On the 21st of November 1849, the Governor General of the Philippines, Don Narciso Claveria y Zaldua, issued a law (thereafter called the Claveria Decree) requiring Filipinos to adopt new surnames from the Catalogo Alfabetico de Apellidos for consistent civil and legal administration.
I had the opportunity to look at the annotated 1971 reprint of the catalog (printed by the Philippine Historical Institute) at the Filipinas Heritage Library this week and made a few observations.
1. The notion that the edict mandated the use of Spanish names is false. The catalog had a wealth of Spanish AND indigenous names to choose from. The fact that majority of the people selected Spanish names perhaps reflected the prevalent colonial mentality that a foreign name would make one’s family appear more distinguished.
2. The catalog is alphabetized A-Z; but the names under each letter are not consistently alphabetized.
3. I noticed several “unfortunate” surnames. I am sharing a few names which probably would be a disaster for anyone to use today. I swear, these truly were among the options our Filipino ancestors chose from! If I applied myself, I could probably find more; but from cursory search, here’s what I got:
An-an … Anacan … Anticristo … Anuba … Aray … Ari … Baboy … Bacla … Bajo … Bastardo … Bayag-usa … Binobo … Bobo … Bocol … Boso … Cac … Cupal … Devil … Fallec … Fango … Poqui … Puse
Now aren’t you glad your great-great-great-great-Lolo had a nasty case of Spanish colonial mentality?
This article is reprinted from The Freeman, Cebu, and is dated 11 July 2010. You may read the source post here.
CEBU, Philippines – Martin “Sonny” L. Tinio Jr., author of the book Philippine Ancestral Houses, is one of those who are hooked on genealogy. He started tracing the Tinio family tree in 1972. “It was Martial Law and I got bored so I did the family tree,” he said.
But the work was not easy, he said, since he had to go through old records from churches and other government institutions to find information about his ancestors. “The records were so dusty. I think nobody ever opened those books. I was sneezing and even had hay fever. Mainit pa kasi walang aircon,” he recalled. Sonny decided to stop going through old records and do the family tree by interviewing family members. But this method was not also easy breezy! He had to go to the province and interview a long line of people, asking them who their relatives are! Sonny later found out that oral tradition is not reliable. “It was all jumbled up! I realized this when I did the biography of my grandfather, Gen. Manuel Tinio,” he said.
Deciding that church and government records were the most reliable, Sonny and his family hired a historian to research about their family tree. He narrated that the woman they hired had to go to different areas in Nueva Ecija and go through church records in every place. “There was no Family History Center then so the best way to get reliable information is to really go through church records,” he added.
To date, Sonny has 33,000 names in the Tinio family tree and the number is increasing thanks to the LDS Family History Center, which he visited everyday for three years! “I add a hundred names to the list everyday, thanks to the Family History Center, where it is so convenient and so clean. The staff are very accommodating pa,” Sonny said.
Maricel Claudia Alabastro of the Mayo Clan of Lipa, Batangas, is also one of the many who found her ancestors through the Family History Center. “It was February 2006 and Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, a relative, was installed as Cardinal. We have scheduled a reunion in April and we wanted it to be really grand since it was the biggest reunion of the Mayo Clan. So I decided to research on our ancestors. The Mayo Clan already had a family tree but it was not extensive. So I came to the Family History Center to research. I started with the name of the Cardinal,” Maricel said.
Since the LDS has microfilms of government and church records from all over the country, as well as records from other countries, Maricel came to know that her ancestor was a British soldier, Antony Mayo, from the aristocracy of Great Britain and Ireland, who arrived in Lipa, Batangas together with the British forces during the British Expedition to Manila in 1762-1764. Maricel found that Antony Mayo chose to stay in Lipa, fell in love with Dona Feliciana Casilag and had a child, Don Sebastian Mayo, who became the Gobernadorcillo of Lipa in 1797.
Aside from finding out that she had British descent, Maricel also found out that her ancestors were responsible for the coffee boom in Lipa, Batangas.
But the search for her family was not easy, despite the convenience offered by the Family History Center. “You also have to have common sense. You really have to use your brain and know a little history because there were times when our ancestors had to change their family names. I had to read all the microfilms from Lipa,” she said.
