The Tuasons are the only noble Filipino family, that is they were elevated by the King of Spain Carlos IV to the Spanish nobility by a royal decree of 1782. They are descended from an intermix of Chinese, Spanish and Filipino families.
The great patriarch of the Tuasons was an Chinese immigrant from Fukien, Son Tua who settled in Binondo, Manila in the early 18th century. He came to Manila to engage in the galleon trade. Quickly amassing wealth because of his business acumen, he became possibly the richest man in the Philippines by late 18th century.
Son Tua as the Most Prominent 18th c. Filipino
His prominent role in Philippine society was only emphasized during its British Occupation from 1762 to 1764 when Son Tua was one of the very few residents to rally people around the Spanish colonial troops. He even financed and helped direct counterattacks. He was promoted to colonel and he organized 1,500 Chinese mestizos, which was dubbed the Battalion of the Royal Prince. It was a treacherous time for Spain in the Philippines, as the British invasion had weakened Spain's power and occasioned rebellions and demands for independence.
In gratitude for helping the Spanish Governor General Simon de Anda drive the British redcoats out of Manila he was exempted him from paying tributes for two generations in 1775 and he was encouraged to hispanize his name. In that time it was the practice to reverse the syllabry of a Chinese name, so Son-tua was hispanized to Tua-son. From that time on he was called Don Antonio Tuason.
He was awarded large tracts of prime land. Family lore relates that the governor general promised Don Antonio that whatever lands he could encircle by horseback from sunrise to sunset would be his. Being very astute Don Antonio prepared several horses in different stations in what was known the Diliman and Mariquina area. Through this feat Don Antonio made sure that he traversed thousands of hectares in a day. Thus began the Tuason real estate empire which survives to this day.
By this time the Tuasons had emerged as the leading Chinese mestizo family not only in Binondo, but in the entire Philippines. This prestige was further elevated when the King of Spain conferred a noble title on the family in 1782. To express his gratitude Don Antonio was posthumously allowed by the King of Spain, Carlos IV, to found a mayorazgo (noble estate) on February 25, 1794. The mayorazgo was officially approved by the King's decree of August 20, 1795.
Succession of the Tuason Lords
This was the only mayorazgo granted by the king in the history of the Philippines. Its cardinal principle was the succession was based on male primogeniture (first born or eldest son, which coincidentally was not only a Spanish policy but also a Chinese custom). Son-tua, the original surname of the Tuasons, actually means "eldest son."
Don Antonio died in 1794. The successor to the mayorazgo was Antonio's first-born son Don Vicente Dolores Tuason. He is considered the first lord. From this line came the Manila Tuasons.Don Vicente was succeeded by Don Mariano Tuason who married Maria Juana Fabie. The third lord Don Jose Maria Tuason married Doña Maria Josefa Patiño y Tuason, his first cousin. The fourth lord, Don Jose Severo Tuason married Teresa de la Paz against his parents' wishes. Don Jose Severo loved her dearly and had several pet names for her: "Mariquit na Teresa" when she was being courted by him, and later on, "marqueza" when she came into possession of the Marikina hacienda and later Hacienda Sta. Mesa. (Family legend speculates that the name Mariquina was derived from Doña Teresa's pet name.)
The fifth lord was Jose Victoriano Tuason, the son of Jose Severo Tuason, who tragically died at the age of 13 on 25 January 1878 in Metz, Germany (now part of France). The lordship of the mayorazgo was to pass the next oldest male heir, being his younger brother Juan Jose Tuason. Instead the usufruct and administration was passed to his mother Doña Teresa de la Paz, viuda de Tuason.
When the heiress married barely a year after her widowhood the dashing 22-year-old lawyer Benito Legarda y Tuason, it was agreed that the administration of the mayorazgo would pass on to Don Jose Severo Tuason's favorite brother Gonzalo Tuason y Patiño.
Succession of the Tuason Lords This was the only mayorazgo granted by the king in the history of the Philippines. Its cardinal principle was the succession was based on male primogeniture (first born or eldest son, which coincidentally was not only a Spanish policy but also a Chinese custom). Son-tua, the original surname of the Tuasons, actually means "eldest son." Don Antonio died in 1794. The successor to the mayorazgo was Antonio's first-born son Don Vicente Dolores Tuason. He is considered the first lord. From this line came the Manila Tuasons.Don Vicente was succeeded by Don Mariano Tuason who married Maria Juana Fabie. The third lord Don Jose Maria Tuason married Doña Maria Josefa Patiño y Tuason, *(Her daughter Doña Emilia Tuason Patiño married Don Jose Rocha de Icaza (a rich banker and businessman), left Philippines with their daughter Doña Maria Rocha y Tuason and her husband Don Ramon Despujol y Sabater, Marquis de Oliver, to live in Spain in 1904. She has eight grand Children Ramon Despujol y Rocha (b. Manila, Military d. in the Battle of Annual, Maroc), Luis, Jose and Jose Despujol y Rocha, all deceased in youth and Doña Mercedes Despujol y Rocha (b. Manila) Marquise de Oliver, Married with Don Federico Ricart, Marquis de Santa Isabel; Doña Maria Emilia Despujol y Rocha (b. Barcelona), Marquise de Vallcabra, married with Don Javier Saenz de Heredia; Doña Concepcion Despujol y Rocha (b. Barcelona), married with Don Eduardo de Garay, Count del Valle del Suchil and Doña Pilar Despujol y Rocha (b.Barcelona), married with Don Carlos Gutierrez Pombo, all with succession). His first cousin. The fourth lord, Don Jose Severo Tuason childrenmarried Teresa de la Paz against his parents' wishes. Don Jose Severo loved her dearly and had several pet names for her: "Mariquit na Teresa" when she was being courted by him, and later on, "marqueza" when she came into possession of the Marikina hacienda and later Hacienda Sta. Mesa. (Family legend speculates that the name Mariquina was derived from Doña Teresa's pet name.) The fifth lord was Jose Victoriano Tuason, the son of Jose Severo Tuason, who tragically died at the age of 13 on 25 January 1878 in Metz, Germany (now part of France). The lordship of the mayorazgo was to pass the next oldest male heir, being his younger brother Juan Jose Tuason. Instead the usufruct and administration was passed to his mother Doña Teresa de la Paz, viuda de Tuason.
