Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Davao Genealogy: President Duterte and the What-Ifs of History

To celebrate the birthday of our president, here are 2 little what-ifs on President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.


The first what-if is something I have already mentioned before: What if President Rodrigo Duterte's great-great-grandfather, Maximo Veloso, had married his great-great-grandmother, Dionisia Duterte? Then we would have had a President Rodrigo Roa Veloso, and not Duterte, today. However, the genealogical gods decided otherwise. Dionisia Duterte never married Maximo Veloso and their son, Isabelo, initially carried Duterte as his last name. For legal purposes he went by Isabelo Duterte, but in public he was known as Isabelo Veloso as apparently he was recognized as a son by Maximo. Thus, Isabelo became the father of Facundo, who also carried Duterte as his surname, who in turn was the father of Vicente, President Duterte's father.

The Duterte name, from the French du tertre, means "hillock" or a "small mound", but is also an allusion to "rising above others" or "prominence" or "elevation". Compare this with Veloso, which is from the Portuguese word veloso which means "hairy", derived from the Latin villosus, itself a combination of villus (“hair”) + -ōsus (“full of”). I think even President Duterte's critics would agree with me that a president whose surname means "rising above others" or "prominence" or "elevation" is better than someone whose surname means "hairy".


President Duterte's birth registration (courtesy of LDS FamilySearch)

The second what-if is this: on President Duterte's birth registration in Maasin, Southern Leyte, his original last name (as was his father's) was actually Duarte. This was corrected to Duterte, and the stroke suggests that the same person who wrote "Duarte" also wrote "Duterte". Imagine if this was not corrected, and if President Duterte had decided to just use the wrong surname, then he would have been President Rodrigo Roa Duarte today!

Happy Birthday, Mr. President!

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