The Love Story That Corrupted Philippine History For Decades

Pinay Thinks
8 min readMar 24, 2016


I watched Heneral Luna the movie alone and while I was very impressed and deeply moved by the unfolding of the story, I was left with one question in mind.

Who is Ysabel, in the movie, played by Mylene Dizon?

A decade ago, reading through my collection of Ambeth Ocampo’s history books, I learned that General Antonio Luna had a love affair with Ysidra Cojuangco. Their love story, in fact, has a deep repercussion in the current Philippine politics and the economy which is why it interests me. But since the book is not with me now, I turned to google.

I learned that Ysabel as depicted in the movie, was just a fictional lover of Heneral Antonio Luna. She was an amalgamation of the women that Antonio, a ladies’ man and loverboy, had.

This brings me again to google on the background of the legendary love story of the real Ysidra Cojuangco and General Antonio Luna which, if true, provides us a good understanding of the Philippines as it is today.

Family Background

Antonio Luna comes from a wealthy and intelligent family originally from the Ilocos Region. His brothers are the famed Juan Luna, who painted the Spolarium and Jose Luna, a medical doctor. He finished pharmacy and got a doctorate in Europe specialising in medical chemistry. He also had expertise in military tactics which brought him to his position as Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. He was feared by the Americans because of his military genius but he also earned the ire of a lot of his revolutionary comrades because of his very bad temperament.

This is the shrine of Juan Luna, brother of Antonio Luna in Badoc, Ilocos Norte

Ysidra also known as Ysila (slightly sounding similar to Ysabel in the movie) is the daughter of a Chinese carpenter and artisan from China named, Co Yu Huan, who was later baptized as Jose “Ingkong” Cojuangco through Roman Catholic rites. She is the eldest of three. She is followed by Melecio and Chanita. Melecio got married, but Chanita became a spinster like her.

The Love Story and the Treasure Trove

Ysidra’s father built staircases for the priests in Malolos. He also built a house there which they retained even as the whole family moved to Paniqui, Tarlac in 1896. The house of Ysidra’s family was used by the Malolos Congress, which opened in September 15, 1898. Antonio Luna was a member of the congress and used to sleep there.

Ysidra and Antonio Luna must have met in Paniqui, Tarlac during one of Luna’s trips as he controlled the railways during the revolution. They must have trysted in both Tarlac and Malolos (in Ysidra’s family’s house).

Luna as the Chief of Staff, collected gold and silver from Pampanga and Ilocos as a salary for his men. On several occasions, Luna brought caskets of these treasures to Ysidra in Tarlac for safe keeping and because he also planned to establish the revolutionary capital there.

It is said that Ysidra in her 30’s must have been pregnant or had given birth before General Antonio Luna was assassinated on June 5, 1899. Three days before he died, Ysidra received another batch of treasure for safe keeping. The treasure was an assurance and insurance that he was going to marry her.

When Antonio Luna died, the First Republic was on the run, the revolutionary army was defeated by the Americans and disbanded. The Americans then were inquiring about the gold, which Ysidra and her family hid. The contemporaries of Antonio Luna also suspected that the wealth was with Ysidra as well.

To dispel the rumors circulating in the region and protect them from the threat of the Americans and former revolutionaries who are pursuing the treasure, the Cojuangco family creatively stirred a dummy story to confuse the public. The family said that Ysidra gave birth to a love child with a Chinese mestizo who died before he can marry her. According to them, the love child died in infancy.

Who is the real love child of Antonio Luna and Ysidra Cojuangco

Ysidra put her son on “adoption” and raised by her brother Melecio who married Tekla Chichioco. They had four children Jose, Juan, Antonio and Eduardo. Antonio Cojuangco is the name of the love child (obviously).

Juan and Eduardo were born and conceived at the time when Luna was not present in the Philippines to impregnate her, so it could not be them. Only Jose and Antonio will coincide with Antonio Luna’s presence in the Philippines. But we are left focus on Antonio instead of Jose because of the following circumstances.

All proof wiped from the face of the earth

Luna’s contemporaries alleged that the source of the Cojuangco fortune is the revolutionary treasure trove. But it could not be proven as all proof have already been obliterated, but we are left now with more raging suspicions.

Among the four sons of Malachi Cojuangco, it is the only Antonio’s exact date of birth that is unknown. The records of Antonio’s birth were erased in all registries. In Ateneo where Antonio Cojuangco studied, the entire 1918 Annual graduates listed only the year of births of graduates. Antonio was listed as born in 1899. The years before and after this, they listed the complete birthday — year, month and date for all the graduates. Similarly, the church’s registry was missing, specifically for the year 1877 to 1902. In the tombstone of Antonio Cojuangco in the family’s mausoleum, his Birthdate is not indicated so with his descendants while the rest of his brothers had.

Uncanny Resemblance

Antonio Luna comes from a highly intelligent and academically achieving family, whereas, the Cojuangcos are indifferent to academics.

