top of page

The Barretto Family, Goa to Macau, Hong Kong and Manila

By Paul Henry Ferraz Barretto

Our story begins in India, specifically Bombay (now Mumbai), with our ancestor Antonio Lourenço Barretto of Goa, either of the local “Canarim Konkani” or “Marathi” people . The family adopted the surname in the 16th century after his ancestors were converted to Catholicism. 

He married Pascoa De Souza, the daughter of a Portuguese nobleman and merchant, José De Souza. They had children who made their mark in history. These were João (John) De Souza Barretto (1736-1786), Luis De Souza Barretto (1745-1806), and José (Joseph Snr) De Souza Barretto Sr (1750-1824).

All were merchant princes who made their fortune in Bombay and Bengal, India. They were engaged in several industries, shipbuilding, insurance, banking, and trading numerous profitable commodities to England, Portugal, Macau, China and the Philippines.

Casa dos Fidalgos (Barretto House in Goa)

The family home remains at in Velsão, Goa to this day, “Casa dos Fidalgos”, the name of this house translates as House of Nobility or Nobles. A heritage house, it was honored by Portuguese royalty, in order to thank the Barrettos for their unwavering service over three centuries.  King Dom Joao VI (1767 -1822) awarded the family with a brazão (coat-of-arms) which can be seen on top of the roof.

This is their family story.

As a successful businessman, João D’Souza Barretto undertook a range of charitable activities as was expected of a man of his position.

Bombay was becoming the center of trade and the Barrettos established their trading and shipbuilding businesses  in the island of Mazagaon which at that time was owned by their de Souza cousins.

João was the founder of the Barretto Charity School in Bombay for which he left a sizeable endowment. The school to this day is still partially funded from this endowment. Founded in 1782, it is now regarded as the oldest continuously operating school in the state of Maharashtra in India.

Barretto High School. Currently a 5-Storey building located In Kalbadevi (Cavel), Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. Photo taken in 2017.

Near the school is the Church of Our Lady of Health (Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Saúde). The original church was largely funded by the Barretto family. Most of the family members and relatives from this time were baptized, married or interred here. Dr. Jorge Forjaz’s research for the Barretto family in Familias Macaenses was derived from their records.

Trade and Move East to Bengal

Most of what we know about Luis De Souza Barretto is  from the memoirs of William Hickey when he was in India between 1769 and 1783.  In his memoirs, he describes Luis as “a man endowed by nature with extraordinary talents and elegant address”. Luis was initiated in trade at a very early age and was very active and diligent in commercial pursuits that he amassed considerable wealth at an early age. The spirit of enterprise that, like his brothers, predominated in Luis. He was engaged in the exchange of produce from every part of Europe with India under the Portuguese flag which in the late 18th century was a neutral power.

Towards the end of 1781, Luis purchased the ship Hornby. Built in Bombay under the supervision of the English Governor of India, who honored the ship with his own name. Hickey describes the ship as “a stronger or more complete vessel in every respect never was launched in any country in the world.” Luis eventually changed the name to Raynha De Portugal, in honor of  Queen Maria I of Portugal. It is believed that Luis was close to the Queen and was a frequent visitor. 

However, this ship,  even though it was flying the Portuguese flag together with others owned by the Barrettos were seized by Napoleon Bonaparte’s navy. One should note that the Barretto ships were often flying the Union Jack during this time.

The Indiana. One of the dozens of ships built at the Barretto shipyard in Calcutta (Kolkata), Bengal, India. @Paul Henry Barretto Ferraz Collection

The Barretto family built several churches in India and largest of these was the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary in Calcutta (commonly known as Portuguese Church). This church was completed on 27 November 1799. In 1945, Clotilde “Tilly” Barretto (b.1908 Hong Kong d. 2005 Cascais, Portugal), was taken to see the church when it was still in its original state when travelling from Macau to London with her husband Leonardo D’Almada e Castro. She saw numerous old worn out  gravestones with the names of family set into the floor of the church just as described in history books.

However, during my visit to this church in 2017, I found out that the church was renovated in the 1950s and all the tombstones and epitaphs have been removed except for one Armenian. No one at that time could tell us what happened to the remains or the tombstones. I was surprised that the church is one of the only surviving architectural relics of Calcutta’s Portuguese past.

Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary (Portuguese Church) in Calcutta, Bengal, India. Photo taken in 2017.

The historical marker with inscriptions in Latin (below) was placed inside the church after the renovations thanking the Barretto family for their munificence.

A historical marker inside the Calcutta Cathedral earlier known as the Portuguese Church specially mentions the munificence of the Barretto family who were responsible for funding the construction of  the church. @Paul Henry Barretto Ferraz Collection

The brothers success in trade soon turned to the establishment in 1819 of the Commercial Bank in Calcutta.  The bank was founded by José De Souza Barretto  (or Joseph Barretto Senior) together with Gopi Mohun Tagore and the Mackintosh partners Gordon and Calder. The bank was located at 25 Mangoe Lane, Calcutta, India and was the first bank to have a vault in India.

Joseph Barretto Senior used to own the Territy Bazaar nearby which he sold to the Maharaja of Bardhaman. This part of Calcutta is now known as its Chinatown. Given the Barretto’s family extensive interests in Macau and China, this would seem a natural location for the brothers to do business. 

In 1816,  Joseph served as the founding treasurer of the Hindu College established in  1816  (now Presidency College), that was established to provide a liberal education for members of the Hindi community. The funds for this college were provided by leading members of the Hindu community including the royal zamindars, indicating the trusted and preeminent status Joseph must have been afforded in Calcutta at that time.

The House of the Barrettos in 25 Mangoe Lane, Calcutta, India published in the Mercantile War Cry. From the D’Almada Barretto Archive Collection

Joseph Barretto Senior was a philanthropist and was known to have a mastery of the Farsi language. Again given the Parsee community was like the Portuguese engaged in British trade between India and the China Coast, his language ability in Farsi would have come into good use.   In his will, like his elder brothers, he left a substantial amount of money for charity.

The Barretto Family Business Expands to Macau

In 1797, Luis de Souza Barretto and Joseph de Souza Barretto Senior established a shipping insurance company in Macau that will eventually be managed by their 3 nephews, sons of their deceased elder bother João D’Souza Barretto. These were  Antonio Lourenço Rodrigues Barretto, Luis Rodrigues Barretto, and Bartolomeu Rodrigues Barretto  who became naturalized Portuguese citizens, Fidalgo Cavaleiro (Noble Knight)  by virtue of a Royal Decree dated 17 July 1817 signed by the Dom João VI, enabling the brothers to establish business and domicile in Macau.

Antonio Lourenço Rodrigues Barretto (b. 7 Apr 1778  Bombay,  d. 14 Jan 1834 San Lourenço, Macau)

João de Sousa Barretto’s eldest son Antonio Lourenço resided in Macau, establishing a base there and trading the same commodities as his brothers from Canton and Manila. In one of his trips to Manila in 1815, his wife Juan Teresa Vrignon gave birth to their only son, João. They want back to Macau after a year and João moved to Hong Kong in 1844 were some of his  descendants still reside.

According to Father Manuel Teixeira’s book "Os Militares em Macau”, as a reward and in recognition for his loyalty, in the reconstruction of Macau,  Antonio Lourenço was, in 1825, named Cavalier of the Order of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception of Villa Vizcosa.  In 1832 he was elected to the House (Leal Senado), an accomplishment registered in the archives of Leal Senado, Cod: 9, p. 96-V.

Luis Rodrigues Barretto (b. 30 November 1785, Bombay d. 22 Mar 1834, Manila)

Luis eventually settled in Manila in 1810 where he married a Spanish lady with quite a long name of Maria Manola Josefina Rita Lucia Radmon. However, he becomes a widower in a couple of years with no children. In 1815, he then marries Manuela Nogaret, daughter of a French sea captain. They had 6 children and the eldest son, Luis Jr, was born in Macau while the rest were all born in Spanish Manila.

We know of their life in Manila based on a French book entitled “Voyages autour du monde et naufrages célèbres: Tome 4. Mers du Sud. De la Chine, et archipels de I’Inde” by Gabriel Lafond de Lurcy.

His youngest son, Antonio Lorenzo Nogaret Barretto, (1830 - 1899) was awarded by the Spanish crown a vast tract of land in Zambales Province north of Manila on the west coast of the island of Luzon. This was where some Barrettos from Macau would eventually settle.

