|Topics:||The Family behind Boracay|
"guin bacal co it akong cabuhi ro Boracay ngara".
"I bought with my life, this piece of land in Boracay."
Nobody in this lifetime ever missed the word "Boracay".
It is an island in Region VI and part of the Municipality of Malay.
Boracay was just an unknown and private island decades ago. As history has it, it's past is as shaded as our government's direction today. However, for the truth to be told, it was indeed one private island a long time ago inhabited by few islanders, mostly fishermen, and one family - Lamberto H. Tirol and Sofia Ner Gonzales.
Sofia Ner Gonzales was born on April 1, 1879 in Sta. Cruz Manila. Her parents were Dr. Cipriano Gomez Gonzales and Florentina Quijano Ner of Cavite.
Dr. Cipriano Gomez Gonzales (Don Panoy) was the first surgeon of Panay, and among those who received a degree in Medicine together with our National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal in the University of Sto. Tomas where he graduated Meritimus. Among his known classmates and contemporaries were Dr. Luis de Castro who became Dean of the College of Medicine in the same University. His close friend, Jose Ner, was responsible for his meeting his one true love, Florentina Quijano Ner. He later became a Professor and one of his students was Emilio Aguinaldo
Lamberto H. Tirol, son of Solomon Diangson Tirol and Vivencia Isturis Hontiveros, was the grandson of Gabriel Ureta. As history has it, Gabriel Ureta escaped from the clutches of the Spaniards together with his brother Vicente Ureta. They took refuge in the mountains of Austria called Tirol Alps where they spent a number of years. There's no place like home, or so they say, so that Gabriel decided to go home. Knowing he will be in trouble if he retains his old name, he decided to change Ureta to Tirol. And so the story goes. Gabriel Ureta/Tirol married Basilisa Diangson and begot six (6): Solomon, Servando, Tiburcio, Cirilo, Teodoro and Felipa. Solomon married Vivencia Isturiz Hontiveros, daughter of Jose Hontiveros and Gertrude "Owa" Isturiz and begot eight (8) children: Policarpo, Carmen, Aquilina, Eriberto, Lamberto, Ignacio, Leona and Gregorio.
Lamberto H. Tirol studied in San Juan de Letran in Manila and later married the young chinese meztisa Spanish-speaking lady Sofia. He was once a Political Figure in Aklan (a mayor and was among the earliest political figure in Panay after the war) and became Mayor for several terms. He later on was appointed as Municipal Judge (Juez) of Buruanga, Capiz.
Their wedding was celebrated at the Tirol Building formerly called the Gonzales Building which later on changed its name when the Gonzales family sold the same to Ciriaco Tirol.
It is worthy to note that the marriage of Lamberto H. Tirol and Sofia Ner Gonzales was one of an "arranged marriage" set up by Sofia's father.
They were considered as among the original settlers of Boracay Island, who peacefully and simply lived among the natives and islanders. Fishing was the main livelihood of Boracay. The couple however created one paradise island out of it. While it was Lamberto who invested on seedlings, it was Sofia who had the "green thumb". Cultivation and Agriculture became the second livelihood of the islanders.
The humble abode of the couple and their family. They had nine (9) but two girls died during infancy (Elsie Edna, Rizalina, Racel, Sol, Josel, Demosthenes, Haide, Belen+ and Florentina+) in Buruanga (now Malay) was just a piece of lot in the island, until some islanders sold their lots to the family. The rest of the islanders followed suit. The family soon realized that they owned a relatively large portion of the island, and provided more than enough not only for the family but also for the few settlers of the island - because of their generosity and kind hearts they were fondly called "Don Lamberto and Dona Sofing". Upon the counsel of Lamberto's nephew, Josefino Santa Maria Tirol (son of Gregorio Tirol and Maria Santa Maria, brother of Lamberto), their land in the island was brought under the Torrens System through the Ordinary Land Registration Proceedings. It was told that, to finance the titling process, Sofia had to sell the engagement ring Lamberto gave her, a large diamond ring. The couple also had mining and fishery in Makato and a portion in Buruanga as records of government offices in Aklan would reveal.
Sofia became a young widow when Lamberto met his Maker in 1924. She was left to tend to their seven (7) Children. It was told that she wept for her beloved half's untimely demise until her death. Despite the sadness and sorrow, she spent all her days in Boracay, nurturing the island as it is one of Lamberto's remembrance - a labor of love.
