Diosdado Reloj Jr (1944-2004)

 Diosdado "Jury" Reloj was born in Lapnag, Banga, Aklan on February 22, 1944. He died at the UST Hospital in Manila, Philippines on March 18, 2004. He was the eldest child, born to the late Judge Diosdado Reloj, Sr. and Paciencia Reloj (nee Zabal), in a family that would grow to six children:  Reza, Gavino, Noel I (who died at a young age), Derly, Noemi, and little Noel (now Noel Sr.).  Jury graduated in Polo, Elementary School in 1955, proceeded to high school in Aklan College (1959),  received his Bachelor’s degree from Manuel L Quezon University (1963), and law degree from Ateneo de Manila College of Law in 1967 where he was a founding member of the Fraternal Order of Utopia.  During most of his career, he specialized in Maritime Law.  He was an associate at the former Salcedo Bito Misa law firm, and later as partner of law firms bearing his name.  "Dadz" to colleagues, served for many years as Vice President for Legal of the Maritime Law Association of the Philippines (MARLAW), and was President of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Aklan Chapter.

He was called  “Jury”, a nickname chosen by his parents, long before the  "American Jury System" was known to the family.  He was predestined to be a lawyer and to follow the footsteps of his father, a 1939 law graduate from Philippine Law School in Manila.

He was married to former Edna "Boots"  Fuentebella and blessed with 4 children: Dino Angelo, RN in NJ, Pia (PT in Chicago), Lico (a promising Graphic Artist, Manila), and Ryan (PT, Chicago).

He was an inspiration of the family, and model to the young generations of the Reloj-Zabal clan to pursue better and higher education.    

Memories by the Reloj-Zabal clan members:

By Romy Zabal  -  


Romy Zabal      -

    Davao City was a memorable placed for Jury & Boots.  They spent their honeymoon at the Davao Insular Hotel, the best hotel at that time in the 70's.   A cousin newly married too, Yolanda Zabal Valles and Bert Gonzales was also in that hotel enjoying their homeymoon. I have the pleasure of entertaining two couples honeymooner's at the famous "The Garden" in Matina, Davao City, Philippines.

To my recollection, in the summer of 1972, I received a telegram from Jury that he will be arriving that afternoon in Davao City and want me to hire a car to be used for a quick trip to a port of Panabo (Now Panabo City) in Davao del Norte for a very important consultation with a client. I met him at  the airport and he briefed me of his professional mission. His target was the Captain of a Japanese vessel docked in the break water of Panabo port loading lumbers.
We proceeded to Panabo in a military vehicle and passed by Davao Norte PC Headquarters to picked up  additional  military escort familiar with the area. We hired a motorized banca  to facilitate the boarding of  the Japanese vessel.

He extracted affidavit from the ship's Captain using his portable manual typewriter. Mission accomplished, we went back to Davao City midnight, hungry and exhausted. By then, all restaurants were closed,  so we went to "Marakesh" night club to order our late dinner.

Again, the following months, he returned to Davao City to represent a client in a court hearing. The night before he played Majhong with some military personnel in the camp, then, the following day,  we went to the court with at least 8 of us wearing military uniform,  not as an escorts,  but just as observers.  He represented his client very well.

In the mid 80's, he and Boots attended a seminar called "Marriage Encounter" here in California. We again renewed  our bonding and we serve their tourist guide. The following year he went back here in Calif and I accompanied him to the Philippine Embassy for another legal deposition of the Philippine Consul(Amado Cortez). 

In subsequent years, we kept in-touch, especially during my trips to the Philippines.  While I was in  Las Vegas with Gab on February 2004, I greeted Jury on the phone  on his 60th b-day.  He indicated full attendance of Reloj-Zabal clan, and that was the last time I spoke to him. The following month, he passed away.

That March,  I expedited my trip to the Philippines I kept vigil on his wake until his last journey.