Bartomoleu Rodrigues Barretto (b. 21 July 1784 Bombay d. 25 February 1845 S. Lourenço, Macau)

A portrait miniature of Bartholomeu Rodrigues Barretto by the artist John Smart ca. 1800. In the possession of Ana Maria Santa Clara in Sintra, Portugal

The skills of Macanese traders and bookkeepers were also utilized by British traders William Jardine and James Matheson in the development of the China Trade. One notable Macanese trader was Bartolomeu Barretto. The contributions of the Barretto family were  revealed in Jardine and Matheson’s correspondence which were published by Oxford University.

Matheson noted in 1829 that Bartolomeu Barretto was a confidant of Macau’s governor, Joáo Cabral de Estefique (1829-39), and other prominent Portuguese merchants, including Joaquin Jose Ferreria Viega, a partner on many shipments with Jardine and Matheson. Because of this connection, the English traders considered Barretto to be a “Channel of Mediation” with the Chinese and the Portuguese administration in Macau.  

As a result, there were several instances from 1829 to 1839 in which Bartolomeu Barretto assisted Jardine and Matheson. These include the recovery of commodities that were seized by a Chinese Hong in 1829 which must have been sizeable for them to mention it. Furthermore, Bartholomeu acted as an intermediary in a negotiation when an American agent fails in 1832. Then In 1839, Bartolomeu applied on Jardine and Matheson’s behalf to the Chinese to open trade in Macau.

Portrait of Bartolome Antonio da Cruz Barretto

In 1832,  Bartolomeu recommended his son Bartolome Antonio da Cruz Barretto (1811 to 1881) to work for Jardine and Matheson.  Jardine and Matheson’s employment of Bartolome, would also prove significant for the firm.  Bartolome Antonio served Jardine and Matheson,  from 1830 – 1843 he managed all of  Jardine and Matheson’s Macau and Canton holdings. This also include the firm B.A. Barretto and Co. in Manila which was registered as an English firm.

In the same period, he performed numerous tasks: bookkeeping, ship oversight, and negotiations with the Macau government, wayward sea captains, and other traders. He also served as Jardine and Matheson’s principal contact with the Chinese Hongs. It is also notable that in 1839, he took over negotiations from Jardine and Matheson’s  non-performing American agent who failed.

Bartolome Antonio da Cruz Barretto  took residency in Hong Kong  in 1850 (only 9 years after colonization by Britain in 1841) and in one of his trips to Manila in the same year, his wife gave birth to Enrique Maria Barretto.

Enrique Maria Barretto e Ycaza (1850-1919)


Born in San Miguel, Manila, Spanish Philippines on 14 December 1850 to Bartolome Antonio Barretto and Dolores de Ycaza y Esteban. He finished his studies at the Ateneo de Manila and in 1866 enrolled at Richmond College in London, graduating in 1870.

Enrique was married in 1871 in Florence, Italy to Leonor de la Roca y de la Torre, the only daughter of Saturnino de la Roca and  Zoila de la Torre of noble Spanish families from the Province of Guadalajara, Spain. After a long trip through various countries in Europe the couple returned to Manila in 1872, establishing their residence in the palatial home (No. 6 Malacañang Avenue) next door to the Governor General of the Philippines.

In 1875, he was appointed representative in the Philippines, of His Majesty, the King of Italy. He was also Counsellor of the Treasury of the Philippines and Assistant Mayor of San Miguel District Manila from 1896 to 1898.

His industrial knowledge and foresight were demonstrated when he founded the first Ice Plant in Manila, established in 1880 in Echague Street.

In 1888, he established the largest and most advanced photographic studio  in the Philippines in No. 8 Malacañang Street and named it Centro Artistico Fotografico.

In 1889, Enrique Maria Barretto e Ycaza applied for a Royal Grant from Spain to establish a brewery in the Philippines. He was awarded the Grant for twenty years.  On 4th November 1890, the  Fabrica de Cerveza de San Miguel  (San Miguel Brewery), the first of its kind, not only in the Philippines but in Southeast Asia opened for business with much fanfare. He capitalized the concern with his own funds and as sole proprietor, managed the firm.

On its first year and with 70 employees, San Miguel was able to produce 3,600 hectoliters of beer. In case you were wondering, the beer got its name from the address where the brewery was located, No. 6 Calzada de Malacañan, San Miguel, Manila.

