Journey to the past-A A +A
Sunday, January 6, 2013
EVEN as a small girl, I knew that one of the city’s major and busier streets, Echavez St., was named after my great-grandfather Gen. Saturnino Echavez.
Only in college, though, did I know why. He was an anti-Spanish revolutionary hero.
And so he’s listed as one of Cebu’s heroes, sharing the honors with Lapu-Lapu, Leon Kilat, Generals Arcadio Maxilom and Enrique Lorega, Juan Climaco, Julio Llorente, Pantaleon del Rosario, Marcial Velez, Toribio and Candido Padilla, Bonifacio Aranas and Florenzo Gonzales.
When asked how I was related to the general, I’d just say he was my father’s grandfather.
But it took the Cebu City Government and its Historical Affairs Commission to push me to know more. Reason: the Echavez clan is among the 75 families honored by the city as “Families of Distinction.”
So I had to ring up my relatives in Cebu City, and dig into their memories. And I thanked the Internet; without it, I’d still be singing “Where do I begin?”
I googled Echavez and Echaves, and found the family’s coat of arms originating from Spain. I learned that my father changed his “z” into “s” during the Japanese occupation because the enemies were on the hunt for my grandfather’s family members.
Even then, the earlier Echavezes must’ve been a traveling lot. General Echavez himself had gone to Bohol and stayed there for a year. Perhaps he or any of his five siblings established new roots there, after Ginatilan and Barili.
Also, they must’ve distinguished themselves there because aside from Cebu City, other places have an Echavez St. So far, there’s one in Maribojoc, Bohol; in Dipolog City, Zamboanga del Norte; in Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental; and in Compostela Valley. And there’s a public school, the Echavez Elementary School, in San Roque, Iligan City.
Governance and leadership seem to have a great drawing power for the general’s descendants. Perhaps because the Echavez men were mostly lawyers.
My grandfather was mayor of Barili, and for quite a long while Aloguinsan was their political bulwark, starting off with Recaredo “Nining” Echavez, his brother, and down to his cousins and nephews. Today, we see a descendant in the Cebu City Council, John Philip Echavez Po, representing the Sangguniang Kabataan.
Once, too, Ozamiz City had Mayor Nova Echavez.
As a young child, I would overhear during clan reunions, stories shared among family members. I heard of wives’ travails about their husbands’ girlfriends, about how one mistress relocated to this city, unashamedly introduced herself as the wife, and imaged herself as a clothes designer for well-heeled ladies in high-society functions.
It now seems to me that in those days, mistresses had no qualms about just taking on the man’s name and affixing it to theirs and their children. In some cases, they would rub it on their children’s names but stop short of masquerading as the legitimate wives.
I still have to read or hear of an Echavez who became a priest or nun. From childhood until I got married, I had wanted to be a nun. What a missed opportunity, especially for the clan!
Other Echavezes I need to hear from; now na.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 07, 2013.