By Lorna Doman -

     Nong Jury was beloved by all his relatives, and he loved them as much, and maybe more in return. Whenever he was  on brief vacation in Aklan, away from his hectic law practice in Manila, he always found time to spend precious bonding moment with  his relatives in  Polo.

His relatives were all ears to his witty stories, adventures and professional successes. A very generous person, he often sent envelopes to Polo during Christmas season. I had a chance to invite him for dinner during a family vacation in Manila with my husband, but instead he picked-up the bill and treated us to a wonderful evening. Thanks Manong Jury,
we miss you a lot!!.

From Felma -



   We were close during our college days in Manila.  He was idolized by the family, especially by the young generation, being a law student in a prestigious school of Ateneo de Manila.

He was always generous to everyone.  He paid for my Professional Tax Receipt after I obtained my Doctor of Medicine License in 1975. Later on, during my  married life, he became close friend of  my departed husband, Camilo.

While he was gaining professional successes, his personal life was on reverse course. One Christmas Eve, he called me to wish us Merry Christmas. After I inquired for his whereabouts, he simply said, “never mind”.  Immediately, upon instruction by Papa, I flew from Aklan to Manila and provided him with some needed guidance and assurance.

In later years, he sent me letters about how the Reloj clan started as a strongly united family & another letter was a “Living Will” written & signed by him in a yellow pad. According to him those were the two original copies he wrote which I turned over to Inday Noemi.
Every time Tay Jury comes home to Aklan, he would instruct me to invite all his cousins, nieces, nephews & “apos” to have dinner at the Ancestral house in Banga.  He was always generous to relatives in need.

Tay Jury’s life was a colorful one.  He was a man of paradox. He was educated, intelligent, excelled and highly respected by his peers in his chosen profession.  But his love and  affection he constantly expressed to his relatives and others,  for some unexplained contradiction …..fall short in extending where it should be counted the most…., to his wife and children.

Tay Jury, you are a great loss to the Reloj & Zabal Family. You lived a short life, but you never left us and we will long  remember you!


Gab –

    In one of his visits to NY, while driving together, I asked him about his tendency to be very generous to the family.  He quickly responded; “We, the children are blessed by having Papa and Mama who were both loved by their own respective families.  Papa was the chosen by the family to pursue higher education, and his siblings made sacrifices for him to attain this family ambition, and he did not fail.  He was the favorite child of his widowed mother, loved by his brothers, most especially by Tay Naldo.  In all and similar respect, same was accorded to our Mama”.      

Diodado Z. Reloj, Jr. (1944-2004)
His last wish was to rest in the ocean forever,
to ride with the waves and finally becoming free.
For now his parents are glad to have him back closer to their bosoms,
to offer him eternal solace and comfort, far from solitude and melancholy.
Wherever he is, he will remain in our hearts forever,
His wife, children, brothers, sisters, friends
and the rest of the Zabal and Reloj Family.

Atty. Diosdado Z. Reloj, Jr.

A Eulogy
 by Atty Genever “Dodoy” Besana
St. Joseph’s Church, Banga, Aklan
Saturday, March 20, 2004

Good Evening.

I am grateful to be given this precious and memorable moment to speak for and on behalf of the family of the late Honorable Judge Diosdado and Mrs. Paciencia Zabal Reloj.  

Lolo Dadong and Lola Pacing were devout and ever faithful parishioners of our Patron Saint Joseph.  

Today, we remember them once again in these solemn rites as we celebrate the joining of their beloved oldest son, Atty. Diosdado Zabal Reloj, Jr.  

Uncle Jury has passed onto the next life, to forever find peace and love in the warm embrace of his Papa and Mama.  

Jury will now have eternity to play and lovingly tease his long-gone kid brother Nono.

Jury will now once again play the prince to his departed loved kin from the Reloj and Zabal families.

Jury is now in God’s grace and protection, in peace, and in full reconciliation with his ideals.

He may have appeared a classic study of contradictions… but, in truth he was a clear case of consistency:
At times he appeared commanding… in truth,  he was overly considerate.
Sometimes he was stiff and detached… in truth, he was sanguine and empathetic.
Whereas he was known to be utterly shy… in truth, he was statesmanlike and formidable litigator in courts and venues of importance.

