Posted by: vip | July 4, 2012

A note on surnames

A note on surnames

I had decided that ancestors in my family trees who’d died before the (Claveria) decree, would only be identified by what he was known during his pre-decree days here on earth. And also if it is not known that he was still living when the decree was implemented for the family. The reason for me, simply, is:  that person was never known by his family’s new surname.

Post-Claveria Carcar records evidently also shared the sentiment and adhered to the same practice, whoever it was decreed it; those records show that while his family were already known by their surname, deceased persons were recorded only by their pre-Claveria names, with no family name attached. And so I leave my Aleonar starting person, who’d died in 1830, rightfully identified as Vidal Ygnacio. He had never been Vidal or Ygnacio Aleonar. As with some of his sons who had the same circumstances.

A family who’d been able to trace its ancestry may be tempted to affix their Claveria surname all the way back to those ancestors.  And indeed a number of Philippine family trees have done just that. This resulted in the family looking like they’d already been carrying the surname that early. Another result would be the family itself thinking they were Spanish because their ancestors were using the surname since the 1700s. Some had even outfitted their family histories with family crests, based on the Spanish family of course which, needless to say, they were never part of.

The Jesuit historian John N. Schumacher, in getting to the origins of Blessed Pedro Calungsod, mentioned that, except for one, all the Filipinos mentioned in the San Vitores-Calonsor story all had surnames. A skeptic would not take that account at face value and instead ask further: where did they get those surnames?

For the soon-to-be canonized Blessed Pedro Calungsod, ex Calonsor, it seems the Calungsod syllogism is this: 1) documented account: Pedro Calonsor, Visayan; 2) there is an existing surname Calungsod (in Ginatilan, Cebu); ergo 3) Calonsor must have been rightfully Calungsod. Ngeh!

Anyway, to advance the point that some natives had actually been carrying family names, Schumacher also specifically cited the fourteen Songsong (or Sonson) gobernadorcillos of Macabebe, Pampanga, which list had been assembled by John Larkin in his 1972 work. I know next to nothing about Larkin’s work so maybe I may be allowed to ask if there was in it also done a retroactive application of the surname in the Songsong family reconstruction (such as the possibility I mentioned in the previous paragraph).

The same goes with Francisco Dagohoy of Bohol. Supposedly already a cabeza by 1824 when the story breaks, Don Francisco begins his own break with the church-state and by his influence started the longest-running Spanish-period insurgency in the Philippines.

Even the spelling, the “h” in the name, seems to be a contemporary (American period) invention. In 1824, Dagohoy, spelled with the “h”, would have been pronounced Dagooy.  Apropos to this, some decades after 1824, a Bohol family appeared in Carcar records as Dagojoy.

Wikipedia says Francisco Dagohoy was born Francisco Sendrijas. Now, that makes the issue about the hero’s name even more convoluted.

It would be nice to examine the parish books of Inabanga, whether in Dagohoy’s time the surnames Sendrijas or pseudo-surname Dagohoy already existed.  And it would be totally rewarding to see if his baptismal record is there, say between 1770-1800, and with what name he was baptized with, and who his parents were.



  1. hmmm. the Calungsod does stump me. how was that possible

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