Posted by: vip | May 25, 2009

Keeping the records straight 3: The Claveria decree


Thoughts on myths surrounding the decree


1. Most of the surnames there are Spanish. Many think this to be true of the decree but even though I’m not aware of a survey having been taken as to the surname types, I would venture to say that more than half in the decree’s Catálogo were actually native names.

Take the very first page of the catálogo list. The first twenty-five names are: Aacain, aagauin, aagao, aagaoan, aagapan, aagapay, aagdau, aagosal, aagaran, aagarin, aahietin, aahitahin, aahonan, aahonin, aalilain, aalibin, aalaban, aalabin, aalauin, aalacan, aalagaan, aalagaban, aalagaran, aalayan, aalinin. None are Spanish. The first Spanish-sounding surname to appear, aba, is only No. 42. [In the catalogo, only the first on the list for each letter is capitalized.]

Native-sounding surnames that can be encountered in Carcar are Alinsugay, Baclay, Bagol, Barangan, Barao, Barawidan, Bolocboloc, Bonghanoy, Camay, Cambal, Camingao, Camomot, Camotes, Campilan, Campugan, Dagojoy, Dayagdal, Dayagbil, Dayatdayatan, Dayonot, Dayupay, Lapingcao, Mancao, Mangyao, Mangruban, Manguray, Manlisi, Paculaba, Pagusara, Pananganan, Paningsoro, Pangarap, Sagolili, Satinitigan, Sato, Sinajon, Simbahon, Tangarorang, Tangkay, Tanudtanud, Waper (Oaper), Oarnac, Oatin, Wasawas (Oasaoas), Oasay, etc., etc., etc.

2. Filipinos chose their surnames. Very little evidence will back a family claiming that privilege for its ancestor at the time of the decree. Claveria ordered the route the implementation was going to take: The catálogo was to be remitted to provincial governors and for these officials to assign the surnames by letters for each town based on its number of families, and then to give this new list to the towns themselves — and for the parish priests, gobernadorcillos and cabezas to do the final distribution to the population.

To be sure, a favored person may have been one way or another allowed his choice but, then, granted the favor, what is one going to base one’s pick on? The meaning of the name? The abridged alphabetical list that got to each town already limited the choices, so did one choose whichever meaning he took a hollow liking to? (Presuming of course they knew the meaning, which was not given in the catalogo) Or he just liked the sound of the surname? To insinuate kinship with aristocratic Spanish families (see No. 4), although the absence at the time of any glossy page gossip magazine would preclude townspeople, even the most sophisticated of them, from ever knowing who were the aristocratic families of Spain? These scenarios are so inelegant, funny even, compared to we simply keep to the conventional wisdom that the names were just assigned to us without our say on the matter.

Indeed, it may be nice to know the meaning of our surnames, but chances are they came only around 1850, and thus it would be wise to accept that there is nothing that shows their meanings have anything whatever to do with us.

3. Filipino nobility. Clavería’s decree singled out Lacandola, Mogica, Tupas and Raja Matanda as surnames that should not be handed out except only to those justly entitled to them. The reason given in the decree was to avoid controversies because these noble families enjoyed hereditary special benefits granted by the King of Spain himself (what these benefits were was not elaborated by Claveria in this decree, although these would be eminently researchable since royal decrees would surely have been archived).

Attribution of nobility has been suggested for the many Gat- surnames present in Pampanga, but we ought also to demonstrate whether these surnames had been with the families even before Claveria or not, if only to show that they do go all the way back to original nobles. In any case, some of these surnames are in the católogo (Gatbonton, Gatchalian, Gatmaitan, etc.) and whether these were also exempted from distribution could have been only the local prerogative of Pampanga authorities since Claveria’s decree do not mention other nobles, as the reason really was only to ensure purity of line for those with hereditary royal benefits. If indeed these families were noble, we can only conclude that they did not carry Spanish royal favors else they certainly would have been included by Claveria.

When we find something about our surnames that allude to nobility, we may immediately think there really was a nobility in the ancestry. But again, there has to have been such a lineage and the church books can readily show whether they even had that surname before Claveria and were really all that noble.

4. Filipinos with surnames of the Houses of Osuna, Alba, Medinaceli. On the other hand, the distinguished Spanish historian Jose Montero y Vidal, examining Claveria’s decree, footnoted that, among other things, the decree also resulted in indios of the mountains sporting surnames as those of Osuna, Alba, Medinaceli, etc. [In his various positions in many provinces, including in Cebu, Montero had the means of his office, or else must have been a real mountain trekker to personally document such results] Anyway, these three are among the richest (if not the) ducal houses of Spain and the original holders had the surnames Téllez-Girón, Álvarez de Toledo and de la Cerda, respectively.