Due to the early success of the brewery and the need to expand the business, Enrique Maria decided to incorporate his brewery. Thus, on 6 June 1893, the company was incorporated and registered with a capital of P180,000.00 pesos roughly the equivalent of US$11 million in today’s money.

The corporation was formed by Pedro P. Roxas y Castro, Gonzalo Tuasón y Patiño, Vicente D. Fernández y Castro, Albino Goyenechea, Benito Legarda y Tuasón, the heirs of Mariano  Buenaventura y Chuidan and Enrique Maria Barretto himself who held a third of the company.


The incorporators were a veritable who’s who of Spanish Philippine society. In 1896, Pedro P. Roxas y Castro bought a portion of Enrique Maria’s interest in the company for  P42,000.00 Philippine pesos.  In May of the same year, Enrique Maria retired and his remaining shares were purchased by Roxas for P53,000.00 Philippine pesos.  Originally worth P60,000.00 Philippine pesos, Enrique Maria was able to sell his shares for a total of P95,000.00 Philippines pesos. Today, San Miguel is one of the largest conglomerates in Asia.


In 1914, at his initiative, he co-founded the "Oriental Brewery Co" in Hong Kong with his cousin Antonio Maria Barretto and was capitalized by the Recoletos Fathers and himself. He together with Antonio Maria later supervised the dismantling of the brewery in Hong Kong and the reassembly of the same in Manila. In 1919, San Miguel Brewery bought  the Oriental Brewery. 

Oriental Brewery ad. Hongkong Telegraph 21 November 1911

An expert jockey and a great fan and supporter of sports, he was one of the founders and organizers of the Manila Jockey Club. In the yearly races held by this club at the Santa Mesa Hippodrome in which only gentlemen jockeys participated, riding his famous horse “Imparcial", he won the "Copa Disputada" which required winning the race 2 years in succession riding the same horse. He was also among the founders of Gun Clubs in San Juan del Monte and Manila. He was a chartered member of the Manila Spanish Club, Madrid Club, the Flying Club of Madrid, Society for the Propagation of Riding in Spain, the Jockey Club of Paris and Royal Ascot Racing Club of London.

He gave assistance to all civic and charity affairs that requested his attendance and help. In his social life, the splendidness and magnificence of his parties and banquets, in Manila as well as in Madrid, where his wife and son resided from 1888, were the main topic of conversations. On weekends, he would invite guests on his yacht and travel to Hong Kong. In his Manila house, royalty were frequent guests. In 1880, he organized brilliant feasts in honor of his guest, His Royal Highness Prince Tomás de Saboya (1854–1931), Duke of Genova, who became the godfather of the only son of the marriage, born on June 21 of the same year. The baptism was held in the San Miguel Church in which the Duke was represented by the Governor and Captain General of the Islands, His Excellency Sr. Don Fernando Primo de Rivera and Marquesa de Blegua, wife of the Commanding General of the Navy. The neophyte was given the name Tomas Fernando Luis.

Well versed in music, Enrique Maria showed his partiality to this art by his benevolent contributions to the Italian Operas that came to Manila yearly, and in organizing concerts for the High Society of Manila by the most distinguished professionals, in which he also participated playing the piano, the cello and the flute.

His harmonious relations with politicians and government officials of Spain and other nations gave him the opportunity to render valuable services to these nations and was awarded the following decorations:

(a) Gran Cruz de la Orden de Isabel la Catolica (Grand Cross of the Order of Isabel the Catholic), Spain

(b) Gran Placa de la Orden de Beneficiencia (Grand Plaque of the Order of Charities), Spain

(c) Distinguished Military Cross, Spain.

(d) Distinguished Naval Cross, Spain.

(e) Gran Cruz de la Orden de Cristo  (Grand Cross of the Order of Christ), Portugal.

(f) Gran Comendador de la Orden Caballeria Militar del Santo Sepulcro de Jerusalem (Grand Commander of the Order of Military Cavalry of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem). 

(g) Caballero de la Orden de la Corona de ltalia (Knight of the Order of the Crown of Italy).

(h) Caballero de la Orden de San Esteban (Knight of the Order of Saint Stephen), Austria.

(i)  Caballero Official — Militar de Camboja  (Official Military Knight of Cambodia).

(j)  Medallas de Luzon y Carolinas (Medals of Luzon and the Carolinas).