While he may have in later years showed indifference and asociality, in truth, Jury was very mindful of his obligations to the community.  And especially, to this community, his hometown of Banga.

Fresh from passing the Bar in 1968-69, then newly-minted Atty. Reloj was recruited by a prestigious law firm where he was molded in his specialty practice of Maritime Law & Admiralty.  At a fairly young age, he was partner in law firms bearing his name.  The Reloj Law Offices, relatively small as it was, had all the attributes of a blue-chip law firm and recognized in the international legal profession in this field of “MarLaw”.

Atty. Reloj preferred quiet conversations yet he was a remarkable orator.  His oratorical eloquence was perhaps overshadowed only by his flair in writing… he was recognized by peers as lucid and finesse pleader.  

Atty. Reloj served as President of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Aklan Chapter.  Dadz, as he is know to his peers in Manila, was by accolades of his peers asked to be President of the Maritime Law Association, but preferred to stay as VP for Legal;he was counsel to legal luminaries in Maritime law.

I joined the Reloj Law Offices when I was attending Ateneo Law School, and in the rat- race of law practice, literally helped carry Uncle Jury’s “attaché case” for some years.  It was a deep brown leather briefcase, wearing the scars of years of court battles.  Aptly, we call it the “portfolio”, because symbolically, such briefcase is said to contain the intellectual capital of a law practitioner.  Atty. Reloj’s portfolio was a heavy one, for it contained years of experience, battle-tested expertise, scholarly refinements, and a listing of clients who were practically by-names in the Marine Insurance industry.

Yet the depth of a portfolio still rests in the professional who bears its name, for the true measure of a law practitioner is in his integrity, reputation, and intellectual prowess.  Those were fulfilling understudy years for me, for Atty. Reloj was known for all these.

The more fulfilling victories were the ones with least monetary value.  Atty. Reloj was perhaps one of the pioneers who established benchmark claims in foreign jurisdictions involving cases of seamen and contract foreign workers.  Countless families were able to obtain fair, just and maximized restitution arising from job-related claims, deaths or injuries suffered by these workers in the Philippines as well as foreign fora.  It is a realization of a lawyer’s ideals when clients extend their sincere gratefulness for service performed beyond the call… Jury received many.

Uncle Jury opened his door to all, to friends, kasimanwa, igbata, our political leaders, and well wishers.  He would help in many ways he possibly can.

My admiration, respect, and love for Uncle Jury cannot be etched in words; an attempt here will only lead to gross misundertatement.  But at the same time, he won’t allow me to gloss-over his seeming inadequacies, and failures, too.  Uncle Jury believed that at times, we need to measure ourselves as if we are to account for and establish our case before our elders.  He would say: “Gasugot baea si Papa ag si Mama, imao man si Tay Naldo, ag tanan ro nagtaliwan nga mga igbata, sa akon ngara nga himo-on?”  Jury, the litigator, had hypothetical bouts before the ultimate jury, his elders.

At times, he knew he did not get a passing mark.  In certain times, he would have had received an earful, in as much as he had to bribe Tay Mansit whenever Uncle Jury was about to be checkmated.  

But, he knew he had a way to get around this jury mostly because he could charm them.  Those of you who knew him closely, Uncle Jury was a just and fair man, a loving husband and father, a faithful and God-fearing believer, respectful of his elders, affectionate of his igbata, and a true friend to many.  He was modest and self-reflecting.  He was an Uncle, and brother, and a mentor to me.

Indeed, he may have appeared a study in contradictions… in truth, his innate goodness is predictably consistent.

Lolo Dadong and Lola Pacing’s family,
Reza and Tito
Gavino and Inday
Derly and Louie
Noemi and Jimmy
Nono and Arlett

and the family of Atty. Diosdado Z Reloj, Jr.
Wife Butch, children Dino, Pia, Lico and RayAn

extend their gratitude for your presence, and prayers, and support.  Their Jury is now consigned to the grace of the Almighty, and to your – this community’s - loving remembrance and memory.  His remains will be interred tomorrow to join his Papa and Mama, and brother Nono, at the Banga Cemetery, after the morning mass.  

