It has never occurred to me before that persons born of foreign parents in the Philippines can have so much love for the land of their birth. I thought that their loyalty and affection would be to the countries where their parents and grandparents came from. Like they just happened to be born here and will later return to the country of their folks.
It was only recently when I realized that these “white people” born in our country in the past first half of the 20th century (1900-1950) can care for the Philippines as much – or even more than us, Filipinos of the Malay stock as well as those of Chinese ancestry. This is why I was inspired to write an article last week on “Foreigners Loving PH More.”
Fast forward to the 70s, 80s and 90s and the same seems to be true with the children born of alien parents in the last decades of the past century. This was affirmed when Gracia Burnham and her children made a secret visit to the Philippines some years ago. She was the hostage of the Abu Sayaff and her husband Martin unfortunately was killed in a military rescue operation in the island-province of Basilan in southern Mindanao.
The author of the book In the Presence of My Enemies revealed that her children who were born in the Philippines love our country so much and consider it their “homeland” in spite of the fact that they resettled in the United States. This is why they make secret visits here without any publicity to avoid possible security risks.
The hostage-survivor wrote in her webpage of the Martin & Gracia Burham Foundation: ”I’ve made a couple of trips back already. In August 2004, I made a trip back there when I was asked to testify (against her abductors belonging to the terrorist group).”
Then Gracia, the mother of three children, added what is most touching: “On another occasion, my kids and I snuck back into the country without telling anyone so we could visit their beloved homeland again without a lot of media attention. We love the Philippines with all our hearts!”
Going back to the white people born during the American era, I wrote about two gentlemen who were born here in the 1930 and 1940s in my last column. However, I was unable to write more on the lineage Roderick Cameron McMicking Hall as much as I did on Louis Lee Jurika due to space constraints.
So I will now touch on Roderick’s roots in the Philippines, as well as his sister, Consuelo “Connie” Hall McHugh, who makes her annual visits to Manila like her brother Rod. It was Connie who told me of her “deep love” for our country and the Filipinos!
The McMicking family on Roderick’s maternal side in the Philippines must have started in the late 1790s. In his book Manila Memories, Rod wrote that his mother’s paternal “Scottish family had been trading in the Philippines, originally in Iloilo, since the early 1800s. The family trading company, founded about 1815, as McMicking & Ker. ”
Thus, the McMicking line is actually older than the Zobel de Ayala when Johannes Andreas Zobel, a Danish-German immigrant, arrived in Manila in 1832 from Hamburg, Germany. Later on, Joseph R. McMicking would marry Mercedes Zobel, the future Ayala family matriarch, in 1931 and become the visionary and brains of the Ayala conglomerate.
It is interesting to note that both maternal grandparents of Rod and Connie were born in the Philippines. Jose McMicking was born in Iloilo since their family company was operating there since the early 1800s, while Angelina Rico was born in Manila. The mother of Jose McMicking, Josefa La Madrid, was born in Cebu and moved to Iloilo where she would meet her future Scottish husband, Thomas George Torrence McMicking.
The father of siblings Roderick and Consuelo, Alaistair Cameron Hall, was from Edinburgh, Scotland, who arrived in Manila in 1924 to work with Smith Bell & Co., an English trading company. He met Consuelo McMicking, sister of Joseph, in Manila and got married in 1930. Three years later, Alaistair established the Ovejero & Hall that would become one of the leading firms trading in stocks, bonds and commodities.
Mabuhay! to Consuelo McMicking Hall McHugh
Connie told me that she does not think of herself as a “foreigner” when she comes to Manila. In fact, she considers it as coming or “arriving home.” How wonderful! It must be a terrific feeling when she makes her annual visits to her “homeland.”
There are many others born of foreign parents who have a deep love for the Philippines, as she does. Connie cited those who went to the American School in her time, now International School (IS), who do. Many, if not most, Filipinos do not know it because they still think of “white people” born here as foreigners or aliens.
I look forward to seeing her home in California filled with “Filipino art, textiles, santos and Filipino music.” So I now have another Filipino home to visit America together with that of Lou Jurika in Texas that is “completely decorated in Filipiniana.”
It is refreshing to know that Connie still meets with other Filipino-Americans on a regular basis in the San Francisco Bay Area. How wonderful it is for a “white woman” like her to connect with fellow Filipinos overseas.
I cannot forget the anecdote that she told me in Manila years ago about this guy in Honolulu always talking about being Hawaiian. Connie got acquainted with “Uncle Earl,” who is the head of the Cultural Center near her place in Hawaii. She had suspected that he is “part Filipino.” So one day, she asked him about his father and he said rather quickly that his father “came from the Philippines!”
Upon confirming that that one of his parents is Filipino, Connie gladly told him that she, too, came from the Philippines and that he should be “very proud of his Filipino heritage and talk more about it.” She suggested to him to speak more of “us being Filipinos.” Amazing, it coming from a Caucasian woman talking about being Filipino!
They now greet each other as “Kababayans!”