These medals are no longer with the family but with a memorabilia collector. I had the privilege of seeing and touching all of these medals and certificates that were awarded or bestowed to Enrique Maria.

San Miguel Brewery, 1915

The fickleness of lady luck eventually strangled what was once a great fortune, but Don Enrique took this stoically without never uttering a word of sorrow or lament. His mastery of many foreign languages served him well and he became the official Interpreter of and Secretary of the Executive Office, in which he appeared daily, in spite of his advanced age, until his death on the 11th of May 1919, of a cerebral attack.

In 1940, during its 50th anniversary, San Miguel Brewery paid tribute to his memory by erecting a bronze plaque in the vestibule of the main office and by publishing his picture in the opening pages of the "Gold Book" which depicted the history of the brewery. At the 2nd Annual Conference of the Management Association of the Philippines, held at the Manila Hotel on January 13, 1954, in a  distinguished speech given by Don Ramon Fernandez titled “Management from 1860 to 1915“, he outlined the profiles of the businessmen and great industrialists of the era from 1860 to 1915, and referred to Don Enrique Ma. Barretto as follows:

“Don Enrique Ma. Barretto, reputedly the richest man of the Islands in the middle of the 8th decade of the last century, founded the San Miguel Brewery, the Fabrica de Hielo de Manila, the Centro Artistico Fotografico de Manila, a slipway and several other enterprises. He was known in the most distinguished Clubs of Madrid as the “El Principe Negro“ or “Black Prince” due to his wealth and varied activities”

Nick Joaquin, in the "Free Press",  14 September 1953, describing Malacañang Palace, said: "The next door Barrettos were wont to sniff at No. 4 (President's Palace). Don Enrique Barretto who was known as "El Principe Negro" because of his complexion and magnificence, thought nothing of inviting the Duke of Genova to stand as godfather to his son.

Joāo Antonio Gonçalves Barretto  (1824 -1881)

Joāo Antonio Gonçalves Barretto  was born 27 Jun 1824 in S. Lourenço, Macau. He on died 21 Nov 1881 in Zambales, Philippines but was buried in Cemiterio de S. Miguel, Macau. He was the eldest son of Bartolomeu Rodrigues Barretto’s third wife Angelica Rosa Gonçalves Pereira, from Macau.


Joāo Antonio, like his older half brother Bartolome Antonio Barretto ,was clerk and bookkeeper for Jardine, Matheson & Co. He was also a land investor who did business with British buyers and owned a large bungalow in Kowloon. He was one of founders of the Club Lusitano in Hong Kong and became its first president.


He moved to the Philippines to establish a tobacco plantation in Zambales, Philippines.

João Antonio Gonçalves Pereira Barretto (man seated with cane) and family in Macau ca.1873. @D’Almada Barretto Family Archive

Antonio Maria Barretto y Rocha (b. 4 September 1865 Manila d. 8 March 1929 Manila)


Born on 4 September 1865 in Manila, Philippines to Antonio Vicente Barretto and Trinidad Rocha. He was a grandson of Bartholomeu Rodrigues Barretto.

During his young days, he served as a volunteer in the Spanish Army for which he received the Red Cross for Military Merit, the Red Cross of Military Merit with White Badge, and the Medal of Volunteer.

Antonio Maria Rocha Barretto in his family's home inside Intramuros, Manila, Spanish Philippines ca. 1895 @Paul Henry Barretto Ferraz Collection

Antonio Maria was also named Chief Superior of the Spanish Civil Service in the Philippines with the title of Honorable.

His first business was in the liquidation of Peele, Hubbell & Co. He was a shipping clerk in the firm of Warner, Blogett & Co for 12 years.  He was also a Customs House Broker in Manila. With his brother Ricardo Esteban, formed the firm Barretto & Co.

For several years he was the General Manager of the La Insular Cigar and Cigarette Factory. With the typical Barretto entrepreneurial spirit, Antonio Maria had diverse business interests. He incorporated the Metropole Hotel. He incorporated and became President of  Insular Life Assurance Company which was established on February 25, 1910 along Echague St., Quiapo, Manila. This is to became the first and largest Filipino insurance company.

He was also in the first board of directors of Banco Español-Filipino de Isabel II, the first chartered bank in Asia. Founded in 1851, this bank is now known as the Bank of the Philippine Islands, one of the largest banks in the Philippines.

