Heritage advocate and prime mover of local history studies

Photographs Courtesy of Jun V. Redor and Santa Rosa Studies Center Tiongco guiding a guest in an ancestral house. Inset: Nonia Tiongco founded the Santa Rosa Studies Center.

September 20, 2022

It was serendipitous and providential that a lady who devoted her life to her beloved home city of Santa Rosa, Laguna, passed away last 23 August, the eve of the feast day of Saint Rose of Lima, after whom the city was named.

That lady is Antonia “Nonia” D. Tiongco, a trailblazer in the promotion and preservation of Santa Rosa’s history, culture, and heritage.

Fondly called Tita or Ma’am Nonia by friends and acquaintances, Tiongco was born in Santa Rosa on 13 June 1946 and grew up in the city’s poblacion area which she once described as a “veritable living museum.”

She lived in one of nine heritage houses in the poblacion where the “church, school, and plaza are all within short walking distances.”

Their house, she said in an article published in a national daily in 2010, is “home to generations of strong, determined, community
-involved family members, a continuum of the creative minority without which a society cannot grow, be relevant or responsive.”

True to her character of being determined

and dedicated to all things related to her city, Tiongco founded the Santa Rosa Studies Center in 2008 and was its director from its inception to the time of her death. She was also the treasurer of the Kapisanan ng mga Bahay Saliksikan sa Bansa or Kabansa, an organization of local historical studies centers in the Philippines.

In Santa Rosa, Tiongco served as the city’s tourism officer from 2006 to 2007. She was an active participant in numerous history conferences and cultural events in the country.

A number of institutions have sent their words of sympathy to the family of Tiongco and hailed her as a passionate, honest, and reliable historian and cultural worker.

The National Historical Commission of the Philippines and the Local Historical Committees Network said that since the founding of the LHCN in 2013, Tiongco was an “honest and a reliable champion of heritage and local history.”

Tiongco with members of the UST.

“Under her leadership and dedication, many projects were successfully undertaken by her organization that enriched the local history of Santa Rosa, Laguna and the Philippines,” said NHCP and LHCN in a joint statement.

“We hope that the spirit of heritage and local history will continue burning in your memory,” the agencies added.

The Cavite Studies Center of the De La Salle University-Dasmariñas and the Cavite Historical Society said Tiongco, who was a founding board member of Kabansa, was passionate in her
cultural work.

“Ms. Tiongco,  true to her commitment in furthering the local history and culture of Santa Rosa, Laguna and in helping and supporting her co-cultural workers in the Philippines, became instrumental in LGU-NGO (local government unit-non governmental organization) collaboration, strengthening national identity thru local history seminar-workshops and forging linkages to continue her advocacy on local cultural tourism,” said CSC and CHS in a statement posted by NHCP commissioner Manny Calairo in his Facebook page.

The organizations added, “Ms. Tiongco was a very passionate cultural worker; her contributions to Philippine heritage preservation will forever be remembered.”

In a statement, Kabansa also thanked Tiongco for her service and dedication to the organization.

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