La Familia Aboitiz – Our Roots
TXANTON TORRE – ISPASTER – VISCAYA – EUZKADI
We belong to a family and firm that has been in the Philippines for close to 200 years and approaching a market value of US$10 billion, respectively, so I thought it might be healthy to ground ourselves and take a look at our roots.
An Aboitiz and a Moraza both married two Yrastorza sisters so we are really the Yrastorza family and not so much the Aboitiz-Moraza family. Our Yrastorza great-great grandparents arrived on a galleon sometime in 1820 so I am rounding off to a presence in Las Islas Filipinas then to 200 years. Our grandfather, Paulino Aboitiz, married the boss’s daughter, so to speak, as he started his life here working for Gregorio Yrastorza from what I know. I am guessing that both Aboitiz and Moraza seed capital must have come from our Yrastorza great-great grandparents.
All three of these families were Basque. We, the Basques, are the original Europeans. At least 12,000 years ago our “Neanderthal” ancestors took a turn from somewhere and ended up in the Pyrenees around northern Spain and southwest France. That is about 10,000 years before Christ was born. That is why a third of all Basques have Rh negative blood. They developed a language, Esukerra, which no one has been able to trace. They were fishermen and explorers that ventured north up to Greenland and across to what it is today, the Saint Lawrence River in Canada, i.e. North America way before Colon. They must have met the Vikings there as both were searching for the fish that changed the world: bacalao (cod).
They were mariners because they were fishermen and so, when the Portuguese and the Castilians need navigators to find a route to the East, they engaged the Basques, e.g. Juan Sebastian Elcano who was from Guetaria. The Castilians, under the patronage of the very Catholic Queen Isabella de Castilla, would have gone north on the Guadalquivir instead of down towards Sanlúcar de Barrameda and out towards Cuba. Colon was Genovese. After many years, he convinced Queen Isabella to finance his trip to enrich and save souls as they filled their holds with gold and silver from Latin America.
They never had a king. They had a council of elders that met around a tree in a town called Guernica. They were also fiercely independent—the Spanish kings allied with them but never took them over.
After de Lesseps opened the Suez Canal, our great grandfather Paulino Aboitiz, educated as a mariner, came to Las Islas Filipinas looking for both fortune and “Ang Dalagang Pilipina”, as the beautiful song expresses.
He was born in a brick farmhouse in Ispaster. Aside from his parents, three brothers and a sister lived there on the second floor, with their animals below.
He was educated to be a mariner in this small, quaint fishing town.
These are our relatives. The lady in the middle (fourth from left) is a cousin of my father’s generation. They used to call her La Madre. I met her and her husband Zamora in the late 60s. This photo was taken in the mid-70s. He had passed away. He was a farmer. We surmise that that only daughter (Paulino’s sister) inherited the farm as the brothers died or left. But they are all Aboitizes. The two on the left are our cousins. The young lady is Isabel. I have seen her many times since then. She is now a little older and with children. They had trunks of photos that our great grandfather had been sending them from Filipinas.
THEY WERE SIMPLE, SALT-OF-THE-EARTH PEASANTS!
SO ARE WE!
EDUCATED, TRAVELLED, BUT PEASANTS SO WE SHOULD NEVER FORGET WHERE WE CAME FROM.
What kept Basque families together?
The family that drinks together stays together!
They worked hard and were united.
Thirty kilometers or so away from the town of Ispaster is the town of Azpetzia. St. Ignacius of Loyola was born there. He was the founder of the Jesuits that always gave the other orders of the Catholic Church a little competition. They believed in education. At one point in time they controlled most of the better universities in most of Europe.
THOSE ARE OUR ROOTS!
LET’S NOT LET OUR COMMERCIAL SUCCESS LEAD US TO THINK ANY DIFFERENTLY.
WE ARE PEASANTS!