Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Lakandula Descendants: The Santos-Bernardo Family and Genealogical Provenance

Many people have grown up hearing various family lore. Stories about famous and infamous relatives who lived amazing lives and did extraordinary things. Others have heard that their family is descended from some great and grand families like those of Har'i Humabon, Lapulapu, or Lakan Dula. Many blogs and websites online claim these, with some even posting their family trees in public genealogy sites like MyHeritage and Geni. Unfortunately, many of these families claiming descent from pre-Hispanic clans not only have no proof of descent from these families, they also show inconsistent and incorrect generational information.

This is especially true with family trees found in Geni.com. Many of the family trees and information here are really quite suspect and have no genealogical provenance at all. In one family, for instance, have complete birth dates for all its members, even for ancestors born before the founding of their town's church. When checked against existing archival documents, none of the information given could be found.

Similarly, trees claiming descent from Lakandula always have questionable generational count. For instance, in the Geni family tree of Jose Rizal, some bogus connection has been made to show his descent from Lakandula, as already discussed in this previous post. But simple math and a whole lot of logic would show us that there is no way that Rizal was separated by only 7 generations from Lakandula, as was shown by the Geni tree. Again, this is without a doubt a false link. Many other families who claim descent from Lakandula fail in proving the correct number of generations between them and their purported ancestor, Lakandula. In the absence of accurate and empirical data, we can not accept these claims as factual.

There are some families, however, that are able to prove their descent from Lakandula. One such family, of course, is the family of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Another family is the Santos-Bernardo family of Sampaloc, Metro Manila.

The Santos-Bernardo family are the descendants of Regino Tolentino Santos (originally de los Santos) and Veronica Aliwalas Bernardo. While both Bernardo and Santos families have lived in Sampaloc, Metro Manila, Philippines for as far back as 1892, various civil and church records also indicate that they have moved around the various districts of Metro Manila during the late Spanish period up to until the first quarter of the twentieth century. So while the current descendants consider Metro Manila their home, the grandparents of both Regino and Veronica all came from somewhere else. The Santos hometown was Santa Maria de Pandi, Bulacan, now known as Santa Maria, Bulacan, while the Tolentino side was from Montalban, Rizal, today known as Rodriguez, Rizal. On the Aliwalas-Bernardo side, the Bernardo roots are from Pulilan, Bulacan, while Aliwalas was from the neighboring town of Calumpit, Bulacan. 

One interesting fact for the Santos-Bernardo family is that the various surnames in their family were not adopted because of the Claveria surname decree; in fact, all surnames in their family tree can be considered pre-Claveria decree surnames and have been used by their ancestors long before 1849 and can be traced in most instances to the late 1680s until the early 1700s. Overall, the Aliwalas side of the family has yielded the most data in terms of the availability of archival documents. The Aliwalas family and connected lines can be stretched back to the 1670s in Calumpit, Bulacan, and two lines, the Salalila and Macapagal families, can be connected, due to the etymology of the name and through archival documentation, to the ruling class of Tondo and Manila prior to the arrival of the Spaniards. 

The following are the genealogical provenance of the Santos-Bernardo family tracing their descent from Don Juan Macapagal, a great (3X)-grandson of Lakandula:

Generation 1. We start with Veronica Bernardo, who was born to Silverio Bernardo and Aleja Aliwalas on January 13, 1909, as shown in her birth certificate:


Generations 2 & 3. Aleja Aliwalas, mother of Veronica Bernardo (Generation 1), was born on July 13, 1889 in Calumpit, Bulacan, to Julian Aliwalas and Eusebia Aguilar . Aleja’s baptismal record also gives us the names of her grandparents. In this case, Eusebia’s parents were given as Jose Aguilar and Estefania Espiritu:


Generation 4. Jose Aguilar married Estefania Espiritu on August 6, 1851. Their marriage record gives the names of his parents as Roverto Aguilar and Juliana Salalila:


Generation 5. Roverto (Alverto) Aguilar married Juliana Salalila on July 29, 1815. Their marriage record mentions the names of Rovertos parents: Juan Aguilar and Manuela Tolentino:


Generation 6. Juan Aguilar married Manuela Tolentino on June 14, 1791 which gives the names of Manuela’s parents: Don Francisco Tolentino and Doña Maria Capili:


 Generation 7. Maria Capili was baptized on January 15, 1746, the daughter of Lazaro Capili and Ana de la Cruz:


Generation 8. Lazaro Capili was baptized on December 3, 1718, the son of Francisco Nicolas and Maria Decena:


Generation 9. Maria Decena was baptized on November 7, 1683, the daughter of Don Juan Macapagal and Doña Maria Pazquala:


From this, we connect the family further using previous research done on the Macapagal family and other descendants of the royal houses of Lakandula, Matanda, and Soliman, like that of Luciano P.R. Santiago's:

Family Tree of Juan Macapagal (Santiago, 1990)
The connection of the family to the ruling families of Tondo and Manila further connects the family by blood to the royal houses of Sulu and Brunei, and much further to the founder of the Sultanate of Sulu, Sultan Sharif ul-Hashim, whose father, Shariff Ali Zainal Abidin, was a thirteenth generation descendant of Fatimah bint Muhammad, daughter of the Prophet Muhammad. This then makes Veronica Bernardo a 32nd generation descendant of the Prophet.

