Friday, February 6, 2015
Chapter 1: Ancestral Roots of the Nieva Clan of Marinduque
One of the many joys I experienced as a blogger is to share writings of other writers in my blogs. The following series of articles is written by Rene Nieva- my wife's( Macrine Nieva Jambalos) first cousin whose roots are also from Marinduque. At the end of this posting is a short biography of Rene.
AN INFORMAL HISTORY OF THE NIEVA FAMILY: ( First Draft by Rene Nieva*)Chapter 1
The first Nieva in Philippine History
It is not known whether the Nievas are descended directly from him but the first record of a Nieva in Philippine history was of a certain Spanish priest named Domingo de Nieva. De Nieva was born in Spain in 1563 in the town of Villoria in the province of Castilla northwest of Madrid. He entered the Dominican Convent of San Pablo in Valladolid. It would be a source of pride if he was our ancestor because, by all accounts, Fr. Nieva was a remarkable and admirable person.
It was in 1587 that Nieva, who was still a deacon at the time, joined the group of priests and deacons who sailed from Spain via Mexico to propagate the Catholic faith in the Philippines. It was only 66 years after Ferdinand Magellan first landed in the Philippines in 1521, followed by Ruy Lopez de Villalobos in 1543 and then Miguel Lopez de Legazpi in 1565 who finally succeded in colonizing the Philippines and putting the islands under Spanish rule.
Man of Great Virtue and Ability
According to Father Diego Aduarte, who wrote a history of the Dominicans in the
Philippines, Deacon de Nieva's first assignment was in the then newly-established vicariate of Bataan along with three Dominican priests. Father Aduarte singled out de Nieva as "a man of great virtue and ability", aside from being hard-working ("an enemy of sloth") and "with a great aptitude for languages". He learned Tagalog fast and before long was preaching to the natives in their own tongue. But being still a deacon, he could not hear confessions. Hence, upon reaching the requisite age of 25, de Nieva was ordained a priest in September 1588.
In 1590, the then Superior of the Dominican Province in the Philippines, Fr. Juan Cobo, assigned Fr. De Nieva from Bataan to the Parian mission in Manila to strengthen the said mission and hasten the conversion of the Chinese immigrants to Catholicism. Fr. de Nieva also learned Chinese very fast as he did Tagalog before. This again made him more effective in preaching to the Chinese community and convincing many of them to join the Catholic faith.
Helped produce first book in the Philippines
In 1593, Fr. de Nieva earned his place in Philippine history when he and another Dominican priest, Fr. Francisco Blancas de San Juan, produced and printed from wood blocks the first book in the Philippines, the Doctrina Christiana. They were assisted in doing so by a Chinese craftsman named Keng Yong, whom the Dominican fathers converted to Catholicism and given the Christian name of Juan de Vera. It was de Vera under whom Tomas Pinpin, the first Filipino printer, took apprenticeship and mastered the art of printing.
Helped found University of Santo Tomas UST
Fr. de Nieva went on to write and publish several devotional treatises in Tagalog and Chinese. In 1603, in recognition of his capability, he was elected Prior of the Santo Domingo Convent in Manila. In 1605, he and
another priest, Fr. Bernardo Sta. Catalina, helped the then Archbishop of Manila, Archbishop Miquel de Benavidez, in founding a seminary for Filipinos wanting to study for the priesthood.
The archbishop bequeathed P1,500, a huge fortune at the time, and his personal library which served as the nucleus of the seminary which opened six years later in 1611. The seminary was initially named Colegio de Nuestra Senora del Santisimo Rosario but was later renamed Universidad de Santo Tomas in honor of the foremost Dominican theologian St. Thomas Aquinas.
Died on way back to Spain
At the end of his three-year term as Prior, Fr. de Nieva was promoted Procurator of the Dominican Province in Manila and Rome. He set sail to go back to Mexico and on to Spain and Rome in 1606 after nineteen years in the
Philippines. However, he died on board the ship at the still young age of 43, the cause of which has not been recorded.
As earlier stated, it is not known whether the Nievas of today are direct descendants of Fr. Domingo de Nieva as it was not unlikely during those times for Spanish priests, being just human, to take on native women as mistresses and have children with them. Firstly, they were lonely, being far from their home country. Secondly, they were in the Philippines at an age when they were still in the height of their sexual prowess. Third, the native women must have been attracted to them being so tall, fair and and powerful and influential in the community. So it would not have been surprising if Fr. De Nieva had children by women from Bataan and Parian where he was assigned, one of whom would have been among our progenitors.
But if he was the ancestor of the Nievas, it comes as no surprise as many of his descendants seemed to have inherited his qualities of being competent and industrious and with an aptitude for writing and speaking in different languages, as he was described by his fellow Dominicans. I'm quite sure if it turns out he is our ancestor, we would be very proud of him. And even if we were not related to him by blood, we still would be proud that a man with the same Nieva surname lived once upon a time in the Philippines and played such an important and beneficial role in our history.
(Next Chapter. From Albay to Marinduque)
* Rene Nieva, is chairman and president of Perceptions Inc.,a Public Relations (PR) company organized in January 1987. Rene is an experienced PR professional who has worked with leading PR agencies in Manila and New York.
Today Perceptions is considered one of the country's leading PR and corporate communications agencies, counting some of the country's leading companies and the world's top multinational firms among its clients. It has won numerous local and international PR Awards, including the top PR award in the Philippines, the Grand Anvil Award, in 2003 and 2005.
Rene is now semi-retired and the daily management of Perceptions Inc. is under the good and capable hands of his son, Noel.