The Labrador line in my ancestry ranks among the most distinguished and accomplished. And having my cousin Virgilio “Gov” Labrador related through this line, and him being a journalist by profession and historian by avocation, I asked him to write something about my great-grandmother, Beatriz Labrador (mentioned in my mom’s book in Chapter 1), and the Labradors of San Narciso. The pictures below are of Beatriz Labrador and my great grandfather Agustin Firme, taken around 1930.
Once again, thank you Gov for telling us more about the Labradors and some history on San Narciso. He provided the rest of the text.
Your great-grandmother Beatriz Labrador was born in San Narciso around the 1880s and died in 1948. She was the second child of Juan Labrador and Modesta Felarca. Her other siblings were: Ciriaco Labrador (the oldest and my great-grandfather), Isadora Labrador, Simplicio Labrador and Juana Labrador. Their father Juan Labrador was a “gentleman farmer” as our grand aunt Aurea Labrador described him and her father Ciriaco. Lola Aurea who was also mentioned in your mom’s book was the first cousin of your grandmother Josefina Labrador Firme, or nana Pinay (later married to your grandfather, Saturnino Farrales).
Below is the only surviving handwriting of all the children of Juan Labrador that I have found. It has the signatures of all the siblings on an official legal testament distributing among all the children the properties of their late father Juan Labrador after his death in 1918.
The full document is written in Spanish, but basically it lists down all the properties of Juan Labrador and how they were apportioned by mutual agreement to all the children. If you look at the signatures of the siblings, they are written in elegant strokes which show that they were all well-educated and fluent in Spanish (as Lola Aurea was too). The extent of the family’s holdings was also impressive as it took five pages to list down all the properties. The properties listed in the document were extensive in size as well as dispersed all over the town of San Narciso and neighboring San Felipe. This tells us that they were relatively well-off (considering that Juan, their father, who bequeathed the properties to the children probably inherited only a fraction of his father’s properties which also had to be divided among his siblings).
Going back a couple of generations from your great-grandmother Beatriz, I found some documents in the National Archives in Manila that shows her grandfather, Dionisio Labrador listed as the parent in an official roster of students in a village primary school run by Don Juan Vigils in San Narciso. The document is dated February 3, 1846. According to the official history of San Narciso published by the Municipal government of San Narciso in the Official Town Fiesta Guide in 1997, the area now known as the town of San Narciso was initially settled in 1807 by immigrants from Paoay, Ilocos Norte. Since this village school roster was 31 years from that date of first settlement, we can safely assume that Dionisio Labrador, the father listed, and his family were one of the first settlers in San Narciso. Curiously, the town name of “San Narciso” which this document bears was only officially decreed in 1846 by the Spanish Governor-General Narciso Claveria. Previously the town was called “Alusiis” which is Ilocano for “restless.” According to legend, the immigrants from Paoay arrived by boats through the South China Sea and came across the mouth of the raging river that is now Macolcol in barangay Alusiis and said “ni, nag-alusiis met daytoy nga karayanen” (how restless this river is!) This document therefore was one of the first official documents using the official name of the town founded by these hardy Ilokano immigrants as “San Narciso.”
Dionisio Labrador is listed above in the sixth line with his son, Manuel Labrador. The document is a list of students with their parent’s name. Signed by the teacher Don Juan Vigilla dated February 3, 1846.
The influence of the Labradors in early San Narciso was evident in this other document dated December 1849 which I found which lists Eulogio Labrador as one of the endorsers of Don Miguel Cuaresma for mayor (in Spanish, Governadorcillo) .
This is a document submitted to the Governor-General of the Philippines endorsing the appointment of Don Miguel Cuaresma as mayor of the town of San Narciso. Signed by Manuel Lucas and Eulogio Labrador dated December 1849. (Note: don’t be put off by the traces of typewritten text in the document. The document was written in flimsy paper and the typewritten notes are on the back page (hence it’s shown backward here). The typewritten notes are authentication notes (with their official seal) made by the National Archives of the Philippines attesting to the veracity of the document.
Eulogio Labrador listed in this document had a son named Estanislao Labrador and again according to the official town history, Estanislao was the treasurer of the Katipunan during the revolution against Spain in the 1890s and subsequently was member of the town council during the provisional Philippine government under President Aguinaldo in 1899. Estanislao Labrador had several children, the most prominent of whom was Alejo Labrador, who later became justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines. Alejo Labrador is probably the most illustrious Labrador from San Narciso. He had a distinguished career that began as a summa cum laude graduate of the University of the Philippines Law School and bar topnotcher. He was representative to the 1935 Constitutional Convention and was the first representative of the lone district of Zambales to the Philippine Legislature under the Commonwealth government (the precursor of the current Philippine Congress). During the Japanese occupation, he served as Secretary of Education. He married Conchita Magsaysay sister of the future President of the Philippines, Ramon Magsaysay of Castillejos, Zambales.
Your grandmother, nana Pinay, and Lola Aurea were second-degree cousins of Alejo. When President Magsaysay assumed office in 1957, many of our relatives were invited to join the staff at Malacanang Palace because of the connection with Alejo (who was now the brother-in-law of the President). Alejo’s son, Julius Labrador ,who still lives today at 78 years old in Manila, was quite an entrepreneur and started many companies in real estate, logging and electronics. Again, a lot of Labradors from San Narciso joined the Labrador Group of Companies including my father, Manuel, who started as a shop foreman in the PACES electronics factory in Quezon City and worked himself up to become President of the Group known by its acronym LaDeCor (Labrador Development Corporation).
Lola Aurea as mentioned in the book distinguished herself as the private nurse to President Quezon during the Commonwealth period and World War II. As the private nurse of the family, she joined the Quezon family in their travels all over the world and escaped with the family from Corregidor island during the war to the US where she eventually settled. She used to regal us with her stories of countries she visited as part of the official Quezon entourage. As this was before the jet age, it was very rare at that time for anyone to be so well-travelled. She had been to many countries in Europe and Latin America and being part of the official family she had a rare glimpse of some notable world figures such as Winston Churchill, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Carlos Romulo and later President Eisenhower. She even saw Hitler during an official visit by then President of the Commonwealth Quezon to Berlin in 1936.
Now, like the “restless” immigrants from Paoay, Ilocos Norte 200 years ago, the Labradors from San Narciso have now been dispersed all over , especially here in the US, where they can be found in Hawaii, California, Nevada and many other places.