The amazing connections of the family do not end here. One of the sons of Fatimah, Shariff Al-Ḥusayn ibn ʿAlī ibn Abi Talib, married Princess Shahrbānū, daughter of Shahanshah Yazdegerd III of the Sassanid empire, the last kingdom of the Persian Empire before the rise of Islam that ruled from 224 to 651 AD. This then makes Veronica Bernardo and her family direct descendants of the Shahanshahs (King of Kings) of Persia, a family tree that stretches back to Sassan, the founder of the dynasty. A direct ancestor of Princess Shahrbānū was Shahanshah Yazdegerd I who married Shushandukht, a daughter of Abba Mar ben 'Ukba, the 20th Exilarch. Exilarch was the title given to the head of the Babylonian Jews and was the leader of the Diaspora Jewish community in Babylon following the deportation of King Jeconiah and his court into Babylonian exile after the first fall of Jerusalem in 597 BCE and augmented after the further deportations following the destruction of the kingdom of Judah in 587 BCE. This then traces the family back many generations to the various Exilarchs, up to the Kings of Judah, Judea, and Israel.

Much further than already discussed, the family tree of the Prophet Muhammad is said to be traceable up to Ismael, the son of Abraham, and then further up to Adam and Eve. The Prophet is the 62nd generation descendant of Abraham and thus the 82nd generation descendant of Adam and Eve. Thus, Veronica Bernardo can then be counted as the 117th lineal descendant of Adam and Even. Although this descent from antiquity does not have 100% complete and accurate documentation, these genealogies continue to be held and believed by Muslim and Jewish families as true. So while not to be taken as gospel truth, this connection to these ancient lines makes the family extremely unique in Philippine genealogy.

The Santos-Bernardo family is one of the few families in the Philippines whose genealogy is well documented and can prove an unbroken, direct, and factual descent from Lakandula, as shown by their genealogical provenance.

It is my hope that other families claiming descent from Lakandula can be a thorough as this family. It truly is important to have documentation for every claim we make about our ancestry. Again, while I am very accepting of oral history, they should be differentiated from real history if they cannot be proven or authenticated.

(My gratitude to Mr. Rashad S. Kussad for allowing me to feature their extensive genealogy)

Monday, November 18, 2019

BOOK REVIEW: Beyond Will & Power: A Biography of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte


As an addendum to my short review of Earl G. Parreño's "Beyond Will & Power: A Biography of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte", I am writing this commentary solely focusing on the genealogical aspects of Parreño's work. As I said in my review, this book is quite unique as it is the first writeup on President Duterte that neither adulates nor criticizes the President. In the author's own words during his interview, he wants the readers to reach their own conclusion. 

Due to the hype in traditional and social media, especially focusing on the alleged "Maranao lineage" of the president, and the revelation that the President's maternal grandfather, Eleno Roa, was actually originallly Eleno Fernandez, I was excited to read the book. And while the book as a whole did not disappoint me, the several genealogical inaccuracies did.

On Eleno Roa

In the first part of the book, the author narrates that Eleno Roa was an illegitimate son of a Eugenio Fernandez and an unknown Roa. Based on the birth record of Soledad Roa (President Duterte's mother), it can be calculated that Eleno was born in 1883. The birth register further states that his birthplace was Cebu City. This contradicts the book's narrative stating that Eugenio was from Talisay, which was separate from Cebu then as now. It is also almost improbable for an illegitimate child in the 1880s to bear his father's last name unless a legal declaration is made by the father in court acknowledging the child as his hijo natural. This was called as the reconocimiento de hijos naturales and the Jakosalem family did it to one of its members while Don Pedro Gotiaoco also did this for his daughter Modesta Singson Gaisano. Unfortunately, I could not find any record from the 1880s that would support this. Further research into Eleno's ancestry is needed, and more documentation should be made before believing the Fernandez connection.

On the Debunked Portuguese Claims of the Velosos

As I have already written several times, President Duterte's male line is actually Veloso, not Duterte. The author has a short discussion on the Velosos but the unfortunate thing is, he focused more on the claim of the Velosos to be of Portuguese extraction. Again, this was already debunked by renowned American historian Michael Cullinane in his 2015 journal article "The Myth of the Portuguese Ancestor: The Veloso Family of Nineteenth-Century Cebu". Through archival documentation, he established that as far as records show, the Velosos were not of Portuguese but rather Chinese mestizo stock. While Parreño briefly states in the end notes of Cullinane's research, the perpetuation of the Portuguese myth is a bit sloppy genealogically speaking. Like any serious historical research, one should not continue to claim something, no matter how famous or widespread, if no documentation or proof exists to support it.

