Posted by: vip | December 26, 2008

Notes to my family tree

(A Family Tree in the Philippine Setting)

ALEONAR Family Genealogy

Carcar, Cebu, Philippines

First Edition 2009


1. Why? We always say we cannot bring our riches to the grave and beyond, that what is most important is your good name, or whatever. Well, my most humbling experiences are when people I ask about their family, while most remember their grandparents, 99.9% do not know the names of their great-grandparents at all.  What for good name then when chances are your own great-grandchildren will never remember what was yours–except if you were a president or a big somebody (and anyway everybody else remembers you), or if the riches you’d  accumulated had extended to them, meaning you cannot bring your riches to the grave but you can always leave them behind to your family.  Well, rich or famous–you’re just the 0.1%.

What prods me to do this is having graduated from affection for my own nearest of kin to the realization that everyone in the bigger family tree is my blood and the ordinariest of them, more so, cries out to be remembered.

Well, this family tree shouts out the names of everyone of my blood.

2. Use of surnames on individuals. I’ve decided that it’s only right, for all my Family Trees, that ancestors who are known to have died before the 1849 Claveria decree, and thus were never known by the surname now “enjoyed” by his family, shall only be identified by his or her original name.

This policy will also prevent future descendants from being misled into otherwise concluding that since the ancestor in the Tree is named Vidal Aleonar, and who had died before 1849, that the family were already using the surname then, and was therefore Spanish-descended or something. Thus, Vidal Ygnacio, the starting person in the Aleonar family tree, remains as he was known throughout his life.

3. Family Symbols. I cringe on end when paisanos unabashedly display their supposedly family heraldry which are of course actually Spanish, and which they simply based on their surname–products of internet searches.  So, our family should never presume any family crest or coat of arms here. We have none, our family has never known one, and there is no reason we should start only now. Besides, the family emblems for an Aleonar family in Spain, if there is one, may be the rightful crest for that family, but since the Aleonar of the Philippines are not Spanish, therefore the Aleonars of Spain are not our family, and we theirs and we have no right to their family emblems. The circumstance of our family’s having the same surname as theirs is only by the fact of the history of Philippine surnames, and so it would be graceless to appropriate, or incorporate even an aspect of, the identity of a family certainly not our blood.

Heraldry illumines the stock, the bloodline, the history and achievements of a family. That’s their family, but this is a  family tree we are talking about, for Godsakes. So, no.  In the event that one of our descendants should ever establish a kingdom in the future, and feel an imperialistic need for those ornamentations, then he will just have to be the one to have the heraldries commissioned for our own bloodline. At that point, though, I wonder which College of Arms would be doing it.

But with regards to his ancestors, he’ll have little problem, because this family tree is precisely dedicated to those, like him, to come in the future, and he’ll have a working notion where his family started from. As his corollary ancestor though, I just wish for him not to give in to making up illusionary stories of grandeur about our stock, our bloodline, and the history and achievements of our family. Inflate everything up so big that even the family in Spain would themselves hitch on to our new star.

4. Meaning of Name. However, there shall be the meaning of the name, but simply because it is a word, and although it might describe the author, but again by fact of the history of Philippine surnames, the meaning is not derivative of the family at all.

aleonar – (tr.v.) (Amer.) to stir up, agitate (generally for fun or through enthusiasm).
-Simon & Schuster Spanish Dictionary (1973)
(Second Edition, 1997)

The Spanish Governor-General in the Philippines, Narciso Clavería y Zaldúa, cónde de Manila (although doubts have been expressed he was ever granted this title), issued a decree prescribing surnames to be used by Filipinos. The purpose was to give order to the confusion of names among family members who were not following a family name. Accompanying the decree was the Catálogo Alfabético de Apellidos (Alphabetical Catalog of Surnames) prepared by officials all over the country for the purpose. Dated 21 November 1849, the decree, by the end of 1850, had been well implemented.

The surname aleonar, along with many Carcar surnames that start with Al- is found in that Catálogo, page 4, column 3. To elaborate on the meaning of the surname may only mislead our family into thinking that the surname was chosen because it applied to or was descriptive of the family, when all evidences point to the surname having been just one of those alphabetically sorted family names “distributed” to the people of Carcar in 1849-50. We simply have no familial connection to any meaning of our surname.

5. Bloodline. Family members carrying the same surname can readily acknowledge each other’s familial relation and even right away establish close personal ties as agaw (cousin). That’s easy.  But family tree reconstructions show they’re really fourth cousins and, meanwhile, there’s this set of family no longer carrying the surname who is a third cousin, or even a second, and yet they never knew the other existed.

