Filipino Genealogy Resources On-Line
Inspired by this discussion , I wanted to share my insights on websites which provide information that can help FILIPINOS go further in their genealogy research.
ANCESTRY. http://ancestry.com — Even if majority of the data here are based on American and European primary sources, it can be helpful to Filipino researchers when tracking … ancestors or family lines who are from or who migrated to other countries (civil and church records) … or those who made a voyage (via passenger lists) … or those included in the family trees of others. So far, the site gives little data to Filipinos hoping to go deeper into their Filipino lineage. BTW, you would also need a paid subscription to get access to the nifty records.
FAMILYSEARCH. https://familysearch.org/ — They made public the digital images of Manila civil and church records recently, and more to come. For other places, you can still use their search and get text data (indexed by others). If you find something relevant, request the corresponding roll numbers at the LDS Family History Center near you. Note, the indexing is incomplete and some indexers may not have read the documents properly. Access is free; but you have to log-in to see digital images. Over-all, still a good tool.
FILIPINAS HERITAGE LIBRARY. http://bit.ly/filipinas-heritage — Okay, so this isn’t exactly an on-line resource; but the library does hold an impressive Filipiniana collection worth visiting. I have personally handled books and Spanish era docs which are classified as “rare” when you go to the National Library. They have a music library (Eddie Peregrina anyone?) and a photo collection which houses archived photos of prominent Filipinos. The link above leads to their search engine. It is not very intuitive, so good search terms would help you get the data you want.
FOOTNOTE. http://www.footnote.com — If you had prominent ancestors who may have dealt with the American-government from 1898 (Spanish-American War) to 1946 (when we were released as a US protectorate), then Footnote would be an interesting read. Some newspapers are free to view; others would require a paid subscription. Personally, I have spent a lot of time laughing/learning at some of the editorials about Rizal, US involvement in the Philippines in the 1900, the Thomasite movement etcetera. Fun!
GENI. http://geni.com — Aside from the nifty flash-based user interface, Geni’s claim to fame is it’s use of the collective knowledge to build family trees — no stuffy, be-speckled genealogists here. For Filipinos, who may not have the access to primary data, the platform has been helpful in finding ancestors through the work done by someone else (perhaps a relative). I have been a user since 2009 and I was very recently inducted as a “curator” (peer support) and I have observed that most Filipino users struggle with Geni’s mission of building towards one big global family tree. Clannish folks that we are, we prefer our family trees to stay private and are suspicious of lurkers. We also get skiddish when someone unknown asks to join or collaborate on the family tree. Personally, I advocate that older, more distant ancestors (especially if you have documented information) should be made public and shared; but living relatives and children should be kept private. Private profiles are there and can be accessed by you and your family; and no one else — not even curators. Shedding our personal paranoien can lead to many serendipitous genealogical finds.
GOOGLE BOOKS. http://books.google.com/ — I never thought that using the BOOK search engine (vs just the REGULAR Google search) would make a big difference; but it did! I found a reference to my great-grandfather in an obscure book with limited circulation on the Philippines Senate. The entire book was not available to read on-line; but with the publication details, I was able to score a copy at the Filipinas Heritage Library (using these tools in combination work too!). His mini-biography printed in that book opened up the floodgates. What seemed like minor data helped validate dates and places relevant to his life. Some books are available to read in their entirety.
GOOGLE NEWS. http://news.google.com/ — I was disappointed when I heard Google abandoned its attempt to digitize historical newspapers. For the Philippines, they have archived some ten years worth of print and web news. Not bad. Obits have been particularly helpful to me.
US LIBRARY OF CONGRESS. http://lcweb2.loc.gov/asian/philhtml/ — If you are looking for an accomplished ancestor who figured prominently in a historical event, try the Philippine Bibliography of the Asian Reading room. The quick search bar is helpful; but not as intuitive as I had hoped.
US NATIONAL ARCHIVES. http://www.archives.gov/st-louis/military-personnel/philippine-army-records.html — If you are looking for an ancestor who served in the military during World War II or the Philippine Army when the Americans were occupying the country, then you could write to the Archives, requesting for data. It takes a few weeks to get a response; but they do respond. I know this first-hand, as I requested for my great-grandfather’s records early this year.