They invite you to join them after this mass at the Reloj residence, in celebration of the memory of their – our - Jury.



How I found our long lost Uncle, Tay Eyo

by  Gavino Zabal Reloj 


 Today, March 20 is Tay Eyo’s birthday.  In honor of his memory, let me share this story

In mid September 1970, I found myself sitting in a quiet and empty living room of an empty house in San Jose, California.    I had been sitting there since 1:30 PM that day, hoping that in any moment I will confirm that this was indeed the home of my long lost Uncle, Tay Eyo.  I took the initiative to make long distance  call to my mother, who happens to be in Manila at that time, and instructed her to remain in my former college dorm in front of Mapua Doroteo de Jose, and to expect a call from me in anticipation finding and talking to her long lost brother. She was very ecstatic and assembled my brothers and sisters. Finally, as evening came, at around 5:30 PM, a van stopped and a frail old man with a hat  got off,  and while being assisted by a younger couple with 3-4 children, I came forward and hugged this old man. I gazed at him, look at his  hair , his head, every wrinkle of his face, his aging features, and the slightly wearied look he wore.  In a loud voice, I introduced myself as the son of Paciencia Zabal Reloj, and as I burst into tears, his meek response was -  "Pa-ano mo ako nakita?”  (How did you find me?). 

What a reaction  from a man who had been in isolation from his family for over 30 years. 

Who was Rosalio Rabanes Zabal?  He was born in Polo on March 20, 1908 (exactly 102 years ago as I write this story).   At a young age, probably in the late 1920’s, he came to America and settled in San Jose.  During that period in 1930’s my mother was a student in Manila, and she was lucky to be a recipient with a $50 per month allowance.  My Mom had numerous communications with Tay Eyo until late 1930’s.   By then my mother was a school teacher, and since 1938-39, all  communication stopped.

As I discovered later, he was employed as a driver of a millionaire who at an old age squandered his wealth, but made sure that my uncle will have enough funds to sustain him for the rest of his life.  Knowing that my Uncle was probably a casino aficionado (that's where a friend of his tried to find him that day),  upon  the death of his employer, an estate manage by the bank, took into effect with provision to provide my uncle an allotment of $150 per month.  The  estate provisions did not specify benefactors, and remaining  funds will go to the state of California upon his death, and we found-out later that no provision was included for his funeral expense .

Back then in Polo in the 1950’s, as a young boy, I could not understand my Mom’s sudden outburst, followed by tearful pleading, “kon mag bahoe kamo ag hi agto kamu sa  America, osoya guid ninyo rang magoeang, si Eyo” (when you grow-up and you go to USA, please find my brother, Eyo).  Mom’s sad episode continued even when  we were in high-school. Let alone that I had no inkling of going to America, I had no idea about California in America.

During my college days, I did not take this sentimental matter a priority.   But soon, one event led to another.  I graduated in Engineering, smitten by a girl, and at a young age of 23, I settled in New York,  with a clean slate, full of ambition and grateful to have escaped the reckless, adventurous social life in Manila.  

 On my way to New York on January 17, 1970, I passed San Francisco and stayed with my Uncle, Tay Naldo who was then staying in Florence Hotel in Stockton St. San Francisco( actually a boarding house for old-timers).  My Uncle was not aware of my temporary stay in SF, let alone that there was a lonely girl waiting to be in my arms in NY.   My Uncle Naldo hinted about me going further studies in California and moving to a spacious apartment, but I had no alternative but to move-on and fly to New York on Feb 7.