Succession of Tuasons in Business
Himself the scion of the most affluent Spanish-Chinese-Filipino family, the industrialist Don Gonzalo Tuason y Patiño was a business genius who parlayed his father's inheritance into many business interests, including investments in trading and manufacturing companies. His biggest investment was in a brewery corporation established by the Roxas-Ayala-Zobel clans, the immensely profitable ,La Fabrica de Cerveza de San Miguel, founded by Don Enrique Barretto y Ycaza. When Don Gonzalo Tuason died he was considered one of the richest men in the Philippines at the turn of the 20th century, together with the French exile Don Pedro Pablo Roxas, his other co-investor in the brewery, and the young Don Enrique Zobel de Ayala
Don Gonzalo Tuason y Patino married the Spanish aristocrat Dona Isabel viuda de Gil de Sola. Don Gonzalo's fortune survived through his two natural and nine legitimate children, in particular with Carolina [ grandmother of the Ortolls ] and Dr. Manuel [ grandfather of the Todas ]. Don Gonzalo's daughter Doña Carolina Tuason married the prominent lawyer Don Salvador Zaragoza y Roxas and accumulated a large fortune. Their only child and sole heiress is Doña Concepcion Zaragoza y Tuason who married Don Jose Antonio Ortoll of Barcelona on the inauspicious day of December 8, 1941, the day of the Japanese invasion.
Don Gonzalo Tuason y Patino and some of his children are interred in their family plot at the Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris, France. It is located near the tomb of the English writer Oscar Wilde and is accessed through the Gambetta gate.
Another Tuason industrialist was Don Celso Tuason who bought the American trading company Squires & Bingham in 1941, just before the outbreak of the war. After World War II Don Celso venture into manufacturing. He focused on firearms and ammunition. In 1952, the President granted the Tuason family permission to manufacture firearms which led to the establishment Squires Bingham Manufacturing. Inc., the predecessor of today's Arms Corporation of the Philippines (Armscor).
In the mid-1960's, Don Celso turned over the business management to his three sons: Bolo, Butch and Konkoy. In 1980, Squires Bingham Co., Inc. became the holding company of the Celso S. Tuason family and their varied business interests. The First Gentleman Jose Miguel Tuason Arroyo is a nephew of Don Celso and his firsts cousins Bolo, Emilio, Konkoy, and Butch Tuason.
The great patriarch Don Antonio had a younger brother Don Gregorio Tuason which is the other line of the Tuason family. He settled in Bacolor, Pampanga and married Maria Pamintuan around 1764. From this line came the Tuasons of Pampanga and Central Luzon. They had two two daughters, Escolastica and [[Maria Juana Tuason-Hilario |Maria Juana]. Escolastica is known in Philippine history as the most prominent Filipina to be kidnapped at six years of age by Moro pirates and held hostage in Mindanao. She was ransomed by her parents after eight long years and considerable expense of the Tuason family. She married Olegario Rodriguez (1806-1874) also of Bacolor. From this couple are descended the Escaler, Gonzalez of Sulipan, Apalit, Pampanga, Santos of Malabon (Prudential Bank), and the Guanzons of Pampanga. Escolastica Tuason Rodriguez died in 1850.
Don Antonio had an illegitimate son Don Benedicto Dimaculangan Tuazon who was the grand ancestor of the Tuazons of San Fernando and Mabalacat, Pampanga and of the Sauza clan of Marikina.One of his Sauza in-laws was Don Santiago Sauza, the 22nd gobernadorcillo of Marikina from Tequila, Jalisco, Mexico. Don Antonio's granddaughter Doña Matilde Dela Peña Tuazon, one of the daughters of Don Benedicto Dimaculangan Tuazon married Don Miguel Sauza, one of the sons of Don Santiago Sauza, the brother of Don Hilario Sauza, the brainchild of the famous Sauza Tequila.
