I did not expect that I would know a lot of stories regarding our family until I joined the reunion from my mother’s side for the first time. Before, I never understood why we are relatives with these families. As a young individual in this generation, we tend to shy away from family reunions as we give more importance to social media or to our barkadas. The Abonitalla – Saluper Clan Grand Reunion is held annually every May 1. For our family’s Grand Reunion this year, it was in our lineage, the Bonifacio Abonitalla lineage, that was appointed as organizers for this year. I was not close with my mother’s side. Yet, through this event, I discovered the essence of family reunions.
Five or six generations before me, there were three brothers from the north in Nueva Ecija who went to the south in the Island of Promise which is Mindanao, probably to pursue greener pastures. The names of these brothers are Faustino, Bonifacio, and Ignacio. The three of them settled in Barangay Kauswagan, Cagayan de Oro City during the 1800s. Only one brother left from Cagayan de Oro City and went to settle in Balingasag, Misamis Oriental. That brother is our family’s primary descendent, Lolo Faustino Abonitalla. She married Cristina Saluper who is from Kauswagan, Cagayan de Oro City. The couple had 6 children, namely, in order of birth, Juan, Teodorico, Bonifacio, Petra, Felicitas and Eusebia. The descendant of Felicitas, Dr. Gerardo Sabal, is the owner of the prominent Sabal Hospital here in Cagayan de Oro City. His son is a board member here in the province of Misamis Oriental. Moreover, the third son of Faustino, Bonifacio Abonitalla, married Roberta Edralin who is from Batac, Ilocos Norte. Some of my aunts and uncles said that former President Ferdinand Marcos, who is also from Ilocos Norte, is our relative because his mother is from the Edralin Clan, namely, Josefa Edralin. Whatever it is, I don’t care if he is our relative or not. Even though I haven’t lived during his 20-year dictatorship, I would remember the theft that his family did from the wealth of the Filipino people. Because of the $20-billion dollar ill-gotten wealth of the family, they said every child that is born in the Philippines already has a debt worth Php50,000. *Facepalm* I would not speak more of Bongbong Marcos’ allegations of cheating towards Leni Robredo. #NoToWillie Haha. So much of the politics, well, that’s reality. Whether Marcos is our relative or not, I really don’t care. Moving on, Bonifacio Abonitalla has 9 children. His 8th child is my great grandfather, Salvador Abonitalla who married Ricarda Pulpul from Cebu City. Eventually, Salvador or Lolo Dodoy as what they called, has 16 children from his marriage with Ricarda or Lola Caday. However, only 11 survived because of World War 2. One of Lolo Dodoy’s 11 children is my grandfather, Diosdao Abonitalla or Lolo Dadong who married Anita Opinano or Lola Nita from the island paradise of Camiguin. My grandparents are currently residing in Balingasag, Misamis Oriental. Unfortunately, Lolo Dadong passed away last 2010 because of kidney failure. If he is just alive today, I would gladly tell these things to him. Consequently, most of our relatives, who attended the reunion, are currently living in the municipalities of Misamis Oriental specifically in Claveria, Balingasag, Lagonglong, and Salay.
Even though at times, I’m shy, I really did my best however during the reunion to mano my uncles and aunties and lolos and lolas during the reunion. I conversed with my cousins and exchanged numbers with some of them.
With this knowledge, I never knew how our family from my mother’s side would have a vast history. I wanted to go to Nueva Ecija and Ilocos Norte in the near future to know more about our family lineage in the north. The word “essence”, as defined in our Philosophy subject in college, means “that without which, that thing ceases to be that thing.” Because of this, for me, the essences of family reunions are to know your descendants, to bond and meet other relatives with whom we share the same blood and lineage, and to recollect our family’s rich history. Indeed, this is mostly relevant from our reunion’s theme which is, “Your blood is my blood, their blood is our blood, we are but one blood.” Through these things, we would be able to enjoy the family reunions we attend.
I am honored to be part of the Abonitalla Clan. That’s why it is also our responsibility to be accountable of our actions as we carry our respective family names. Likewise, I am mostly grateful to our main descendant, Lolo Faustino Abonitalla and Lola Cristina Saluper. If not for them, I would not exist in this world. They have truly built an identity for our family. In the same way, I could recall how our Lord Jesus Christ came from the descendant of King David. If not for David, the Roman Catholic religion would not be born because of Jesus Christ.
As I began to traverse in the real world, I would want to make my family proud one day. When that day comes, I would then say to the world that I am one of the grandchildren of Faustino and Cristina Abonitalla from the Abonitalla Clan of Cagayan de Oro and Misamis Oriental.