After a few months in NY,  I  got a job in NJ on March 4 ( a Wednesday).  My salary was for $4 /per hr ( 1 $ = 8 pesos), more than what a Philippine Congressman’s salary at that time.   Then, after a few weeks salary of cashing and spending, my soon-to be-wife finally said “How about saving some money and preparing for our wedding”.  Well, until then, I never know the art of saving, and assumed that spending as you earn was the norm in life.  We planned to get married in December and made arrangement in that famous St Patrick Cathedral , a gothic church in mid Manhattan.

 Finally, in September 1970, I flew back to SF with the sole purpose of looking for Tay Eyo.  Glad to see my favorite Uncle Tay Naldo.  The following day, I took a bus to San Jose.  In every bus stop, I would go to the pay phone hoping to see his name.  “Z” was always easy to search since it was at the back-end. I passed Palo Alto, Santa Clara, and other towns, then San Jose.  My first stop was the SSS Main Office, then after demanding to see the highest officer in their department, I was told that unless there is a monetary claim  or court decision, they were  not privilege to provide me any information.  I  was told to go to the next town, Santa Clara, but at that point I was ready to give-up.

 I took lunch in a deli, then suddenly, I remembered  a movie where the hero  found the address of a bad guy in the library.   I asked the waitress at the deli for the Library location and then took a cab.   After arriving in the Library ( which I revisited  in mid 1995) I grabbed a  1938 Town Directory…NONE.  I then grabbed  “1937”, and there he was with  his address.  (I still have this page copied during my sentimental journey sometime in mid 1990 and showed copies later  to  Nong Romy & Nong Jury ).  I went outside and tried to flag a taxi cab.  I was reminded by a passerby to call a taxi by phone instead. 

 I  was  dropped-off at his home address and found the 2-story immaculate house,  freshly painted with off-white color.  I went to the foyer and knocked, hoping to see him at last. I keep on knocking on  the door until a man who lived upstairs came-by.  He suggested to look for him a few blocks  in the back-room Casino, some 10-15 minute walk,  where he apparently was a regular customer, and  after scouring the smoke-filled room, he was nowhere to be found.

 I went back to the house, and this man helped me pass through the window.  I did this with prepared legal argument that if the police came,   I  will present my identity and explain all of my good intention.

That’s when he finally came home at 5:30 PM accompanied by this young couple. 

 For the next hour, I connected him with my Mom (maybe Nang Reza or Noemi can described this event what transcribed in Manila and in Polo).  Later, I connected him with,  my wife and Nang Jeorgie in NY.  There was a celebration in Polo ( maybe somebody in 1970 can describe this event in Polo when the news came that he was found).

 That evening, we had nothing to converse except for current status of his siblings.  Told him his brother,  Moises who died while I was in College, that I was there when his mother died, how she was taken cared-off during her old age,  how we, the grand children in Polo all lined-up when his father was on his death bed and asked him a riddle who we were.

The following morning, at the coffee table in the living room,   I saw a small picture frame of my Lola, (which up to this day I kept ).  This was probably his only link to his family all these years.  Whatever happened to the correspondence and pictures my mother sent to him, I did not bother to ask.

 From September 1970 and the months to follow, my mother and all her siblings were full of anticipation of his arrival in Polo.  That ended 4 months later upon announcement that he suddenly died on  January 3, 1971.  He had been long suffering from diabetes.  I just got married a few weeks earlier (December 26), and with no funds.  After the wedding ceremony, after I paid the restaurant, I had $150 left if my pocket, and after I bought a $125 B/W TV, a gallon of milk, I was down until the next salary.  But that at that  time, I have no credit card or mortgage.

 I asked my wife and Nang Jeorgie to fly to San Jose California. Nang Jeorgy paid for the plane ticket. After their arrival in San Jose, news came from Nang Jeorgie & my wife that Tay Eyo’s estate will not provide funeral expenses, so his remains were handled via pauper’s funeral.

