Posted by: vip | December 16, 2008


28-Dec-2007 9:47 pm

The Claveria decree. Besides the town’s lechon, chicharon, old houses and shoemaking, when people hear Carcar, another aspect that comes to mind are the surnames beginning with “Al-“. But people should realize is that besides the Al- families, there are other alphabetical groupings in the town, although smaller in number than the predominant Al-‘s.

If we were to make a study of Carcar distribution patterns, we would say that the implementation of the Claveria surnames in Carcar was done in an admirably efficient manner, with some thought that went to its execution.

From records around the time (1850-55), we can determine that the “Al-“ surnames were given to the natives in the area then called Latid (present-day Guadalupe?). The “Bar-“ and the “Cam-“ surnames were given to people in Cogon. The “Day-“ was handed out to Lagang-Bacsiji area. The “Mang-“ surnames dominate Napo, the “Man-“ and “Sat-“ went to Daanglungsod and Sangat (the names Valladolid and Perrelos must have come later, too). The other groupings are the Can-, Em-, Gem- and Gen-, Lao-, Nav-, Oa- (now Wa-), Pan-, Qui-, Rem-, Sasu-, Tan- and Tang-.

By late 1850, the surnames had already been well-distributed. It is true that by that time, too, there were branches of many families who were already living away from the family’s original place mentioned above. But the decree specifically touched on this matter–that even persons living apart but are known brothers or sons of known fathers, be given the same name. Thus, the Alegado and Alfafara surnames, as with others, could be found in Latid, Bolinauan, Cogon and other places.

This geographical assignment of names also tend to dispel the notion of families that they were the ones who chose their surnames. Families do claim that their ancestor chose their surname, even if there is no proof of his having done the choosing (as against his just being assigned it), or even why he chose the name at all.

(Re Bacsiji: By 1850 there was still no mention of Ocaña, leading us to presume that Bacsiji was the populated center in the area then and Ocaña came to be only much later. Which is very likely, considering that Bacsiji was a coastal and fishing community, and still is, and thus would be more densely populated, and still is, than the greater Ocaña area of today which was still, and still is, very much farmlands, and farmers are usually spread far and between over larger holdings. I don’t know how and when Ocaña became the barrio and Bacsiji was somewhat downgraded to a mere sitio of Ocaña.) 

Name Meanings and Family History. In this age of Google, many Filipinos search for the meaning of their surnames to give them a clue as to their family’s characteristics or origins. But that is just not applicable, at least with Carcar. A native-sounding surname’s meaning may plausibly point to a general character of that family, but even then…

Even if the name had been sitting around the family for some generations already, more likely it applied only to the first person. Antonio Kusgan (Strong) would certainly have been that, but it would stretch one’s imagination to conclude that all his sons and daughters and grandchildren shared the virtue, too. Same thing with English or Spanish descriptive names.

If it were a locality name, say Antonio Tagalog, probably, Antonio was a Tagalog and so nicknamed because he was in a non-Tagalog area, say Carcar, Cebu. It would be ridiculous for Antonio to have been nicknamed Tagalog in Bulacan, as pretty much all of them there were. But his descendants who had Carcar mothers could not have been Tagalog. Thus, in this case again, the surname applies only to the starting person, but it does point somewhat to the family’s history. But remember that this applies only if Antonio and his family had this Tagalog name for some generations before the Claveria decree and were allowed to retain it. But if he got the name in Carcar only through the decree, perhaps a closer look at the origin is in order.

And more so if only one person was just given out the surname via the decree: we can simply say that he was just assigned the name, and that the Juan Pedro who suddenly became Juan Camingao in 1850 was not necessarily lonely at the time.

And even more unreliable would be ascribing the meaning of a Spanish surname as descriptive of that indio family, which may be stretching it a bit. It would be decidedly tedious for the local implementers of the decree–say, the priest, clerks and cabezas to bother with which Spanish names fit a given family or family group. The number of families alone would make the approach quite untenable. So, the case was more like those surnames were simply handed out to the indios. This would better explain, too, why the distribution of the alphabetical name groups mentioned can be pinpointed to particular places in the town, as this way of handing out the listed surnames would certainly have been the most convenient thing to do.

The meanings of the Al- surname group are usually associated with the prefix Al- itself, and most of themn are in fact Arabic. That only goes to show the meanings of their surnames have got nothing to do with their holders in Carcar.

Be that as it may, the surname Aleonar, despite the king-of-beastly infix, has no regal or feral connotation and the word in fact is actually just a verb the nearest English equivalent of which probably would be ”to cajole”. I would find it quite descriptive of me, but then so would it describe many many other Carcaranons not of my ilk.

Aleonar. My first ancestor came from Bohol. Where in Bohol, the books of Carcar (or its clerks) were not very far-sighted and just lumped individuals as being natives of Bohol. But the fact of the surname belonging to the Al-group (but no Alcaida in Carcar), meant that in 1849-1850, the family was already in Carcar and either they did not know what name was given to the original family back in Bohol, or they tried out this new name on their own. Same thing with other Bohol families who can be grouped with the Carcar alphabetical groupings.

The Alcudia, Alegrado and Barcenilla families came from Cebu City and also well before the decree. The fact that they tried out these apparently Carcar-esque surnames can also mean either they didn’t know what the home family was given (or never asked), or they simply wanted to stake out a new name for themselves, possibly even in direct defiance of their main Cebu City family, and thus their first persons just accepted the assigned Carcar surname. They would be Leon Alcudia (the pre-Decree Leon de los Santos), Brigildo Alegrado (Brigildo Silvestre) and Narciso Barcenilla (Narciso de Jesus).

Back to Aleonar. And so it also came to pass that while his brothers were still in Latid, my great-great-grandfather was already in Cabancalan under the patronage of cabeza Don Silverio Quilario. A widower, he then took as second wife someone from Cogon, and presumably transferred residence there, this time under the patronage of his new father-in-law, the cabeza Don Alcario Barcelo.

Spanish ancestry. And finally, with this tract, we should close the book on Carcar families’ misconception (or aspiration) of having been Spanish-descended. Accepted, if there is Spanish blood somewhere it must have come from an illegitimate source. The old “native” Carcar families and those that came in from Bohol, San Nicolas and other places in Cebu were all classified as indios, with the exceptions of the mestizo Sangley families from Parian, the earlier ones of which were the Alcudia, Aldocente, Alegrado, Barcenilla, Gantuangco, Jimena (now Avila), Regis and Sarmiento, in alphabetic order.

The only families with Spanish blood on the legitimate line were the del Corro and the Silva families. The children of Donato Regis by his second wife, Juana Falcon, a mestiza Española from Bohol, took on the mestizo Sangley classification of Donato. In the late 1860s, a scion of the Rodriguez family living in Sibonga would also settle in Carcar after taking a Lañas-Ramos wife. The father in Sibonga was from Madrid. And the children and grandchildren got the mestizo Español classification. The Fortich family, too, had some children baptized in Carcar.



  1. I have redirected family queries to the Search Forum page.

  2. For Spanish surnames, it would be nice to know the meaning of one’s surname, but it would be wise to accept the meaning has got nothing to do with your family.

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