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.

Lola Teta and my father Jose, then 15 years old, pose for a Christmas photo in Dec. of 1935

Lola Teta and my father Jose, then 15, pose for a Christmas photo in Dec. of 1935

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

3 Responses to “Remembering Sundays at Barbosa”

  1. By Lisa L. Nakpil on Jul 9, 2009

    I like this! Love the picture too. If not for your Lola in her full Filipina dress, I would’ve thought the young man beside her was you!

  2. By Emmanuel Mario Santos aka Marc Guerrero on Jan 8, 2012

    I remember Lola Teta and Ninong Pinggoy and your historical bits and pieces made me travel back in time (I was in grade school and high school when I stayed in Barbosa entrosuelo (where tita Cely and tito Gener Maglaque live now). Fact is, I think I had joined one of your many lunches with the whole kids (Mickey Padilla, Manti Mallari, who’s the American girl daughter of Lelet de Lange?, and so on), and with ninang Nena, etc. I remember Carlo (are you him or you’re his bro?). I also ferquented your Petrona Apartment back in Taft Ave. I am not a Nakpil but I remember my late mom (Iluminada “Mely” Balasote) and my late lola, mom’s aunt (Engracia “Grace” Tolisora) telling tales about how lola Onchong had adopted them as kadugo… (I cannot access ninong Pinggoy and lola teta’s photo, Jose)

  3. By Jose Nakpil on Jan 8, 2012

    Hi Marc,

    That was quite a trip down memory lane.

    I am Carlo’s brother, Jose Jr. My father is your Ninong Pinggoy and his photo now appears. Thank you for pointing this out. It was overlooked when we changed our web host. I guess you meant Mikey Dualan. His father is a Padilla. And the American girl is Cristy.

    Thank you for visiting.


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