Sunday, October 21, 2012

St. Pedro Calungsod was from Iloilo

In the excitement of everyone leading to the canonization of Blessed Pedro Calungsod, historians are still hazy as to where this Bisaya, young lay missionary really hailed from. Based on most articles written about Pedro Calungsod, historians have generally agreed on the towns of Ginatilan in Cebu, Hinundayan and Hinunangan in Leyte, and Molo in Iloilo as the most likely town of origin of Pedro Calungsod. Their explanation for these towns? Well, families bearing the Calungsod surname have been documented in these areas.

I would like to cast some of my opinions with regard to this simplistic conclusion. Once again, we have to invoke the name of Governor-General Narciso Claveria to correct the many misconceptions on Philippine names and surnames brought about by the guessworks of those who are not schooled in the discipline of tracing not just trees but names as well. So here are some myths which I am sorry to debunk once again:

1. People with the same last name today are related.

This is clearly the simplest conclusion most Filipinos seem to arrive at. The fact that Pedro Calungsod had the surname "Calungsod" does not automatically relate him to anyone else bearing the surname Calungsod, whether in the Visayas or elsewhere. (Yes, the surname Calungsod is found in Luzon, too, but as the records clearly described Pedro as "Bisaya" means we have to focus in the Visayas). In fact, it is not even clear if "Calungsod" was a surname or was simply a descriptive name given to him by the Jesuit missionaries considering that Filipinos before 1849/1850 did not have surnames.

Let me give a clear example. The only son of Rajah Matanda of Manila was given the Christian name Ambrosio Mag-isa, simply because he was the only child of the old Tondo king. "Mag-isa" is Tagalog for "one" or "only". But did he pass on his "last name" to his children? Nope! Definitely not.

2. Death records can show that the last name Calungsod was already in Ginatilan prior to 1849

Fr. Ildebrando Leyson, vice postulator of Calungsod’s cause, believes that the first Calungsod in Ginatilan was Mariano Calungsod, who was baptized in 1852. He therefore believes that it is possible that even before the Claveria decree Calungsod was already used as a last name. He further added to the cause of Ginatilan as the most likely town of origin of Calungsod as a death record of one Luciano Calungsod whose death was recorded on Aug. 2, 1852, at the age of 67. He then deduced that the Calungsods have lived in Ginatilan since 1785.

Once again this is erroneous genealogical conclusion. 99% of people who were born pre-1849 were baptized with 2 Christian names like Pedro Jose, Jose Patricio, etc., or, as in many Luzon towns, a Christian name and an indigenous name which functioned as a surname but was not really a legal last name, such as Juan Macapagal, Jose Dakila, etc. So it is more likely that this Luciano Calungsod was baptized NOT with the Calungsod last name.

3. The town of Ginatilan in Cebu is probably the most probable origin of Pedro Calungsod

I have checked the available church records of Ginatilan, Molo, Hinundayan, and Hinunangan and these are the existing baptismal, marriage, and burial records available:

The Church of San Gregorio Magno in Ginatilan have records that go only as far as 1848;
The Sta. Ana church in Molo, Iloilo have older records, dating to as far as the 1740s;
The St. Joseph church in Hinundayan, Leyte go back only as to 1885; and,
Hinunangan, Leyte's St. Peter and Paul church only have records up to 1851,

Clearly, both Leyte towns can be taken out of the running for possible town of origin because their records do not go earlier than 1885 and 1851, respectively.It just wouldn't make sense considering them because they don't have records to back this up.

So that leaves us with Ginatilan in Cebu and Molo in Iloilo. While Ginatilan has 1848 records, the earlier reference to a Calungsod was only in 1852, both a death and a baptism. Why was there no mention of a Calungsod earlier? Because from 1848 to 1851 people were listed down with two Christian names, which makes me believe that the Calungsod surname came only after the Claveria decree, at least in Ginatilan's case.


I am inclined to accept the suggestion that Pedro Calungsod was from Iloilo, and not Cebu, only because the records of Iloilo are older. Going through the records in Iloilo, we not only have the chance of seeing records that list pre-Claveria decree names, they are not limited to just one town. But the weird thing is, the records that would clearly show Calungsod as a surname (that is, passed on to the next generation) is found in Iloilo but in Jaro, and not in Molo. Here are some really old references to "Calungsod" in Iloilo:

1. Maria Calungsod, baptized on September 7, 1748 in Jaro, Iloilo, the daughter of Juan Calungsod and Josefa Beatris.

2. Maria Calongsod, baptized on October 9, 1751, daughter of Juan Calongsod and Feliziana Olay.

3. Juan Calongsod, baptized on November 6, 1756, son of Juan Calongsod and Maria Viats.

4. Another Juan Calongsod, baptized on December 29, 1756, another child of Juan Calongsod and Feliciana Ulay.

Some other records of Calungsod, Calongsod, and Calunsod can be found in Badian and Boljoon, Cebu. Molo, too, have them, but I still have to see older records. I even have 2 Calungsod names in Argao which, if we infer based on the dates involved, lived in Argao in the early to middle 1700s.

I am not contradicting the research done with regard to Pedro Calungsod's origins, but I am surprised that the researchers failed to include Jaro, Iloilo, as a possible contender as this was the only place I have seen so far that have mentioned the word Calungsod as a real surname. As soon as I have the chance to check on the records of Molo, I will update this post.

Before ending this writeup I would like to point out that as long as there are no records proving that St. Pedro Calungsod came from Iloilo, Molo and Jaro would still be simply claimants to Calungsod's origin. Even if Iloilo has older records none of these go back as far as Calungsod's time, so having a "family tradition" about a young boy member of the clan taken by Jesuit seminaries many years ago just sounds too, suspect, in my opinion.

In the end, I'd like to point out that St. Pedro Calungsod's town of origin matters little. How he lived his life, short as it was, is what truly matters.