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Alphabetical Catalog of Surnames: Wikis


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The Alphabetical Catalog of Surnames (Spanish: Catálogo alfabético de apellidos, Tagalog: Alpabetikong Katalogo ng mga Apelyido) is a book of surnames published in the Philippines and other islands of Spanish East Indies in the mid-19th century. This was in response to a Spanish colonial decree establishing the systematic distribution of family names and the imposition of the Spanish naming system on the inhabitants of the Philippines.

The book was created after Spanish Captain and Governor General Narciso Claveria y Zaldua issued a decree on November 21, 1849, in response to the inconsistencies in the way Filipinos arbitrarily chose surnames. Following the Christianisation of the Philippines, many Filipinos chose surnames such as de los Santos, de la Cruz, del Rosario, and Bautista for their religious significance; even today these surnames are perhaps the most common. Many other Filipinos also chose surnames of well-known chieftains such as Lacandola. Furthermore, many people within the same family had different surnames. This created difficulties for the Spanish colonial authorities, who found that it hindered their ability to perform a census of the archipelago's inhabitants, as well as complicating the collection of taxes.



The book itself consists of 141 pages. The surnames are arranged in 6 columns with at most 72 surnames per column. Despite the title, the surnames are not strictly listed alphabetically (after Gandain is Ganavacas then Gandoy, and Balledor is listed under "V").

All of the letters of the Spanish alphabet are represented except for the letters "I" (in the Spanish orthography of the time "Y" was used instead of an initial "I"), "K" and "W" (non-existent in the Spanish alphabet) and "X" (due to a consonant shift, earlier surnames like Ximénez were spelled Jiménez, with a J, by that time.)

Source of surnames

The surnames were culled from many Philippine languages, including Tagalog, Ilokano, Cebuano, Hiligaynon, and others. Spanish, however, provided the bulk of the surnames.

Many of the words from Philippine languages come from a wide variety of themes such as nature, vegetation, geography, and others.

Examples of surnames include Daquila (modern form/orthography:dakila; noble), Magsaysay (to tell), Balani (magnetism), Malaqui (malaki; big/from prophet Malachi), Dimatulac ('di matulak; can't be pushed), "Bathala" ([Visayan-Sanskrit]: God), Panganiban (Tagalog: "an Instrument of, be possessed by [ex. God]") Lagip (Ilokano: memory), Puti (white), Talong (eggplant), Maliuanag (maliwanag; bright), Mabanglo (Ilokano: fragrant), Tumacder (tumakder, Ilokano: to stand up), and Ycasiam (ikasiyam/ika-9; ninth).

Curiously, potentially offensive words were also included as surnames, including Gajasa (gahasa; rape, originally means "someone who rushed"), Bayot (Cebuano: effeminate, an adjective used by Spanish priests against native male religious leader Babaylan), Bacla (bakla; effeminate; male crossdresser), Otot (utot; flatulence), Tanga (stupid; daydreamer "anga-anga", Chinese ti-ang/ti-ng/to-ng), Limotin (limutin; forgetful/ to forget), Lubut (Cebuano: buttocks; Tagalog:Kulubut [wrinkles]), Tae (excrement), Ongoy (unggoy; monkey), Aso (dog, Chinese: A-So), Jalimao (halimaw; monster)and Yyac (iiyak; will cry).

Words and surnames derived from Spanish include De Guzman, Santos, Villafuerte, Lectura, Orlanda, Escondo, Escribano, Escritor, Evangelista, Villaroman, Javier, Loco, Bajo, Maestro, Buensuceso, Buey, Orante, Rivera, Yncredulidad, Jurisprudencia and Hidalgo. Surnames from Christianization include Cruz, de Dios, de Jesús, de los Santos, de los Reyes, Gracia, Isidro, Jose, Miguel, Resurreccion, Reyes, San Agustin, San Antonio, San Francisco, San Gabriel, Santa Barbara, Santo Domingo, and Santo Rosario. Place names may be in Spain or outside this. Those from Spain include Ávila, Arévalo, Alcántara, Bustamante, Cáceres, Galicia, Foz, Madrid, Santander, Tolosa, and España itself; from other countries or regions include Africa, America, Austria, Alemania (Germany), Belgica (Belgium), Benin, Brasil/Brazil, Olandes (modern orthography: holandés) (Netherlander) and Ysrael (modern orthography: Israel). Surnames from Philippine place names were also given by Spaniards and these include Bacolod, Basilan, and Davao.