Why look for your ancestors? Family pride is one of the reasons why one traces his roots, aside from setting family records straight. But Sonny said that tracing your roots can also be informative in so many ways. “Family traits, vices and mannerisms stay in the family so you will know what to expect,” he said.
Sister Caroline Fitzgerald, one of the persons in charge of the Family History Center in Manila, said that it is really a golden age for genealogy, “The Filipinos are starting to remember their families.” So far, there are 80,000 microfilms from the Philippines that contain church and government records. There is still a lot to do, she said, when it comes to preserving the records of the world but the volunteers of the LDS are patiently microfilming these records so that these will be shared to all.
One of the more recent records that the LDS in the Philippines has microfilmed were the records at the Manila City Hall, said Ms. Pilobello. “Before World War II, all vital records – birth, death, marriage – were transmitted to Manila. The LDS was able to microfilm the records. We were in the process of digitizing the records when Ondoy hit. It flooded the Manila City Hall and destroyed many of the original records. Good thing na naka microfilm na sila! After Ondoy, marami nang lumapit sa amin, asking us to help them put records on microfilm. But still there are also people, organizations, and even countries that do not allow the LDS to microfilm. But the Church hopes that we will be able to microfilm all records in the world. We are not doing this for the LDS, we are doing this for us all,” she concluded.
I took the historical image I found here, taken after a series of earthquakes the late 1800s that damaged one of the towers; and a photograph I took in August 2011 to create this composite of the historic San Agustin Church.
Erected in 1607, the church is the oldest church in the Philippines. Spanish conquistadors Miguel López de Legazpi, Juan de Salcedo and Martín de Goiti are some of the many historical figures buried here. The main church survived the Battle of Manila in WWII; but the adjacent monastery was levelled and rebuilt in the 1970s.
Find more “history fades” here.
As we enter the season of Lent, it is only fitting that March’s masthead embraces the Filipinos’ piety and loyalty to their faith. This month’s header was taken from University of Wisconsin’s digital image collection. The photo, taken some time between 1907 and 1916, is an image of a crowd watching the Easter procession in front of the Manila Cathedral. The original image captured a good cross-section of the Philippine society — an “insular possession” of the United States. You can see men in crisp suits and buntal hats, women in butterfly-sleeved saya and belo, American and Filipino soldiers in khakis and ranger hats and the faithful laymen bearing the karosa.
The world of sports recently celebrated the centennial of the the debut of FC Barcelona’s legend, the Filipino-Spanish Paulino Riestra Alcantara. He was the first Filipino and Asian player to play for a European club and was hailed by the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) as “the best Asian player of all time” in 2007.
Alcantara was born on 07 October 1897 to a Spanish military officer and an Ilongga mother in Concepcion, Iloilo, Philippines. He moved to Barcelona with his parents in 1905, when he was 8 years old. The budding football star made his debut for the Barcelona youth team in February 1912 at the age of 15 and remains the youngest player to score for the club. He also scored 357 goals in 357 matches, making him the club’s highest goal scorer (counting goals scored in both official and exhibition games). A legendary striker, he ripped the goal net in a game against France and earned the nicknames “El Rompe Redes”, “Trencaxarxes” or “The Net Breaker.”
Paulino’s football career was punctuated when his family returned to the Philippines in 1916. In 1917, Alcantara contracted malaria and refused to take his medicine, until his parents agreed to send him back to Spain. Football remained a big part of his young life — Alcantara continued to play, representing the Bohemian Sporting Club, the Philippines and Spain in local and international competitions.
In 1927, Alcantara retired as a player to become a physician. He later served as club director for FC Barcelona. As one of the early footballers to write memoirs of his playing days, Alcantara left a proud legacy. He died in Barcelona, Spain on 13 February 1964 at age 67. A life-size statue of Alcantara was unveiled at the Philippine Football Federation office at the PhilSports Complex in Pasig during the football centennial commemoration in 2007.
Paulino’s 1916 trip home
This week, Manila-based genealogist Mona Magno-Veluz uncovered the travel document the 18-year old Paulino Alcantara used in April 1916. The document states that he was born in Concepcion, Iloilo (erroneously marked Luzon). It confirms that he left the Philippines when he was 8 years old, contrary to the varying accounts.