First board of directors of the Banco Español-FIlipino de Isabel II. Antonio Maria Barretto, seated leftmost.

He also incorporated and became President of Hotel de France, and a cement company. He

 incorporated and became the President and General Manager of the Tayabas Saw Mill. He was also a  Director in the following companies; the Fabrica de Hielo de Manila (together with his cousin Enrique Maria Barretto), the Philippines Steam-Ship Co., Hospital Español de Santiago, Philippines Development Co., and Gumaos Placer Co.

Antonio Maria was one of the incorporators of La Previsora Filipina, a mutual building and loan association which was established on February 11, 1926. 


He was also a member of the Casino Español and the Rifle Club of Manila.

He married Dolores Pestaño Moratinos on 1 May 1889 in Manila, Philippines. In 1913, were residents of 346 General Solano St., Manila, Philippines before his family eventually migrated to Spain while he stayed in Manila.

It should be noted that it is because of him that the Barretto family has records of their genealogy. He published a family history of the Barrettos in 1922 based on the research in the 1890s of Lorenzo Antonio Barretto y  Barretto (b. 18 September 1850 S. Lourenço, Macau d. 9 October 1905 S. Lourenço, Macau). Family members who financed the research were given bound copies of the Barretto Genealogy Book of 1922.

A known original copy  and the circular family tree was in the possession of Blanche Barretto Moore, daughter of Federico Demeé Barretto of Singapore. I personally saw a copy of the circular family tree in the possession of Ruy Barretto which was handed down from his grandfather Octavio Demeé Barretto.

Antonio Lorenzo Nogaret Barretto, (b. 30 September 1830 Manila d. 15 June 1899 Manila)


Antonio Lorenzo Nogaret Barretto was the son of Luis Rodrigues Barretto and his 3rd wife Nogaret, was born in Manila, Philippines.

Antonio Lorenzo Nogaret Barretto, crica 1870

Carmen Sabina Escobar Blanco

Lauro Al Barretto, the natural son of Antonio Lorenzo Nogaret Barretto, became Governor of Zambales (1916 to 1918) when the Philippines was still a colony of the United States of America, starting a political tradition in the Philippines for the Barretto family.

Manuel Donor Barretto, (1914-1988)

Manuel Donar Barretto was great grandson of Luis Rodrigues Barretto and grandson of António Lorenzo Barreto y Nogaret, who was granted land in Zambales province by the Spanish Crown.

He became governor of Zambales and was an influential politician in the mid 20th Century.

Manuel Donor Barretto, or “Manoling” a name of endearment, was born in Maloma, San Felipe, Zambales on March 29, 1914 to Antonio Tiburcio Barretto y Blanco and  Catalina Donor. 

Manuel “Manoling” Barretto was quoted in November 1963 shortly after winning his third consecutive term as Governor of Zambales. 


“The fight has not been won.  There is so much more to be done, and we are perhaps many years distant from the day when we can proudly say that we have established an economic stature consistent with the needs of our province and people.  The staggering enormity of the problems that beset us now, the numerous obstacles that threaten us with failure must not cause us to falter.  I shall die a happy man when I can say with a clear conscience that I have contributed my best efforts, the very best I knew how, to the progress of Zambales, and to the generation yet to come.”  


These sentiments reflect his desire for the material well-being of the people of Zambales which became his life’s work.  


He had 4 brothers: Federico married to Eloisa Valdes, Augusto married to Angelita Aquino, Jaime married to Alicia Carpio, Antonio married to Ana Alvir.  He also had 3 sisters: Catalina married to Antonio Alvir, Amparo married to Aurelio Malolos and Marina (single). With provincial Maloma relatively cut-off from civilization, Manolo or Manoling, finished his primary grades in barrio schools and later transferred to the San Felipe Elementary School.  He subsequently enrolled at the Zambales Academy where he graduated in 1933. 


Since Zambales is one of the highly mineralized areas in the Philippines, well known for gold, copper, zinc and chromite, he pursued mining engineering at the Quisumbing School of Technology in Manila, but left to earn a living in various mining firms before graduating.  He was Superintendent of the Philippine Marble Works in Romblon for three years since 1936, at the age of 22. From 1939 to 1940, he was the Chief Assayer of the Salakot Mining Company in Bulacan.     