The Dissolution of the Tuason Noble Estate
Don Antonio Tuason had requested the King of Spain for approval of a mayorazgo (noble and inalienable estate), which he outlined on 25 February 1794 as a corollary to his last testament. On his death he bequeathed two-thirds of his vast estate equally among the younger eight children, including Doña Eustaquia (married to de los Reyes); Don Santos married to Rufina Augustina; Doña Petrona who became a nun; Don Felix who married Doña Teresa Aranas Bargas; Doña Eusebia, a Dominican nun; Don Pablo who maried Doña Magdalena de los Reyes; Doña Martina, a Dominican nun; and Doña Gregoria who married Don Luis Rocha, builder of Malacañang Palace. One third was willed to his oldest son, Don Vicente Dolores Tuason, who would become the 1st lord of the mayorazgo. Carlos IV would later approve the mayorazgo posthumously in a royal decree of 20 August 1795.
The provisions of the mayorazgo required the lord to distribute one-fifth of the net revenues of the noble estate to his eight siblings. The 1st lord's heir and succssors continued to respect the mayorazgo until 1919, when the descendants of the of the younger siblings, led by Antonio Ma. Barreto challenged the successors of the mayorazgo then led by Augusto Huberto Tuason y de la Paz, third son of Jose Severo Tuason.
Meanwhile events in Spain had long overtaken the mayorazgo, which was in the throes of a social revolution. The liberal 1820 consitution of Spain required the dissolution of noble estates. In 1836 a law of disentailment was enacted in the peninsula. But it was not until 1 March 1864 that the law was enacted in the Philippines. However, the third lord Jose Severo Tuason opted to ignore the law, maintaining the landed estate and continuing to distribute one-fifth of its net revenues to the mayorazgo's descendants.
When the disgruntled descendants of the younger siblings brought the case to the Philippine courtson 19 July 1919 they moved for the dissolution of the mayorazgo, and asked for the conversion of their share of the revenues to the enforced sale of one-fifth of all the mayorazgo's properties.
With Associate Supreme Court Justice Norberto Romualdez penning the landmark decision and concurring en banc, the heirs of the mayorazgo represented by Augusto Huberto Tuason y de la Paz were ordered to distribute one-fifth of the properties to each of the four families of the Don Vicente's younger siblings, as follows:
- Heirs of Doña Gregoria Tuason married to Rocha, and her sixteen heirs, including Antonio Maria Barretto y Rocha (plaintiff), Isabel Rocha Pereyra, Alfredo Rocha Pereyra, Carmen Rocha Pereyra de Beech, Santiago Rocha y Ruiz Delgado
- Heirs of Don Pablo Tuason, including Ciriaca Tuason, mother of Benito Legarda, Cayetano Tuason, Tomas Mercado, Gaston O'Farrell, Remedios Ayala de Reyes, Juan Tuason y Rosello, Carmen Tuason y Rosello, Vicente L Legarda
- Heirs of Don Santos Luciano Tuason, including Cirila Tuason viuda de Calvo, Mariana Aurelia Tuason and Santiago Alvarez.
- Heirs of Don Felix Bolois Tuason including Don Francisco Beech y Rojo, Pilar Rojo y Tuason, Teodora Benitez Tuason de Reyes and Romana Fuentes de Salgado
From 23 March 1927 the mayorazgo estates would be deemed as free properties and released from any entailment. Although their estate was diminished by a fifth, the six children of Don Jose Severo Tuason and Teresa de la Paz still retained four-fifths of their vast landholdings.
Real Estate Empire
The basis of family wealth was the Hacienda Diliman. Subsequent lords of the mayorazgo further aggrandized these holdings.
For example when the Jesuits were expelled from the Philippines in 1768. all its properties were expropriated. The second lord Don Vicente acquired the Jesuits' Hacienda de San Isidro de Mariquina at a public auction in 1794 for the amount of 33,750 pesos. Hacienda Santa Mesa was acquired by the fourth lord Don Jose Severo Tuason on October 1, 1878.
The successor of the fifth lord Don Gonzalo Tuason y Patino purchashed the Maysilo Estate covering a land area of 1,660 hectares in parts of Caloocan, Malabon, Valenzuela and Quezon City. Subsequently it was resold and was mired in legal suits. To this date it is known in Philippine courts as the longest-running real estate dispute dating from 1917.
The Tuason family is forever identified with the founding of Quezon City as it was their family that sold the thousands of hectares of Hacienda Diliman to the government of President Manuel L. Quezon. They were also very generous and donated the present area of the University of the Philippines. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her husband's house in Las Vista overlooking the Marikina Valley on which stood the Tuason's Hacienda Mariquina stands on the oldest Tuason property.
- 'Tahanan: A House Reborn, Reynaldo Alejandro & Vicente Roman S. Santos, 2003, Malabon:Duende Publishing
- Santiago, Luciano P.R. "The Last Hacendera: Doña Teresa de la Paz, 1841-1890)" unpublished.
- Supreme Court decision dated 31 March 1934 on subsequent appeals filed after the 1927 Baretto vs. Tuason decision Accessed 7 September 2009