The story of Encarnacion Janduquile y Gumban vda de Himatay is one of trials
and triumphs. She was born 30 June 1904, the only daughter of Pablo Janduquile y Ledesma*
and Fernanda Gumban y Confesor. She actually had two sisters and a brother,
but they all died while still children.
Her mother died young. And to take care of her, her father took employment as a manager in Negros of the Spanish
Gomez interests, whose vast holdings at one time in the early 19th century included the Hacienda San Pedro in Makati before
it was eventually purchased by the Zobel de Ayalas. As a result, he was often away on business, and she was left in
the care of her Gumban relatives in Pavia. By her own recollection, she was a spoiled child. Then while in her
teens, her father also died, which left her an orphan. But she was left some properties in the care of her relatives.
When she came of age, she discovered that most of her inheritance was squandered away; apparently it was common among
the propertied class of the day to gamble away fortunes, and bets were often backed by titulos,
or land titles. She felt exploited and hurt. But instead of feeling sorry for herself, she demanded from her guardians
that she be given at least a parcel of land and some work animals so she could be independent. She was given the land,
and seven head of carabao (water buffalo).
For her security, she married her first love, Arsenio Himatay y Joqueno**.
He was from the town
of Jaro, and had volunteered in the U.S. Army Corps. (Though not rich, the young man came from
a respectable family, whose mother had been cabeza de barangay during the last gasps of Hispanidad
in the Philippines. It was tradition during the Spanish colonial period for the post to be held by members of the native
Filipino elite who came from the family of datus. The post, though prestigious, came without
any government funds. This brought many a cabeza to financial ruin, as they had no choice
but to use their own money to fund local public work projects!) On her own now, she promised to redeem herself and recover
her lost inheritance.
Small of frame and almost austere in appearance, the young Encarnacion was as resourceful as
she was entrepreneurial, and soon made most of her agricultural produce, selling them profitably
at markets. She also made use of her family connections -- there was always a cousin who was a governor or mayor,
who had a soft spot for their orphaned relative, and were helpful in introductions. (A cousin who was particularly fond
of her was then-Iloilo governor Patricio Confesor, whom she regularly visited and
had long chats with.) Eventually, she won numerous government contracts with the Bureau of Prisons and the Provincial
She made good on her promise to redeem herself and recover her inheritance. Single-mindedly and almost single-handedly,
she began to re-purchase choice properties in Pavia and neighboring Santa Barbara. But it was the properties around
the town plaza that meant the most to her. She was a Gumban on her mother's side, after all, and to old-time Pavianhons,
they were always considered taga-poblacion, literally, "from the town" or "of the town center".
(Her accomplishments were impressive for a woman who was left with only a piece of land and some work animals, since it was
a time when even men could hardly own their own properties, and this holds true to this day.) One of the properties
was the site of her ancestral home, which she bought from a distant Ledesma relative.
In the style of the late 19th century principalia families, she soon had her own pew in the
parish church, which was reserved for her family's use. In thanksgiving, she donated two large statues of
Our Lady of Fatima. These statues can still be seen both inside and outside
the church, near the entrance. In due time, Christmas became an occasion to share her family's blessings, and the
town's children would form lines at her home to receive free goody bags. Also a regular visitor to her home was
her good friend the then-Iloilo governor Mariano Penaflorida (who held office from
1948-1959), who had a particular craving for her plump turkeys. Immediate family and close friends still recall
the hospitality and abundance of the Himatay household during this period. "Mrs. Himatay" as most Pavianhons would call
her, was known for her lunches after the Sunday High Mass where her cooks prepared for her table lechon de leche
(baked for her in a panaderia oven) or roasted calf,
as well as premium fish like lison or apahap, cooked frito, or sinugba style.***
She was so successful, that former Iloilo City mayor and senator of the Republic Rodolfo Ganzon knew her well enough to tease her in public that the native marketing bag that she carried
was full of money. And by the time her eldest daughter got married in 1950, one ninong (godfather)
in the entourage was none other than the then-governor Mariano Penaflorida. She managed to send all of her children
to college, all of whom became professionals -- as teacher, businessman, lawyer, dentist, nurse. Yet through it all,
she has remained simple and unaffected by her recovered affluence. Financially secure, she finally slowed her pace down
and settled in retirement with the death of her husband in the 1970's. She contented herself with visiting her children
in Manila and the United States, and stopped travelling only when she hit her nineties.
She always had a marked devotion to the Roman Catholic Church, and constantly supported
the local church with donations of money, and bottles of perfume for the statues of saints. Her devotion and friendship
with clergy was also freely returned in her old age. A favorite priest who was also a close family friend, Monsignor
Domingo Nebres**** (who also happened to be the one who ministered to the Marcos
family until the death of the disgraced dictator Ferdinand Marcos in Hawaii), was a regular visitor, playfully teasing and
embarrassing her no end by passing noisily through town with a police escort. ("The people might think I'm being arrested,"
she would admonish the good monsignor.) Pavia's parish priest of more than two decades, Monsignor Juan
Tuvilla, was also close to her not only as a distant relative (his grandmother was a Gumban), but a good listener
and adviser as well.
On her 98th birthday, Encarnacion Janduquile y Gumban vda de Himatay remains
the well-loved matriarch of a family that has spread its roots beyond the confines of Pavia to other towns and cities in the
Philippines, the United States and Germany. In fact, the family now includes not only Filipinos, but also Germans, Mexicans
and American citizens. While none in her family has so far followed in her entrepreneurial footsteps, her long
life continues to serve as an example and inspiration to three generations on three continents -- a story of Belief
in One's Self, Hope and Perseverance in
face of Life's Challenges, Success in Hard
Work, Pride in Family and Heritage, and
most important of all, Faith in God.