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The Umipig~Estalilla Family pages


Home | Maestro | Mamang


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RAMIRO ABELLERA ESTALILLA was born to Maj. Gregorio Edralin Estalilla, and Maria Abellera, a farming family of Spanish descent. His grandparents were Eusebio Estalilla and Paula Edralin of Batac, Ilocos Norte.


There are two versions as to how the family's Spanish line originated.


In one version, his grandfather, was said to have been the illegitimate child of a Spanish Catholic Priest with a local lass in the province of Batac. 


In another version, his mother, Maria Abellera, was a Spanish peninsulares whose family came to the colonies to prospect for farming lands.


In those times, a woman of Maria Abellera's standing was expected to marry into a respectable family, preferably a true Hispaņol. When Maria decided to marry Maj. Gregorio Edralin Estalilla, an indio and a member of the revolutionists, she went against her family's wishes and was therefore promptly disinherited. Her family eventually left to return to Madrid, leaving Maria to her chosen fate.


Gregorio and Maria raised their children as faithful Roman Catholics. When the fires of the Philippines's quest for independence began to spread, and along with it the separatist sentiments of the people against the Spanish friars and the Roman Catholic Church, Ramiro and his siblings joined the Iglesia Filipina Independiente and became participants in the revolution.
Maj. Gregorio Edralin Estalilla was killed at the battle in Malolos, Bulacan in an encounter with the forces of Gen. Douglas McArthur in March of 1899.

The family is related to the Edralin and the Valdez clans,  to Gen. Antonio Luna and to Artemio Ricarte, all of whom are from Batac, Ilocos Norte.   



Ramiro Estalilla studied (1923), at the Minnesota College of Law in Minneapolis, and was a special student (1923) of Military Science and Tactics at Saint Thomas College in Saint Paul, Minnesota. He later served as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army during the 2nd World War.


He learned the rudiments of escrima (a Filipino martial art using  wooden sticks as weapons) from his father , and later from his godfather, the radical Priest Father Gregorio Aglipay of Batac, Ilocos Norte. He took bambolia lessons (a variation of escrima) from an escrima master, Don Santiago Toledo (a traveling teacher of arnis) of Dagupan, Pangasinan, and later from the most respected teacher of Kabaroan, Don Mariano Rigonan of Batac, Ilocos Norte.


He taught his self developed style, Rigonan (a combination of Kabaroan and Bambolia martial arts which he named after his dearest teacher) from 1923 to 1968 to thousand of students both in the Philippines and in the United States.


Papang was already in his seventies when I met him in 1973. I was five years old then. Mamang took me home to Muņoz, Nueva Ecija for the summer.
He was a quiet old man who spent most of his time resting in his room on the first floor of the old house. Mamang and I occupied the second floor with its main room and two bedroom affair.
The second floor was made of sturdy, made-to-last accacia boards that were fitted together nicely, with small spaces in between to allow the woods to expand during the cold months. It also allowed natural ventilation which kept the house cool during the day.
Every night, before I go to bed, I would lie face down on the floor and sneak a peak at what Papang was doing in his room. He had all sorts of weapons in his room. I remember seeing a tabak, a Japanese sword, a gun, and some kamagong sticks. He also had lots of books in his room which he accumulated over the years, and pictures that documented his travels.
Among his prized possession was an old King James Version of the Holy Bible that he used to read by the gasera lamp, every night. Then there was the collection of books on literature which included The Tales of Kenjie, The Arabian Nights, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, a colelction of Mark Twain's short stories, The Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder, some books in Spanish, and Jose Rizal's Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, among others.
He gave me a copy of Pepe and Pilar to start me reading.
I was told that it was actually him and Mamang who took care of me from the fifth month and way up to my first birthday.
There was something about Papang that was bigger than life. Every morning I would find him widely awake and seated on his favortie chair, smoking his pipe. In his hand he would have his long wooden walking stick which, as I later found out, doubled as a weapon. He was an expert escrimador, a skill that he learned from his godfather, Fr. Gregorio Aglipay, and which he mastered and taught.
But what was most intriguing of Papang are his chest marks - a series of parallel lines that appeared like old wounds. Roy, my older brother asked him about it. He said he recieved them when he was a teen aged boy sleeping under a cayomito tree. He dreamed that a white person in green clothes and hat appeared to him and implanted enchanted asuge (quick silver) in his chest. The curiously dressed white person told him that it will protect him from all weapons made of metal.
Old stories told about Papang by some family friends narrates how he was once shot at the back but the bullets failed to even scratch his skin. Another tale has one of his enemies attacking him with a bolo which he survived without a wound.
Every old Filipino families have their share of anting-anting (amulet) stories. Ours is no different, afterall.