 Over the years, the question remains?  Did my mother find solace in reconnecting with  his long lost brother?  Was Tay Eyo disappointed to have exposed his solitary life away from his family?   What if upon our discovery of his existence, I took him home to Polo, and  had the pleasure to be serenaded by the Zabal sisters, Nay Umba, Nay Pecta, Nay Aya, Nay Deca and Mama, and Tay Marci on the guitar.   What if all of his nephews and nieces had that luxury to kiss him. That would have been a joyous reunion for long lost brother who was found. Then, they could have paraded to Banga and visited the graves of Lolo and Lola, and put closure to the longing and tears all those years.

Now, I pray to God that they all have peace and serenity in Heaven!    

 Happy birthday, Tay Eyo!

Reloj-Zabal Manila Reunion 

 Researched by: Eng. Gavino Zabal Reloj

There is a town Zabal Spain near Pamplona (a place made famous by Ernest Hemingway)

Basque Origins

         Zabaleta is a Basque surname of considerable antiquity. Students of Hispanic heraldry indicate that, though the antiquity of the name makes it impossible to document an exact temporal origin, the name has appeared prominently in Iberian history for at least the last twelve hundred years. Basque surnames "are quite distinctive and most are derived from the ancestral country home's name or other prominent geographic feature." The Basque surname is a word by which an extended family is described and located, and is determined by a technique typical of tribal peoples. A Basque surname, for example, may describe a people "who live at the top of the hill" or "the people who live by the river."

In his work on Basque surnames, Fernando González-Doria described the name's meaning: "Zabaleta has its origin in the Basque country and while we do not know in which century it appeared, we do know that it is an ancient Basque surname." In the Basque language, the surname Zabaleta refer to a wide flat area. Thus, Zabaleta describes the people who live by a flat place in the mountainous Pyrenees. Another version translates Zabaleta as "the people who live by the mountain pass." When the surname-root, "Zabal,"" meaning a wide place, is combined with the maximizing ending "eta," it becomes "a very-wide place." Hence Zabal-eta is, "un lugar muy ancho."

The Basque practice of associating place designators with extended families also allows us to know the exact location of the Zabaleta family in the Basque countryside, through an oral tradition which pre-dates written records, or at least to the eighth century CE (Contemporary Era). It stands to reason that, since the Basque language describes a people's location, there could be more than one founding family called Zabaleta. In fact, this research has located two families, one in the Basque Province of Navarre (Navarra) and the other in neighboring Guipúzcoa. The two families are related, and together they form the progenitor base for the extended Zabaleta family both in Spain and in the Americas.

It should be noted here that the Zabaleta surname spelled with a "b" and Zavaleta spelled with a "v" have the same origin. With the sixteenth century emigration of Zabaleta's to the New World, this Basque surname, along with many others, was changed from the Basque spelling using "b" to the Castilian spelling using "v." Etymologically there is no difference between Zabaleta and Zavaleta. In fact, this change allows us to easily differentiate between Zabaletas born in Spain and Zavaletas born in the Americas (beginning around 1500). Simply stated, all Zabaletas/Zavaletas are members of the same family, separated by generations and oceans. For the purpose of this article, when Zabaleta is spelled with a "b" it refers to a Spanish origin, and when spelled with a "v" it refer to an American origin.

Zabaleta Family Origins

Tracing family history through time, over generations, and across oceans is both time-consuming and expensive. It was not until the advent of the Internet that more than fifty years of study of Zavaleta family history and genealogy could be more fully facilitated by a few simple keystrokes, but travel to historic family locations and national archives is still essential. Old World family records are often sketchy and, in antiquity, mostly non-existent. However, the nature of the Basque population, their geographic area of origin, and the uniqueness of their surnames make the records and references available beyond the ordinary. It is when families have had illustrious histories, or have played important historical roles, that familial reconstruction is easiest. For the sake of this article, only family history with the surname Zabaleta/Zavaleta is considered. Documented family history now approximates two thousand years of direct descent. Special thanks to doctoral student and friend Michael Scott Van Wagenen, who has, in the interest of my work on family history and the origin of families in Northeastern Mexico, spent more than 100 hours in the, Family History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah. It is important to note that in the Mormon archives, Michael found numerous Zavaleta ancestors in Northern Mexico whose surname was recorded with an "S." Therefore, the search for Savaleta and Sabaleta revealed many heretofore unknown family links and answered many questions that the family had held for many years. As a result of his work and that of Tony Zavaleta, Jr., the Zavaleta family genealogy has a documented direct line of descent that now exceeds 60 generations and is placed in time at the year zero CE. Two thousand years of direct family descent.

