A centennial commemoration of a great personal event
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2010-07-20
Tomorrow, July 21, will mark the centennial commemoration of a great personal event to the life of your Chair Wrecker and our family. We will mark the 100th birth anniversary of our late mother — Praxedes Macgregor Esposo.

If in life there are no coincidences, then our family saga is one instance when the Hand that guides the destinies of men went through great lengths to put together our family.

For Mom to be born, an adventuring Scotsman, Ian Collier Trotter-Macgregor, whose family financial situation didn’t require him to seek opportunities overseas — had to decide to choose to come to the Philippines and eventually settle here. Being British, Ian should have logically chosen overseas British territories like Singapore, Malaya, Hong Kong, South Africa (where his elder brother Robert went), Australia or New Zealand.

Ian was part of the management team of the company which built the railway link between Manila and Legazpi City in Southern Luzon. After the completion of the railway project, there was a big celebration in Legazpi City where my grandmother, Leoncia Cipriano, was among the invited guests. It was love at first sight for the Scottish adventurer and in those days you marched to a wedding tune if you as much as stare at a Philippine lassie.

Mom was fruit of that union. She had an elder sister who died after childbirth.
In those days, the Philippines was very much the Pearl of the Orient that it was then touted to be. If you log on to some of those YouTube rare footages of Philippine sceneries before the Second World War, you can understand why Ian Macgregor decided to call our country home — even shifting to Filipino citizenship. 

Golf being a Scottish invention, Ian excelled in the game and became the 1919 and 1920 back-to-back Philippine Open Golf Champion. Mom also won her fair share of ladies golf tournaments. Mom would tell us that when she won a golf tournament, friends of her father complimented him by saying: “It’s in the blood Mac!” Mom would always narrate to us how our late grandfather would characterize golf as a game where you really play with yourself and not against an opponent. Therefore, if you cheat in golf, you’re really just cheating yourself.

Mom loved and adored our Scottish grandfather, something which was easily seen by the way she narrated what to her were the happiest days of her life. Our grandfather was killed on St. Valentine’s Day, February 14, during the 1945 Battle for Manila, near the De La Salle College. Ironically, he was killed by a US shell fired upon the orders of a fellow Scot named Douglas MacArthur. Typically Celtic, Ian died on the eve of victory.

Mom considered Ian’s death as the first big personal tragedy that she experienced in life. The second personal tragedy would come to Mom a year later — on Christmas Day of 1946 when the SS Quina sank in Philippine waters. That was the sea tragedy where Mom lost her first husband, Avelino Osma, a sea captain. Imagine the emotional impact of two of the dearest persons in your life dying on St. Valentine’s Day and the other on Christmas Day.

In life not all tragic events result in entirely bad outcomes. It was because of the deaths of Ian Macgregor and Avelino Osma that our Mom and Dad — a widower — had that golden chance to meet. Our grandfather had shares of stock in the company where our father was a Vice President and Corporate Secretary, the Philippine Education Company or PECO. Without Ian Macgregor and Avelino Osma to transact business there for her, Mom was forced to go to PECO and there she met our Dad, Marcial Valbuena Esposo.

Like Ian Macgregor with Leoncia Cipriano, it was love at first sight when Dad beheld the image of Mom. Like a bloodhound with a throbbing heart, Dad secretly followed our Mom home and in less than an hour he was knocking at the door with flowers in hand and a mind focused on nothing less than a march to the altar to seal the deal.

For our grandmother Leoncia, Dad was the answer to her prayers. Our granny was worried when she saw the emotional impact on Mom of the two big losses of her life. Abuelita, as we used to call our granny, likened the Esposo courtship to a severe whirlwind. A well read man, Dad must have learned a lot from the Nazi Germany Blitzkrieg methods during World War II.

The Macgregor-Esposo union produced the four of us — William (in our Macgregor family, dating back to records of the 18th century, all first born males were named William), Carolyn (President Noy’s Media Trainer), Dorothy (ASEAN Region Corporate Communications Head of Bayer, now based in Singapore) and our late brother Richard.

Mom passed away on February 8, 1966 and Dad followed her to the pearly gates on February 8, 1970. Another coincidence would you say — dying on the same day? In our family, there are just too many of them for us not to believe that in life, there is no such thing as a coincidence.

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