Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Dr. Janette Garin, Dengvaxia, and President Digong Duterte

As her Department of Health profile states, former Health Secretary Janette P. Loreto-Garin is a physician and a state legislator for 9 years, shepherding the Magna Carta for Women, Cheaper Medicines Law, and the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law among many others. She was trained as a medical technologist and after medical school had a background on Obstetrics and Gynecology. Her passion for public health, specifically that of women and children, led her to Masters Degree in Business Administration focused on healthcare systems.

In tracing her genealogy, one could find certain ironies. For one, her married name, Garin, is a Spanish last name that is derived from the Basque GARÍN, a variant of the Germanic name Garindo or Garino, which both have been used as a surname and a first name throughout history. Furthermore, Garindo or Garino comes from Guarino, itself derived from Warino, Waran, and Warin, which means “protect” or “defend”. Secondly, she is further admired for her understanding the plight of women, children, the elderly, and the less privileged as well as being a front liner in advancing the advocacy on maternal health and child mortality.

For somebody who has been accused of endangering the lives of Filipino children due to the Dengvaxia vaccine, one could definitely not miss the irony in her genealogical information and the Dengvaxia issue.

But one thing that is being left out here is that there is another interesting connection to Janette Garin: in another ironic twist, President Duterte, who heads the current administration which has been investigating her for her involvement in the purchase of the controversial vaccine under the previous administration, just happens to be her cousin. Or, to be precise, President Duterte and Garin's father, Jose Loreto, are half third cousins, which means Dr. Garin is President Duterte's half third cousin once removed. In the simplistic generational count in Cebuano, Garin is Duterte's pag-umangkon sa pag-agawan.

The Garin-Duterte family connection
A brief discussion of President Duterte's descent from the Veloso clan has already been discussed in a previous article. The Velosos were an old family from Cebu that in the words of its family historian, Cirilo Veloso, "and was one of the political families that have grown so big and extensive that they have established family associations to organize reunions and keep in touch with each other; in their case, the Veloso Association of the Philippines whose members count many important politicians."

Indeed, the Velosos truly are a marvel when it comes to branching out to become another political dynasty. In Garin's case, she belongs to the Leyte branch of the Velosos who married into the Loreto, Petilla, Cari, families. Garin's father, Jose, was a mayor of Baybay, Leyte. Her brother, Carlo, served as Vice-Governor of Leyte. Uncles, aunts, and cousins also served (or serve) as house representatives, governor, vice-governor, mayor, and other positions in and around Baybay and Palo, Cebu. And in the grand tradition of the Velosos marrying into other political families, Janette Loreto also allied herself with another established political dynasty, the Garins of Iloilo.

Janette's husband, Iloilo 1st district representative Oscar "Richard" S. Garin, Jr., belongs to the Garin dynasty of Iloilo headed by Oscar Sr. In the last election alone, Iloilo's 1st District remained the bailiwick of the Garins. Oscar Sr. was elected mayor of the town of Guimmal  while the matriarch, Ninfa, became mayor of the municipality of San Joaquin. Janette's sister-in-law, Christine, was elected vice governor of Iloilo while his another in-law, Sharon, won as a representative of the Aambis-owa Party-list.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Uson, A Unique and Tough Name

ASEC. Mocha Uson (Photo from Mocha's FB Page)
I have kept my silence about Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson ever since her appointment to a government post. For me, as long as she was given a task which I felt she could do, who was I to judge? Plus, I had faith in President Duterte's choices. So while I read here and there the many issues and insults thrown her way by the Liberal Party, the intelligentsia, and mainstream media, I never made a comment. Until now. I feel that people have become too focused on the shallow and the mundane and have forgotten the bigger picture. And I feel that we have become a nation very quick to judge, to impugn, and to malign, not caring if we have all the facts on hand. Thus, my genealogical two cents' worth.

My comment, still, is genealogical, because that is where I am best in doing. Ever since I started doing genealogy I always believed that we are shaped by what happened to our family's past. Naturally, it does not mean that we are stuck in whatever present situation our family has left us in, but it will always be there to influence and lead us, whether to something magnificent or evil depends on us.

Now, back to Mocha. I have been trying to find our more about her genealogy because I had this feeling, just like President Duterte, that her name would have some very interesting and profound meaning. It has taken me more than 2 months of online research and I finally struck gold.

The town of Uson in the province of Huesca (Photo from Google Maps)
According to the Instituto de Historia y Heraldica Familiar, the surname USON is a variant of the Spanish family name Usón, which is an Aragonese name that is considered rare with very few distribution in Spain and is mostly found in the province of Zaragoza. It is derived from the place-name Uson, the name of a small town of the province of Huesca, derived in turn from the Basque voice -uson, meaning "field of grass" (campo de gramas).

The Cynodon dactylon
Simple as it may sound, when researched further, the name Uson is associated with a particular grass with the scientific name, Cynodon dactylon, which is better known as Bermuda grass. What is interesting is that the Bermuda grass is really an apt representation of ASEC. Mocha.

For one, Bermuda grass, just like many other plants, can be a weed or a desirable species. It is extremely fast-growing and tough and thus making it popular and useful for sports fields because, even when damaged it will recover very quickly. 

The Bermuda grass best thrives in warm temperate climates, because it can survive in places where few other grasses can. And perhaps, because of this natural survival trait, it is also highly aggressive, crowding out most other grasses and invading other habitats, and has become a hard-to-eradicate weed in some areas.

As I have always said, surnames often mean more to the bearer than we know. ASEC. Mocha's last name clearly is an obvious and apt description of her. Just like the Bermuda grass from where her name is derived, Mocha has been really tough and very strong despite her detractors' constant attacks. And as stated - even when damaged it will recover very quickly - well, hasn't she bounced back from all the controversies and lies peddled against her?

But the best description I have found of her surname that really suits her is this: "it can survive in places where very few others can".