At the outbreak of the Second World War, he was commissioned Captain and Commanding Officer of the ROTC Hunters Guerillas, Maloma sector.  He showed great courage, leadership and patriotism during the war, inflicting damage to the Japanese forces and protecting the Filipino civilians, keeping a semblance of justice in the midst of uncertainty and misery.   


During the war, he joined “show biz”.   Manoling and his brother Tony Barretto produced shows at the State Theatre, doing bit parts when some of the actors were absent, learning the trade and having a grand time with the stars and artists of the day – doing drama and comedy. Relatives in show biz during those times included Chiquito Pangan, a well-loved comedian. Here he must have learned the art of communicating with audiences, making them laugh or cry – skills later to be employed in the art of politics.


In 1955, he ran for governor of the province as a Nacionalista party candidate and won by a decisive majority in spite of overwhelming odds and only eighteen days of campaign.  He ran for re-election in 1959 and won easily over his competitors with a winning margin unprecedented in the history of Zambales. 


For his achievements and concern for his constituents, a staunch rival and Liberal Party Chairman, the Honorable Cezar Miraflor, hailed him as “the best Governor Zambales has ever produced”.   In the 1961 interim elections, he came to odds with top Nacionalista Party bosses when they took away from his candidate, then Congressman Virgilio Afable, one half of the poll inspectors for Zambales.  Disillusioned, he agreed to join the Liberal Party when President Diosdado Macapagal invited him in November 1962, with the enticement of funds to rebuild seven bridges which were totally damaged by floods.  He chose to lose his political prestige when he accepted the offer, but it provided the much needed infrastructure to rebuild the province. 


With his sincerity and purpose, industry, oratory skills, magnetic personality and glamour, and an astute understanding of local politics, he won his third consecutive term as Governor in 1963.   Despite the odds, he announced several weeks prior to the elections “Never have I been more certain of victory than in this, my third encounter”.  


He never gave in to self-serving statements, or expressed half-truths or exaggerations.  He learned the ropes of politics the hard way, understanding what his constituents needed, fighting for their rights and providing opportunities to earn a just wage.   He kept himself within easy reach of his constituents, worked hard and kept long hours listening to people, and planning innovative ways to achieve objectives that would serve his constituents best.   Humble in victory and always mindful that the welfare of the people he served, he reached out to former rivals for the purpose of achieving unity for the good of the province.


During his 3 terms consisting of 12 years, he worked to get funding for the building of first class roads built by a Korean construction firm. Wanting to provide jobs and secure funds for charitable causes, he concurrently worked as Chairman of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.  As he started campaigning for his fourth term, his opponents accused him of being an absentee Governor, ignoring the true reason why he took these other roles.  He labored the additional hours for the good of his constituents.  As before, he only spoke the truth.


He ran for a fourth term, against the scion of a well-known Zambales name – Magsaysay in 1969, and lost – despite winning in every town except Olongapo where he lost by a big margin.  He used up a mere 300,000 pesos against several millions spent by his opponent.   He did not believe votes should be bought by money. He lost this election, but with head held high.  He served with honor and performed the task he was elected for.  During his 12 years as Governor, he earned the respect of the US Navy Admirals because he asked for no favor either for himself, his family or his allies and treated them as equals.

Zambales Governor Manuel Barretto is welcomed by base commander Rear Admiral Arthur Spring and his wife Clare, upon Governor Barretto's return from his trip to Bremerton, Washington on a mission to establish sister-city ties between Olongapo and Bremerton

He accepted the Chairmanship of the National Power Corporation because he saw its strategic importance and to help industrialize Zambales.  The mines would be uncompetitive, factories and residents needed electricity. As NPC Chairman, he brought to the province the much-needed electrification, and generators were no longer needed. The local cooperatives were included in the NPC grid and reliable power was now available to small towns and barrios throughout the province.  He was concurrently a Director of the National Irrigation Administration.


In 1985-1986, he led the Cory for President Movement in Zambales, and actively participated in the 1986 People Power.  Believing the cause of his good friend, the late Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. and the need to restore democracy to his beloved country, he worked hard to garner support for her in a province normally loyal to a fellow Ilocano.  Mrs. Cory Aquino asked him to take an active role in politics once again, but realizing the lengthening shadows of life, he declined and suggested that his eldest son, Cesar, be appointed to continue the legacy of service to the country.