The young widow continued working and manning the island, with the help of her friend "Orang" or "Lola Orang" as called by the islander, some aetas, and few islanders worthy of her trust. She was said to be stern, strict and brave but with a kind and generous heart. Sometimes one of her daughters would accompany her to sleep in a bodega where they have their bodega plantation. It was quite remarkable for a young widow to do all what Sofia had done during her lifetime that she was seen by many people in Boracay as a woman of courage and perseverance.
Her son, Josel G. Tirol, Sr. also met his Maker at an early age, leaving Lolita Amoroso Denosta a young widow with five (5) Children to tend to. Lolita was pregnant at that time with their youngest son, Roberto. Being a widow herself, Sofia felt for Lolita, so she stayed with Lolita in Tangalan for a number of years after Josel's death. Tangalan then became Sofia's second home. Every time she goes home to Boracay she was always accompanied by her granddaughter Jessica. Jessica was still an infant when her father Josel G. Tirol, Sr. died. When Sofia lived with the family Jessica became a Lola's Girl. She practically grew up with Sofia on her side. It was only when she reached her collegiate years that she had to part with her Lola to pursue her studies in the suburbs.
Life was simple and abundant for Sofia and the children. At times, it became difficult most especially so when it falls on the times to pay realty taxes over Boracay and other properties she owned. But she was able to survive it all. She earned through Copra and Tobacco sales, goods which she herself produced in the island with the help of her workers and tenants. Hiking was nothing for the Dona. She would walk to and from the island in order to earn her keep.She spend most of her days in the island, and when the time came for her to rest and retire, she had to stay in Kalibo with Araceli. She died at the age of 110. She finally closed her weary but happy and contented eyes when her favorite apo, Jessica and her daughter came home to visit Sofia.
Boracay's fame came belatedly, when Sofia was too old to realize and appreciate the fruits of her labor. One time, a group of foreigners came to the island with the intention to shoot a film. It was only then that Boracay became open to the world. It was also that time that the commercialization of the island began.
But the island is still as it is - an Island Paradise. It was through the very hands of Lamberto and Sofia that Boracay flourished into one of nature's magnificent creations.
Boracay received numerous acclamations and recognitions worldwide. It is very well worth our while to get to know the island's caretaker, Dona Sofia, who was known as the Greener of Boracay. As world progress, let us pause and take a breather by looking back to the days when the island was young in order to appreciate the very hands that tended it, whose life was spent tending the island and her children, all in dedication to her beloved Don Lamberto, and to understand alltogether when she said, "guin bacal co it akong cabuhi ro Boracay ngara".
*The Biography of Dr. Cipriano G. Gonzales, Luz Gonzales, 1960
*The World Archives: Digitized History www.archives.org
*Journal of the Herederos de Lamberto H. Tirol y Sofia Ner Gonzales, March 30, 1996: Teresita Tirol Rojo-Corpus, Rosette Tirol Solidum-Aster, Carissa Tirol Carpio-Dimacali, Divina Tirol Marte-Villanueva, Lolita Denostra vda de Sr. Josel Gonzales Tirol, Sr., Racel Tirol Marte, Sylvia Gonzales Tirol, Haide Tirol Solidum, Amelita Kimpo, Jessica Tirol Andan, Jocelyn Tirol Dignos
*Journal: Hijos de Tirol, April 23, 1988*The BMW Tropical Book by Fourth Estate of London, by Nick Hannah
*The Manila Bulletin, March 5, 1991*Las Cronicas de Boracay: Sofia Lamberto*The People's Journal, February 14, 1990
*The Philippine Star, February 16, 1990*The Sunday Times Magazine, November 8, 1987*The Philippine Star, April 28, 1990
*Boracay, one of the 10 finests beaches in the world - Hapers and Queen Magazine*"Boracay II" - George Tapa, Grand Awardee, Travel Photo Category of the 1990 PATA Gold Awards, PATA Chapter World Congress
*Boracay wins UK Travel Writers' Commendation - British Guild of Travel Writers Award 1991
Copyright © 1988 SofiaLamberto All rights reserved. No part of this site may be reproduced without special permission.
© October 12, 1988 Copyright © 1908 SofiaLamberto All rights reserved. No part of this site may be reproduced without special permission.