Monday, August 5, 2013

The Homecoming of Baby Jane Galinato

[If you happened to watch the heartwarming family reunion/homecoming story of the former 1960s child wonder Baby Jane in GMA 7’s 24 Oras last week, you must know, the coming home of Jane Galinato aka Baby Jane, after 51 long years, is not only the story of a daughter/sister/auntie coming back to the bossom of the Galinato family but also a coming home of a daughter of Bohol, back to the motherland.]

Galinato sisters reunite after 51 years (Jane Galinato in pink)
This story is a stuff of telenovelas. That, or Maalala Mo Kaya. (Or Magpakailanman, if you must.) It’s an ultimate story that will be a staple conversation of many a reunions for the Galinato family. Above all, it is a story of roots, of family, of love.

"In all of us there is a hunger, marrow deep, to know our heritage—to know who we are and where we came from. Without this enriching knowledge, there is a hollow yearning. No matter what our attainments in life, there is still a vacuum, an emptiness, and the most disquieting loneliness.
In every conceivable manner, the family is link to our past, bridge to our future."
 ---Alex Haley, Roots

When you flick open the Galinato Book, this famous Alex Haley (Roots: The Saga of an American Family) quote will greet you. The Galinato book contains the family tree, stories and photographs of the clan created by the union of Faustino P. Galinato, Sr. and Teofila Ampong Galinato.

This book, a treasure chest for the Galinato clan, was conceived as a visual accompaniment to the first Global Galinato Grand Gathering, aka GGGG, a gathering of 5 generations of the Galinato-Ampong clan from all over the world in July 2009. The GGGG, organized by the grandchildren of Faustino and Teofila Galinato, was the fruit of their long attempts of reviving the regular family reunions back in the 60s and 70s at the Galinato House along Palma Street this city. As the introduction by Elizabeth G. Lamdagan Haroun says, “It is a time to celebrate family the way Lola Pila and Tatang used to do every gathering at the sala of our ancestral house on Palma Street. It is a time to know the fourth and fifth generations. , to meet the third generation cousins, who once upon a time, were children who made Palma come alive... It is our fervent wish that the bonding and oneness will not end here but will continue for years to come.”

But little did they know, the Galinato Book did more than bring the family – that has since become global – together (again). The Galinato Book, whose slideshow version was posted online, solved a 50-year old family mystery.

Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

While this story could hardly be alluded to the 1962 psychological thriller, the question asked of Bette Davis’ character was a constant topic during the countless Galinato family gatherings.

Elizabeth’s sister, Amor Socorro L. Bogwill, relates how their elders used to always tell the story of their missing sister, Baby Jane.

(Now this is a part of the story where a customary disclaimer must be posted. The exact accounts of how Baby Jane is still being pieced together by the family. As most of the persons directly involved with the separation of the young Jane from her original family, the accounts shared here – collected from conversations with family members – will be vague with the specifics such as dates and ages. We might miss out some details or inadvertently get some of them wrong.)

Baby Jane, born Mary Jean B. Galinato, the 5th of eight children of Gallarza A. Galinato and Emiliana Bernados, was apparently borrowed from the family by the father’s Manila-based twin brother “Lory” whose second relationship was childless. The little girl Jane was a talented singer and an adorable performer and was given the showbiz name Baby Jane.

At about age 4, Baby Jane was brought to the United States by her Tito Lory and his wife/partner. (It is unclear whether or not Baby Jane’s parents had permission and consent when she was brought to the U.S.A., or just for the Manila visit.)
From then on, the Bernados-Galinato family never heard of Baby Jane anymore. They knew that she was brought the U.S.A. by the uncle Lory and their attempts at finding her and getting her back, with relatives in the U.S. helping in the search, never succeeded.

Jane would become the family’s lost daughter and sister, whose photo in the Galinato Book, remained that of a child (the last photograph the family had of Baby Jane).

The Bernados-Galinato family tree missing a photo of Mary Jean "Baby Jane" Galinato as an adult.

A Father’s Appeal: Please help me find my daughter

One can never really get over a missing daughter, sister, niece, cousin. The Galinatos and their extended families and friends all helped in seeking for the lost Galinato child.

One letter of appeal from the father Gallarza Galinato says:

“We just want to let her know that we did everything we possibly could to find her. Her brother and sisters are all married now and having good lives.”

“There’s not much time left in the world for us and we just want to see her and find out how she is doing and somehow let her know how much we love and miss her and that all this happened because of my nature as a brother to share a loved one for my brother’s happiness even for a short span of time.”

“Please help me find my daughter.”

