Saturday, April 23, 2011

His Lolo Leon

A few days after Carmen Guerrero - Nakpil's latest book , HEROES & VILLAINS, was launched my brother, Toto Cruz (the publisher) said, he had an incredible story to tell me so I should go to his place directly after work and have dinner there.

According to Toto, late one evening, he caught a glimpse of someone buying a copy of Mommy's book at the reception desk of his office and the secrtary was surprised when the man said he was buying the book because his grandfather, Leon, was on the cover. Intrigued, my brother dashed out of his office, assistant Peter Lee at his heels, to look for the mysterious stranger. They had hoped to catch him by the elevators but he was nowhere to be found so they rushed down to the front desk of the building where visitors had to retrive their IDs.

"We sighted Franz when he was already walking away from Tower One (of the Philippine Stock Exchange) ," Toto related. "Peter gave chase seeing he was carrying a red book (color of the cover), so we invited him to the brokers' lounge." Franz Villafuerte, grandson of Gen. Leon Villafuerte, works as a government securities dealer at the Development Bank of the Philippines. His Lolo Leon lived to a ripe old age of over 100 and passed on in 1956. Like Macario Sakay, his friend and fellow revolutionary, he had an "anting-anting" which he bequeathed to Franz's father but which his mother buried in their garden. I can only imagine why she could have done that ; I have two Rizalista "anting-anting" which I have not quite deciphered but are on display in my living-room.

Toto told Franz, whom he described as a handsome mestizillo, that our mother put that famous group picture of Gen. Macario Sakay and his comrades-at-arms, Leon Villafuerte included, on the cover of her latest book because she is an admirer of the former. Manila Mayor Alfredo S. Lim , another Sakay die-hard, had a monument built in his honor at the Plaza Morga in Tondo. Franz had not heard about it. Toto continued to say that yet another Sakay stalwart, his sister Gemma, will surely want to interview him about his Lolo Leon. (to be continued)

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