The Early Years: 1925 – 1951

The Early Years: 1925 – 1951

Teodulfo Leonardo Lopez Reyes or fondly known by his nickname “Dedy” was born on November 6th, 1925 in San Jacinto, Pangasinan to the former Olimpia Aldana Lopez and ex-mayor Fabian Reyes, a scion of a political clan that dated back in the late 19th century.

Dedy (standing second from right) with the Reyes family in San Jacinto, Pangasinan. The matriarch Olimpia stands in the center with the hand bag.

Dedy was the 7th child in a brood of nine: Rosario, Arturo, Jaime, Santiago, Felipe, Consortia, Wilfredo (Dedy’s fraternal twin), and Cesar.  He was a bright and mischievous child who often got into small playful troubles with his brothers, which incurred their mother Olympia’s strict and stern parenting. One time, he, Wilfredo, Cesar, and another childhood pal did something outrageous that they were scared to come home fearful of the consequence. So they climbed a tree hoping that time would go by and their mother would pay their wrongdoing no mind. They fell asleep on the high tree branches but when they woke up, they found their mother waiting below with a belt in hand.

The War

A rare photo of Dedy’s high school class taken on November 28th, 1948. A skinny Dedy is kneeling on the front row fourth from left.

During the war, an industrious teenaged Dedy hustled for work to help his parents parents and family. He ran errands for Japanese and American soldiers for a few cents, sold local foods and goods to soldiers by visiting garrisons and outposts in San Jacinto. One time, he sneaked into a Japanese garrison to sell slippers to the soldiers and ranking officers. They didn’t buy the slippers but they liked him enough that they asked him to get them food on a regular basis. Having secured the deal, Dedy went to work to find food items to sell the Japanese soldiers. He would forage or befriend store keepers so he could get discounted goods to make meager profit. Sometimes, he would take his pals to hang out in camps located in nearby towns like Pozorrubio, which was a major Japanese bailiwick, to ply their wares there.

Dedy’s entire high school batch poses for a photo during the graduation ball. Taken on May 20th, 1948. Dedy is standing on the second row, third from right.

When the Americans came to liberate the country, one of the first provinces to see the liberating army was Pangasinan. And since San Jacinto and its nearby town were heavily fortified by the Japanese Imperial Army, Dedy and his family witnessed fierce battles between the opposing armies. They would hide in basements or foxholes for days to avoid mortar fire or deadly gun fights and survived only with water and boiled potatoes that he and his other male siblings foraged when the coasts were clear. He never saw his Japanese customers again but was able to forge new friendships and business relationships with the Americans.

Dedy had many stories about his experiences during the great war. A lot of those stories will be published here.

Post War Love

Since he came from a family of lawyers and politicians, Dedy, after the war, decided to go to law school at the University of the Philippines in Manila to follow his father’s path. He graduated in 1950, passed the bar the following year, and returned to his hometown to pursue his practice. It was often recalled that during this time, the newly-minted lawyer took cases from people who couldn’t pay legal fees. He was often paid in kind – pigs, eggs, chickens, vegetables, sometimes just simple thank yous. It was then that the seeds of his desire to serve the public was sown.

One notable case was a case that involved a stolen goat. The young lawyer argued his way until he won the case for his client, who in turn gave him a goat for payment.

One hot summer day, Dedy and a few friends decided to visit the nearby town of Manaoag to attend the fiesta and watch a basketball game. From the stands, Dedy saw beautiful girl walking on the street. It was love at first sight. The girl was Zenaida Esperanza Mendoza Lomboy, daughter of the local school principal Gavino Lomboy and a Spanish mestiza from Dasol, Pangasinan, Pacencia Mendoza.

Dedy could not get his mind off Zenaida Esperanza. He asked around town hoping to get some information about the her. He didn’t get much.

A few weeks later, On January 18th, 1952, Dedy took his oath as a new lawyer in Dagupan City and to his surprise, he saw Zenaida Esperanza in one of the tables. She accompanied her uncle Atty. Bernardo Aquino, who was chosen to give the oath. Dedy did not let this opportunity go so he asked her to dance. She said yes.

They danced all night.