Surnames from two different languages that are combined into one: Pe-Benito (Chinese+Spanish), Tactacan-tumpalan (Spanish+Tagalog), Zobel-Roxas (Spanish-Mexican).

Names from other languages include Chinese (Chua, Tan, Lim, Fang, Quinzon, Yi, Jonson, Hizon), Malay (Gadya, Janjalani), Indian(Laksamana, Gallora, Rama, Guro), Arabic (Sulayman [Solomon], Muhamed), Persian (Khan),Japanese(Sato, Arai, Iwamoto), Cambodian/Vietnamese/Siamese ( Ampil, Lomtong, Setakorn), Catalan (Ortells, Llop, Puig, Lletget) and Basque (Echevarria, Legazpi, Labadia, Peñarredondo.) There are even surnames from Latin (Rex, Veritas, Ambrosio), German (Ymbrecht, Otto, Rumpf), Italian (Buffardessi, Conti, Parco, Castiglione), French (Lourdes, Nantes, Grenoble, Troyes) and English (James, Nelson, Doughman, Burton, Gray).

Dissemination of surnames

According to the decree, a copy of the catalog was to be distributed to the provincial heads of the archipelago. From there, a certain number of surnames, based on population, were sent to each barangay's parish priest. The head of each barangay, along with another town official or two, was present when the father or the oldest person in each family chose a surname for his or her family.

Several groups were exempt from having to choose new surnames:

  • Those possessing a previously adopted surname (whether indigenous or foreign) already on the list; or, if not on the list, not prohibited due to ethnic origin or being too common.
  • Families who had already adopted a prohibited surname but could prove their family had used the name for at least four consecutive generations. (These were names prohibited for being too common, like de los Santos, de la Cruz, or for other reasons.)

Because of the mass implementation of Spanish surnames in the Philippines, a Spanish surname might not necessarily indicate Spanish ancestry and can make it difficult for Filipinos to accurately trace their lineage.For the Spanish surnames, there are surnames of Basque, Castilian, and Catalan origin. Basque surnames are mostly owned by Filipinos of Spanish descent, while Castilian and Catalan surnames are mostly owned by indigenous Filipinos and Chinese Filipinos. A number of mestizo Filipinos with Spanish birth surnames surprisingly have no Spanish blood and have other European ancestry, including those of American blood through intermarriage with indigenous Filipino ancestors with Spanish surnames.

Actual application

The actual application of assigning surnames widely varied from town to town and from province to province. The provinces of Camarines (now Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur) and Tayabas (now Quezon Province) were known to enforce this rule strictly, while parts of Laguna simply ignored the decree.

In the town of Oas, Albay, for instance, many surnames there begin with the letter R such as Roa, Reburiano, Rabajante, and Relleve. On the island of Banton, Romblon, surnames that begin with the letter F are prevalent such as Festin, Fadrilan, Famatigan, Fabicon, Faigao, etc.

Also, in the town of Sta. Cruz, Zambales, many surnames begin with the letter M such as Morados, Mayo, Movilla, Mose, etc.

Surnames starting with Villa and Al are abundant in the town of Argao, Cebu. Some surnames are: Villaluz, Villaflor, Villamor, Villanueva, Villacruel, Villacruz, Albo, Alcain, Alcarez, Algones, Ableos, etc.

In Iloilo, surnames that start with the letter "T" are common in Tigbauan and Tubungan town; those that start with the letter "G" are common in Guimbal town; those that start with the letter "E" are common in Igbaras town; those that start with the letter "F", "M", and "N" are common in Miag-ao town; those that start with the letter "D" are common in Dumangas town; those that start with the letter "P" are common in Passi town; those that start with the letter "C" are common in Calinog town, and so on and so forth.

Since there are potentially at most 61,000 surnames in the book, not all of the surnames were used.

External links


  • Clavería y Zaldúa, Narciso (1849, 1973). Catálogo alfabético de apellidos (reprint). Philippine National Archives, Manila.  


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