream packed in dry ice as we headed home to our apartment along Taft Avenue.
I never got to know my grandfather, Ramon Nakpil. He passed away in 1955 before my father Jose, started his own family. We knew him as Lolo (Grandpa) Momong while others in the clan, nicknamed him Lolo “Bols” after his propensity for consuming that particular brand of liquor. Lolo Momong designed some of the handmade jewelry (joyeria) for which Bahay Nakpil-Bautista was known. Some of the surviving designs have been returned to the ancestral home as examples of the artistry of the Nakpils.
One such Sunday in August of 1968 was two days after one of the worst earthquakes in Manila’s history brought down the Ruby Tower in the nearby district of Binondo taking with it over 200 lives. Aftershocks were still rocking the city and one of them occurred shortly after lunch at Bahay Nakpil-Bautista. The house creaked and swayed over what seemed like six feet left and right and as an eight year old scared out of his wits, I can still remember my father coaxing me out from under the long dining table after the swaying stopped and calmly explaining that the strength of the house derives from the wooden upper storey being able to flex rather than break apart.
Another memorable Sunday was August 22, 1971 – the morning after the infamous bombing of the Liberal Party’s “Miting de Avance” (Proclamation Rally) for its Senatorial candidates at Plaza Miranda just across Quezon Blvd. from Bautista St.. I was not quite twelve, but I distinctly recall listening intently to my parents and relatives discussing the event over lunch, speculating as to who lobbed the two grenades, and the eventual fallout. This event, triggered President Marcos’ suspension of the writ of habeas corpus – a prelude to his declaration of Martial Law, which came a year later. To this day, no one has been indicted, let alone arrested, for that heinous crime.
The Nakpils have been at the periphery of Philippine historical events on various sides of the political spectrum since the revolutionary era and far more than the nostalgic look back at a kinder, gentler time that it affords us, Bahay Nakpil-Bautista enshrines the milestones in our collective journey as a clan and as a nation. I am honored to be a part of the effort to preserve and promote it as a memorial to our society’s ideals.Related topics: Articles, nostalgia, old manila, personal account