Tuesday, August 28, 2018

First Female Supreme Court Chief Justice Teresita J. Leonardo-de Castro and Her Genealogy

With the voiding of the term of Lourdes Sereno as chief justice, JUSTICE TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO thus became the first female Philippine Supreme Court Chief Justice on August 28, 2018. This article explores the surnames of CJ de Castro as well as present a brief genealogy.

Origin of Surnames

The newest Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines, JUSTICE TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, carries very significant family names. She is unique in the sense that both her maternal and paternal surnames - JOSE and LEONARDO - are more popularly carried as first, and less as last, names.

Her maternal surname, Jose, is derived from the Spanish and Portuguese name JOSÉ, itself from Ioseph, the Latin form of the Greek Ιωσηφ, which is taken from the Hebrew name Yosef meaning "he will add". Her paternal surname, Leonardo, on the other hand is from the Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese name Leonardo which is derived from the Germanic lewo, meaning "lion" (of Latin origin), and hard, which means "brave, hardy".

Even her married surname, de Castro, stands for something lofty. It is derived from the Galician, Portuguese, Italian, and Jewish (Sephardic) topographic name Castro, from the word castro which means “castle” or “fortress” and derived further from the Latin castrum which means “fort” or “Roman walled city”.

Brief Genealogy

It is interesting to note that the Jose, Leonardo, and de Castro families are all local to the City of Parañaque. While both the Jose and Leonardo surnames are common Filipino names, both surnames have existed in Parañaque way before the Claveria surname decree

The Leonardos of Parañaque were classified as indios and belonged to the gremio de naturales. All their relatives were also classified as such. The earliest traceable ancestor of Chief Justice Teresita L. de Castro on the paternal line is ESCOLASTICO LEONARDO who was born in Parañaque, Metro Manila, Philippines. He married Juana Santos and at least one child has been recorded so far: Sinforoso Leonardo. While it is not indicated if he carried a position in the locality, in later records Sinforoso Leonardo was listed a few times with the title “Don”. It is very highly likely that he was an elected cabeza de barangay.

Don Sinforoso Leonardo married Juana Cruz, also from Parañaque, the daughter of Agapito Cruz and Severina Silvestre, both also born in Parañaque. They had at least five children: Juan Leonardo (born sometime in the 1870s); Francisca Leonardo, born on August 20, 1882; Justo Leonardo, born on October 18, 1885; Cesaria Leonardo, born on February 27, 1888; and Gregoria Leonardo, born on December 23, 1890.

Juan Leonardo married Patricia Rodriguez on August 24, 1891. Patricia was the daughter of Don Domingo Rodriguez and Doña Melchora Salvador. Don Domingo Rodriguez served as a cabeza de barangay in the 1890s. Their children were Honorata Leonardo, born in January 1894; Crispina Leonardo, born in October 1896; and Fortunato Leonardo, born on December 18, 1906.

Fortunato Leonardo, the father of Chief Justice de Castro, married Maxima Jose. One of their children is the current Chief Justice. Teresita Leonardo was born on October 10, 1948 in Parañaque, Metro Manila, Philippines. She married Eduardo Asansa de Castro and they have three children: Ma. Cherell de Castro, born in 1975; Christine Genevieve de Castro, born in 1977; and Edoward de Castro, born in 1979.

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