The accompanying photograph shows a somber-faced boy of medium build and of, as the document states, a height of 5 feet 6 inches — making his prowess and achievements in the European league even more remarkable. This new discovery documents Alcantara’s departure from Barcelona to Manila, to rejoin (some say, begrudgingly) his family in the islands, where he was to begin his education in medicine.
Paulino Alcantara was the son of a Spanish military officer, Eduardo Alcantara and Spanish-Ilongga mestiza, Victoriana Camilan Riestra. His mother was born in Iloilo on 25 February 1859. His maternal grandfather was a citizen of Spain, according to his mother’s passport application dated December 1915. She passed away in Spain in May 1926. Her obituary listed her as a widow with seven children: Eduardo, Diego, Fernando, Maria, Victoria, Josefa and Paulino.
After the family left Spain in 1916 to return to the Philippines, some of Paulino’s siblings decided to settle in the islands. Paulino’s brother, Fernando, was born in Manila on 23 March 1896. He married Vicenta Rodriguez in Manila and passed away in San Juan, Rizal in 1957. Paulino’s possibly unmarried sister, Maria de la Paz, was born in Manila in June 1869. She passed away in Makati on 07 August 1956, at the age of 67.
View Paulino Alcantara’s family tree here.
- Ball, Phil. “Morbo: The Story of Spanish Football”. London: WSC Books Ltd, 2003.
- Burgos, Nestor. “Paulino Alcantara: RP legend in world football“. Philippine Daily Inquirer. Date published: 11 July 2010. Date accessed: 03 March 2012.
- Capones, Joey. “History of Paulino Alcantara“. Date published: 03 February 2012.
- “Dona Victoriana Reistra Camilan“. La Vanguardia, Page 2. Date published: 06 May 1926. Date accessed: 23 June 2012.
- Gutierrez, Natashya. “FC Barcelona’s highest goal scorer in history is Pinoy“. Date published: 25 February 2012. Date accessed: 02 March 2012.
- “Maria de la Paz Alcantara“. Familysearch.org. Date accessed: 23 June 2012.
- “Mythical Players: Paulino Alcantara“. FC Barcelona Offical Site. Date accessed: 02 March 2012.
- Nathanielz, Ronnie. “Barcelona remembers centennial of Paulino Alcantara“. Philboxing.com. Date published: 26 February 2012. Date accessed: 02 March 2012.
- “Paulino Alcantara“. Wikipedia. Date modified: 27 February 2012. Date accessed: 02 March 2012.
- “U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 Record for Paulino Alcantara Y Riestra“. National Archives and Records Administration. Date accessed: 02 March 2012.
- “U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 Record for Victoriana Riestra De Alcantara“. National Archives and Records Administration. Date accessed: 02 March 2012.
- Watton. “Barca History: Paulino Alcántara“. Total Barca. Date published: 10 August 2010. Date accessed: 02 March 2012.
I took the historical image I found here, dated 31 October 1896 and a photograph I took in August 2011 to create this composite of the front gate of this historic citadel. After it’s destruction in WWII’s Battle of Manila, restoration efforts began in the 1950s. The location of the bridge over the moat that connects Plaza Moriones and the main part of the fort has moved since the late 1800s.
Find more “history fades” here.
- Dumindin, Arnaldo. “Philippine-American War, 1899-1902“. Photo dated 31 October 1896. Unknown owner. Date accessed: 26 Aug 2011.
- M. Veluz. ”San Agustin Church Door”. 2011. Personal collection.
The Meralco Building along San Marcelino Street, Manila was built by Juan Arellano in 1936 as the headquarters of the country’s largest power company. It was a modern office building and was the first air-conditioned office the country. Its façade has relief sculptures by the Spanish artist, Francesco Ricardo Monti. Since the power company vacated the premises, it has become near derelict. Not since the destruction of the Jai Alai building along Taft Avenue has the Internet been ablaze with uproar over the destruction of yet another heritage building. Over the last week, the structure was almost completely demolished. Read Ivan Henares’ article. Today’s fade was brought to you by Skyscraper City. [I do not own these images.]
My friend’s father used to work in MERALCO back in the days when their tranvias roamed the streets. Do you have any ancestors who worked for MERALCO?
Find more “history fades” here.