H – Sarmiento Ancestral (Tisà)

Román Sarmiento-Ana Canarias Ancestral House

(AKA Tisa)
Sta   Catalina St.
Erected: 1859
(present owner: great-great-grandson Manuel Valencia Castro)


At the side of the interior stairway going up is etched 2 February 1859. The house has sometimes been described as a manor house, but there’s no evidence now of a manor being around it. It looks simply like any big house in the town residential center, however imposing as it may have been compared to the others around it. The Sarmiento lands, or manor,  must obviously be elsewhere.

And tisà is simply how the townspeople of Carcar refer to the house of Don Roman Sarmiento and his wife, Doña Ana Canarias since the red tile roof (tisà) identifies the house right away. While the second story wall are wood panels, the ground floor is all coral stone blocks, the same material as the church and very few other houses in the town. The coral stone base protected it from predictable floods and termites.

Termites must be the cause why no older houses of all wooden material, of which there must have been many in the centuries-old town, can no longer be found still standing in Carcar.  The coral stone, too, must have distinguished the very rich people from the rest of the folks. Imagine, in the 1800s, living in a house that approximates the power of the church?

But while the stone blocks thus evoked power, the wooden intricacies on the second floor better displayed the wealth. The floor’s alternate dark red and light wood planks greet a visitor coming up the stairs and his eyes are then led to the woodwork that are the ceiling panellings, the carvings on the doors  to the rooms with the ventilation fretwork.  Power and wealth. The furniture, the furnishings and the collections in the house, as these could only be selected and acquired through sophistication and travel, made up the culture.

His house alone confirms Sarmiento (c.1812-1885) as one of the most prominent persons in Carcar from the mid-1800s. Records indicate he was born in Cebu City (more specifically Parian), a mestizo Sangley with the pre-Claveria name of Roman Protacio (wife’s was Ana Maria). He must already have had an ongoing business in Carcar before settling in the town for good since his son was already baptized here in 1839 at 3 days old (thus, probably born in Carcar) even while Roman was still considered a parishioner of Parian and still did not belong to any Carcar cabeza de barangay.  His parents were Antonio and Dorotea Maria and had a known brother, Severo, also living in Carcar with his own family.

Roman Sarmiento became gobernadorcillo (mayor) himself of Carcar before 1857, probably the first mayor of the town (certainly the first in recorded history) to have come from Cebu City.  Churchgoers to Carcar will not miss the marble lapida on the floor on the left nave from the main portal (near the door to the staircase leading to the loft) memorializing his and wife Ana Canarias’s donation of the church organ.

DSCF3581 Sarmiento Roman copy carcarfamilies

The family itself has heard of reports that Roman’s wife, Ana, came from Luzon.  But there was a Canarias family in Carcar at around the same time, although a direct confirmation of Ana’s being related to them has not been found yet. Furthermore, a contemporary of Ana, a Martina Canarias, was the wife of Mariano Sagolili, also a mestizo Sangley from Cebu City (presumably Parian), who must also have been the patriarch of the Sagolili family in Carcar.  For all we know, the entire Canarias family of Carcar could have come from Luzon, although not with the surname yet, but the likelier story would have been Roman’s getting smitten by a Carcar lass. As was Sagolili.

Anyway, Roman and Ana had four[1] grown children: Gregorio (married to Gertrudes Villanueva); Telesfora (married to Francisco Base Urgello); Manuela (married to José Carballo Osmeña) and Licerio (married to Severa Ybáñez)—and maybe all of them already born in Carcar, with Gregorio in 1839.

Manuela’s husband, Jose Osmeña, was a son of Guillermo Osmeña and Manuela Carballo, both said to be already deceased by the time of Jose’s marriage to Manuela in Carcar (1888). In the marriage, Jose was said to have been born in Binondo.