Thus, it is easy to mistakenly think that individuals surnamed Aleonar have a bigger stake in the blood sweepstakes than members of the family no longer carrying the name, they from the female lines. But that is not the case. Every individual of the same generation, except for those with an intermarriage (or inter-breeding) in their line—every single one of the same generation only has the same percentage of the Aleonar blood. This is true whether surnamed Aleonar or those three times removed already—say, from Aleonar to Dejos to Unabia to Emnacen. Vincent Raymond Aleonar can only have the same amount of Aleonar blood as Chuchi Emnacen. They are both 8th generation.

In a rough illustration:

Given that first person Vidal Ygnacio was 100% Aleonar, and his children as 50%.

Thus, the descendants of Vidal’s grandson Sabas Aleonar who, as third generation, has himself only 25% Aleonar blood:

4G: siblings Agapito Barán Aleonar and Balbina Barán Aleonar have the same amount of Aleonar blood (12.5%);

5G: first cousins Brígido Eñales Aleonar and Oliva Aleonar Dejos have the same amount of Aleonar blood (6.25%);

6G: second cousins Mario Goncer Aleonar and Pedro Dejos Unabia have the same amount of Aleonar blood (3.125%);

7G: third cousins Emmanuel Aldueso Aleonar and Emma Patunob Unabia have the same amount of Aleonar blood (1.5625%);

8G: fourth cousins Vincent Raymond Gepuela Aleonar and Chuchi Unabia Emnacen have the same amount of Aleonar blood (0.78125%).

The workings of genes are not as simplistic as this, of course, and we may have traits shared by other families but with an ancient common ancestry as ours.  But by mere partitioning of bloodline from father and mother to an individual, this amateurish approach works just fine for illustrative purposes.  So, folks, we are that similarly diluted.

6. Spelling. The names in the Family Tree may look horribly and inconsistently spelt, but this is because the spellings used are those found in the books, which are mostly the result of clerks’ ignorance plus our family’s illiteracy then. Or, if at all, this may illustrate the evolution of name spellings during a given time, although as a definitive historical guide in that regard, what can be said is that the only consistency is their inconsistency. For certain names, one may get the general style of spelling of a period, but at many other times, spelling looked to be simply the mood of the scribe on that day. (I give special mention to the use of “Y” as the first or last letter for a certain period, which have now been downgraded to the “I” (ex., Ygnacio, Ynes, Cuy)

7. Pronunciation Guide. We care for family and so, for the benefit of non-Philippine dialect-speaking family members, to whom all names here ARE foreign, I shall use Spanish diacritics, as I find them the best guide to pronunciation, particularly on accent on syllables, and so I have tried as best I could to place Spanish accents on first and family names. However, I must emphasize that those names are not written with such diacritical markings in Cebu or the Philippines, at present nor even on most of the original records. (ex. Román, Barceló, Bárcenas)

8. Dates of Birth and Baptisms. There were periods when the date of birth was not given in the parish Baptismal book. The record on the baptismal book would be like (translated) “baptized 18 of January 1800.” Thus our family tree Born column will only read Bapt 18-Jan-1800.

Most of the time however, the record would give out the age of the child at baptism, (ex., baptized 18 January 1800, 3 dias).

A mental note on this: A child born the same day of the baptism is said to be a day old. I reached this easy-enough conclusion because nowhere can be found “0 day old”. Thus, the “3 dias” above would mean the third day of the child and therefore, he or she was born 16 January. It’s the same method of reckoning to say Christ rose on the third day; Friday his death being the first and Sunday, the third.

But when the age given is 2 semanas or something similarly intractable to calculate, then only the Date of Baptism will be given in the Born column (ex., Bapt 3-Jan-1800) or else, the Born data will have only a month and year (ex., -Dec-1799).

9. Deaths and Interments. Where the date of death is not indicated in the parish Burials book, the date of the burial will be used, but correspondingly noted (ex., “int. 1-Jan-1800”). Anyway, in the case of older records, and surely for the 19th century, the date of death would just be either the same day as the burial or just the day before. Presuming there was still no embalming practice at the time, so religious or cultural dictum notwithstanding, it would have made olfactory sense to bury the dead within 24 hours.

10. …



  1. dear sir , i am a new zealander trying to trace the ” Gantuangco” family tree . back to Silvestre Gantuangco , early carcar cebu . I have the names of his 4 sons , macario, salvador , alberto , cecilio. unfortuneately their seems to be no forward follow on and I am finding it a very hard ancestory line to find . It would be deeply appreciated if you could give me some guide lines to follow . Kind regards allan edmonds

    • Dear Allan, I have re-directed your query to Search Forum-Gantuangco page. Thank you.

  2. good day sir,

    i am cliefford baquirquir, and i would like to ask you if you have gone over the records containing the origin of our family’s surname.

    thank you very much

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