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Modesto Jaramillo Tuzon, also known as “Modie” or “Estong,” was born in Santo Domingo, Ilocos Sur, Philippines in 1907. He emigrated from the Philippines in 1927 via the steamship, Empress of Asia, disembarking in Vancouver, Canada. Modie came to America to study banjo and the 14-string

Filipino mandolin at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. For two years, he studied music. On school breaks, he worked the fields with his first cousins Leon Jaramillo Lazo, Cipriano Lazo, Paul DeOcampo and Leon DeOcampo—all of whom were also from Santo Domingo. During the Great Depression in 1929, Modie left the Conservatory and began working as a farmworker full-time. However, he continued to tour the Pacific Coast during the off-season. He played at popular dance halls from Seattle to Arroyo Grande.

While working in the Arroyo Grande area during the 1950s, Modie met Linda “Ardell” Craner, a talented singer. Sharing a love of music and a great sense of humor, they married and settled in the Watsonville area—first on Lewis Road and then in the Las Lomas area. They had three children: Modesto Orlando “Lanny,” born in 1956, Denise, who died at 15 months old in 1959, and Rita, born in 1959. Now, Rita has two college-aged children, Jared and Sophia Stone. Thanks to the loving warmth of Ardell and Modie, the Tuzon household in Las Lomas was always a welcoming home for many cousins, friends, and relatives from both sides of the family.

Modie was renowned as a highly skilled tractor driver, teaching countless younger people, including his son, how
to drive a Caterpillar D-4 tractor. He worked for decades for Sears Brothers and later Sears-Shuman. Ardell became an educator specializing in reading. She worked at Hall School in Las Lomas for 40 years and in the library that is now named in her memory. While Modie continued to play mandolin for enjoyment throughout his life, it was not until later that he resumed public music performances. He formed a band with his old Pinoy musician friends and Ardell as the vocalist. They performed popular American and Ilocano songs.

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