His father, Guillermo, was a lawyer and had a bufete at 18 calle Joló[2] (now Juan Luna) in Tondo. He figured in historical accounts first as a lawyer with other Cebu personages fighting for the retention of Parian as a parish and town, and also as the teacher of Andres Bonifacio in his (Guillermo’s) Tondo escuela. The Osmeña lands in Carcar were managed by Guillermo’s brother, Tomas, and presumably after Tomas by Jose himself. President Sergio Osmeña’s mother, Juana, was a younger half-sister of Guillermo and Tomas and other siblings.

The Tisa house descended to Manuela, and then to her and Osmeña’s only child, Catalina. Nyora Taring, as Catalina was called by the townspeople, was married to Dr. Pío Enríquez Valencia, from Paombong, Bulacan. The Valencia household was quite large and remarkable in that the children were named alphabetically from the eldest Alberto, then Benjamina, Caridad and so on, down to youngest Nilo.

Roman and Ana can be proud of their descendants some of whom, other than the Valencias, are the Gregorio Line–Air Force Col. Cesar Alegarbes, Roman (II) the sculptor and the Cacafranca and Varga families; the Urgellos of Cebu City and Carcar (including former Philippine army chief Lt. Gen. Raul Urgello who was himself born in Carcar) and Licerio’s descendants.

In 1888, Don Gregorio Sarmiento declared a property for a house situated on the road to the pantalan of Carcar. Don Gregorio, stated as married, 47 years, hacendero, born and resident of Carcar with Cedula Personal (CP) No. 7,  notarized his ownership of this house in the poblacion of Carcar; that the house was composed of “madera en piso y paredes de tabique principales con bajos su cocina alcobas” that he had constructed at his own expense. The purpose for the declaration was to obtain a title to the property. He also presented as witnesses persons he hired for the construction, in order to confirm his statements: Segundo Alesna (?), casado, 41, carpintero, born and resident of Carcar, CP No. 9; Lito Alesna (?), casado, 55, albañil [mason] y carpintero, born and resident of Carcar, CP No. 9; Pelagio Gutierrez, casado, 45, cantero [stone-cutter], born and resident of Carcar, CP No. 9.

The property was physically described as located on a solar (that he owns) and is bounded by: the lot of Ruperta Alegrado; Pedro Reyes; at the rear (detras) by lots of Gregoria Alcoseba and D. Mariano Paneda [sic]; he also stated that the construction costs were 500 pesos, including “empleados, materiales, and mano de obra”; the official witnesses and signatories were: D. Nicolas Veloso and D. Tomas Avila, both residents and principales of Carcar; and D. Rafael Lopez, resident of San Nicolas (Cebu Protocolos, Doc 142, 6/8/1888; 1386: S45-S47).

The present owner is Caridad’s architect son, Manuel Castro. It was the determined efforts of Manny and his cousin Marc Van Zwoll (Leonora Valencia’s son) that restored the house back to its glory days, and more. What the two did for their great-great-grandparent’s house became the signal for the town to wake up and become more conscious of its cultural heritage. Power, Wealth, Culture. And the almost frantic care given to the restoration is appreciation for and appointment with History.

The Year 2009 celebrates both 150 years of the house and Gregorio Sarmiento’s 170th birth anniversary (November 28). Something memorable is in order.

[1] At least three children died in childhood: Aquilina (d. 1850), Juan (1851-1851) and Sabas (1851-1851). A Eusebio was born 1853 and I have no detail for him after that.

[2] Manual del Viajero de Filipinas, 1875.


  1. It would be great kon dunay letrato sa balay para mahinumduman nato…

    Sometimes I’m a bit confused which one is referred to…the house where Leon Kilat was killed now owned by the Sato’s?

    • Even without any photo, I had hoped Carcaranons at least would recognize which house this is just from the street and names of people and families mentioned. Like if we cite Leon Kilat and Leto Sato, we’d immediately know which house is that. Thanks for pointing this out, Ted, thus I realize now that my need to acquire a camera becomes even more insistent. I had been borrowing cameras from here and there for some of the photos in this blog. In the meantime, I hope readers will please bear with this amateur researcher of spartan means doggedly going about his work also only by spartan will–and love of town of course.

