|This article relies largely or entirely upon a single source. (April 2012)|
|José C. Cojuangco|
|Born||Jose Chichioco Cojuangco
July 3, 1896
Malolos, Bulacan, Captaincy General of the Philippines
|Died||August 21, 1976
|Known for||Father of Former President Corazon Aquino, grandfather of actresses Kris Aquino and Mikee Cojuangco and Former President Benigno Aquino III|
José Chichioco Cojuangco (July 3, 1896 - August 21, 1976) was a former Representative of the 1st district of Tarlac in the Philippines. He served from 1934 to 1946. Cojuangco is one of the patriarchs of the Cojuangco clan. He was the father and grandfather of former Philippines Presidents Corazon Aquino and Benigno Aquino III, respectively. His other grandchildren include actresses Kris Aquino and Mikee Cojuangco.
His grandfather Khó͘ Gio̍k-khoân (Chinese: 許玉寰) was also known as José Cojuangco, and was the origin of the Cojuangco clan, with the ancestral village of Hongjian, in Jiaomei Township, Zhangzhou in Fujian province.
His father was Melecio Cojuangco y Estrella, whose father was "El Chino" José, a Chinese immigrant. A skilled carpenter, Melecio helped build churches in Binondo, Bulacan and in Gapan, Nueva Ecija. Melecio's mother was Antera Estrella of Gapan, Nueva Ecija, a daughter of Felipe Estrella, a Spaniard and Martina Calub Cruz, a local woman. (With the Estrella connection, the Cojuangcos gained their initial foothold in Nueva Ecija, which explains why Barangay Cojuangco exists in nearby Santa Rosa, Nueva Ecija and which partly explains how the Cojuangcos eventually owned Hacienda Bakal in Talavera, Nueva Ecija).
Melecio's wife was a Chinese mestiza, Doña Tecla Chichioco y Jumaquio of Malolos and Hagonoy, Bulacan. She was a scion from the Spanish Valenzuela clan of Malolos, Chinese Chichioco clan of Malolos, and the Japanese descendant hacienderos, the Jumaquio clan of Kapitangan, Paombong, Bulacan, Philippines. Doña Tecla was the great grandniece of Don Tiburcio Jumaquio and Doña Urzula Gutierrez, hacienderos and merchants of Kapitangan, Paombong, Bulacan. One of her blood relatives was Don Catalino Gutierrez Jumaquio, the cabeza baranggay of Calizon, Paombong, Bulacan in the late 1800s and one of the sons of Don Tiburcio and Doña Urzula.
Melecio's siblings include elder sister Ysidra, who massively enlarged the already considerable Cojuangco fortune by buying land and dabbling in sugar mills and real estate; and younger sister Trinidad, who died a spinster.
Cojuangco was the oldest of 4 siblings:
- Juan "Itoy" Chichioco Cojuangco (2nd sibling / 2nd older brother / 1st marriage to Elena Garcia / 2nd marriage to Lualhati Aldaba). Doña Elena García Cojuangco was a daughter of Spanish mestizo Gregorio García, who owned a rival sugar mill in Paniqui, Tarlac. His second wife, Lualhati "Hatì" Aldaba was a sister of Opera Guild of the Philippines founder Dalisay Aldaba and also the sister of the Philippine Government's first Social Secretary, Estefania Aldaba Lim. Juan Cojuangco died without legitimate heirs, although he sired a daughter through his sister-in-law, Imelda García.
- Antonio Cojuangco, Sr., who married Victoria Uychuico, a Chinese mestiza from Tarlac. Antonio was a doctor in pre-war Manila. He was massacred at De La Salle University by the Japanese in the final days of the Second World War, together with his wife, adopted son Ricardo (Carding), daughter Trinidad, household staff, and neighbors. His daughter Trinidad was married to Servillano Aquino Jr or Billy, (half brother of Benigno Aquino Jr.). Antonio's son, Ramón (Monching), was the owner of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company.
- Eduardo "Endeng" Chichioco Cojuangco, Sr. was Jose's youngest brother. He was married to Josephine "Nene" Murphy, a Miss Baguio beauty queen and only daughter of Alhambra Theater owner John J Murphy. Murphy later made Baguio his home; he was a former United States soldier and paymaster to colonel Lyman Kennon (for whom Kennon Road was named). Murphy and his battalion initially pursued Emilio Aguinaldo up to the Sierra Madre.
