Flaviano Benipayo & Lola Tinay's Family Tree

Category: ALBAY
Published Date Written by J.Sañosa

Crispin Sañosa's first wife, Florentina Benipayo (Lola Tinay) belonged to one of the principal families of Ponso, Albay. The two others were the Twangle and Ante families. Her father, Flaviano Benipayo (b. 1855- d. 4/23/45), was quite prolific having fathered eight children from his first marriage to Maxima Saunar and seven more from his second one to Lucena Sarte. Tinay was the fourth child from Flaviano's first marriage and was the eldest daughter.

Flaviano, his eldest daughter Florentina and two younger sons, Melencio & Marciano

Flaviano Benipayo's photo taken at the funeral of Fabiano A. Sañosa in Polangui, Albay.
Marciano's photo taken at Lucky Press (established by Celedonio Benipayo, Lola Tinay's nephew).

According to family lore, the use of Benipayo as a patrilineal surname in Flaviano's line originated from a Chinese (Sangley) progenitor, who adopted his Filipino wife's family name. Claveria's Catálogo does not include Benipayo in its list of names, which meant that his wife's family had been using it for generations before 1849 when the Claveria decree was promulgated. It is reasonable to assume that her family must have had enough wealth and status for the Spanish authorities to allow them to keep using it; and his wife's status could have been the reason why he chose to abandon his own name for hers. 

Two different transcriptions of this ancestor's original Chinese surname have survived in the family oral histories of some of his many descendants today. In the family lore of Florentina's descendants, it is transcribed as Pua (Phoa). 

Pua (Phoa) is the Hokkien transliteration for the surname that uses the Chinese character  , which is the name of a place in Central China during the Zhou Dynasty (1046–256 BC). The Mandarin transliteration of this character is Pan, while in Cantonese, it is Poon. Hokkien is spoken in Fujian (Fukien) province in Southern China where many of the Chinese who migrated to the Philippines came from; and Flaviano's ancestors most likely originated from there as well. 

Great-grandfather Flaviano Benipayo was also known as Lolo Kabesang because he was a Cabeza de Barangay during the final years of the Spanish colonial period which ended in 1898. During Spanish times, the Cabezas de Barangay (Chiefs of the Barangay), who were responsible for governing the local districts, were addressed by the citizens as Kabesang.

The Cabezas de Barangay along with the gobernadorcillos and the principalía, the principal families to which the Benipayo-Saunar family also belonged, formed the governing class in the provincial towns. Their titles were hereditary and they were exempt from paying taxes to the Spanish crown. This local government structure was abolished when the Americans took over the Philippines.

Remembering Flaviano Benipayo

Reminiscences of his granddaughter Salvación Sañosa Ceballos

Salvacion Benipayo Sañosa (Ceballos)
(b.3/11/22 - d.7/16/11)

In an interview on January 22, 2011, eighty-eight year old Tia Salvación recounted her childhood memories of the grand patriarch. According to her, Lolo Kabesang was a very wealthy Cabeza de Barangay of Chinese origin. He was aristocratic in his demeanor, tall and always impeccably well-dressed whether in suits or flowing Chinese robes, which he sometimes opted to wear. As a young girl, Salvación enjoyed visiting Polangui and Ponso with her mother, Florentina, especially during the festive harvest season.

According to Tia Salvación, the family lands were bountiful and yielded two harvests per year. During those visits to Ponso, Salvación would accompany Lolo Kabesang as he promenaded around town. He didn't exactly take a stroll for he was transported about in his rickshaw by his attendants. While making his rounds, he'd throw coins at the street beggars that they encountered along the way. Tia Salvación commented on how proud she felt as a granddaughter when walking right along beside him during those family visits to Ponso.

Lolo Kabesang lived to a ripe old age of 90; however, senility took over, which contributed to his demise. Tia Salvación did not recall where he was buried.

Recollections of his granddaughter Aurora Benipayo De Leon

Mary Ann Benipayo De Leon-Tan, granddaughter of Donato and Pura Benipayo, shared the recollections of her mother Aurora Disonglo Benipayo who not only confirmed Lolo Kabesang's penchant for Chinese robes, but also the decline of his mental capabilities.

His family cared for him until his final days in 1945 at Villa Pura, the Benipayo family's grand residence on P. Florentino Street in Manila. He was laid to rest in Manila's North Cemetery.

The Battle of Manila in 1945 totally devastated the city. From the second floor of Villa Pura, an eight-year old Aurora Benipayo saw Manila in ruins with only the venerable Quiapo Church and the main building of the University of Santo Tomas left standing at a distance.

Alberto Disonglo Benipayo eventually sold the property in order to rebuild the Benipayo Press, the family's publishing enterprise. 

L-R: Estrella, Pura Disonglo, Donato Saunar Benipayo (carrying Manuel), Alberto & Luz 
Donato is the eldest brother of Florentina & founder of Benipayo Press
Photo courtesy of Aurora Benipayo De Leon

Amada Logronio & Celedonio Benipayo (Wedding Picture) 
Celedonio is the eldest son of Lorenzo (Florentina's 2nd eldest brother)
& founder of Lucky Press


Estrella & Alberto Disonglo Benipayo, children of Donato, Florentina's eldest brother


Ceballos, Salvacion Sañosa. Personal interview by Joseph L. Sañosa. 22 January 2011.
De Leon-Tan, Mary Ann Benipayo. Email to J. Sañosa. 2 March 2015
Duran, Marlo & Duran, Dindo. Personal conversations at Lolo Crispin's house. Dec. 1980.
Memoirs, Crispin V. Sañosa, June 5, 1958.
Owen, Norman G. Questions about Filipino names. Email to J. Sañosa. 12 Feb. 2012.
Sañosa Family Oral History.

*Marlo and Dindo Duran are children of Claudia Sarte Benipayo & Manuel Duran.

The above images are from original photos from the Sañosa & Ceballos family collections
    The image of Donato & Pura Benipayo and family is from the collection of Aurora Benipayo De Leon 

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