  2. dli d.aie Ramon Sarmiento?

    • Roman man.oi.

  3. vip, you are a great storyteller. You are doing PRICELESS work with research of the story of this house. It is wasy to grab a camera and make a video or catch a photo. Ask Hayden Kho.

  4. Hello! I’m a genealogist from Southern California. My name is on the family tree that’s framed upstairs in this home!

    My family trees include the Nacuas, Sarmientos, Bugarin and Tamarra clans. Would love to get with you to see if you have any information on these trees. I have some pretty extensive work on the Sarmiento tree that I inherited from my aunt. Let’s talk!

    • i would love to talk with you on your sarmiento and nacua, bugarin and tamarra trees, too.

    • My name is Gertrudis Mapili Baron and my grandmother was Gertrudis Bugarin Mapili the eldest sister of Jose (Pepe) Bugarin of Carcar, Cebu. Their father was Judge Manuel Bugarin y Pastor from Spain, lived and died in Dumaguete, Negros Oriental. You may know them.

  5. Hi! I’m in the process of completing my family tree.. I am one of the descendants of Maria Alfafara Sarmiento daughter of Matias Villanueva Sarmiento. Maria, was my Grandfather, Antolin Cacafranca’s Mother. I was wondering if you possibly have any information about Cirilo Cacafranca? Apparently, no one knew where he came from.

    • in his marriage to your great-great-grandmother, cirilo was described as a son of a pnc and francisca cacafranca of cebu city and 19 years of age.

  6. hi, i have been tracing down my cacafranca ancestors…any updates aside from the ones posted here?thank you

  7. Good day. I wonder if you can help me. My Ateneo de Davao HS class ’66 has been trying to locate Nilo Sarmiento, former Jesuit priest. We know he belongs to the Sarmientos of Carcar. He is much admired and loved by my class, and this year, on our 45th year from high school, it would be great to be able to get in touch with him. My web search led to nowhere despite the fact that it is said he edited two books in the US. Thank you.

    Deogracias Edwin P. Mojica

  8. May I please make a correction. It was not the Canariases who were thought to have come from Luzon, but the Sarmientos. As you deduced, the Canariases were from Carcar, before the Sarmientos.

    Also re Jose Maria (Pepe) Cillon Bugarin (Jan 4, 1876), he came and married actually 2 Carcaranon lasses – Gliceria Alesna and Telesfora Sarmiento (great granddaughter of Roman Sarmiento of Tisa). He was also known to be the local Casanova such that if a young man were to be seen to have a wandering eye, he would be told, “Unya, mag-pini-Pe pod ka?” Among his descendants was Atty Expedito Bugarin, former Dean of Law University of San Carlos.

    You are doing a great job. Thank you.

    • the idea of the canarias being from luzon emanated from the sarmiento house itself. as well as of the sarmientos. since i could only guess that they were, what is the source for your saying the canariases were from carcar?

      in the birth of his children Jose Bugarin’s mother was identified as policarpia siazon, not cillon. his sister in negros was named ana siocon bugarin, thus we have three versions of the surname.

      • i have proof and pictures regarding the ff :
        about my great great grandfather Manuel Pastor Bugarin of Seville, Spain and Dumaguete and my great great mother Policarpia Siocon de Bugarin, a Chinese mestiza (sangley) of Dumaguete.. they had 8 children, three boys and five girls. my greatgrandmother Gertrudis Siocon Bugarin de Mapili is their second child. the other girls are Lola Ana Siocon Bugarin de Teves, Lola Irene Siocon Bugarin, Lola Mercedes Siocon Bugarin de Silos, and Lola Policarpia Siocon Bugarin de Delgado. the eldest boy is Manuel who died young, the
        youngestis Jose (Pepe) who went to Carcar.