At the time of the decree (1850), the holder of Osuna still carried the original surname, but Alba was already a Stuart-Fitzjames (up to this day), and Medinaceli, Fernandez de Cordoba (also up to the present). So we cannot determine which surnames Montero was referring to, unless he meant all five names: Tellez or Giron, Toledo, Cerda, Cordoba.

Giron, Cordoba and Cerda are in the catálogo but as well as I could scan, not Tellez and not Toledo (Tolido is, though).

Moreover, it appears even more unlikely that a mountain indio got FitzJames, which is not Spanish, and is not even in the catálogo, a patronymic surname carried only by the illegitimate son of King James II of England whose ascendance to the throne was thwarted by the Oranges; his descendants to this day, led by the Albas, are claimants at least to the Scottish throne, if not to the English one as well. The Albas use the compound apellido FitzJames-Stuart (or Stuart FitzJames) to highlight their descent from the Stuart kings.

And other myths concerning Spanish surnames.

The use of “y”. Well before 1900, Spaniards were already omitting the “y” (and) to separate their paternal and maternal surnames. Very few still used Jose Garcia y Fernandez by 1900 and today, it’s virtually just Jose Garcia Fernandez. Clear exceptions were the Catalans, who still use “i” (and) even today (Josep Garcia i Fernandez), and also the nobility–maybe because of their compound surnames, or maybe simply because they are aristocrats.

Without the “y”, it would indeed take a while to sort out that Leoncio Gonzalez de Gregorio Alvarez de Toledo was actually a Gonzalez de Gregorio y Alvarez de Toledo. Succeeding his mother, he is the 22d duke of Medina Sidonia, the premier dukedom of Spain which descended from the Perez de Guzman family (see Family Search: A Barili Family Tree crosses over to Carcar 2).

And with another issue quite applicable in the Philippines with its surfeit of surnames that are first names.  Many would think that Leoncio Gregorio Alvarez has Gregorio as a second name (and Alvarez the paternal surname), but with the “y” in there–Leoncio Gregorio y Alvarez–there’s no confusion.

Thus, a Filipino today who affectedly writes out, say, Adriano Magallanes y Cleofás is doing it anachronistically instead, and just betraying he is so out of his league.

Carcar surnames spellings[1]. Carcar surnames today that are spelled differently than in the catálogo are: Abellaneda (Avellaneda), Alcachupas (Alcachofas), Alcos (Alcuz), Alcoseba (Alcoceba), Alcuires (Alcuiriz), Aldemita (Aldelmeta), Aldipolla (Aldipulla), Aldocente (Aldosente), Aldueso (Alduezo), Aleguiojo (Alegueojo), Alemios (Alemeuz), Alenteojo (Alentejo), Aleser (Alescer), Alicaya (Alecaya), Alinsugay (Alensogay);

Barawidan (Baraoidan), Barberos (Barbeiros), Barcastigue (Barcastegui), Bardilas (Bardelas), Bargeo (Barheu), Barluado (Barloado), Camomot (Camotmot), Camotes (Camatis), Campacion (Campasion), Campañon (Campoñon), Campugan (Campogan), Camuta (Camota), Cananayon (Canayon), Cananea (Canania), Cui (Cue, p. 34/6);

Deitec (Daytec), Dayanco (Dayancu), Diapera (Dayapira), Embalsado (Embalzado), Embarnace (Embarnase), Embrado (Emrado), Embuscado (Emboscado), Emnace (Emnase), Emnacen (Emnasen), Francisquete (Francisqueti, p.50/2), Genoveagon (Genaveagon), Gucor (Gucur, p.60/4);

Laosa (Laossa), Lapincao (Lapingcao), Laure (Laore), Manlisi (Manlisic), Manuguran (Manoguran), Mangiao (Mangyao), Manguray (Mangoray), Mangruban (Mangroban), Warnac (Oarnac), Wasawas (Oasaoas), Wasay (Oasay), Watin (Oatin), Pananganan (Pananganau), Paningsoro (Paningisoro), Paraz (Paras, p.101/3);

Remolisan (Remolizan), Remorque (Remurque), Satinitigan (Satinititigan), Sato (Satut), Tancay (Tangcay), Tangarorang (Tangarucan), Tanque (Tangque), Varga (Barga).


[1]Carcar surnames that start with Al- can be found on page 4, columns 2 and 3 of the Catálogo. The Bar- surnames are on page 14, columns 4, 5, 6 and page 15 col. 1. Cam- and Can- are on page 26/5 and 6 with some spread over columns 2, 3, 4. The Day- surnames are on page 37/6. Em- (43/6), Gem- and Gen- (55/4 and 5), Lao- (73/4), Man- and Mang- (82/4,5, 83/2), Oa- (93/3), Pan- (100/6), Qui- (106/4), Rem- (109/6), Sas- and Sat- (118/2), Tan- (127/5, 6).



  1. […] Keeping the records straight 3: The Claveria decree […]

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