Thursday, June 19, 2014

A 1/8 Filipina (In a historical, not genetic, sense) is now Spanish Queen

The newly crowned 1/8 Filipina Queen, Letizia


On June 19, 2014, His Royal Highness Felipe, Prince of Asturias, succeeded his father, His Majesty Juan Carlos, as King of Spain. Prince Felipe thus became King Felipe VI. For the history and genealogy buff like myself this was a very auspicious moment in terms of Spanish and Filipino relations.

For one thing, Felipe reminds us of the origin of the name of the Philippines, derived from the name of the crown prince of Spain at that time. More than 400 years after Spanish colonization our country still carries the name of that former crown prince, which has once again come to life as the name of the new Spanish king.

But the most interesting thing that can be seen from the ascension of King Felipe VI is the fact that his wife, the former TV newscaster Letizia Ortiz, now became Queen Letizia and with that fact also became the first woman with roots to the Philippines to be queen.

True enough, bloggers from all parts of the Philippines have been trumpeting the fact that a 1/8 Filipina has become Queen. For many years since the commoner Letizia won the heart of Felipe and married him the blogging community has been proclaiming Letizia as another pride of the Filipino people.

While I am all proud with the ascension of King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia, and I can be proud of the possibility of a part-Filipina becoming a Queen, I once more caution people from jumping to the wrong conclusion with regard to the new Spanish queen consort's roots.

First off, as much as I hate to debunk the happy beliefs of many Filipinos, Queen Letizia is not a Filipina, per se. Her grandmother, the late Enriqueta Rodriguez de Rocasolano, has been erroneously described in Letizia's wikipedia writeup as "a half-Filipino" which is a little misleading.

While it is true that the Rodriguez side of Queen Letizia's family tree has some roots to the Philippines, their relation to the country is more residential than genetic. Letizia's great-great-grandparents went to the Philippine colony in the mid-19th century because they were part of the growing republican movement during the reign of Queen Isabella II. According to Mariló Suárez, author of the book Los Ortiz, Enrique Rodriguez, Queen Letizia's great-grandfather, was born in the Philippines to a Spanish couple. The Rodriguez family later returned to the Spanish peninsula and Enrique later married Maria Paloma Figueredo, who sold fish in the market in Oviedo, Asturias, Spain. Their daughter, Enriqueta Rodriguez Figueredo, later married Francisco Rocasolano Camacho and they had a daughter, Maria de la Paloma Rocasolano Rodriguez, who in turn married Jesús José Ortiz Álvarez. Paloma and Jesus Ortiz are the parents of the new

Historically, Queen Letizia's great-grandfather Enrique Rodriguez was indeed Filipino, in the sense that Spaniards born in the Philippine colony in those times were called Filipino or Insulares, as opposed to those born in Spain, who were called Peninsulares. The native inhabitants were called indios.

So, by some historical twist we can say that a 1/8 Filipina now sits as Queen Consort of Spain, and in the future a 1/16 Filipina will be crowned Queen Leonor (eldest daughter and heiress presumptive of the Spanish crown). While not Filipino by blood, the coronation of Letizia as queen consort is another reminder of how interesting genealogy is. So maybe today we have a part-Filipino by virtue of historical racial classification become Queen. In the future, with so many Filipinos marrying into other nationalities, we would have a Filipino ascend to a throne somewhere in the world.

But for the meantime,

Long live the new King of Spain, Felipe VI!
Long live the new Queen of Spain, Letizia!

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