Parreño also missed the opportunity to compare and contrast Duterte's Veloso connections to other presidents clan connections. It is undeniable that the Velosos have spread out all over the Philippines. In fact, many of Duterte's political opponents in the early part of his presidency, like Garin, Petilla, and others who were associated with President Aquino were in fact his cousins. The author could have expounded on the wide network of relatives that Duterte had that did not necessarily contribute to his victory, but also some who did help him out like the Ayalas of Davao, who are also Velosos, who supported Duterte throughout his mayoral years.

On the Almendras Family

I am glad that this book is the first to go into details just how much the Almendras family, originally from Danao as well, assisted in the transfer and success of the Dutertes in Davao. Although they had a falling out much later, it is a historical fact that Senator Alejandro Almendras was instrumental to the Duterte's move and later entry to politics in Davao. These were clearly discussed in Parreño's book.

However, the author once again made a genealogical mistake when he wrote on page 40 that "the Dutertes and the Almendrases were not directly related to each other, neither by blood nor by marriage". This is incorrect. The Almendras family has long known that they are related to the Dutertes through the Gonzales line. Paulo Almendras, who married Elisea Durano and who was the father of Senator Alejandro Almendras, was the son of Juan Almendras and Cecilia Gonzales. Cecilia's first cousin, Zoila, married Facundo Duterte. They were Vicente Duterte's parents, making Vicente and Alejandro second cousins once removed or, in Cebuano, pag-umangkon sa pag-agawan. It is also interesting that while Parreño concluded that there was no blood relation between the Dutertes and Almendrases, he cites a Davao newspaper article in page 102 of the book which clearly stated that Almendras and Duterte were cousins.

Because of this error, he was also unable to connect Prospero "Boy" Nograles to Duterte. For most Dabawenyos, the rivalry between Nograles and Duterte is legendary. Although later becoming allies, the book's discussions on the Nograles-Duterte political fights would have been richer had the author realized that Nograles's wife Rhodora was another pag-umangkon sa pag-agawan of President Duterte. That is also why the children of former Speaker Nograles and President Duterte call each other gaw (cousin).

The Carpio Connection

The author mentioned briefly that Sara Duterte, daughter of President Duterte, married Atty. Manases "Mans" Carpio. It would have been good to remind the readers that two of President Duterte's most vocal critics, former Ombudsman Conchita Claudio Carpio-Morales is in fact Sara's aunt-in-law while Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio is a cousin.

The Jewish / Holocaust Connection

I have saved this genealogical boo-boo for last. In page 107, Parreño wrote that Elizabeth Zimmerman's father was "one of the Israeli refugees granted asylum by the Philippine government during the Second World War to escape Nazi Germany's bloody campaign against the Jews".

The Zimmerman surname is in fact a Germanic surname that most definitely has Jewish roots. However, Elizabeth's father was Godofredo B. Zimmerman, born on November 18, 1916 in Hilongos, Leyte. If the author had bothered to check on the birth record of Godofredo, he would have seen his error. Godofredo could not have been a Jewish refugee as he was born in the Philippines!

And although he used Zimmerman as a last name all his life, both Godofredo's birth and baptismal records list him under his mother's last name - Baldazo. His birth register in Hilongos, Leyte, while identifying him as illegitimate, does provide the name of his father: Geo. J. Zimmerman. This clue led us to his American father, George John Zimmerman, a Superintendent of Schools in Leyte who came to the Philippines in the early 1900s. It was George John Zimmerman's father, Michael August Zimmermann, who came to the United States from Bavaria, Germany. Also, while it is possible that the Zimmermann's in Germany had Jewish roots, the grandfather of Elizabeth and the rest of his family in America were all congregants of the Lutheran Church.

These observations are necessary to point out. The author did an amazing job in his research for the rest of the book. Sad that the genealogy he utilized for this book was most likely lifted from online sources that also continue to perpetuate these genealogical falsehoods due to sheer laziness. I hope future revisions to this book would seriously overhaul these genealogical errors.

P.S. I will not address the Maranao issue, which seems to be the focus of so many reporters. It is true that President Duterte has on many instances claimed to have Maranao blood. For those who have known President Duterte for a long time, he has the tendency to exaggerate or be hyperbolic in his statements. While the Marano lineage claim does appear to be false, Duterte comes from a generation that likes to claim to be descendants of great people. For instance, older generations of Bol-anons would always claim to be "descendants of Dagohoy" or kadugo ni Sikatuna. Cebuanos like to claim descent from Lapulapu. While majority of these claims are probably symbolic at best, Duterte, speaking for all Mindanaonons, could probably simply be talking in symbolism. Or if not, who knows why. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, "Rodrigo Duterte is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma". 

And if the reporters only bother to read, they would also come to this conclusion.