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)