Chick Parsons and My Father
Chick Parsons was a good friend of my father, Antonio J. Beltran y Ayala. Not only did he work with him at La Insular but belonged to several many social organizations with him. Chick, having lived so long in the Philippines, spoke Tagalog and perfect Spanish.
It was during the occupation. La Insular, being a Spanish company, was left alone by the Japanese. Not only that but the Spanish owners didn’t really pay much attention either. When the “big boss” went back to Spain in 1941 my father was promoted from Sales Manager to General Manager. It was difficult to go regularly go to the office so my father would often just let the “live-in” overseer run the place while he conducted business from home. A Japanese “supervisor” was there as well.
Sometimes my father would talk to my mother in whispers. He didn’t want the rest of the family to hear anything or know anything because it would be too dangerous. I shared an upstairs bedroom with Abuelita which was right next to my parents’ bedroom (the house, still standing, is on the corner of Paris & Leon Guinto (Pennsylvania). He knew if Abuelita found out, she would be too nervous but I would stand close to the wall and listen when my parents talked.
I heard my father tell my mother how Chick came to his office one day when the Japanese overseer was there. My father introduced Chick to the Japanese but Chick was so dark from being out in the sun–and was dressed like a Filipino in a barong and hat–that the Japanese didn’t pay any attention. I remember my father telling my mother that the “Jap” was stupid. I believe my father gave Chick cigarettes and other supplies for the guerrillas. This was not the only time Chick went to see my father. He was always dressed like a Filipino.
The guy who “smuggled” Chick into Manila was also a Spanish-speaking friend of my father but I forget his name. I do remember my father telling my mother that he’d see Chick on the streets around Manila and recognized him. He said, “That Chick — I saw him on the streets today. He is so daring.” Other times my father would say “I saw Chick again today.” My mother replied, “How is he?” My father would laugh and say ‘he’s all right but he looks like a native. I see him all over the place. He’s going all over Manila dressed like a native with a barong and a Filipino hat.”
I don’t know how involved my father was with the Guerillas besides giving cigarettes to Chick. It was dangerous as there were Filipinos who would report you to the Japanese authorities. I do remember the guerrillas coming to the house. My father would talk to them in Tagalog and give them fruit and maybe medicine. I was worried.
One time there was a guerrilla who had been injured in the leg by a Japanese sword and lost the use of the leg. He was in such pain. My father helped carry him in the house and treated him.
I don’t know what my father did but I do know he helped the guerrillas. What I do remember is my father laughing at how Chick didn’t even look or sound like an American anymore (when he saw him during the War).
I don’t remember being introduced to Chick until after the war. He gave “Herman” (my fiancé) a job at Luzon stevedoring at my father’s behest.
—-[here follows an email expansion of above from Bob Hansen, son of the above writer]:
Nov. 28, 2007
I am still struggling with lucidity so I won’t say too much just yet. However, I did want to give you some more background.
When I was looking through the old Excelsior Magazines I came across several pictures of and mentions of your father. It seems he was in the mix of just about everything in the early 1930’s. Of course he knew my Grandfather from La Insular but your father is also depicted in a photo of an event at the Casino Espanol which was my Grandfather’s favorite hang-out until the day he died. Obviously they moved in the same social circles.
My grandfather was Antonio J. Beltran y Ayala (the Ayala is to distinquish him from the multitude of other Beltrans). He appears to have graduated from DeLaSalle in about 1922-24. According to my mother, the good Christian Brothers used their connections to get him a job as a secretary at La Insular. I can’t say when he actually started working there but he was listed as the “Sales Manager” in the Manila City Directories of the periods 1936-1941. He became General Manager when the “Spanish Guy” went back to Spain in 1941. Chick’s oral history recalled that he was tasked with straightening out the Accounts Receivable and Accounts Payable side of La Insular which would certainly put him in regular contact with my Grandfather as sales manager. Now my question is “what came first.”? Was my grandfather’s promotion a consequence of Chick’s “fixing what was wrong” or was he the “fix” itself. We may never know.
My grandfather’s brother “Tito Feling” Rafael Beltran y Ayala started his working life as a cashier for Ynchausti & Co., also with the kind assistance of the good brothers. I believe he worked for La Carlotta Sugar Central. This would also have put Tito Feling in contact with the Elizalde Brothers (and your father) since he worked directly for them. At the end Tito Feling was the most Senior Executive at Elizalde who was not an Elizalde. I grew up hearing the names of the brothers bandied about. In the 70’s and 80’s Don Manolo was not someone distant but someone my Uncles reported to directly.
Tito Feling was also involved with Casino Espanol. Both my Grandfather and Tito Feling also golfed at Wack-Wack but I don’t know the extent of their involvement in other activities which may have included your father.
With respect to their involvement with Guerilla activies I’m still trying to sort that out. Gustavo Ingles noted that Elsa O’Farrell’s involvment with the Guerillas was a result of “peer pressure” from other’s in the music department at UP. Essentially he said that her instructor in Violin was leader of a guerilla faction and threatened her family if she refused to cooperate. Elsa was my grandfather’s second cousin so I don’t know if this was the “family” threatened or maybe on her mother’s side. etc.
As I’ve told you already, my mother’s recollections are accurate as far as the events are concerned. She led a very sheltered life and would not have said guerillas came to the house unless they actually did. I would say that Chick would not have gone to my grandfather at La Insular just for cigarettes. There must have been something else going on. I’ll have to give my Australia-based relatives a call and see what they remember.
Take good care,