Among the four male heirs of the Cojuangcos, Don Pepe, as he is remembered, was the only one born in Malolos, Bulacan, where his father built the secret stairway in Barasoain Church used by the Spanish friars to smuggle women into their private quarters. The old Cojuangco-Chichioco mansion still stands a few meters from the Barasoain Church on land inherited by Tecla from her Chichioco-Jumaquio merchant father. It is maintained for the Cojuangcos by their Chichioco-Jumaquio relatives. The physical address used to be known as #540 Paseo del Congreso but the locals called it Calle de las Mestizas (street of the Mixed Filipinas) on account of the numerous women who lived there, daughters of the friars nearby. After World War II, the name was changed to Santo Niño Street, Mestizohin District.
Wife and children
Cojuangco was married to Demetria "Metring" Sumulong, daughter of Senator Juan Marquez Sumulong of Rizal province and sister to Lorenzo Sumulong, also a Philippine senator. Their law offices were located within Manila's Plaza Cervantes where Metring used to serve as legal assistant. Demetria was also related to Senator Ceferino de Leon of San Miguel de Mayumo, Bulacan (Senator De Leon's daughter was Philippine Carnival Queen Trinidad Roura de Leon, wife of President Manuel Roxas y Acuña, whose grandson Mar Roxas would be Demetria's grandson Noynoy Aquino's vice president running mate.) Family lore has it that Don Pepe's Chinese grandfather insisted his eldest grandson to marry Metring since she had a mole under her nose, which would bring Pepe wealth beyond compare during his lifetime. The most obedient of the four boys, Don Pepe did not object to the marriage.
The couple had eight children:
- Ceferino (stillborn)
- Pedro or "Pete", married to Rosario "Sari" Cacho. Sari Cojuangco is aunt to Louise "Lisa" Cacho Araneta, wife of Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. (Bongbong Marcos), only son of President Ferdinand Marcos. Their younger son, Fernando "Nando" Cojuangco, is the administrator of Hacienda Luisita while his parents move between California and Manila. Mr. Marcos Jr. is currently a Senator of the Philippines while his wife Louise is a founding partner of the all Ateneo de Manila-alumni Marcos Ochoa Serapio and Tan Law Offices.
- Josephine, married to Nicanor Reyes, Jr. Mrs. Reyes and family owns Far Eastern University and the FEU-Nicanor Reyes Medical Foundation. She was named after her uncle's wife and Danding Cojuangco's mother, Josephine Murphy Cojuangco. They developed Ferndale Homes in Quezon City as well. She was president of FEU from 1985–1989 and held graduate degrees in education.
- Teresita or "Terry", married to Ricardo "Baby" Lopa. The Lopa clan, through their patriarch Manuel Lopa, Sr. and matriarch Purificacion Lopa (immortalized in a beautiful Fernando Amorsolo painting), were close business associates of the Cojuangcos who have mutual investments in Mantrade, First Manila Management, Pantranco, First United Bank, Central Azucarera de Tarlac, and Nissan Philippines. The Lopas made their fortune in the automotive and transportation industries, and were co-founders of Equitable Bank (now Equitable PCI Bank). Baby Lopa and his siblings are known for their extensive collection of Manansala, Amorsolo and other Filipino masterpiece paintings amassed during the 1960s when his father, Don Manuel, and father-in-law, Don Pepe, were at the height of their wealth.
- Carmen, (died at 18 months). Metring's next child was born 4 months later.
- Corazon or "Cory", married to Senator Benigno S. Aquino Jr. Benigno, or "Ninoy", was born to an influential political family from Tarlac. His grandfather, Servillano Aquino, was a general in the revolutionary army against Spain while his father, Benigno Aquino, Sr. y Quiambao was the former Speaker of the National Assembly during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines. In 1954, Corazon Cojuangco married Benigno “Ninoy" Aquino Jr. with President Ramon Magsaysay as one of the ninongs (sponsor) at the wedding. Honest politicians, General Servillano and his son were known to refuse any government salary or stipend. To finance their political activities, the Aquinos hocked their three largest haciendas away: Hacienda Lawang, Hacienda Murcia and Hacienda Tinang. Ninoy was previously the youngest governor of Tarlac and a Philippine senator, the staunchest critic of President Ferdinand Marcos and a protégé of President Ramon Magsaysay. Ninoy was assassinated at the tarmac of the Manila International Airport (now Ninoy Aquino International Airport) in 1983.
