Monday, March 15, 2010

Argao's Baucis and Philemon

The town of Argao was shocked to discover Friday that two of its residents had perished in a fire in Lucero Street, barangay Langtad, Argao, Cebu. The charred remains of lolo Alberto “Berting” Albarracin Alcazaren and lola Lydia Pelegrin Alcazaren were all that was left of the old couple, known in town for both their eccentric behavior as well as their enduring love for each other. There have been speculations as to why they constantly lit fires inside there house. Some say they did so to ward off mosquitoes, while others say they had the habit of not washing their clothes. Instead, they supposedly wore a few pairs every month and then burn these at the end of the month.

Whatever the case, Lolo Berting and Lola Lydia were very much in love. A cousin of my grandfather, Berting always called his wife “hija”, while Lydia called her husband “partner”. Lola Lydia was a Pelegrin, a Spanish family from Manila. However, for most of her life, she remained a faithful and devoted wife to Lolo Berting Alcazaren.

Alberto A. Alcazaren, an engineer, was one of the sons of Juan Fuentes Alcazaren, the first Argao-born representative of Argao, being a representative of the fourth district of Cebu (inclusive of Sibonga, Argao, and Dalaguete) from the 7th to the 9th legislatures (1925-1934). Alberto’s mother, Corazon Ma. Delos Nieves Albarracin, was the daughter of Don Lorenzo M. Albarracin, a former Presidente Municipal of Argao, and Doña Candelaria Lucero.

In life, people always admired Lolo Berto and Lola Lydia for their sweetness. Even in their old age, Argawanons were used to seeing them holding hands while walking to the church everyday. Their love story reminds me of the story of Baucis and Philemon from the Greek mythology. The story goes that when given a wish by the great god Zeus, the old couple asked that when the time came for them to die, they would like to die together. And so die together did Philemon and Baucis, parting only upon their last breaths.

Vaya con Dios, Lolo Berting and Lola Lydia!

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