• share this

Who were Manila’s original society families?

And so it is
By: - Columnist
/ 04:43 AM February 09, 2014

Your mantra for the week:

I move through life with confidence and a sense of humor and my days are filled with delight!


Relationships revisited

We can all improve our relationships by not focusing on what is wrong with it, because we will forget what is right with it, and eventually, “break up” and move apart. Remembering that God is within all people can help break barriers of differences, and allows a love circle of acceptance to be made manifest.


If everyone keeps in mind that there is only one family of God, then maybe world peace can be achieved. Imagine if every country focused on what is right in its relations with other countries; we would surely create a new earth.

As we allow things to unfold, I believe that our essential spiritual nature can bring forth understanding, harmony and acceptance in every relationship.

Let us all accept that our opinions and differences are just elements of our uniqueness. However, let us keep in mind our oneness-in-spirit, and surely we can become channels of compassion, love and peace-within ourselves and in the world.

P.S.: For those who are trying to get over a broken heart, it is absolutely all right to think of what was wrong with the relationship, which will make the letting go much easier.

Prominent names

Who were Manilas’s original 400? As Conde de Makati in the pre-Martial Law days, I had to research on Manila’s original 400 because I was writing a column titled “Social Climbing.”

In my father’s library I discovered an article that talked about the subject, as compiled by Tarrosa Subido and several newspaper editors who covered the social beat for at least 20 years.


The list of Manila’s old families was based on wealth, education, influence, prominence, achievement, breeding and “good taste.” Ms Subido mentioned in her column that if she had failed to include names that should be included, anyone should feel free to drop her a note.

She further explained that there were many prominent families in other parts of the Philippines, but they never moved to Manila proper, and thus, did not become part of Manila’s 400.

Apparently, there was no more follow-up to the article, which could mean nobody complained. These old families have maintained their status by active social leadership through successive generations. In alphabetical order, here are the names:

Abad Santos Marquez

Aguinaldo (the general’s family) Montelibano

Aguinaldo (the businessman’s)

Moreno de las Alas Nakpil

Albert Osmeña

Aquino Padilla (of Rizal)

Araneta Pardo

Benitez Paterno

Buencamino Prieto

Cojuangco Puyat

Feria Quezon

Fernandez Quirino

Fortich Recto

Gabaldon Roces

Gonzalez Rodriguez (of Rizal)

Guerrero Romualdez

Hontiveros Romulo

Jacinto (of steel and banking) del Rosario

Kalaw Roxas

Katigbak Rufino

Lacson de los Santos

Laurel Sevilla

Ledesma Singson-Encarnacion

Legarda Sison (of Pangasinan)

De Leon Sunico

Lichauco Syquia

Lopez Tuazon

Lovina Valdez

Madrigal Ysmael

Magalona Yulo

Chinese tycoons

Ms Tarrosa Subido also wrote about the Spanish and Chinese tycoons. These were the people of foreign extraction whom she did not include. She explained, too, that whoever was a consistent reader of the business section, the sports section, the departure and the arrival columns would notice that amongst us, there was a tiny colony of Spanish tycoons who were identified with our economic, cultural and humanitarian movements.

These were the Briases, the Elizaldes, the Melians, the Roxases, the Sorianos and the Zobels. These families, however, were considered a class apart, not truly assimilated into our society. Remember, this was true of the 1950s and 1960s. In today’s society, they have been totally assimilated.

Ms Subido continued that she did not mention the Palancas, the SyCips, the Yutivos and the like because while they were identified with our people in economic and civil areas, they had not truly lost themselves amongst us. They were in Philippine society, but not in the original 60 old families.

All these have changed in the last 54 years. These families have found their respective and respected places in Manila’s social structure and register.

Today’s Manila’s 400 has expanded into Metro Manila’s 2,400 and rightly so. Our expanding population has increased at least six times since 1960 and, therefore, it stands to reason that there are more families who have joined the 400 by virtue of their being successful politicians, like the Macapagals, the Marcoses, the Ramoses and the Estradas, with the exception of the Aquinos who were already originally in Manila’s 60 old families.

The members of the first families were easily absorbed in society by virtue of their prominence, power and influence. It didn’t really matter that they began as “the poor boy from Lubao.”

Business tycoons like the Sys, Tantocos, Floirendos, Gokongweis, Lucio Tan, etc. have been included by virtue of their wealth and whatever international recognition was bestowed upon them for the arts, entrepreneurship and education.

Many have been accepted because of their popularity, but only stay for a while and quickly disappear unless they had the education, breeding and refinement of the likes of Gloria Diaz and Aurora Pijuan.

One beauty queen who stands out is Margie Moran-Floirendo, whose paternal grandfather was a chief justice and whose mother was related to President Manuel Roxas. Another one who stands out is Gemma Cruz, whose mother is a Nakpil and later married an Araneta.

You will still see the faces of Manila’s old rich in our society pages today, but many prefer to keep a rather low profile. New money has taken over, which projects the highest profile, for varied reasons like the need for it in business, for public relations and for political purposes.

For many others, to be popular is enough, and for some, just to be referred to as a “socialite” is enough—as if it were a symbol of success and achievement.

Read Next
Follow @Inq_Lifestyle on Twitter
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.
View comments

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: Aquino, Araneta, Benitez, Buencamino, Class, Cojuangco, Feria, Fernandez, Fortich, High Society, Humor, Manila, Manila High Society, Padilla, Pardo, Paterno, Philippine History, Prieto, Puyat, Quezon, Quirino, Recto, society, Society Families
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.

© Copyright 1997-2019 | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.