Manoling Barretto was an avid hunter.  He invited many friends to go hunting in the mountain vastness of Zambales, and had many stories to tell his children and grandchildren. Every Holy Week , he would go hunting  and invite family members vacationing in Maloma. Those who joined hunting expeditions included his sons Cesar and Eddie, his nephews: Freddie Barretto Jr., Badjing Barretto, Toti Barretto and Toti’s brothers - Eddie, Mike and Frankie. From the family of his brother Jaime, it was only Rodolfo “Boying” Barretto who took to hunting.


His best friend and poker cronies, Jack Robertson and his nephew, Albert Golden often joined the hunt. Once he related how, upon seeing a large deer, his companion was so excited and fired many rounds. After giving his companion the first crack and missing all his attempts, without a word, he slowly fired one round of his Winchester 30-30, and brought the game down.  His friend remarked, “Manoling, you got him, you got him!” Almost as a matter of fact, without much of emotion, he replied a terse “Yes”.  His companion could not comprehend Manoling’s nonchalant response, but he soon became an admirer of his hunting prowess. He was joined in other hunting trips by Jesus Cabarrus, Rafael “Linggoy” Atayde and Rafael “Piling” Barretto  (a member of the most successful Philippine Basketball Olympic team in 1954 with Carlos “Caloy” Loyzaga).

To get a better understanding to his character, he often reminded his affluent companions, children, cousins and nephews about the protocol of a hunt.  He said that they can only eat what the “doggers” (people who brought dogs to chase the game into the open) ate, to stay under the rain together with the others, and to show respect and to treat all as equals.  They were not to act as spoiled city brats or masters.  Everyone was equal.  


Manoling was a farmer at heart.  He planted sugar in Labungan and sold the cane to the Central Azucarera de Bataan, Inc. or CAREBI.  However, with the damage wrought by Mt. Pinatubo in 1991, the entire area was covered with lahar and the roads turned into rivers.  CAREBI has since closed. Nonetheless, you can still see a number of mature mango and guava trees that were lovingly planted and cared for.  There are also Bangkok santol (cotton fruit_and langka (jackfruit) trees.  Today, some cattle and goats continue to graze in that land.


Manoling was married to Concepcion Novales of Subic, Zambales, and they had 8 children: Cesar (one time acting Governor of Zambales and Vice Governor) married to Rosario (“Charito”) Soler, Eduardo married to Ruby Zulueta, Maria Isabel (“Maribel”) married to Carlos Baltazar, Lina married to Eduardo David, Zenaida (“Nida”) married to Cesar Dantes, Elaine Milagros (“Elaine”), Gilda, and Manuel Jr. (“Nick”).


Manoling died on August 16, 1988 in Walnut Creek, California after a heart operation.  A grateful province honored a great son, with multitudes lining the streets and attending his wake, in recognition of his contribution and service.

The Barretto Family today.

The extended Barretto family continues to hold a presence in India, Hong Kong, Australia, the USA, Spain, Portugal, France, England, Germany, the Philippines, Singapore and dozens of other countries.  They hold prominent positions in the professions, business, politics and the arts. Some prominent members include:-

Ruy Barretto SC, Club Lusitano Trustee, Hong Kong

Leo Barretto, architect, Leigh and Orange, Hong Kong.

Alberto Blanco Barretto – First Secretary of Finance, 1st Philippine Republic

Eduardo Antonio Garcia Barretto – Congressman, 1st Philippine Congress

Gretchen, Marjorie and Claudine Barretto, 3 sisters who are well known actresses in the Philippines. Gretchen remains one of the leading female celebrities in the Philippines.

Julia Barretto, daughter of Marjorie Barretto is also a very popular actress in the Philippines.

Antonio Morales Barretto (1943 – 2014) , Filipino-Spanish actor and singer who married the Spanish superstar singer, Rocio Durcal (1944 – 2006). Their daughter Shaila is also a popular singer now in Spain.


Barretto Reunions


The Barrettos have been holding so called Grand Reunions every three years with the first one being held in 2010. All the reunions have so far been held in Manila with at least 600 Barrettos from more than a dozen countries in attendance. The last one was held in 2019 (below) with the one scheduled for 2022 cancelled due to the recent Pandemic. The next Barretto Grand reunion will be held in 2025.


bottom of page