Catálogo alfabético de apellidos

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The Catálogo alfabético de apellidos (Template:Lang-en; Template:Lang-tl) is a book of surnames in the Philippines and other islands of Spanish East Indies published in the mid-19th century. This was in response to a Spanish colonial decree establishing the distribution of Spanish family names and local surnames among colonial subjects who did not have a prior surname. It is also the reason why Filipinos share the same surnames of Spanish people.[1]

The book was created after Spanish Governor-General Narciso Clavería y Zaldúa issued a decree on November 21, 1849, to address the lack of a standard naming convention.[2] Newly-Christianised Filipinos often chose the now-ubiquitous surnames of de los Santos, de la Cruz, del Rosario, and Bautista for religious reasons; others preferred names of well-known local rulers such as Lacandola. To complicate matters further, discrepancies like family members holding different surnames would hinder some of the colonial government's activities such as taking a census and tax collection.


The book itself consists of 141 pages, with surnames arranged in six columns with at most 72 entries per column. Despite the title, the surnames are not strictly listed alphabetically (after Gandain is Ganavacas then Gandoy, and Balledor is listed under "V").

All of the letters of the Spanish alphabet are represented except for the letters "I" (in the Spanish orthography of the time "Y" was used instead of an initial "I"), "K" and "W" (there are no Spanish surnames starting with these letters) and "X" (due to a consonant shift, earlier surnames like Ximénez were spelled Jiménez, with a J, by that time.)

Source of surnames

Surnames were culled from many Philippine languages, including Tagalog, Ilocano, Hiligaynon, Cebuano, Kapampangan, Pangasinan and others. Spanish, however, provided the bulk of the surnames.


Many of the words from Philippine languages conform from a wide variety of themes such as nature, vegetation, geography, occupation and human characteristics.

Examples of surnames include Daquila (modern Tagalog dakilà, "noble"); Magbanua (Hiligaynon, to populate); Mangubat (Cebuano, warrior/to fight or wage war); Magsaysáy ("to recount"); Balani ("magnetism"); Malaqui (malakí, "big" or from the prophet Malachi); Datuon (Hiligaynon, datu-like), Dimatulac (di matulak, "cannot be pushed"); "Bathala" (Visayan-Sanskrit, "High Deity"); Manalo (Tagalog, to win); Panganiban (Tagalog, "spirit medium", "to be possessed by"); Lagip (Ilokano, "memory"); Putî ("white"); Talóng ("eggplant"); Maliuanag (maliwanag, "bright"); Mabanglo (Ilokano, "fragrant"); Tumacder (Ilokano tumakder, "to stand up"); and Ycasiam (ikasiyám; "ninth").

Potentially offensive words were also included as surnames, such as Gajasa (gahasà, "rape"; originally meant "someone who rushed"); Bayot (Cebuano, "effeminate"; also used by Spanish priests as a pejorative against Babaylan or hostile native male religious leaders); Bacla (baklâ, "offensively effeminate", "male transvestite"); Otot (utót, "flatulence/fart"); Tangá ("stupid", "daydreamer", from Chinese ti-ang/ti-ng/to-ng via anga-anga); Limotin (limutín/limutin, "forgetful"/"to forget"); Lubut (Cebuano, "buttocks"; also from Tagalog kulubút, "wrinkles"); Tae ("faeces"); Ongoy (unggóy, "monkey"); Aso ("dog"); Jalimao (halimaw, "monster"); and Yyac (iiyák, "will cry").


Words and surnames derived from Spanish include Bajo, Balbutin, Buey, de Guzmán, Escondo, Escribano, Escritor, Espiritu, Evangelista, Galleros, Guerrero, Hidalgo, Javier, Jurisprudencia, Lectura, Loco, Maestro, Orante, Orlanda, Palentinos, Pamplona, Rivera, Villafuerte, Villaroman, Yncredulidad.

Some surnames came from Spanish given names like Alonso, Ballesteros, Fernando, Ignacio, Pascual, Salvador, Santiago.

Religious surnames include Ángeles, Cruz, de Dios, de Jesús, de los Santos, de los Reyes, García, Isidro, José, Miguel, Moises, Resurrección, Reyes, Santos, San Agustín, San Antonio, San Francisco, San Gabriel, Santa Barbara, Santo Domingo, and Santo Rosario.

Those from Spanish toponyms include Alcántara, Alferez, Alcuizar, Alquizola, Arévalo, Ávila, Bustamante, Cáceres, Carrillo, Galicia, Foz, Madrid, Millares, Pamplona, Santander, Toledo, Tolosa, and España itself; those from other countries or regions include Africa, América, Alemania (Germany), Austria, Bélgica (Belgium), Benin, Brasil (Brazil), Jordan, Olandes (modern orthography: holandés; Netherlander) and Ysrael (modern orthography: Israel).

Surnames from Philippine place names were also given by Spaniards, and these include Bacolod, Basilan, and Davao.

Hispanized Chinese

Philippines had a huge Chinese population during the Spanish Era which was mostly composed of people from Fujian and Guang Zhou.

Spaniards created the Hispanized Chinese family names by combining Chinese first and last names.

