Author Topic: "A Beauty and a Love Verboten" by Angel B. Casillan  (Read 14508 times)

Joe Carillo

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4676
  • Karma: +210/-2
    • View Profile
    • Email
"A Beauty and a Love Verboten" by Angel B. Casillan
« on: February 06, 2012, 10:09:59 AM »
A Beauty and a Love Verboten
By Angel B. Casillan

In the book San Carlos City: A Celebration by Fe C. Garcia, Ph.D., Miss V.  is mentioned as a legendary beauty of that city in Pangasinan. This so aroused my curiosity that when I visited San Carlos City in 2011, I asked around and found a cousin of hers who remembered a good deal about her. The following story is based on anecdotes she told me about Miss V. and her mother. My experience of growing up in my hometown helped me establish this story about Miss V., a story typical among parents and families in the 1920s. In the process, I also found out from her cousin that my grandmother, who was also of a member of Miss V.’s clan, was her distant cousin.

There were love stories that the world had known,
But only those that were written have survived this long,
In here, a maiden’s love that the town has kept for years,
Is written down as a story for the young people to hear.

While I was growing up in my hometown of San Carlos, Pangasinan, there lived a lady who went to church every day dressed in white. Let’s call her by the name of Ittay. She was already in her middle age at that time but she still exuded traces of the beauty for which she had become legendary during the second and third decade of the 20th century. She was an old maid despite the fact that she had many suitors in her youth, among them a prominent attorney from Eastern Pangasinan with whom she had fallen in love. But their love faced an insurmountable obstacle that shattered their dream of being together for the rest of their lives.

                                 IMAGE CREDIT: EDUCATION238214257.WORDPRESS.COM/
Courtship by serenade in the Philippines circa 1920

As a young woman, Ittay—like her mother—was exquisitely beautiful, her features a perfect blend of her native Filipino and Spanish ancestry. The story was that wherever she went, young men would wipe their handkerchiefs on places she had sat on. For a young lady, she was flattered by the great attention she got from the men who courted her. Because her mother was very strict, however, not one of them ever went beyond first base. Ittay, like many young women of her time, was a devotee of the Virgin Mary, and in church she would wear a white dress that had a blue sash worn around her waistline, making her look so innocent and pure. Her suitors often serenaded her, but because of her mother, none of them ever got upstairs of the family home.

As in most other towns in the Philippines, whether in good times or in bad times, the townspeople of San Carlos would extravagantly celebrate their town fiesta. They hold it on two different occasions, one on August 4th to honor the church’s patron, St. Dominic, and the other in April as a big extravaganza to commemorate the town’s founding. This April fiesta was an open party celebration for the whole town. Friends, relatives, and even strangers from all over would be invited to a banquet in most every home. For entertainment, Ferris wheels and carnival rides would be encamped for a week in the huge churchyard of St. Dominic Church, where games of chance would be played to attract and entertain the fiesta crowd.

The fiesta’s climax would be an evening ball at the auditorium in the town plaza, and its highlight would be the coronation of the beauty queen. To the auditorium would flock many men in formal regalia. They would mostly be dressed in a modern jacket-and-trouser outfit called the “Americana,” with the rest in either barong Tagalog or in longsleeve camisa de chino. In turn, women from well-heeled families would be in terno; those from less wealthy would be in the less opulent baro’t saya.

It was in this fiesta atmosphere that Ittay was crowned “Carnival Queen” that particular year. She wore an elegantly tailored red terno that accentuated her pretty face and well-proportioned figure. To the accompaniment of the orchestra, she walked around the auditorium with her escort. Naturally shy, she would blush in embarrassment as the audience clapped their hands in awe of her beauty. It was then that the young lawyer in the audience first saw her, and he fell in love with her at first sight. He didn’t waste any time. To show his honest intentions toward her, he asked a friend to formally introduce him to Ittay and to her parents. Ittay must have felt the same way towards him, for he was not only good-looking in his sharkskin suit but also happened to be a prominent attorney.

Courtship in those days had to be subtle and formal, and it required that the parents of the woman give their blessings to it. In any case, the lawyer did not waste time after first meeting Ittay. He became Ittay’s frequent visitor and they developed a special affection for each other. But then their love encountered a barrier too high to overcome, the reason for which nobody knew beyond Ittay’s family. The reason was that during that time, it was traditional for men and women to marry a mate from within five to ten kilometers of where they were born. Ittay’s mother therefore naturally preferred that her daughter marry someone from nearby like she had done. She must have figured out that her daughter’s suitor being a fast-rising professional, his job would take him to different regions of the Philippines. This meant that her daughter would be taken away from the family. With this opposition by her mother, Ittay was torn between her love for the lawyer and being a dutiful daughter.

Despite the barrier imposed by the mother’s disapproval of their relationship, the lawyer kept on visiting Ittay. For her part, Ittay did not want to displease her parents for fear of being disowned by them, the prospect of which she found too hard to bear. And her mother was so relentless in her efforts to put an end to their love affair. Whenever Ittay expected the lawyer to come visit her at a particular hour, the mother would outwit both by saying a long litany of novenas and prayers to all the saints until the lawyer got so tired of waiting for the prayers to end that he had no choice but to leave. This went on for months, greatly frustrating the lawyer. Finally, realizing the futility of his efforts, he gave up and never came back.

With her true love gone, Ittay became desolate. She found consolation in the church and in her religious faith. She still had many persistent suitors, to be sure, but no one among them could mend her broken heart. She therefore remained a single woman all her life, going to church daily in her legendary white long-sleeved dress, walking with her arms always folded. But she never lost her beauty even in middle age.

The hurt that she felt with his final goodbye,
Came side by side with questions bearing why,
Losing her true love cut deeper than it seemed,
When her mind was drained slowly of its strength.

The young lawyer eventually found an equally beautiful woman. He married her and they raised a family. He excelled in his professional career, eventually becoming the country’s highest magistrate. Decades later, one of his granddaughters grew up into a smart and beautiful young lady. She was crowned Miss Universe in the 1970s.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2022, 10:54:39 AM by Joe Carillo »


  • Initiate
  • *
  • Posts: 3
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: "A Beauty and a Love Verboten" by Angel B. Casillan
« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2013, 01:50:19 PM »
Thumbs up for this, it has been and inspiring story, for sure many will motivated from this.