Monday, April 21, 2014

Where to Start: Genealogical or Family Societies

During Holy Week in the Philippines families of various size and social standing troop to their hometowns to celebrate not just the religious aspect of the holiday, but more importantly the value of extended kinship and family traditions.

Some families simply gather for a meal and celebrate their relationship, while others have more elaborate programs where members engage in athletic events and cultural shows. Others give out awards and recognition to more outstanding members. A good example of this is the Kintanar family of Argao, Cebu. Every Holy Wednesday, without fail, members of the Kintanar family flock to Argao to celebrate their kinship. The Kintanar family has always been a family of pride and achievement. As a family they have contributed much to the political, social, medical, and other fields of endeavors not just in the town of Argao but in Cebu and the Philippines.

There are also those families who don't necessarily have a formal program or even an agreement of a formal reunion, but whose members nonetheless still go back to their hometown during the holy week because of a religious obligation, such as the Gador-del Carmen-Sales family of Moalboal, Cebu. Each year, members of the extended family help out in the preparation of the family carroza whose patron is the Santo Intierro or the Dead Christ.

These thoughts of family reunions remind me of another good source for tracing family histories: family associations or genealogical societies. In the United States, national genealogical organizations such as the New England Historical and Genealogical Society have huge resources to help out people whose ancestors may have come from New England. These societies are so widespread that all states in the United States have their own genealogical organizations, from the Alabama Genealogical Society, Natchez Trace Genealogical Society, Tuscaloosa Genealogical Society of the state of Alabama down to the Fremont County Genealogical Society of Wyoming.

Although the idea of formal family or genealogical societies in the Philippines is not as commonly accepted or popular, there are still quite a few number of genealogical groups that can help out those who are just starting their genealogical journey. Below are just three of genealogical organizations in the Philippines. For the sake of geographical fairness, I have chosen one example from each of the major island group of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Below are 3 of the best leads one can start with when starting a family history.

The Ka-Angkan (Feast of Clans)

Kinship in Marikina city takes on a whole new level. The celebration of families is done not just by some but by all the citizens of the city. In 1998 Mayor Bayani Fernando spearheaded a homegrown festivity called the Ka-Angkan Festival, which is also known as the Feast of Clans celebrated during the anniversary of Marikina's cityhood every April. The feast is a tribute to the original residents of the city, the families who formed the community and shaped the city’s history, culture, and tradition. It is also a celebration of being a Marikeño, an attempt to preserve the collective identity of the city and to make sure that, years from now, generations of future Marikeños will still know of their roots and hear the stories of their forebears.

Ka-Angkan features a family history center which aims to collect and ensure the preservation and accessibility of genealogical, biographical, and historical information on family histories of clans considered "original settlers" of the city, which roughly translates to proving having an ancestor who was living in Marikina at least 100 years ago.   Over 40 clan histories dating back to the 1900's have already been documented and archived in the form of personal and family papers, photos, and microfilm records.

The members of the Ka-angkan are:

Abeng Mamamakyaw, Adobo, Ahas, Ampalaya, Andres, Asuncion, Baboy, Baka, Bale, Balakubak, Baluyot, Bangus, Bautista Hubad, Bawang, Belo, Bernardino, Benga, Bobing Hipon, Brosti, Bubuli, Bulig, Bungbong, Bukayo, Buklo, Bulik, Butiki, Caro, Carlos, Daga, de Dios, de Guzman, dela Paz, Desiderio, Emiliong Bulos, Emmang Hilot, Estanislao, Eustaquio, Fernando, Gago, Gara, Gasco, Golong, Grimaldo, Jocson Suman, Josef, Kabayo, Kalabaw, Kalabyang, Kalamansi, Kalampag, Kalapati, Kamatis, Kampana, Kanduli, Kariton, Kuba, Kugon, Kuyog, Kwitib, Lebrias-Bobis, Lupa, Manok, Mejia, Mores, Nepomuceno, Pagpag, Palaka, Palayok, Panggasi, Pantog, Pasay, Pasco, Pato, Patola, Pertong Intsik, Pipit, Predong Putol, Pulgas, Reyes A, Reyes B, , Santos Mora, Santiago, Severino, Sile, Supok, Tabo, Tetong Magtatakong, Tiburcio, Tigete, Tubo, Uga, Usok

Kaguikan sa Parian

Based in Cebu City, the Kaguikan sa Parian (With Roots from Parian) is an association of descendants of the old Parian families that aims to reawaken Cebuanos to the history of Parian, the quarters of Chinos and later mestizos in Cebuano history. According to the group, "Kaguikan shows that Cebuanos will always be proud of their heritage and they would always keep in their hearts and minds what they had before (while) coping with the 21st century."

The group has partnered with the provincial government and institutions like the University of San Carlos and the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. (RAFI) to create awareness through lectures and cultural activities.

