Friday, February 05, 2010

ELEKSYON 2010: The Davide Family


The Davide family rose from being a poor farming family from the mountainous barangay of Argao, Cebu to become one of the most prominent families in the Philippines when one of its members, Hilario G. Davide, Jr., was sworn in as the 14th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Republic of the Philippines in 1998. Hilario G. Davide, Jr. is now the permanent representative of the Philippines to the United Nations. His son, Hilario “Jun-Jun” Perez Davide III, a former first councilor of the City of Cebu, is the Liberal Party’s candidate for governor of the province of Cebu.

In this article, I will discuss briefly the history of the family of the Liberal Party’s candidate for Cebu’s governor.

The Davide family, as most Filipinos know, started in the mountain barangay of Colawin, Argao, a coastal municipality in the province of Cebu. Yet the family name Davide has traveled farther than just the Visayas. In fact, unlike most Filipino family names, the surname is not Filipino or even Spanish in origin or form. Family historians are unanimous in saying that the family name DAVIDE is an Italian version of the Jewish name David. Later, the surname was adopted as a Spanish surname.

The Meaning of Davide

The name David is possibly derived from Hebrew dod, which means “beloved”, perhaps the word dawid, which means “loved”, or “darling or beloved of God”, in turn derived from Dodavehu. It later became a common first name among the many Jewish communities scattered throughout Europe, until it was adopted by other nationalities especially in Russia, France, England, the Czechs, and Italy. The name took on the forms of Davyd (Russian, Ukrainian), Dawid (Polish and Yiddish), Dewey and Dovydas (Lithuanian), and Taavetti (Finnish).

The Davides of Argao

Like most Filipino family histories, the scarcity of resources on genealogical interest hinders modern researchers from digging deep into the recesses of time in order to discover a clearer picture of a family’s history. But the family of Jun-Jun Davide is lucky in terms of safe-keeping their family heritage for two reasons: one, the town from which they hail, Argao, is one of the few towns in the Philippines that has meticulously preserved its church records that go as far as 1842, and two, the patriarch of the Davide clan, Mr. Hilario Panerio Davide, Sr., compiled in the early 80’s a family history book of his family. His reason for making the “Family Record of Hilario Panerio Davide and Josefa Gelbolingo Davide and their Children” was, in his own words, “to memorialize the roots of their family and to have something that the future Davides will cherish for all eternity.”

The Davide family of Argao traces its roots to Esteban Davide and Nepomucena Ortega, both Argawanon natives who married during the middle of the nineteenth century, in the mountain barangay of Colawin. Esteban, as the records of the elder Davide show, was the son of Miguel Davide and Hilaria Carillo.


A cursory study of the records of the town of Argao would reveal that the Davide family could trace the family to as far as the beginning of the 18th century, to Pablo Alverto and Maria Landayanan. As was common before 1849, native Filipinos did not have a family name and instead used a second Christian name as a sort of surname for most of their lives. This couple gave birth to Francisco Modesto, who married Maria Susana. It was this ancestor who adopted the surname Davide in 1849 by virtue of the decree of the Governor-General Narciso Z. Claveria. All Davides of Argao can be traced to these two. One of their children was Benito Davide, who died in 1864 at the age of 84. He married Maria Norverta Cambare and had at least four children. One of these was Miguel, who was the father of Esteban Davide.

One of the children of Esteban Davide and Nepomucena Ortega was Pablo O. Davide, born on June 26, 1875. This man is considered by the family of Jun-Jun Davide as the founder of the present Davide line in Colawin. He was said to have been a humble but industrious farmer who was well known in their barrio. His humility and good nature earned him the respect of his neighbors, which ultimately led to his being elected as a cabeza de barangay of Colawin in 1877, a position that is roughly equal to that of barangay captain today. He served in this capacity until 1884. In the same year that Pablo Davide served as cabeza, Julian Lopez, another direct ancestor of Jun-Jun Davide who came from Cebu City but later settled in Argao when he married an Argawanon, was also elected to the same position.

Pablo Davide later married another Argwanon by the name of Teodora Panerio. The couple, known as “Tatay Amboy” and “Nanang Doray” by their grandchildren, lived a simple life with strict working codes. Pablo Davide worked on the farm helped by his sons, while his wife and daughters assisted in the preparations for planting and harvesting. Pablo, who many grandchildren remember fondly as being somewhat of a comedian, later on served briefly as municipal councilor of the town of Argao from 1924 to 1928. He died in 1946 in Argao, Cebu.

Pablo Davide and his wife had ten children. One of these is Hilario, the father of the former chief justice. It was Hilario’s sacrifice and exemplary life which prodded his children to succeed in their chosen endeavors. Raised also in the mountain barangay of Colawin, Hilario saw the hardship that one goes through when living in an area as far flung as their hometown. He made a resolve to make his children’s lives better, so early on in life he did well in school in order to chart a better future for himself and his future family. It was also while in school where he strengthened his resolve to improve his family’s lot. During a graduation ball, he was repeatedly turned down by girls when he asked them to dance with him. He overheard one lady telling her friend that the only reason why she didn’t agree to dance with him was because Hilario was “taga-bukid” (from the mountains). This haughty attitude by the “taga-lungsod” (city folks) towards Hilario and his barriomates made him even more determined to succeed.

