The legacy of Teresa De La Paz

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Geography was not really a favorite subject of mine in school, but it is now because I love to travel. Recently I have heard so much about the “Ring of Fire” and am now sitting up and paying attention. 

The Ring of Fire, also referred to as the Circum-Pacific Belt, is a path along the Pacific Ocean characterized by active volcanoes and frequent earthquakes. The majority of earth’s volcanoes and earthquakes take place along the Ring of Fire, which stretches over 40,000 kilometers in a giant ring around the Pacific Ocean, from our volcano-filled country up to Japan with Mt. Fuji and its own volcanoes, across to Alaska, down to Mt. St. Helens, then California and its famous San Andreas Fault, further down to South America, then back across the Pacific to New Zealand, which has seen both volcanoes and earthquakes recently, then up to Indonesia and its famous Krakatoa and well known earthquakes in Aceh and others, and finally back home.

Taal Volcano eruption from Tali Beach, Batangas

Apparently, under all this are various oceanic plates and continental plates, slipping and sliding under each other, creating earthquakes and upwellings of magma, which find release through a volcanic outlet. More than 450 volcanoes form the Ring, and 90% of all earthquakes are along this path. We who are part of the Ring need to respect Mother Nature, the owner of the Ring. 

Tagaytay is one of my favorite local vacation spots because of its scenic views, fresh air and cool climate. As avid golfers, our family loves Tagaytay Highlands and the other courses along the ridge. After last Sunday’s Taal Volcano eruption, we are all saddened to see the impact of the ash fall all over Tagaytay and its nearby provinces. We all seem to be watching scenes from a zombie apocalypse movie!

During the Sunday eruption, we were in Tali Beach, Batangas and we actually witnessed the ash column from shore. The eruption was a horrifying contrast to the beautiful sunset happening to the west. Because of all the traffic warnings, we headed home through Cavitex so we wouldn’t have too much ash fall and traffic. The next day, our ZBabes Zumba girls quickly mobilized relief goods and food to be sent to evacuation centers in the area. Doing our share to help, we also got funds from the Red Charity Gala and Assumption 81 Foundation to send as much as we could. 

It was wonderful to see lots of my relatives helping out in their own way. I reconnected with all on my father’s side of the family at the 8th Teresa de la Paz Grand Family Reunion last January 5. The descendants of Teresa de la Paz hold a grand reunion on a quinquennial basis, or every five years.

Teresa de la Paz was a remarkable woman. Four families trace their lineage to her, rather than a male progenitor. Lola Teresa had two husbands, creating four lines, the Tuason, Legarda, Prieto and Valdes families. 

She owned the fabulous Teresa de la Paz Estate, the biggest private hacienda in the country next to those of the religious orders. The estate actually consisted of two haciendas: that of Marikina and the other of Sta. Mesa, both of which belonged to the family of her first husband, Don Jose Severo Tuason. 

In the middle of 1863 (a hundred years before I was born!), Doña Teresa married Don Jose Severo Tuason y Patiño (1833-74) of Binondo, Manila. To the manor born, Don Jose Severo had succeeded to the ownership of the Haciendas of Marikina and Santa Mesa in 1856. They were blessed with seven children. Don Jose Victoriano Tuason (1864-78), Don Juan Jose Tuason (1865-1916), who married Doña Maria Paz Gonzalez, Doña Maria Teresa Eriberta Tuason (1867-1951), known to the family as “La Tata,” Don Mariano Severo Tuason (1868-ca. 1940), Don Demetrio Asuncion Tuason (1870-1927), who married twice, Ellen Foley and Doña Natividad Zaragoza, Don Augusto Huberto Tuason (1872-1936), who married Doña Maria Paves, Doña Maria Soterraña Cristina Tuason (1873-1936), who married Don Vicente Garcia Valdes, alias El Pajaro Verde. 

After the death of Don Jose Severo Tuason, Doña Teresa remarried the following year to a young lawyer, Don Benito Legarda y Tuason (1853-1915) a third cousin, twice over, of her first husband. They brought three children into this world. Don Benito Legarda III (1876-1933), who married Doña Filomena Roces y Gonzalez (1872-1967), Doña Consuelo Legarda (1877-1965), who married Don Mauro Prieto y Gorricho (1872-1932), Doña Rita Legarda (1879-1945), who married Dr. Benito Valdes (1860-1935). 

From that clan, I come from the Prieto branch and not the Valdes. Even if my hubby Dennis’s surname is Valdes, we are not related through Doña Teresa. His Valdes has Kapampangan roots. Of course, we have yet to find out if some great grandfather of his may have begat either Don Vicente or Dr. Benito Valdes, and if so, then I guess we are kissing cousins after all.  

Organizing the reunion is always fun because I get to reconnect with the fourth and fifth generation cousins. I am grateful to the Organizing Committee, especially Jojo Guingona, Luli Arroyo-Bernas and Cristina Tuason-Gonzalez of the Demetrio Tuason branch, Bettina Quimson del Rosario of Juan Tuason branch, Bingbing Gonzalez-Quiros and Gela B. Trillana of the Mutti Tuason branch, Katrina Legarda and Suzette L. Montinola of the Legarda branch, Rose Marie Valdes-VillaReal and Monique N. Legarda of the Valdes branch, and Maya A. Santiago and Pilar P. Lorenzo of the Prieto branch. Big thanks also to cousin Dina A. Tantoco for arranging the cute dance of the youngest relatives and to BJ de los Santos and Pep Santos of the Sports Committee! 

Birthday girl Jordan Valdes with grandfather Alex Prieto

Among the young, sixth generation descendants is our daughter Jordan, who is celebrating her 22ndbirthday today. She is off on a college trip to India but we all wish her the best birthday ever!

Ohana means family! And I’m so delighted to be in this wonderful Teresa de la Paz clan! 

More pics on Instagram @seaprincess888

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