But among all children of Melecio Cojuangco, Antonio was different. He finished a doctor of medicine, an interest he shared with his father General Antonio Luna and his uncle Jose Luna. The rest of the Antonio Cojuangco descendants were also different from the Cojuangco clan as they were scholastic achievers. Ramon, son of Antonio Cojuangco graduated Cum Laude at Fordham University, his son Tonyboy (grandson of Antonio Cojuangco and the partner of Gretchen Barreto) graduated summa Cum Laude with a degree in economics in Ateneo.

General Antonio Luna and Antonio Cojuangco also shared common features such as the lower pout on the lower lip, bushy eyebrows on the right side and less pronounced pencil-thin eyebrows on the left, their right eyes are also round and almond shaped and their left eyes are small, slant and located lower than those on the right. Ramon and his son Tonyboy shared the same temperament with General Antonio Luna.

Please see google images to compare their images as I have reservations grabbing photos due to copyright restrictions.

Where is the body of General Antonio Luna

His body disappeared and can neither be found in Batac where his family originated or in Cabanatuan where he was assassinated.

When his alleged son Antonio Cojuangco died during a massacre in 1945. He was buried in Laloma Quezon City. His remains were transferred later to the Cojuangco family’s mausoleum. But Antonio Cojuangco shared his tomb with another — the remains of his Chinese amah or the yaya. But is it really the amah or the yaya or could it be somebody else?

Could it be possible that Ysidra Cojuangco collected the remains of her lover General Antonio Luna to be interred with the remains of their son Antonio Cojuangco?

The Cojuangco Fortune

With the death of Ysidra’s father, Jose “Ingkong” and her brother Melecio who died in an altercation with the Americans. Ysidra became the head of the family. She bought thousands of hectares of land, controlled the trade of the region and lent money to planters who cannot pay her back thus she gained more lands from their collateral.

Their neighbors cannot imagine how Ysidra can come up with such wealth because not only that the Cojuangco Clan, were just doing rice trading, milling and lending but at that time the economy was down and there was drought.

The Cojuangcos also established the Paniqui Sugar Mills, a stock brokering firm and the first bank in the country, the Philippine Bank of Commerce, wholly owned by Filipinos.

It is estimated that the combined assets of Ysidra Cojuangco Clan now totals to 200 billion pesos.

Controlling Philippine Politics and Economy

Ysidra now took care of the four sons of Melecio Cojuangco.

Antonio Cojuangco, her real son died early and is only survived by Ramon Cojuangco and later had a son named Tonyboy Cojuangco who owned PLDT.

Juan Cojuangco was married but had no legitimate children.

Jose Cojuangco, begat, Ceferino (stillbirth), Pedro, Josephine, Teresita, Carmen (died during infancy), Corazon, Jose and Maria Paz. Of historical note is Teresita who married Ricardo Lopa (who owns the Pulse Asia Survey*), Jose or Peping (who owns the political party UNA supporting Jejomar Binay and Gregorio Honasan ) and Corazon Cojuangco whose son Benigno Aquino III now current president of the Republic of the Philippines, owns the Liberal Party supporting the candidacy ofMar Roxas and Leni Robredo). When Cory took over the country after the EDSA revolution, she sold the companies she sequestered from Marcos and cronies to the family of her sister Teresita Lopa on a bargain. She further gave extra favors to her relatives and nephews with the Philippine Airlines and PLDT shares of stocks. She also gave ABS-CBN back to the Lopezes without a single cent. ABS-CBN was salvaged by the Marcos government because they were mired in debt.

Eduardo Cojuangco begat Eduardo also called “Danding” Cojuangco and Merceditas. Merceditas is the mother of Gilberto “Gibo” Teodoro, who ran in the 2010 presidential elections but was not supported by his uncle Danding. Danding Cojuangco now owns shares of San Miguel Corporation using the coco levy fund. He also owns the National Peoples Coalition (NPC), who is also supporting the candidacy of Grace Poe and Chiz Escudero. Danding supported his nephew, Benigno “Noynoy Aquino in the 2010 presidential election. He now owns Liberty Company that monopolizes the internet frequency of the country of which Grace Poe’s husband is working for.

The big corporations of the country and the government is virtually controlled and owned by the Cojuangco family. The list above is just the tip of the iceberg. The capital of the Cojuangcos can be traced back to the alleged revolutionary treasure trove of the KKK, which was supposed to be the salary of the men fighting for the freedom of the Philippines.

This is my summary of the Antonio Luna and Ysidra Cojuangco’s love story and interpretation of the accounts made from the following sources. Please click on the link below for details.

The Heneral and Ysidra love story. FROM A DISTANCE By Carmen N. Pedrosa (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 17, 2015.

Inside Antonio’s Secret Love Affair with Ysidra Cojuangco by Filipiknow.

Library of the Most Controversial Files.

Philippine Defense Forum. The Love Story of General Antonio Luna and Ysidra Cojuangco. Asia’s Finest Discussion

Asia’s Finest Discussion FOrum. KKK Treasures Source of Wealth of the Cojuangco Family.

Untold Story. Scandals during the Corazon Aquino Administration.


  • I wrote SWS Survey in my original post. I kind of interchange one from the other because they have interlocking directorates anyway. For further details, read link below.

Original Headline: The Love Story of Heneral Antonio Luna and Ysidra Cojuangco: Why the Filipinos Should Know

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