The First Philippine Aranetas

RolandOscar Araneta
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According to historical accounts and testimonies obtained from the elders in the family, the Philippine Aranetas originated from the Basque region of Northern Spain.

In 1723, during the Galleon Trade, two brothers named Baltazar de Araneta and Don Jose de Araneta arrived in Manila aboard the Spanish Galeón ,"La Sacra Familia". They came from the Basque region of Spain by way of Acapulco, Mexico. This is, however, not conclusive, as some members of the family disputed that the two are not brothers as Don Jose de Araneta might have been born in Gipuzkoa, while Baltazar de Araneta was born in Mexico.

There are many conflicting testimonies about the beginning of the first Philippine Aranetas. Many of these stories were passed down verbally from generation to generation, so it is more likely than not, that these stories have changed along the way. Some has it that Don Jose de Araneta was born in Zamboanga. If he was born in Zamboanga, he therefore can not be the same Don Jose de Araneta who arrived in Manila in 1723. Other stories have it that an Araneta from the Basque region of Spain first settled in Zamboanga, while others say that the first Aranetas in the Philippines began with two brothers from Mexico, who were priests. Until documentations to substantiate these stories are found, the true facts will remain unknown.

From articles written by Santiago Gomez [El Galeón de Manila en el siglo XVIII, Navios de la Carrera de Filipinas] in reference to Baltazar de Araneta and Juan de Araneta. To wit: ''The Galeón Nuestra Senora del Pilar de Zaragosa", under the command of General Baltazar de Araneta and his ship master, Captain Jose Antonio de la Madrid, sailed from Cavite on July 31, 1736, accompanied by the flagship N.S. Cavadonga, and that it arrived in Acapulco, Mexico, four months later. The same ship returned to Manila on August 20, 1739, (on board the ship was the newly appointed governor to the Philippines Gaspar Antonio de la Torre).

Baltazar de Araneta served the Spanish government as Regidor of the Cabildo and Secretary of the Charitable Fraternity of the Misericordia in Manila. He married Manuela de Aguirre. Baltazar de Araneta died in Manila in 1750. One line of the Araneta family descended from him.

Also, there was the Galeón Santisima Trinidad y Nuestra Senora del Buen Fin, familiarly known as El Pederoso (The mighty). The governor, Jose Francisco Ovando y Solis ordered its construction in the yards of Bagatao (island of Luzon), to replace the Nuestra Senora de Cavadonga that was captured by British Admiral George Anson, commander of the frigate HMS Centurion. Built in 1751, it was one of the largest ships in the islands. Its first trip departed in mid 1751 under the command of General D. Francisco Ustariz, and his ship master, Captain Juan de Araneta. Without any setbacks, it returned to the Philippines in the spring of 1752.

A passage quoted from the book (Islas Filipinas: Mindanao Vol.11), by Benito Francia and Julian Gonzales Parrado, translated from the Chabacano dialect by Datu Michael Mastura, established two facts: First, Don Jose de Araneta served the Spanish Politico-Military Government of Mindanao based in Zamboanga City. Second, he served as interpreter between the Spanish colonial government and the Sultan of Maguindanao, along with Placido Alberto de Saavedra. Another passage from the book revealed that in 1746, Don Jose Araneta was executed in Sulugan, Mindanao, nowadays known as Anuling, in Cotabato, Philippines. There are conflicting information drawn from translations of various documents pertaining to him.

Before the turn of the century, two of Don Jose's sons, Mathias Araneta and Vicente Araneta left Zamboanga province for Iloilo. They settled in Parian [Molo]. Don Jose's other son, Benito, followed them afterwards. Years later, Vicente Araneta, with his family, moved and established their residence in the province of Negros Occidental, starting the Negros branch of the family.

The Philippine Aranetas of today are descendants of Don Jose de Araneta and Baltazar de Araneta.

References:

Portal Archivos General de Indies (Por Santiago Gomez).
Islas Filipinas: Mindanao (Por Benito Francia and Julian G. Parredo).

Copyright 1997

Footnote: The Galeón Nuestra Senora de Guia, arrived in Manila from Acapulco, Mexico six years later in August 9, 1729 and not 1723, as circulated from a leaflet during the Araneta grand reunion in Iloilo in 1993. (Source Archivo General de Indies, pp.32-33, Ruta Acapulco - Filipinas). The Galeón La Sacra Familia, arrived in Manila in 1723. (See source Overview of Galleons to / from Philippines, 1565 - 1815).

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