03 | Tomas

Tomas' story is one of exile, of being forced into silence to save the political career of someone who by all counts was a friend of family. A lawyer by profession, Tomas a native of Lipa Batangas would wed Conchita of Tiaong Quezon and find himself friends with Don Manuel Quezon, Tayabas Province politician, later president of the Commonwealth.

Don Manuel had found himself sharing meals with Tomas' in laws, Isidro and Juliana Herrera, in many an occasion in Tayabas, sometimes at extravagant by-invitation-only parties, usually at the Herrera's home that became as much Don Manuel's as he befriended the family of three, partook of Juliana's home-cooked meals, traveled to Manila with Isidro. The friendship the Quezons and Herreras struck was innocent by all counts, where Isidro the revolutionary turned businessman seemed like the perfect counterpoint to Manuel the provincial ilustrado with big dreams.

Big dreams that were all possible in times that seemed peaceful: it was the early 1900s, America was in the Philippines to teach it to run itself. Don Manuel ran for governor of Tayabas Province in 1905, bringing Isidro – a local icon in his own right – to campaign sorties. As governor, Don Manuel volunteered to be padrino at Conchita's wedding in 1907, taking her down the aisle to wed Tomas. The newlyweds would go on the campaign trail with Don Manuel, as he ran for representative of the first district of Tayabas to the Philippine Assembly. He would win, and the friendship between the Quezons and Herreras would spill over to the Umalis.

"Conchita: On one of the visits of our padrino Quezon to our home in Sariaya, the railroad expropriation was mentioned, and that Tomas was a lawyer-subagent of Señor Godinez. Our padrino, now Representative of Tayabas, asked Tomas to make him a partner in the project, and my husband, of course, agreed. At once, our good padrino asked me for pen and paper and in his own handwriting made out a statement to the effect that they were partners in the work, and both Tomas and he signed the contract."

In the end, that piece of paper barely mattered. Charges of fraud would be brought forward regarding the railroad project, and Tomas would be won over by the Masoneria Nilad to keep silent about Don Manuel's involvement.

This is the story of Lolo Tomas' exile, and of a family betrayed, forced to suffer in silence, by the bigger more powerful dreams of one Don Manuel Quezon.

Cover Design & 'Elias' Illustration: Mervin Malonzo
Book Design & Map Illustrations: Adam David