- Jose Jr. or "Peping", married to Margarita "Tingting" Hernandez de los Reyes. Peping is currently president of the Philippine Olympic Committee and previously a representative of the first legislative district of Tarlac. Margarita was a former governor of Tarlac (1992–1998) and a former model. Through her de los Reyes family, she is related to Gilbert Teodoro (Teodoro's great grandfather was a De los Reyes love child), Philippine Carnival Queen and billionaire attorney Pacita de los Reyes y Ongsiako (later married to an American serviceman), and Imelda de la Paz Ongsiako who married Ramon Cojuangco of PLDT ). One of Jose Jr's daughters married into the Benetton family of Italy that owns the iconic United Colors of Benetton brand, as well as vineyards and lands estancias in Argentina.
- Maria Paz or "Passy", married to Ernesto "Esting" Teopaco. The Teopacos were the neighbors of the Jose Cojuangcos on Roberts Street in Pasay City, parallel to Roxas Boulevard. Other prominent families residing on said road were the Elizaldes, Sorianos, Quezons, Lopas, Cu-Unjiengs and the Opens (the parents of Soledad Oppen Cojuangco or Gretchen, the wife of Danding Cojuangco). The Teopaco-Cojuangcos were once known for their winning collection of fighting roosters in the 60s and 70s.
Cojuangco was the founder of Manila Trade & Supply Company (Mantrade), the Philippine Bank of Commerce, First United Bank, and the Pantranco bus company.
World War II
In the 1940s, with less than a day's notice, he left the Cojuangco mansion (built in 1933 the year Cory Aquino was born) along Agno Street (near De La Salle University), Malate, Manila for the safety of Antipolo, Rizal (political bailiwick of his wife's relatives). Meanwhile, his aunt Ysidra and brother Eduardo fled to Baguio city where they thought the Japanese would not go and where there were large Cojuangco apartments. (Eduardo Sr's mother-in-law Gregoria Beley Murphy was in Baguio as well.) His relative Antonio stayed behind due to his son's fever.
While Ysidra Cojuangco y Estrella and her nephews and their families sought shelter at the Baguio cathedral during the bombardments, the Antonio Cojuangcos were trapped in the De La Salle University chapel where they were massacred by the desperate Japanese. Only two survived, including Ramon or "Monching" (whose second wife would later be Imelda Ongsiako Cojuangco. His young first wife Natividad "Nene" de las Alas, sister of Pacita "Ching" (the wife of Sergio Montinola), Lourdes "Lily" (wife of Senator Ambrosio Padilla and arch-enemy of another beautiful senator's wife, Imelda Marcos) and Carmencita "Menchu" (wife of Raul Concepcion of RFM Corporation ) was also hacked to death) and Lourdes or "Lulu" who was saved when the bayonet hit the baby (Monching's firstborn) she was carrying instead. She would be the wife of Luis Tirso Rivilla of the Ormoc Sugar Central later on...
As the eldest male Cojuangco, Pepe felt partly to blame for the near decimation of the Antonio Cojuangco branch. From that day on, Cojuangco and his relatives never lived in Malate ever again. He sent Monching, Lulu and his own children to the United States for their studies. (Ravenhill Academy, College of Mount Saint Vincent, et al.). He cared for Antonio's children as if they were his own.
As his businesses outside of Tarlac flourished, he invited the rest of his family to join him. His brother, Itoy, and Antonio's son, Monching, benefited from this arrangement. Danding Cojuangco, his nephew by ex-Governor Eduardo "Endeng" Cojuangco Sr, declined.
In 1953, Cojuangco's youngest brother, Endeng (Danding Cojuangco's father) was sick and needed treatment in the United States. At that time, dollars was strictly regulated. Don Pepe's wife and holder of the entire clan's purse, Doña Metring (Cory Aquino's mother) was unable to obtain the necessary funds to facilitate the young Endeng Cojuangco's medical expenses. Danding's father later died of kidney failure. Also in 1953, President Ramon Magsaysay offered to sell Hacienda Luisita to Don Pepe, as the Hukbalahap rebels caused much fear and the Spanish owners, the Tabacalera, wanted to sell. (President Magsaysay was avoiding the wealthier hacenderos from Negros island and Iloilo, specifically the brothers Fernando Lopez and Eugenio Lopez, from owning too much as they already purchased the PASUMIL consortium in Del Carmen, Pampanga.) Negotiations started but President Magsaysay died when his airplane crashed on Mount Manunggal in Cebu. The deal was closed five years later in President Carlos Garcia y Polistico's term who was a close ally of then Senator Ferdinand Marcos y Edralin.
