Family History

Godofredo & Florenia
Marriage Portrait
Father -

My father was born in the town of Banaong, in province of Pangasinan, which is about 200 miles north of Manila, studied medicine at the Santo Thomas University in Manila which at that time was run by the Dominican fathers, a group of priest from Spain. As I gleamed thru his medical books, the text books were printed in Spanish and the medium of instruction was also in Spanish. Later, I learned when I was growing up, that he spoke fluent Spanish and he could carry on discussion in local politics and world events with his Spanish patients. My mother, Florencia de Venecia was born in Dagupan, in the Province also of Pangasinan and studied dentistry at an exclusive all women university in Manila. Dagupan is located about 50 miles north of Banaong, where my father came from. Somewhere along in this time span, while my father and mother were studying in Manila, they met and the courtship started.  I should have asked my mother this secret of how they met but I was not nosey enough.

My father’s family in Banaong was well to do and have a large house and owned real e state holdings including rice lands. My grandfather was some sort of a doctor and the local people called him Doctor Vicentico. My grandfather’s family consists of five children and all were educated and graduated from universities in Manila. As well as I can tell, my grandfather’s first wife died early in her life and he remarried a well to do woman, named Dona Maria, who will later play An important role in the development and discipline of their many grandchildren. The names of their children were in the order of birth are as follows: Honorata (pharmacy), Godofredo (medicine), Antonio (law), Carmen (?), and Aludia (medicine).

On my mother’s side, her parents were also well to do and owned commercial lots in the city of Dagupan, fish ponds in a nearby salt water sea. The de Venecia’s were a well know clan among the locals in the city of Dagupanand, were powerful in politics, and in government. There were four brothers who were de Venecia’s and among them grew large families who dominated the who’s who in the city and surrounding areas. From one of this brother, known as Don Luis, came my mother’s family. My grandfather as he was known as Don Marcelo was married to Mariana, who came from Sta. Barbara, a town located next to Banaong in the Province of Pangasinan. My mothers had five siblings and were as follows in the order of their births and showing their educational accomplishments: Isidoro (engineer), Florencia (3rdyear dendistry), Feliciana (teacher), Barleto (medicine), and Agripina (law).
Godofredo and Florencia
Later in life

Upon graduating from medical school, my father interned at a hospital in Manila and finished his residency at St. Luke’s Hospital in Manila. Then he took his government medical exam and passed and was issued a license to practice medicine. Before he could settle down to set-up his practice, he decided to get married with my mother, although at this time she had one more year to finish her dentistry. What motivated my father to make this sudden plunge was predicated by a relative of his, who advised him to go south to Mindanao, Davao province , in particular, and to practice there as that place was at the other end of the rainbow, and opportunities and adventure were abundant, where vacant fertile were lands were available for homesteading.
So, my parents got married in Dagupan as it was the custom for marriage to take place at the bride’s home town. Soon after the wedding, my parents prepared for this trip to go south and start a new life there, away from the world they knew, and knowing that it would be years before they can visit relatives and parents in the north as at that time it was a slow going steamship that can ferry passengers to and from.
My father was employed as a company physician by a large Japanese plantation company, growing coconut trees and abaca. The coconut oil was extracted from ripe coconut fruits called copra and the oil was used for cooking, for making soap, etc. The so-called Manila hemp was for making strong ropes, which at that time, were used to tie ships of all sizes to their moorings.

The size of the plantation was enormous and covered thousands of hectares around and near the towns of Daliao and Toril. There were also large houses, painted white, built to house significant employees, mostly Japanese and some important Filipino employees. The coconut plantation were neat in that the rows of coconuts were arranged in straight lines as far as the eye could follow and all the trees were laden with plentiful coconut fruits, ripening in various stages. Under the coconut trees, the green vegetation was cut periodically, so that it looked like a green carpet was laid on the ground. These coconut trees were about 40-50 feet tall as I remembered it.

As for the abaca plants, they looked like healthy banana plant and were also planted in rows with hardly any grass or weeds growing under the plants as laborers went through then periodically to clean the plants of dried leaves draping along the main stalks. I remembered the days during the war years when we would scrounge among the banana plants looking for mushrooms. I was really impressed with the Japanese being very good at running coconut and abaca plantations. Today, we don’t see abaca plantation in Davao where it was the only place in the Philippineswhere they can thrive. No where in the Philippines today or even after the war where one could see neat coconut plantations just like how the Japanese would grow the coconut trees.

The small town of Daliaowas by the sea and near by was where the Furokawa Plantation was based, with large warehouses to store sacks of copra and bales of abaca. A wharf was constructed in the vicinity where ships can anchor to take in the products of the plantation. I would assume with a high degree of certainty, that my parents were housed in one of these white houses, since they were stranger to this remote location.

As time went by, my father set-up a practice in a nearby town called Toril, about one kilometer inland from Dalaio. There were very few houses in Toril at that time and the town was sparsely populated with old timers known as “davawenios “ who own large pieces of real estate in Toril and in adjacent towns. Family names with familiar ring to the newcomers to Toril/Daliao towns were the dela Cruz, Agton, Serapio, Desabella, Bangoy, and Saavedra. They were inter-related as belonging to extended families and by marriage with another large family. Toril is about 14 kilometers or about 6 miles south of Davao City, the capital of the province of Davao. My father was the pioneer physician of the town of Toril.
The Davaowenios and the local people of Toril and Daliao and from the nearby towns as far as 25 miles away gradually seek medical care and treatment from my father since it would be convenient for them rather than go to Davao City. One story related to us by our mother was about a well to do married couple that was trying to have a child but the wife was having difficulty conceiving. The wife tried taking native medicinal herbs or whatever superstitious practices to enhance conception but without success. The couple seek the advice of my father and he prescribed a particular drug for the wife to take and later she became pregnant. A son was born to them and my parents became the baptismal godparent. This couple gave my parents a piece of land in the town on which they build a two story house with three storefronts.

House in Toril

One storefront was rented to a Japanese tailor who used crutches to move around, the middle storefront was rented to a Japanese cabinet maker, and in the third storefront, was a drugstore owned by my parents. We occupied the entire second floor, and it consisted of a receiving room, a large living room, three bedrooms, a servant quarter, a dining room and a large kitchen. We took our bath/shower in a little galvanized enclosure adjacent to a hand operated water pump from which we draw the water from. We did our waste disposal in an outhouse at the back of the property. Once the outhouse gets its used, a hole is dug nearby for another outhouse. This was typical waste disposal during that time because the use of sewer system for waste disposal was unheard of in the outlying small towns. At the back of the drugstore, a large room clinic was built which served as a clinic, with a study/receiving space and an examination/treatment space. At this time, our drugstore named Toril Drug Store was the only drugstore in Toril and for the nearby towns and my father was the only physician within 50 kilometers from Toril except in the Davao City.

My Siblings -

Vicente (1)
Dr of Medicine
University of Sto. Thomas

Lolita (3)
BS Pharmacy
Centro Scholar University

Nenita (4)
Dr of Medicine
University of Sto. Thomas



Anselmo (5)
BA Commerce