The earliest reference we have to the Basque family known as Zabaleta comes from the ancient accounts of the military campaigns of Charlemagne and of his defeat at the hands of the Basques at the Battle of Roncevaux Pass (French spelling) or Roncesvalles (Spanish spelling) in 778 CE. The ancient account of Charlemagne's only defeat provides us with a twelve-hundred-year-old description of the Zabaleta family home and of El Camino de Zabaleta (the Zabaleta road running through the forest and the Roncesvalles Pass), near the modern border between Spain and France.

Los cronistas carolingios universalizaron Valcarlos englobandolo en un pedazo del "Pirineo de los Vascones," que no conoc¡an por si mismos, sino por relatos de supervivientes y, en mayor medida, de gentes que oyeron contar las historias de primera mano. Pero, como dudarlo, fueron enormemente precisos en las referencias topográficas... la hondonada subyacente por la que corre un rumoroso arroyo que no se deja ver hasta la borda Zabaleta" (in this case the word "borda" translates as a small country cottage).

Approximate translation: The Carolingian chroniclers spread the word of Valcarlos, locating it in a part of the "Pyrenees of the Basques," which they did not know personally, but had heard of in the stories of survivors and mainly from people that had heard the stories told first hand. However, how can one doubt it, as they were extremely precise in the topographic references...the underlying hollow in which runs a roaring stream that is not seen until reaching the Zabaleta's cottage.

The ancient account describes the battle in which Roland the nephew of Charlemagne was killed and provides a lyrical, even poetic, description of the home's country setting:

Con trazas de volver a pisar el trazado genuino, la senda gana la luz en otro claro del bosque, el a que forma un recoleto parado enmarcado entre gruesos castaños y dos caudalosos arroyos, conocido por Zabaleta (lugar ancho), un rincón cautivador por su sabor pastoral que preside una recia casona de piedra, hoy convertida en borda."

Approximate translation: With plans to return to walk along the actual layout, the footpath opens into the light in another clearing of the forest, one that forms a secluded stopping point, framed between thick chestnut trees and two mighty streams, known as Zavaleta (a wide space), a corner of the woods, captivating with its pastoral flavor that presides over a sturdy stone house, today converted into a cottage.

The Kingdom of Navarre and the Province of Guipúzcoa

It was not until the year 905 that Sancho Garcés I (a direct ancestor), organized the Basque region around a European-style regional dynasty. It became known as the Kingdom of Navarre. McAlister states that, "The Kingdom of Navarre was created in the tenth century by Romanized Basques in the western Pyrenees; and the kingdoms of Castile and Aragon were both formed in the first half of the eleventh century, Castile from the east of León, and Aragon from a county of Navarre in the central Pyrenees."

The principality of Navarre enjoyed independence for several hundred years, largely due to the fact that it had no threatening neighbors. While the eastern half of the Basque country was drawn more and more into the French realm, the western half, today located in Spain, included the regions of Navarre and Guipúzcoa, home of the Zabaleta family.

Payne suggests that by the twelfth century this region had been mostly Christianized and was comprised of farms with strong extended families. Slowly, Guipúzcoa and the entire Spanish Basque region became part of the Castilian world, and the Basques were poised to play a major role in the expansion of Castile in its colonization of the New World after 1492.

The Zabaleta family has its origin in Guipúzcoa and Navarre, and, as such, all Zabaletas in the Old World and Zavaletas in the New World herald from the same general location. Map searches indicate that the distance from the Zabaletas of Lesaca, Navarre, to those in Urretxu, Guipúzcoa, to be no more than 50km or 30 miles.