In early 1958 Cojuangco purchased the Hacienda Luisita, the second biggest contiguous piece of property in Luzon island. This time, he was able to secure American dollars required by the Tabacalera. Unlike before, he called on his friend, Philippine Central Bank governor Miguel Cuaderno to help him. The hacienda is separate from the lands his aunt Doña Ysidra Cojuangco y Estrella assembled in the past decades. He and his son-in-law, Ninoy (Benigno Aquino Jr.), introduced strong social programs favoring the farmers of the hacienda.
While Don Pepe was genuinely loved by the farmers under his management (free healthcare, free schooling, adult education, veterinary medicines for the farm animals), designated areas for employee housing), the stark treatment concerning the dollars relating to Endeng's survival and his subsequent death versus the grand business move Cojuangco made in purchasing Hacienda Luisita added insult to injury to Doña Nene and her now fatherless six children (Eduardo, Mercedes, Aurora, Isabel, Enrique and Manuel). Besides the opposing views in politics and the abandonment of the Antonio Cojuangcos in Manila during the war, the situation concerning his younger brother's death would eventually cause for a collision course between Cojuangco's and Endeng Lalake's heirs.
In the 1960s, Cojuangco's bus company and banking arm expanded to open satellite offices all over the country. The Philippine Bank of Commerce (PBC) was the preferred intermediary/ local bank of American companies in Manila. He then divested from PBC less than a month before the stockholder's meeting to avoid the embarrassment of being unseated by his brother Itoy, his nephew Danding and his other nephew Monching, who wanted greater influence in the bank. Afterwards, he opened First United Bank. With perseverance First United became a major bank under his helm.
Due to the geographical proximity of his Hacienda Luisita and the Paniqui Sugar Mills, which he managed on behalf of the entire family, there were times when more than 90% of all raw sugar milled in central Luzon were processed through Cojuangco-owned companies. The Cojuangco family owned so much land in Central Luzon that they could dictate the price of rice and non-Visayan sugar.
When the 1970s set in, Don Pepe had already resigned from his Philippine Bank of Commerce (PBC) position and sold all his shares to avoid a boardroom coup by the other branches of the Cojuangco family. This was particularly sentimental for Don Pepe, as he was the one who founded PBC and nurtured it from bankruptcy. It was also the one company where he insisted that all four families of the Cojuangco co-own, not knowing that the same generosity will swallow him in his twilight years.
Meanwhile, his bus company was coerced to file for bankruptcy after the Marcos-led administration refused to allow rate hikes even when market forces deemed an increase in bus fares. The same happened to Mantrade. Unable to expand his businesses due to political pressures, in 1975, he sold First United Bank. The buyer was the Philippine Government which would evolve the bank to become the United Coconut Planters Bank.
Cojuangco was representative of the First District of Tarlac to the 10th Philippine Legislature in 1934-35, the First Philippine National Assembly in 1935-1938, the Second National Assembly in 1938-1941 and the Third National Assembly in 1941-1946.
He represented Tarlac in the same way that his father Don Melecio Cojuangco did as the first ever representative of Tarlac in the First Philippine Legislature of 1907-1909. (Don Melecio's political career was cut short when he suffered a fatal heart attack in the Urdaneta-Manila train while defending his sons Jose (Pepe) and Juan (Itoy) from American soldiers wanting to sidestep the youngsters from their seats. Mauricio Ilagan served the remaining 4 years (till 1912) of his term).
While in Congress, Don Pepe was one of two representing the province of Tarlac. The other one was Benigno S. Aquino Sr., whose son from his second marriage, Ninoy Aquino became the husband to Don Pepe's daughter, Cory Aquino. In essence, the current Philippine President Noynoy Aquino's paternal and maternal grandfathers sat side by side for Tarlac from 1935–1938 and again from 1941-1946.
Don Pepe Cojuangco retired from politics after World War II and thus avoided a clash with his younger brother, Eduardo Sr. or Endeng Lalake, the charismatic governor of Tarlac province. When he quit politics, his personal wealth was preserved unlike his good friend and future in-law Benigno Aquino Sr's, whose lands and cash holdings decreased dramatically by using it for social welfare programs in their home province.
He died on August 21, 1976.
He died during the darkest days of the Jose Cojuangcos. All of his businesses were under extreme scrutiny by the Marcoses.
