The Venturas of Bacolor, Pampanga

Bacolor, Pampanga occupies a special place in my heart. My father was from the town. Before the lahar, it was a very prosperous town. I could still remember the ancestral houses of the old, rich families. Visiting the place was like going back to the Spanish era.

I made a research on this family because it interests me so much. Here are the facts that I learned about them. I gathered the information from my Apo, Maria Vergara-Mana*o, the Center for Kapampanga Studies Director, Mr. Robbie Tantingco and Museum Curator/Consultant, Mr. Alex Castro. They were very kind to me. Mrs. Lilian Borromeo was very helpful also.

My great grandfather was the palsonero or overseer of the Ventura-Santos family and later on by the de Leon family. He was Ingkong (Lolo) Guillermo Vergara. I never got to see him as he died years before I was born. As a palsonero he was the overseer of the hacienderos like Dona Africa Ventura-Santos. He talked to the farmers and oversaw the operation of a portion of the hacienda, Barrio Irung. He kept the record of the accounts of the tenant-farmers and that of the area he is in charge.

Dona Africa Ventura was born to Don Balbino Ventura of Bacolor, Pampanga and the former Dona Juana Tizon of Sto. Tomas, Pampanga . According to Apung Maria, someone told her that whenever Dona Juana was about to give birth, she would travel abroad and she would name her child after the country where she had given birth. They were blessed with four children. Apo told me that the siblings of Dona Africa were Dona Nunilon ( She was named after the alon or waves because she was born during a sea voyage.), Dona Belen (She was born in Bethlehem). Obviously, Dona Africa was born when Dona Juana was in Africa. Her brother Don Honorio Ventura was born in the Philippines. He was once a governor of Pampanga and a secretary of the Department of Interior. He financed the education of several poor and deserving people. Among them were our former President Diosdado Macapagal (he was a lawyer) and Congressman Emilio Cortez, Sr.(doctor and lawyer). Both are dead now.

As to Don Honorio Ventura, Apung Maria told me that he never married. He had a mistress whose surname was Bautista but I forgot the first name. Apo told me that the mistress is not beautiful. They had a daughter, Sor Asuncion Ventura who was the founder of Asilo de San Vicente de Paul.

It is located in United Nations Avenue, Manila. She donated her inheritance to the orphanage.

Apo told the following recollections:

First, I asked her about the house on the hilltop. She said that the mansion was really big. Whenever they would go there, they rode on a car. She told me that there was a lift in the house and it was seldom used. Only Dona Africa used it. If you would want to go directly to the kitchen and you’re coming from the outside, you should take the staircase consisting of about 145 steps.

Second, she told me that she used to prepare Dona Africa’s breakfast. She said that she would first drink a glass of milk. The brand was Senorita condensed milk. Then she’ll take the uncooked egg yolk. Only then would she eat her breakfast.

Third, she told me that Dona Africa and Don Teodoro were blessed with three children- one girl and two boys. The daughter died when she was already married. It was about her gums. One of the sons was very intelligent. She told me that during the war, the other son was arrested by the Japanese Imperial Army. Dona Africa followed her son on the car and somehow, they managed to help him escape the Japanese.

Fourth, she told me that Dona Africa looked like a doll. She’s a mestiza. She’s very beautiful.

Fifthth, during All saints’ day, Dona Africa would go to the Campo Santo (Cemetery) in Bacolor, Pampanga. My Apo would tag along. The Venturas had a mausoleum there. They would light candles for their parents and Apong Nunilon, the sister of Dona Africa. Apo told me that people would stare at her whenever Dona Africa would come because she’s a real beauty.

It is now gone because of the destructive lahar in 1991. I know this is located at the back of the San Guillermo church because I saw it when I was still young. The church still stands today. It has been renovated by the Bacolorenos.

Sixth, my Apo told me that she stayed at their house in Pasay. She couldn’t remember the address anymore but it is in Ortigas, Pasay, Rizal near the bay. I asked her if it was really Pasay because the Ortigas I know today is in Mandaluyong but maybe in her time it was different. She told me that you would hear the waves even if you were inside the house. Sometimes you could catch alimasag.

Seventh, she also told me that during the election period, they would stay at the mansion of Dona Africa in San Jose, City of San Fernando. Her brother Don Honorio was a well known politician.

I know that there are two houses in town which used to belong to Don Teodoro and Dona Africa. The first one is now the Pampanga Hotel & Restaurant. It is at the right side of the San Fernando Metropolitan Cathedral and in front of the Methodist church. The other one is now owned by the Hizons. But it is just along the same street as the first.

more soon


14 thoughts on “The Venturas of Bacolor, Pampanga

  1. are you familiar with dungca farms there?

    anyway, regarding my pao plan, i haven’t submitted any application yet. may hinihintay pa kasi akong isang pending application with a private company. so, chill muna ako at diskarte na lang ulit later. 🙂

  2. Yes, I know the Dungca Farms. I’ve been there before. The owner is Mayor Buddy Dungca of Bacolor. Is your girlfriend a relative of Mayor Dungca? My brother knows his aunt, Mrs. Mila Dungca.
    As regards the NP screening, it’s not a bar exam type. it’s more of abstract reasoning. no laws or whatever. parang entrance exam lang.

  3. I am the son of the daughter of Dona Africa Santos. And reminded your story on the house in Ortigas, Pasay. I remembered the water of the Bay was the edge of the our house. And the Roxas Boulevard was not yet there as known today. Will be glad that if we can communicate regarding your Lola. I think, I would know her. Since at that time I was seven (7) years old. My mobile number is 09283690633. So we can renew acquaintances as soon as possible. Thanks. Best Regards.

  4. Ventura-Santos


    wow! i am so thrilled. that means,you are the son of dona you speak kapampangan also? my apo’s name is maria, but i think they call her pitut because she was born after 7 months. grabe. it’s my pleasure to hear from you.may i know your name please?

  5. Yes, I’m the son of Dona Afrikita. I’m also thrilled to know you. Do you have a land phone or cell phone? Can I call you? So we can arrange when can we meet. Or rather, please call my wife – Marilou, 787 7375 (land phone) and 0916 663 2483 (mobile). She knows more details of the Ventura-Santos among the ones alive now. She’s very interested to continue getting the details for our Family Tree. I hope we can meet very soon. Looking forward.

  6. Sir:

    I believe I already wrote everything I learned. I never thought that I would ever communicate with the heirs of Donna Africa. I wrote the family of Ventura-Santos on my blog because I wanted to write what Apo kept telling me since childhood! I felt po kasi that she’s very fond of the story.She’s more than 80 years old now.

    The Center for Kapampangan Studies will be helpful in tracing your family tree.

    Until next time.

  7. My grandfather is Augusto Tizon, I remember him pointing out the hilltop house in Bamban Tarlac every time we drove by the hill. I think he said they were cousins.

  8. Good morning Sir. I am a staff in the institution founded by Sor Asuncion Bautista Ventura, DC, a daughter of Don Honorio Hocorma Ventura and Cornelia Bautista of Bacolor, Pampanga. She was born in 1853 and died in 1923. She founded Asilo de San Vicente de Paul on July 26, 1885. Our institution was founded 10 years after she entered the convent on March 19, 1875.

  9. Sor Asuncion Ventura, foundress of Asilo de San Vicente de Paul located in U.N. Avenue (found in 1885; Don Honorio was born in 1887) is their auntie. She is one of the sisters of Don Balbino…

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