Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Cebuano Families: Loling Bihag and Barili's "Blue Bloods"

Barili's Official Seal

Barili, Cebu has always been a fascinating town. It is one of the oldest towns in the country, having been established as a pueblo in the early years of Spanish conquest. Though most of its old records have been ravaged by weather and time, the town has preserved much of its history and culture through a smattering of church and archival records and the colorful oral traditions that some families still hold true.

One of these old tales is the story of Loling Bihag. This is a tale almost equivalent to those of Maria Cacao's and Mangao's in that they have been retold many times that there is great difficulty in knowing which version came first. A zarzuela or a song and act skit performed on stage was written about Loling Bihag, thus making it even more popular. But the gist of the story is this:

Loling Bihag was a beautiful maiden in Barili who would fetch water by the Tanon Strait. She lived sometime in the late 18th century. One day she rowed quite too far from shore and there was a sudden storm. She was almost drowned had it not been for the rescue by a brave and noble prince by the name of Alimudin. As the story goes, Alimudin was one of the many sons of Sultan Kudarat and was one of the two sent by the ailing ruler far from their kingdom to test their daring. Alimudin returned to his father and presented the beautiful lass as his bride. They had many children and they ruled their kingdom wisely. One of their sons became a Catholic priest who later became Barili's first documented parish priest.

There is absolutely no documentation to support this of course. In the book Barili: A History written by Ms. Azucena L. Pace, she writes that Loling Bihag was actually Dolores Guerrero de San Jose. The priest in the tale was Fr. Cipriano de San Jose, whose signature does appear in the earlier records of the church of Sta. Anna. If we are to accept that Loling Bihag was indeed captured and brought to Mindanao by Alimudin, then we can also accept that Fr. Cipriano had in his veins the bluest blood of royalty of Maguindanao, Sulu, Tondo, and Brunei.

The Royal Seal of Maguindanao

Sultan Kudarat himself was a great-grandson of Mohammad Kabungsuwan, who is believed by many of Mindanao's ruling families to be their common ancestor. He was a Muslim cleric coming from the royal house of Johore who came to Mindanao and is considered as the first sultan of Maguindanao. Kudarat's mother was a princess of Sulu and a descendant of Abu Bakr, who renamed himself Sultan Sharif ul-Hashim and was the founder of the Sulu sultanate. Kudarat was also a descendant of Sultan Bolkiah Shah Alam, one of the earliest rulers of Brunei. And it goes without saying that Kudarat was also a descendant of the noble house of Tondo, being in direct line from Rajah Lontok and Dayang Kalangitan, the famed couple who ruled Tondo and were also the grandparents of Rajah Lakan Dula, Rajah Soliman, and Rajah Matanda.

Of course, the claim that Alimudin was Sultan Kudarat's son is not easy to prove. Although the famed sultan had many children, his immediate successor was his eldest son, Sultan Dundang Tidolay and there is no Alimudin in the partial listing of his children; thus this immediately disproves the story of Alimudin and Loling Bihag ruling a kingdom together. However, what is accepted now is that Fr. Cipriano sired several children, each of whom produced great men and women who made their mark in Barili. His descendants include the Abad, Paras, and Fajardo families, among others. Cebu Governor Dionisio Jakosalem was also said to be a descendant of Fr. Cipriano.

A possible family tree of Loling Bihag
The Abads have produced Roman Abad, Lazarao Abad, Miguel Abad, and Natalio Abad, all gobernadorcillos or municipal presidents of Barili.

The Paras family has Agustin Paras, Policarpio Paras, Aniceto Paras, Tiburcio Paras, Felix Paras, Ciriaco Paras, and Procopio Paras, all gobernadorcillos or municipal presidents of Barili. Another Paras descendant was Rep. Casiano Causin. Another family directly descended from the Parases of Barili are the Garcias of Dumanjug, a family that has produced two Cebu governors.

Of course, these stories are romantic. Whatever the truth, what matters is the constant desire of these families to preserve their family history. That is what genealogy is all about.

(C) 2012 Todd Lucero Sales

1. Pace, Azucena L. Barili: A History. Cebu City: Barili LGU, 2009.
2. Abdulmadid, Datu Ontay M. Tarsila of Maguindanao Sultanate.
3. Genealogy of the Sultanate of Brunei.
4. Genealogy of the Sultanate of Sulu.


  1. thank you sir for your great project. Mabuhay!
    One challenging genealogy is about the Abads.
    Many news stories are asking about Josephine Bracken, who died two years after Dr. Jose Rizal.
    Her husband, Vicente Recio Abad, came from Cebu. My father – Wilfredo Abad Laurel-Filomeno; grandparents, Benigno Culpable (changed to Filomeno during World War II) and Matilde Abad Laurel; great grandparents: Aniceto Laurel and Calexta Abad.
    Your help to history is greatly appreciated. Daghan salamat!

  2. No one can dispute the above - mentioned story . You are welcome to our clan as a direct descendant of Sultan Qudarat in many dimensions.Thank you for sharing your genealogy . Hope you will be emulated by other christians and non- muslims.

  3. This is a fascinating story. My father and cousins are from Barili Cebu. Nice to know this history. Just a side note: Abad is a Muslim name which means "a person who prays to Allah or The Almighty Who is Only One Who has no partners... no creation - man, living things, seen or unseen should be worshipped except Him Alone".

  4. Whatta story. My grandfather VICENTE ABAD hails from Barili Cebu and migrated to Bohol during the Spanish era in the early 18th century. Vicente Abad was in company of his two nephews (Ildefonso and Zoilo) in search of greener pasture while evading force labor from the Spaniards. These three Abad's married local girls and multiplied the family name almost majority of the present population of Pitogo, President Carlos P. Garcia, Bohol.