        • Hi Gertrude,
          If you have proof that Manuel was married to Policarpia Siocon, then that seems to quite definitive. The other versions (Cillon and Siazon) can probably be safely discarded.
          Btw, do you know that there was another younger brother Juan? He would show up at our house periodically when I was small. He has effeminate mannerisms, was unmarried, and is buried in Carcar. I seem to remember that he came from Mindanao at one time. He was not as tall as Lolo Pepe (affectionately referred to as Mr. Long), but chubby.

          • Hello cousin Judith. My Mom Gertrudis Bugarin Mapili Baron says that Lolo Juan, the youngest Bugarin is indeed effeminate and never married. My Lolo Eugenio Mapili married to Gertrudis Bugarin used to visit Lolo Pepe in Carcar even after Lola Gertrudis died already. Lolo Genii used to travel all over the Philippines because he worked for the Dept. of Agriculture during the early 1900’s. He even brought a doll for Lola Ana

  9. My mother told me that. The Sarmientos were said to be tradespeople from Luzon. And as you have found out that there was another Canarias already in Carcar in those times, I think you have come to the right conclusion.

    Re the Bugarin middle name, my niece Pamela Mayhew would have the more reliable data as she has been in touch with the other Bugarins from Negros.

    Oh, this is so much fun. Thanks for the quick response.

    • the burial of ana canarias may have given the name of her parents but that part of the page is torn. i must have mentioned this in some other post that that information would have clinched for us her ancestry. because there is no conclusive record i could only conclude that i’m more inclined towards her also being from the carcar family with the same name, but just because there was such a family. but no solid conclusions about her ancestry and am therefore open to any information that she also came from luzon, especially that carcar surnames are sometimes also found in luzon, even with no evidence that they are the same bloodline.
      i got the siocon middle name of jose’s sister from a website of her negros family itself. thus, the negros bugarins have two (at least) versions of the surname–your cillon and their siocon. the carcar siazon most probably came from jose himself, as he was the only one who would know the name of his parents when he came over. but we can verify by tracing it back through birth certificates or baptismal record of the genealogy. or unless the two really had different mothers.

  10. hi vip,

    Just realized you mention that Roman Sarmiento had other children other than the 4 grown-ups. Did these show up in the church records? How far back do the Carcar records go?


    • i have no other source so i got that roman had these other children purely from church records (baptism, marriage, burial). Carcar books go back to 1759 Marriages and 1760 baptisms but these early part are badly torn now and some are just fragments of pages, and which are not properly arranged chronologically anymore. the even harder aspect about family search about these early volumes is the absence of surnames then. for instance, roman sarmiento was still roman protacio and ana canarias was ana maria and son gregorio was gregorio santiago. which i wrote about in the posts about surnames. that fact for me makes it a little doubtful how they were able to trace back in some claims about families coming from luzon, except for a number which from the earliest start was already identified as having come from luzon.

  11. Re the records, what do you think about setting up some project for the restoration and/or preservation of those old records? Is this feasible?

  12. Hi. I was searching the web about Tamarra genealogy and I stumbled on your site. I’m just wondering if you could flll me in about the Tamarra family tree. My lolo, Antonio Tamarra’s family was from Carcar. Unfortunately he was an only child, so we don’t really have any contacts in Carcar, but I do know that we have some relatives currently living there.Thanks

    • Hi Antonette,

      Please forgive this delayed response. I guess I was not sure if you were asking me or Vip. Anyway, I am sorry to say I have next to nothing re the Tamarras, only that my Lolo Toribio Nacua of Napo, Carcar, married Nanang “Apay” Tamarra, presumably of Napo too.

  13. Hi, my fathers mother is sarmiento from cebu that is the only thing i know from them. she escape from home while shes still very young until my lolo found her. she passed away more 10 years ago but still i wanted to trace her roots. Her name is juanita sarmiento

    • Do you know your grandfather’s name or any other older relatives?

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