Juan Ledesma, 1907 - 1958

Cecy Manalo (interview Manila, April 1999)

"I was in the house and then they called to say that that had happened. The impression was that it was serious, the minute molten iron, a cauldron and sparks fell on him. They rushed him, as a matter of fact, he was supposed to have been brought to V. Luna, that's where they can really take care of burn victims. Manila Doctor was quite new then at that time, he was brought there. We visited him everyday, we were there. He had bandages and everything. At that time, they were already living here in Tamarind, we had been going to that house before. It's overlooking the golf club. So, that was a nice house, very nice… We would visit him (in the hospital) practically every day.

Never complaining. He kept saying (this is my purgatory). Somehow, before that, because of the accident, the plane accident, he had gone to confession in Iloilo, because that sort of gave him a jolt. Well, he was always religious, I would always see him in church, praying the rosary. (When they lived in Libertad), they would go to church in Harrison, Our Lady of Sorrows. At that time, there were no afternoon or evening masses, but I would see him kneeling in the back pew always with his rosary, by himself. I wouldn't see Lola Nena, I don't know where she was. Almost everyday, I would see him in some church… But any church I would see him: Redemptorist Church, very often at Harrison Church, Redemptorist (Baclaran) because there was no traffic, he would be there very often.

In the hospital, he could talk, only there was that stench of burnt flesh, and he was covered with an ointment, sebo de cacao? Or something like that, sebo de macho? Sebo de macho, because remember when you had a scar? They usually put it on your scars. Everytime we entered that room in the hospital, the smell was strong. He was covered with that. He had a bedsheet over his body. Lola Nena was not there very often, because they were trying to protect her from the sight or something. But it was my Mama who was always there and Christine, and Tessie.

The bedsheet was over him, it should stick, it was like gauze and always that ointment. And then when we were already praying the novena in the evening when we would go the Forbes Park house. Well, in the house, I remember Lola Nena. She didn't seem hysterical, she was stoic.

What I can remember next, very clearly, are the prayers, the novena prayers after the funeral, in the house in Forbes Park, every evening. We would all be gathered there and then all the families would smell of the ointment. Everybody smelled it, parang, as if it was really prevailing all over the room. He was visiting, most likely. Very strong, the smell, and he was never brought there (to the house), but everybody smelled it. Well, you know, we would look at each other (wondering about the smell)."


Juan L. Ledesma, who died the other day at 51, had been experimenting at his own private plant on an ore-smelting process that might have hastened the new era of industrialization in his country. His demise came in the midst of his quiet endeavor to help propel the economic development of the country, using his own money, his own time and his own personal effort without the usual fanfare and publicity.

A modest, self-effacing man although affluent, Mr. Ledesma worked hard for the sugar industry, pioneering in the technological aspects of production and when the industry reached its peak, just as quietly branched out into coffee, ramie and later, rubber production in Mindanao.

He could have been content with the agricultural empire that he had successfully carved out for himself. But a man of broad vision and boundless energy, he sought new fields, not for himself alone, but for the country as a whole. His ventures into the smelting industry, his latest, was typical of the man. His service to economic nationalism has been considerable.

Editorial – Daily Mirror, Aug. 9, 1958"

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