After graduating from high school he was assigned as a teacher in another barrio in Argao. It was in the barrio of Talaga where Hilario met his future wife Josefa Gelbolingo, who was also a teacher. Both were ambitious and driven to succeed, and soon, in December of 1925, they decided to tie the knot. Their eldest son, Jose, was born in 1926. When their second child, Jorge, was born in 1928, Hilario decided that his wife better stop from teaching so she could take care of the kids. Pretty soon, five more children followed. The former Chief Justice, the sixth in the family, is the youngest son.

Like his father before him, Hilario Davide raised his family strictly. They had a saying that “each member of the family has a job”. And so, early on, the Davide children helped their parents in tending their farm. The sons helped in weeding the fields, in planting, in rearing the chickens and the other livestock, while the daughters helped in housekeeping chores. The sons also helped in gathering tubo (sugarcane), and Jose Davide, the eldest child, fondly recalls that his younger brother Dodong Jun loved to ride on the sledge with the carabao pulling it whenever they gathered tubo. No one was allowed to play until all schoolwork and housework were completed. If one made a mistake, both Hilario and his wife spanked their kids to discipline them.

Hilario Davide was later appointed as District School Supervisor, and one of his first contributions to Colawin was the building of an elementary school in the area. Indeed, before this, his own children had to walk several miles everyday just to get to their school. He never forgot his resolve to improve his children’s future, and so all his kids were able to finish their college education, a very big feat considering that the family was not well off and they came from a very far flung area. Indeed, sending all kids to school is perhaps the greatest legacy that Hilario Davide Sr. has given his family. Hilario Davide, Sr. was also a prominent figure during World War II. He was considered the civilian head of the guerillas in Argao while the Japanese occupied the entire country.

It is interesting to point out here that all the Davide children were able to finish school, and become the best in their chosen field. Thus, many of them worked for the government or government institutions, where their skills were honed and their name established. Aside from Hilario Jr., his older brother, Jose, was a councilor of the municipality of Argao while another brother, Dr. Romulo, initiated the Farmer Scientist Training Program, which allows farmers to make use of science and technology to increase their yields. Since the early part of the twentieth century, the Davide family has not only tried to improve their lot, but also the lives of the people of Colawin. Todate, they have been instrumental in many improvements in the area, including the building of a school, the Colawin Basin Health Service Center, irrigation facilities that other barangays, too, have benefited from, the building ofa chapel and a public library. Through the lands that they donated, the money they solicited from patrons, and their continued support and encouragement to the people of Colawin, the once ridiculed people of Colawin, the “taga-bukids”, can now proudly call their barrio as their own. Because of these, the family was awarded the ABS-CBN Bayaning Pamilyang Pilipino of the Year in 1997, in honor of their exemplary lives and dedication to the community. In that same year, they were also honored by the Province of Cebu as one of the awardees for Outstanding Individuals and Institutions. Argao also named them as one of the Outstanding Argawanon Families in 2009.

Indeed the Davide family has had a long ride in history. One couldn’t even help but relate the history of the family to the history of their family name. Their namesake, David, came from a poor shepherding family who later on became one of the greatest leaders of the Israelites. The Davides, too, originally from a poor farming family from Colawin, have become one of the prime movers for the advancement and improvement of their town. And, in many Argawanon’s belief, just as the little poor boy David, the youngest son in family, successfully defeated the giant Goliath, so too will Hilario “Jun-Jun” Davide III, the eldest son of the youngest son of Hilario Davide Sr., eventually put down the humongous task of battling with an overexposed incumbent governor. As long as the rest of Argao rallies behind him, Cebu will soon have its first Argawanon provincial governor by June 2010.

NOTE: I know the article is very pro-Davide, which I am. I am giving my all out support for Jun-Jun Davide, even though I also like what Gwen Garcia has done to the province, at least culturally speaking. In a future article, I will also discuss Gwen Garcia’s lineage, even though I am not supporting her. (Todd Lucero Sales)

1 comment:

Ambrosio Sales said...

Well, the truth is, the Davides are really far from the Garcias. When we come to think about it, wala man tay malabay nga hugaw sa mga Davide og ilang kaliwat. Sa mga Garcia, kadaghan! CICC-gate, ang Balili issue, ang patakag gasto ni Gwen sa kuwarta sa probinsya, ang pagka-corrupt ni Winston sa GSIS, og ang kahambugero ni Byron. When will Cebuanos ever learn? I hope and pray that Cebu will not be fooled by Gwen's plastic and immoral smile! Great article gaw!