Posted by: vip | February 16, 2014

A day in our history: name-calling time

A day in our history

By 1850, the populace of Carcar was already a mix of the town’s indigenous families, and the arrivals: indios from Bohol, mestizo Sangleys from Parian, indios from San Nicolas and from towns north and south of Carcar, a handful of mestizo Español families who mostly came from the Ciudad, and even some individuals from Luzon.

Records would have us suppose that the influx occurred towards the end of the 18th century and by the time of the Claveria decree many of these immigrant families had already established themselves in Carcar and a number did take on surnames no doubt earmarked for, let us say, Carcar consumption-–mestizo Sangleys Alcorcon, Alcudia, Aldocente, Barcenilla, Gemperoso, and Navasquez; San Nicoleño Aldave; Boholanos Alegueojo (now spelled Aleguiojo), Aleonar, Aldemeta (Aldemita), Barateria, Barbon, Bardon, Bargeo (Bargio), Camuta, Campanilla, Canasa, Emnace, Emnacen, Empleo, Fano, Laorden, Quijoy, Satot (Sato) Tangaro, Tangarorang and others; southern Cebuanos Alcuetas (Alcuitas), Alerre, Dayondon and Dayonot.

With regards to the distribution of surnames, the commonly held understanding is that a letter of the alphabet was assigned to Philippine towns. Domingo Abella, then Director of the Bureau of Records Management, in the introduction to the 1973 reprint of the catalogo, concluded as much: “The explanation is simple: in 1849 the provincial governor simply allocated to each town a number of pages from the catalogo…”

But Carcar surnames were of more than just one alphabetical group. In addition to the decidedly dominant Al- surnames, do you notice the names above, the authorities must have seen so many families in Carcar by that time and had to apply some more pages. Anyway, I have touched on the other Carcar alphabetical groups of surnames in other posts.

(But not all Claveria surnames in Carcar do conform to the alphabetical groupings. Thus we can find Aurena, Bagol, Catao, Cuison, Federico, Francisco, Ledesma, Galicano, Paraz, Simporios and Ybañez and maybe others, too, all already in Carcar by the time of the decree. How their ancestors were able to step outside the box would make for interesting family histories.

(Guillermo Galicano, baptized in Carcar by that name, was only 12 years old at the time of the decree, yet his second name became the family name. So it must have been the father, Salvador Modesto, must have taken an immense liking for the second name he gave his son. But how was SM able to wangle that name for his family from the groups in the Claveria list that should have been followed in his town? Just how influential was Salvador Modesto and his wife who were both from Bohol? Unless he or his wife were close with the powers in the town—the parish priest (at that time Don Benito Perez), the gobernadorcillo, the ex-gobernadorcillos—or provincial officials, beats us how in retrospect he–as well as the others above–got what he want for a surname.)

So, what was the Claveria decree? Let’s go back in our history to the year 1849 and when Governor-General Narciso Clavería recognized a problem and decreed that all Filipinos should thenceforth have surnames. Dated 21 November 1849, the decree was distributed along with a list of surnames–let us say half of them Spanish, the other half, native names—in a compilation called the Catálogo de Apellidos. Implementation in Carcar was around May 1850. If your family didn’t have a family name before the decree, the one you’re carrying now must have been taken from that catálogo. Mine and most of Carcar surnames at that time were.

Our surnames had to come from somewhere and, yes, they came to us through a law and not through the natural evolution of name-calling, nor the original sin from Adam and Eve.

Thus, invested with our new surnames, we began to ask: what does our name mean? Well, better late than never, I tell my family today, 164 years later, “I’m sure there’s a meaning and history to our name, whatever those are. But do the meaning and history apply to us? Obviously they do not. We are agreed we did not come upon our surnames through natural development and instead these names were pretty much thrown at our ancestor without a thought as to its relevance to the person. Except perhaps as alleged (Alegado).

1850. Oh, were the registration days festive? Had the practice already come to our good sense to fell in line? All the people getting out of the house, everybody excited in finally getting a surname–like the Spaniards who governed them had. Those who knew how to write, did they squibble and scribble their new complete names over and over, giddy like girls still get who are about to get married, trying on their soon to be new name?

Or, did Carcar families squabble over who should get what surname?  Like, how bloody did that get? But why fight over something they hadn’t a clue what it meant? Fight over how these sounded?

Oh well, anyway, like the meanings and histories, some cousins went further and started looking for Aleonar family symbols and crests.

Family symbols? I cringe on end when paisanos (mga ‘sano: remember Vidal Ygnacio, the starting person for the Aleonars of Carcar was from Bohol) unabashedly display their supposed family heraldries which are of course actually Spanish, and results of internet searches.  So, I tell mine we should never presume those Spanish family crests or coats of arms as ours. Besides, the family emblems for an Aleonar family you may find in Spain, if there is one, and I’ve yet to find one, may be the rightful crest for that family, but the Aleonars of Spain are not our family, and we theirs and we have no right to their family emblems. We became Aleonar only in 1850 via decree and not by pedigree, 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. From there, it gets too tempting (for our own lack of any family history) to just cut and paste the other’s family stories that go all the way back to some obscure Jerusalem nobility in the crusader period. That’s their family, and this is our family tree we’re talking about, for Godsakes. So, no.

But what about this: did they begin to also call their fighting cocks by the new family names?



  1. Yap, I am so glad to hear from you. I’ve been hoping and praying that you and your families are Ok after the big storm that hit the Islands. Thank you so much for your update.

    cousin chris in Hawai’i 8)

  2. […] see A day in our history: name-calling time […]

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