La Profesora: Flordelis Santiago Sañosa

Category: MANILA
Published Date Written by J.Sañosa

Sixth Wedding Anniversary
(6/2/49) Crispin (56 yrs); Flor (45 yrs)
Front Inscription in Spanish to Lino & Trining
(Trining is Lola Flor's sister)

In his memoirs, Crispin writes, "After her death (Florentina's), I thought of not marrying anymore and in fact I kept pain in observing it for more than three years. On June 2, 1943 after being convinced of the need of a companion, I married Miss Flordelis Santiago of Manila who taught Spanish for several years at the Manila Law College and University of Santo Tomas. "

Flordelis was a thirty-nine year old unmarried professor and Crispin a fifty year old widow when they married. Before their marriage, she was Crispin's private tutor in Spanish as he wanted to further deepen his command of the language. Flordelis and the Sañosa family were living on the same street in the Sampaloc district. She was residing at 441 Asturias while they were a few houses down at 431.

Flordelis or Flor, as she was called in the family, was born on January 31, 1904. She was the eldest child of Prudencio Santiago and Carmen Fuentes of Manila. She was followed by her brother José (Pepito), an accountant at the Manila Chronicle. Following Pepito were two younger sisters who were educators like her. Socorro (Coring) was a music teacher and an accomplished pianist while Trinidad (Trining) was also a professor teaching at the University of the East. She and her siblings grew up speaking both Tagalog and Spanish at home.

Lola Flor graduated cum laude from the Pontifical and Royal University of Santo Tomas (UST), where she also pursued her graduate studies in Spanish. UST was founded in 1611 and is the oldest existing university in Asia.

Prior to assuming the position of Spanish professor at UST, she taught for many years at the Insituto de Mujeres, where she also served as the secretary to Doña Rosa Sevilla de Alvero, the eminent Filipino educator, writer and patriot, who founded the Instituto in 1900. The Instituto was quite unique in its time because it was the first school for girls run by Filipinos with classes bilingually conducted in Spanish and English.

Flordelis developed some health problems after the marriage; and despite not having any children, she and Crispin lived happily together. Crispin recalls in his memoirs that "although by the will of Providence, we were not given a child, we lived harmoniously and contentedly as a husband and wife should after fifteen years of marriage."

My uncle José (Tio Manoy) recounted that there was opposition to my grandfather marrying Lola Flor. Some of the family members felt that she was too conservative, strict, and way too formal in her ways. Tio Manoy mentioned that Lola Flor at that time wouldn't joke around with them. Instead, the Sañosa boys had their hearts initially set on another lady who also lived on the same street whom they thought was very warm-hearted. Also living nearby was a much younger lady from Nueva Ecija who was quite keen on marrying my grandfather, but didn't succeed.

Flor (54 yrs); Crispin (65 yrs) Manila, 2/10/58

Strong wills collide
Following the death of her mother, the vibrant twenty-one year old Salvacion (Tia Manay), Crispin's second eldest child, had become the surrogate mother to her three youngest siblings: Eugene, Alfredo and Zacarias. At home, the two formidable women of the family clashed and locked horns. Whenever Salvacion would come home late after a night out with friends, the very conservative Lola Flor would blurt out ¡Basta Ya! (enough is enough) and refer to her as sinvergüenza (brazen). 

Salvacion would defend and stick up for her siblings whenever Lola Flor scolded them. She was especially protective of her younger and only sister Purita. The disagreements and arguments eventually became unbearable that these often drove her out of the house.

Every time she left, she sought the help of family and friends and stayed with them. Lolo Crispin, in turn, would feign sickness and send for Tio Manoy (Jose) to convince and bring her back home. Each time, she relented and returned. Tia Manay left home for good when she finally married Alfredo Ceballos, a baseball player for the San Miguel team and war veteran of the Bataan Death March.

Salvacion had continued to mourn her beloved mother even years later. She was a devoted sister to her siblings and loved them dearly. She was particularly close to Purita, Eugene and Zacarias. No one could really blame her for wanting to protect the position and memory of her mother, Lola Tinay, in the lives of her family.

Thoughts of a grandson
Lola Flor had the difficult task of trying to fit in and being accepted by a close-knit family of eight not to mention the numerous relatives who often visited. She didn't always succeed. Since my uncle Zacarias, the youngest, was only two years old when his mother passed away, he looked upon her as his mother; while she, in turn, regarded him as her own son. Sadly, before Lola Flor passed away, a rift occurred between them.

Lola Tinay was that legendary grandmother whom people reminisced and I heard much about; while Lola Flor was the grandmother whom I personally knew. I will never forget Lola Flor's quaint formality and stern reminders. Despite her formal ways and being a strict disciplinarian, she and I got along well.

Lola Flor wrote me letters in the language of Cervantes and encouraged me to learn it well. During my college up to my graduate school days, we corresponded until she passed away on December 13, 1994.

Lola Flor's last letter to Joseph L. Sañosa, 4/25/94

Last Letter (left): This was the last letter I received from Lola Flor. The 2nd paragraph of the letter provides information about the state of her health.

I had previously written that I'd visit her in Manila in December (1994). Unfortunately, I didn't make it in time. She passed away a week before my departure. The first place I visited upon my arrival in Manila was her grave.

English Translation from Spanish of the 2nd paragraph under "razon" (reason):

Since September of last year, I've already been hospitalized for three days, returning back in January 1994 for twenty-one days due to pneumonia. I'm now at home recuperating, but I feel so weak. I've lost the mood to write, my hands tremble, and it's hard for me to go out as my legs feel weak. As for my sight, I can hardly read.

I'm sorry my dear grandson if I couldn't answer your letters. I received the family pictures. How handsome you look on your graduation day. Your father and nephews as well. I kept looking at the them several times. I want to write more, but I do not have the strength. I'll soon tire. I finish this letter hoping that you will all be happy and pray for me. Your grandmother, Lola Flor. I will write to you all later. Excuse the mistakes, I can barely write.

Gracias por los recuerdos querida abuela. 
Que en paz descanse.

Ceballos, Salvacion Sañosa. Personal interview by Joseph L. Sañosa. 22 January 2011.
Sañosa, Flordelis Santiago. Personal Letters to the Sañosa family.
Sañosa, Jose Benipayo. Personal interview by Joseph L. Sañosa. December 1994.
Memoirs, Crispin V. Sañosa, June 5, 1958.


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