Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Finding a Bato in the Mato: Edgar Matobato's Surname Definition

With Senator De Lima once again making headlines for walking out of the senate for the second time around, my mind turned to the last name of the man whose presence in the senate hearing on the alleged extra-judicial killings has started all these in-fighting among the senators. I am talking about Edgar Matobato, whose last name from the very start sounded very unique to my genealogist ears.

After weeks of searching online I discovered another genealogical gem: the last name MATOBATO clearly fits its bearer - at least in Edgardo's case.

The family name is obviously a composite of two words - MATO + BATO. Going the obvious route, which is Filipino, the surname Matobato is derived from the two old Cebuano words mato, derived further from the proto-Austronesian term which means 'water', and from bato, obviously a Cebuano word which in turn has been derived from proto-Austronesian and means 'stone' or 'rock' or 'hard'.

But we can also go the Spanish route. The word MATO is a Spanish word derived from the Portuguese word mato, which means 'forest', 'jungle', or 'woods'; however, it may also may have been derived from the Portuguese verb matar, in turn derived from the Latin mactare, meaning 'to kill'. The second word bato, meanwhile, is another Portuguese verb, this time derived from the word bater, from the Latin battuere, which means 'to beat up'.

As a genealogist I have always believed that names have always held significant meanings, especially surnames. Even for a race of people like the Filipinos whose surnames are mostly derived from a list of names forced upon them, last names in the Philippines still mean a lot when you dig deeper into its history. 

And what is more fitting, more intriguing surname for a confessed killer like Edgar Matobato than to have a last name that means to kill, to beat up, hard, stone, and woods or jungle. I can already start imagining him beating up his victims, then killing them with rocks or stones, then burying the bodies in the deep forests.

By the way, the last name Matobato does not appear to be very populous. It is the 16th most populous last name in the town of Alangalang, Leyte but appears to be ranked as the 38,130th most common last name in the country and only about 0.000750%, or less than 1% of the population carry the last name.

Edgar Matobato (from newsinfo.inquirer.net)

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