Of Heroes and Relatives, Personally Speaking…

(Páco Roman: A Philippine Hero)

It’s National Heroes Day in the Philippines, and I just couldn’t help but think about a national hero very close to home.

Little is known of my grandfather Francisco “Paco” Velasquez Roman, the first cousin of my maternal grandmother Pacita Roman (Valladolid) who served the country in the rank of Colonel and accompanied Gen. Antonio Luna during the Filipino-American War.

When I was younger, in one of the instances Grandmother and I were together, she told me about her first cousin Paco Roman, who was in the group of Gen. Antonio Luna during the war when both of them were fatefully assassinated. In reverence to him and the other heroes of the Filipino-American War, many streets in Manila were named after them. The street (District, for that matter) named Paco was in honor of my said grandfather.

Like my maternal grandmother, Paco Roman was a product of a pure Spanish father and a mestiza mother. They were Tobacco magnates of old. It was not clear if Paco Roman in his developmental years resided in Malate with the family of Grandmother, next to the home of Sigrid von Giese (popularly known as the Filipina actress Paraluman). Interestingly so, she and her brother were their playmates.

Paco Roman graduated from Ateneo de Manila and pursued further studies in Hong Kong. I would surmise that it was where he met Luna and the rest of the Revolutionary Spirits and where the seeds of patriotism were sown in their hearts and sprouted afterwards, leading to their defense of their home country, the Philippines.

Paco Roman gained his military experience by first volunteering in the Spanish cavalry so as to not be suspected of aiding the revolutionary forces. Later on, he became aide-de-camp to Gen. Antonio Luna, and was accorded the rank of Colonel.

Historically, Paco Roman led the Second Battle of Caloocan where his forces were able to push the invading American forces back to Azcárraga Street in Manila.

Historical accounts leading to his assassination was heartfelt as he tried to save Gen. Luna who was targeted first by the assailants. He breathed his last in Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija, at the age of 29.

He married Juliana Piqueras, with whom he had two children, Juan and Carmen.

This is for my Roman and Valladolid relatives–something to be proud of in our lineage, among other things.

After all, it’s not every day when one could express her being related to one of the Philippines’ revolutionary icons.

Kathryn Valladolíd Ebrahim is an alumna of St. Scholastica’s College and of University of Santo Tomas; she currently works at Philippine International Convention Centre, where she began service 21 years ago.