To be a member of the organization, one must provide proof of having a direct ancestor who was living in Parian at least in the 1800s. American historian Michael Cullinane has identified the original select group fo families who monopolized the elite of Parian and its parish. These families were the movers and shakers of Cebu whose members later rose to national prominence after the Spaniards left.

There were originally 28 families identified, and these were:

Alo, Borromeo, de Castro, Climaco, Cuico, Espina, Gandiongco, Gantuangco, Garces, Janson, Limcaco, del Mar, Narvios, Noel, Osmeña, Regis, Reynes, Rodis, Rubi, Sanson, Singson, Sison, Solon, Suico, Valle, Velez, Veloso, and Villa.

By the last decade of the nineteenth century these influential families grew to 60. Added to the 28 mentioned above are the families of:

Alburo, Aldanese, Alonso, Antonio, Atillo, Avila, Bundoc, Cabrera, Cala, Carratala, Chiong Veloso, Cui, Duterte, Galan, Garces, Gorordo, Guivelondo, Lasala, Logarta, Llorente, Medalle, Mejia, Mercado, Neis, Rafols, Rallos, Regner, de Roda, Rodriguez (Mestizo Chinese), Rodriguez (Mestizo Spanish), Roa, Royo, Ruiz, Sepulveda, Sotto, Teves, Uy Herrera, and Vaño.

Of course, these are just the prominent and powerful families. One can be a member of Kaguikan even if one's ancestors were not movers and shakers but were still inhabitants of the Parian-Lutao district of Cebu during the Spanish period. I am descended from at least two of the above-mentioned families: the Cabreras on my maternal side and the Galans on my paternal side. However, we have unverifiable descent from even older residents of the Parian district, the Sindiong (Cindiong) family, whose ancestry, though untraceable for the moment, go bacvk as far as the 1600s in Parian.

For more on the old families of Cebu, read Concepcion G. Brione's Life in Old Parian.

Hijos de Davao (Sons of Davao)

While both the Ka-Angkan of Marikina and Kaguikan of Cebu are organizations of families, and though many of these families are interrelated, the Hijos de Davao is perhaps the only one with more closely related members. The Hijos de Davao was founded in 1964 by 4th generation members of the intertwined Alzate-Bustamante-Suazon-Bangoy clan. Of the three, the Hijos de Davao is the only one whose members are all related to each other.

The members of the Hijos de Davao are descended from Maria Alzate (both from her first husband, Fulgencio Bustamante, and her second husband, Pablo Suazo) and Gabriel Bangoy and his wife Alejandra Porta. From the family tree on hand a sampling of the members of the Hijos are:

Bangoy, Bustamante, Alzate, Suazo, Palma Gil, Cervantes, Joven, Flores, Cabaguio, Lizada, Nograles, Bendigo, Monteverde, Garcia.

Although it started as a social club of sorts when it was established, it has evolved into a civic organization that aims to celebrate and preserve Dabawenyo culture and heritage (an amalgam of indigenous Dabawenyo and Tagalog and Bisaya cultures) and build stronger communities through social and civic projects.

For more on the old families of Davao, read Sang-awun sa Dabaw: A collection of stories about Davao and the Alzate-Bustamante-Suazo-Bangoy clan by Rogelio L. Lizada.
  4. Jayson Petras, Angkang Marikeño, Angkan ng mga Mabubuting Tao.
  5. Concepcion G. Briones, Life in Old Parian. Cebu City: University of San Carlos Press, 1983.
  6. Rogelio L. Lizada, Sang-awun sa Dabaw: A Collection of Stories about Davao and the Alzate-Bustamante-Suazo-Bangoy Clan.


  1. Hi Todd, any article solely for Cabrera Clan? My Great Grandmother, Damiana Cabrera, a Spanish mestiza that hails from Cebu... she and siblings exiled to Mindanao (Oroquieta and Zamboanga Peninsula) due to a family/clan dispute (Issue was about land and mana ata). They were threatened with barang/paktol if will not vanish....These stories were just pass on to me by my Lola. I can still remember my great Lola's blue Spanish eyes when she was still alive around my elementary years. She even got reunited with her brother in Oroquieta in their old age already (early 90's ata by luck) given that they were separated, i think before WWII pa.

    1. I do not have much data on the Cabreras except for my own line. My Cabrera ancestors were from Parian, Cebu who married into the Lucero family of Argao, Cebu.

  2. Hi, great research! Any data on the Vallejos clan from Cebu and Bohol? Our oral history has sworn our great grand father, Jose Marcelo Vallejos, was son of an Augustinian Missionary Friar based in Cebu, Father Marudan/Morodan. Any information would be so grateful in solving this mystery! Salamat!

  3. How can I find more about the Garces ancestry?