A Galinato uncle would recount how, during his U.S. visit in the late 80s, he posted missing posters on a Texas community church’s bulletin board in the hopes of helping spread the word around the Filipino community.

There will be several stories of searching such as these.

The Galinatos’ search for Baby Jane spanned from the time of telegrams to the advent of the internet and, at last, Google and Facebook. The sisters would keep doing name searches for Mary Jean B. Galinato, Jane Galinato, etc. We know we’ve experienced doing this on Google and Facebook, searching for lost classmates, childhood crushes, relatives, exes.

A daughter finds her way back

Incidentally, almost a year ago, a curious young lady in the U.S.A. bumped into a family book online, the family name and origin matched her mother’s. And it was. But the delight of discovering and possibly connecting with family back in the homeland was not the real shocker.

Jane's memorabilia as a child star. (Photo Credit: Daughter Alisha's Facebook Page)

Baby Jane became Janie Gee and grew up simply as Jane Galinato after her childhood showbiz stint. (Photo Credit: Daughter Alisha's Facebook Page)
The mother of Alisha, Jane Zenaida Galinato Smith, in her childhood showbiz days was formerly Baby Jane, who then became the singing girl wonder Janie Gee in her pre-teen years, but stopped singing professionally before her teen years, ONLY daughter of Lori and Soni Galinato, now mother to three adult children Alisha, Sonia and Nathaniel – was met with a stirring news – she is not what she’s told she was.

After Alisha’s discovery, and with the real names of family members listed on the Galinato Book, proper Facebook name searches were made, Facebook personal messages and introductions sent, there you have – an epic Facebook reunion Mark Zuckerberg should be proud of.

Alisha, in her Facebook post relates:

“Last week, I made a very startling discovery about my mother's origin and past… This week has been a whirlwind of emotions and happiness as my mom has now been reunited (after 50 years!!!) with the family she never even knew she had!!!”

The Baby Jane, now found, and in this story, shall now be referred to as Jane Galinato, confirms her daughter’s post in the comments section (after queries of worried friends suggesting DNA tests, etc.).

“I do belong to the Galinato family…  just didn't know that I belonged to my Papa Lori's twin... I was raised to believe that I belonged to Papa Lori, and Mama Soni, though I do look more like I belonged to the twin's wife... I was just never told the truth, till now.”

Jane’s other daughter, Sonia, also joined in connecting online with the new-found family. She posted a Facebook album of some her mother’s pictures from her younger showbiz days.

Upon seeing the photos online, Jane’s sister, Marj Galinato commented, verbatim, “Wow mga kapatid at relatives sya na mismo he he he wala ng duda talaga sya na talaga ung sister ko hay thank u lord talaga..sayang hindi na nakita ni father and mother ha ha ha tuwang tuwa talaga ako lord salamat po…”

Indeed, the father’s plea was heard, but no longer for himself and Jane’s birth mother to enjoy. They have laid their hopes for the bittersweet reunion to be experienced by their children.

Another relative commented, “You know the whole family is still reeling from this and we are all hungry for
info on the "missing years"... These pictures help some.”


Very soon after the virtual family reunion, it was set. Jane must come home to the Galinato. The 2nd Global Galinato Grand Gathering, which was supposedly scheduled in 2012, has been moved prior to the finding of Jane, to July 26-28, 2013. Jane must come to the Philippines and attend.

Months later, plenty of online exchanges later, many a Facebook family introductions after, and after perhaps enough time for the deluge of emotions to equalize, Jane Galinato, after 51-years, has finally come home.

With Jane (and her family) back in the Galinatos’ arms, and with the new-born Galinatos that came in the last three-four year, a new version of the Galinato Book should be in the works – a page or more added – continuing its promise of “bonding and oneness” that will live on for years to come.

At the June 26 dinner hosted by the Lamdagan-Galinatos family, Jane Galinato met, for the first time, many more of her family, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews. Some, she has already connected with on Facebook. The others, she’s met for the first time.

All smiles at the Global Galinato Grand Gathering where Baby Jane meet long-lost relatives.

But one Tagbilaran-based relative, there for the GGGG, who may have been out of the Facebook loop, only knew of the “Baby-Jane-homecoming” that night. Who is she? Oh, she’s THE “Baby Jane” Mama used to tell us about? She then meekly extended her arms to embrace the long-lost relative.

The “whatever-happened-to-Baby-Jane” stories continue to be a staple in the Galinato family gatherings. But this time, they’ll have answers.

Baby Jane was borrowed, and has been returned. Jane Galinato has come home.

Jane Galinato is home.

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