The Zaragozas are an old family whose lineage can be traced back to the Cepeda family of Sta. Teresa de Avila. A relative of the mystic saint, Gen. Agustin de Cepeda arrived with Legaspi in Manila and became its mayor in 1657. Another relative, Agustina Zaragoza fought against the French at the age of 18 in 1808, to become the toast of the Spanish Army.
The family’s Philippine bloodline was begun by Rafael Zaragoza, who was assigned to Nueva Ecija to protect the Spanish interest on the burgeoning tobacco industry in the Philippines. He fathered two children, Jose and Miguel Zaragoza. Jose married Rosa Roxas of Quiapo, with whom he had a son, Elias--the first Filipino to graduate from Yale University in 1906.
I first heard of the Pampanga connection of the Zaragozas of Quiapo from stories in Guagua about the spectacular Santo Sepulcro of the Velez-Infante that has been processioned annually every Good Friday, for over two centuries. A member of the family, Rosario Velez R. Infante would go on to meet and marry Elias Zaragoza, thus establishing the Guagua-Quiapo ties.
The family history is recounted in one journal, written by a descendant, Arch. Ramon Ma. Zaragoza, entitled “From Guagua to Quiapo”. Ramon’s father, incidentally , is the 2014 National Artist for Architecture, Jose Ma. Zaragoza, renowned for designing sacred structures including his masterpiece, the Sto. Domingo Church. In his family chronicle,
Zaragoza called to mind those bygone days when his forebears participated in Quiapo fiesta processions, fielding the twin carrozas of Sta. Teresa de Avila and San Juan de la Cruz.
He also wrote about the religious artworks that filled their ancestral houses, which survived numerous catastrophes and saved by current family members—including the prized La Dormicion dela Virgen Maria—a most exquisite antique ivory treasure that is now under the care of Arch. Ramon.
With Arch. Ramon Ma. Zaragoza.