The story is set in Aklan, Philippines, during the Spanish period.
Aklan then was only a a part of Capiz province. At that time, the story goes, the name of the family was Ureta. Now it happened that in those days many rivers were not spanned by bridges. People had to wade to cross the rivers. The Spaniards, who did not want to get themselves wet, forced the “natives” to carry them across.
One day, a ranking Spanish official wanted to cross a river in Aklan. Accounts differ as to whether the river was in Tangalan, or in Ibajay. But to continue the story. As fate would have it, on that day the “natives” on whom the Spaniards depended to carry them across that river were not around. Seeing three other “natives” resting from work in a nearby rice field with their carabao, soldiers escorting the official forced one of them to carry the Spaniard on his shoulders and take him across the river.
These “natives” were the Ureta brothers, who to this day are claimed as their own by two towns in Aklan, Makato and Tangalan. The one who had to carry the Spaniard was named Gabriel. Midway through the river, Gabriel did something unexpected: he threw the Spaniard into the water! Then, as fast as he could, he waded the rest of the way to the opposite shore – and then fled the scene and Aklan. Knowing he was now a wanted man, he headed for a port – no one can tell now which one – and stowed away on a boat.
He went on to become a sailor, and got as far as Europe, where he visited several countries, including Austria. In Austria he saw the Tirol mountains which even then were renowned for their beauty. He fell in love with the place. He stayed in the Tirol region (no one knows for how long, or what he did while he was there) but after some time he became homesick. He realized, of course, that back home he was a wanted man. So he told himself, “Perhaps if I change my name I could return home without being arrested.” And that’s exactly what he did: he changed his name from Gabriel Ureta to Gabriel Tirol, in memory of the mountains in Austria that he loved. He returned home a free man.
So everyone in the Philippines, (and maybe around the world by now) who is named Tirol is a direct relative of mine. I have met some Tirols who have traveled through Aspen. And all the Filipinos I have told that I am a descendant of the Tirol’s say they know the Tirols, and have heard about Boracay.
Text provided by a descendant of the Tirol family.
The story was passed on as told to Thielma Leonor “Boots” Tirol, daughter of Leon Hontiveros Tirol.