Many banks refused to extend credit for fear of government retaliation. Only Chinabank of Binondo, whose owners Don Pepe assisted when they themselves were just starting out, defied the government and helped him. (His granddaughter Victoria Eliza Cojuangco Aquino or Viel, would later marry into this banking family now headed by former Ambassador to the Vatican Howard Dee).
His sons Pete and Peping lost the bid to own the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company after it was awarded to Monching Cojuangco, Antonio Meer, and his Ongsiako brother-in-law. (Imelda de la Paz Ongsiako Cojuangco, Monching's wife, was a Blue Lady of Imelda Marcos, and wedding sponsor to presidential daughter Irene Marcos Araneta).
His First United Bank was renamed and was spun off by President Marcos as a front to illegally collect coconut levy funds, hence the reason why United Coconut Planters Bank is sometimes referred to as Cocobank.
The transportation companies he owned with the Lopa family were also lost to Marcos cronies. Benjamin "Kokoy" Romualdez, brother of Philippine First Lady Imelda Marcos, took over the First Manila Management Corp., the mother company of Mantrade (which handled the distribution of Ford Motors and other motor vehicles) and the Pantranco bus company (painted with vibrant hearts of every color, the fleet earned the moniker "Lovebus"), shortly after the death of Cojuangco's business partner, Manuel Lopa, Sr., in 1974. (With his death, the conglomerate lost their immunity from the Marcoses, since Lopa shared a close friendship with Imelda's late uncle, Daniel Romualdez y Zialcita, Speaker Pro Tempore of the Philippine Congress, who died suddenly via a heart attack, a few months before his niece Imelda Marcos rose as Philippine First Lady, in 1965.) Lopa's son (and Cojuangco's son-in-law), Ricardo "Baby" Lopa, was then ousted from the company.
Cojuangco no longer controlled the Bank of Commerce, which was closest to his heart, as it was the first non-agricultural company he founded. Also, it was the last company that, out of family solidarity, he formed insisting that all four branches of the Cojuangco should co-own. His departure from Bank of Commerce left Don Pepe's psyche bruised and his spirit betrayed.
His lawyer, Juan Ponce Enrile, a son of his old friend and attorney, the Spanish mestizo Alfonso Ponce Enrile (father of Armida Siguion Reyna and Irma Potenciano), has since not been able to help him speak to President Marcos even when the latter was the designated Defense Minister.
Neither can his nephew, Danding Cojuangco, a Marcos associate, could do anything to help Cojuangco. He himself comforted his old uncle, saying "Tio Pepe, huwag na po kayong umiyak" (Uncle Pepe, please do not cry).
One of his lasting words to his family was "Kawawa naman si Cory" (Oh how pitiful Cory is!), as he died broken hearted to see this daughter of his harassed and harangued by the Marcos government for being the woman Ninoy Aquino chose as his wife.
In 1979, his last surviving brother, Juan Cojuangco, died. Some of his wealth devolved back to his six nephews and eight nieces. The rest was left to his second wife, Doña Hati, who formed the Cojuangco Aldaba Foundation.
Ten years after Don Pepe's death, in 1986, Cory Aquino would be swept into the presidency of the Philippines, while President Ferdinand Marcos, Benjamin Romualdez, Danding Cojuangco, and their extended families, fled to Hawaii and mainland United States.
At present, Don Pepe Cojuangco's male line is preserved through his elder son, Pedro Cojuangco who has five sons. His younger son and namesake Jose Jr. (Peping), has 5 daughters.
His grandson through his daughter Corazon, is Senator Benigno Aquino III who sat in the Upper House together with Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, the former Cojuangco family lawyer. With the help of sisters Kris Aquino, Maria Elena Cruz, Aurora Corazon Abellada, Victoria Eliza Dee, plus Antonio Ongsiako Cojuangco, other relatives, Mar Roxas and his family headed by mother Judy Araneta Roxas, and most importantly, numerous volunteers, Noynoy Aquino campaigned and won the Philippine presidency that his mother Cory Aquino once occupied. (One of his opponents was Gilbert Teodoro, Danding Cojuangco's nephew through sister Mercedes).
Hacienda Luisita's ownership is currently being questioned in the media due to proviso verbiage in the sale indicating a land redistribution.
The two junior branches of the family, the Eduardo Cojuangcos and the Antonio Cojuangcos, still control the United Coconut Planters Bank(formerly First United Bank) and the Bank of Commerce, respectively. However, recently, San Miguel Corporation (chaired by Danding Cojuangco of the Eduardo Cojuangco branch) acquired the controlling interest in Bank of Commerce from the Antonio Cojuangco branch.