Historia Filipinas: Don Pedro Pablo Roxas
Don Pedro Pablo 'Perico' Róxas Castro (1847-1912)
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Don Pedro Pablo Róxas Castro was a Spanish-Filipino businessman, capitalist, industrialist, financier, and patriot. Don Pedro, or Perico as he was called by his friends and family, was born on June 28, 1847 in Manila. His parents were Don José Bonifacio Róxas Ubaldo and Doña Juana Castro. Don José Bonifacio Róxas Ubaldo was the son of Don Domingo Róxas Ureta, one of the founders of today's Ayala Corporation. He was also the younger brother of philanthropist-industrialist Doña Margarita Róxas Ubaldo de Ayala. All are members of the influential and illustrious Róxas family which include siblings Jacobo, Alfonso, and Mercedes Zóbel de Ayala Róxas, brothers Antonio and Eduardo Róxas Gargollo, Don Andrés Soriano Róxas, and Róxas and Company chairman Pedro E. Róxas Olgado. Other members of the Róxas family include Don Enrique Brias Róxas, former Manila mayor Don Félix María Róxas Fernandez, architect Félix Róxas Arroyo, the late president Manuel Róxas Acuña, and now-DILG secretary Manuel Róxas Araneta.
Note: Names are written in standard Spanish naming custom. Spanish names are written without the Filipino 'y'. So, for males (or single females), it would be [given name][paternal family name][maternal family name]. For married females, it would be [given name][paternal family name][maternal family name]de[husband's family name]. For widows, it would be [given name][paternal family name][maternal family name]vda.de[husband's family name].
Don José Bonifacio Róxas Ubaldo (1818-1880) © Ayala Corporation
Don Perico was educated in Manila at the Colegio de San Juan de Letran in the walled city of Intramuros. Showing interest in Philippine affairs, he earned his father's trust by letting him vote during an election in their town in Calauan, Laguna, where their vast hacienda is located. Don Perico had shown interest in the family business his forbears had been working hard for. So, at a young age, Don Perico helped his father in the business by assisting in their palm distillery, sugar and rice estates in Nasugbu, Batangas.
Don Perico, already an established figure in Manila society, married his first cousin Doña Carmen de Ayala Róxas, daughter of Doña Margarita Róxas Ubaldo de Ayala and Don Antonio de Ayala Urbina. Their union secured the wealth of the Róxas-de Ayala family for generations. After he had married his cousin, Don Perico worked for his wife's company at Ayala y Compañía. After the death of his father, Don Perico had inherited all Róxas family interests, which included the vast estates in Calatagan, Nasugbu, Calauan, and San Pedro de Macati. Don Perico did not keep the inheritance for himself, he distributed many of the Róxas lands to other family members such as the Hacienda de San Pedro de Macati to the Zóbel-Róxas, and the Hacienda de Calauan to the Soriano-Róxas family.
Already one of the country's richest men, Don Perico made his wealth even larger by becoming San Miguel's financier and manager. Established in 1890 through a royal grant by Don Enrique María Barreto Ycaza, San Miguel needed financiers and capitalists for it to grow. So, Don Perico financed its operation and became one of its major shareholders, along with Don Gonzalo Tuáson Patiño, and Don Benito Legarda Tuáson. Because of this, the Róxas family had the majority number of seats in the board, appointing his cousins, nephews, and even grandchildren. Don Perico's tenure at San Miguel was cut short when he was forced to leave the islands in exile to France in 1896.
Filipino exiles in Paris. From L-R seated: F. de Almores, Felipe Agoncillo, Don Pedro Pablo Róxas Castro, Antonino Vergel de Dios. L-R standing: B. Villanueva, Antonio Róxas de Ayala, Enrique Brias de Coya, P.A. Róxas. © Philippine-American War, 1899-1902
Don Perico, a mestizo with criollo parents, supported the Filipino cause of independence, in which he inherited through his father and grandfather's liberal views. The Róxas family is known to have liberal views, in which cost one of their relatives' life. Don Francisco L. Róxas Reyes, Don Perico's second cousin, was executed along with twelve other patriots for supporting the Katipunan movement. As a result of his cousin's death, all persons bearing the Róxas family name were ridiculed and insulted by the Spanish colonial authorities. Don Perico, being the wealthiest Róxas family member, was suspected of financing the Katipunan and the independence movements. So, he was forced into exile in Paris, France. While in exile, the Spanish colonial government charged him with treason and had all of his properties confiscated. Don Perico was not the only exile in Paris, his friend Don Gonzalo Tuáson also left the islands for Europe. According to Félix María Róxas Fernandez's book, The World of Félix Róxas, it is said that Don Perico managed to survive in Paris while in exile through the help of Don Gonzalo Tuáson, in which he wrote to Tuáson's family to send funds immediately.
Don Félix María Róxas Fernandez (1864-1936), former Mayor of Manila, and second cousin of Don Pedro Pablo Róxas Castro. Róxas, along with the great diplomat Felipe Agoncillo, represented the newly-independent Philippine Republic at the Treaty of Paris in 1898. However, the Philippine Republic was denied in participating in the talks between Spain and the United States. © Philippine-American War, 1899-1902
While in exile, Don Perico had already developed an illness even before he left the Philippines. Don Perico never again returned to the Philippines as he passed away on February 14, 1912. In Manila, news of his death was relayed throughout the family. According to The World of Félix Róxas, Mayor Félix Róxas recalled his nephew, Antonio Róxas de Ayala, calling him to come to their house for an important matter.
"Felix Roxas y Fernandez — that patrician raconteur of Spanish Manila — recalled how, in 1912, his nephew Antonio Roxas de Ayala [son of the first cousins Pedro Pablo Roxas y de Castro and Carmen de Ayala y Roxas] had urged him to come to their house quickly by telephone. Felix rushed to the Roxas-de Ayala residence [designed by his father, Felix Roxas y Arroyo] along Calle General Solano in the posh San Miguel District, was met by the Spanish maid named Marcelina, and proceeded directly to the masters’ bedroom where the grieving Roxas family was gathered. There, he was informed that his dear second cousin, Pedro Pablo Roxas, had already passed away in Paris and that his remains would have to be brought back to Manila. His nephew Antonio Roxas declared that he and his uncle Felix would leave for Paris immediately." (excerpt from Remembrance of things Awry)
Don Perico's grave in Paris. His remains would later be brought back to Manila to be interred in the family plot at San Agustín Church in Intramuros. © Paquito dela Cruz