Examples of Hispanized Chinese family names: Tiangzon, Pengson, Cuyegkeng (the combination of Cu, Yeg and Keng); Tiongson, Yuzon, Dizon (Probably from Dy and Son), Cojuangco, CuUnjieng (from Cu and Unjieng); Limco (from Lim and Co); Sison, Biazon, Tuazon, Quimpo (from Kim and Po); Yulo, Goquilay, Lacson (from Lak and Son); Sylianco (probably from Sy, Lian, and Co), Lantin, Landicho, Lauchengco, Cuyegkeng, Litang, Tanco, Uichico, Tanseco, Uychiaco, Quiambao (from Kiam and Bao), Suansing, Luanzon, Gotamco, Cuizon, Uyluan, Ongpin, Ongteco, Yutivo Quisimbing, Quizon, Licuanan, Tankiang, Tangco, Lim-An, Yuchengco, Tetangco and many more others.

Dissemination of surnames

According to the decree, a copy of the catalogue was to be distributed to the provincial heads of the archipelago. From there, a certain number of surnames, based on population, were sent to each barangay's parish priest. The head of each barangay, along with another town official or two, was present when the father or the oldest person in each family chose a surname for his or her family.

Several groups were exempt from having to choose new surnames:

  • Those possessing a previously adopted surname (whether indigenous or foreign) already on the list; or, if not on the list, not prohibited due to ethnic origin or being too common.
  • Families who had already adopted a prohibited surname but could prove their family had used the name for at least four consecutive generations. (These were names prohibited for being too common, like de los Santos, de la Cruz, or for other reasons.)

Because of the mass implementation of Spanish surnames in the Philippines, a Spanish surname does not indicate Spanish ancestry and can make it difficult for Filipinos to accurately trace their lineage.

Actual practise

The actual application of assigning surnames widely varied from town to town and from province to province. The provinces of Camarines (now Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur) and Tayabas (now Quezon Province) were known to enforce this rule strictly, while parts of Laguna simply ignored the decree.



In the municipality of Oas, Albay, for instance, many surnames there begin with the letter R such as



During Spanish period, in the decree of the Spanish Governor-General in the latter part of 18th century ordering the change in the Filipino surnames, the natives of Camalig, Albay were assigned names beginning with letter M and N.

Template:Columns-list "Moral" surname is distributed in Sito Medalla Milagrosa, San Vicente, Quipia (now Jovellar) in Albay province. This is initiated by Capt. Lazaro Moral, a relative of a Spanish Bourbon princess named Infanta Isabel Ferdinanda who married to Calixto Nayve (old surname: Nieves.)-gobernadorcillo of Camalig town in 1850's. Recipients are mostly crypto-Jews who came from Mucientes, Valladolid, Spain and areas surrounding it. Most of these crypto-Jews are soldiers of Bourbon families from Madrid who traded with mostly Chinese and rich Filipino families in Albay, Sorsogon, Cebu, La Union, Tayabas and Manila. They traded gold, silver, etc. The first Moral surname carrier in Romblon is a family of Sephardic Jews lineage prior to distribution of catalogue. This family once lived in Nailog village now part of Brgy. Dulangan, Magdiwang, Romblon in Sibuyan Island circa 1820's. The family is also present in Bicol because they spread the religion "Judaism" to remote area like Jovellar in Albay province. Areas with large Moral demographics are islands of Romblon, Sibuyan and Limasawa; municipalities like Casiguran and Dinalungan in Aurora province, Camalig in Albay province, Danao and Carmen in Cebu province, Paranas (Wright) in Western Samar. The surname "Nayve", aside from Moral, has also large demographics in Camalig.


And, in the town of Guinobatan, Albay many surnames begin with the letter O such as



While in the City of Ligao province of Albay, surnames begin with the letter P and Q such as



In the town of Polangui, Albay, family names that begin with the letter S are common.




In the province of Romblon on the islands of Banton, Simara, and Maestro de Campo colloquially known as "Sibale" and towns of Calatrava and Odiongan, family names that begin with the letter F are prevalent. They are as follows:




Other parts of Tablas Island especially the southern and eastern parts are dominated by another group of family names prevalent in Looc, Santa Fe, Alcantara, Ferrol, and San Jose. These family names start with the letter "G" and they are:




In the municipality of San Agustin, last names that start with "M" are predominant.[3] Those are as follows:




In the island and sole municipality of Romblon, and in the three municipalities of Sibuyan namely, Cajidiocan, Magdiwang, and San Fernando, "R" last names dominate the islands. They are:




Surnames starting with Villa– and Al– are abundant in the town of Argao, Cebu. Some surnames are: Villaluz, Villaflor, Villamor, Villanueva, Villacruel, Villacruz, Albo, Alcain, Alcarez, Algones, Ableos, etc.


In Iloilo, surnames that start with the letter "T" are common in Tigbauan and Tubungan towns; those that start with the letter "G" are common in Guimbal town; those that start with the letter "E" are common in Igbaras town; those that start with the letter "M", and "N" are common in Miag-ao town; those that start with the letter "D" are common in Dumangas town; those that start with the letter "P" are common in Passi town; those that start with the letter "B" are common in Roxas City; those that start with the letter "C" are common in Calinog town, and so on.


In the municipality of Miagao Iloilo, for instance, most surnames there begin with the letters M and N but also significantly numerous are those starting in the letter F. The three starting letters cover majority of the surnames in the municipality.







Since there are potentially at most 61,000 surnames in the book, not all of the surnames were used.

See also


  • Clavería y Zaldúa, Narciso (1973). Catálogo alfabético de apellidos (reprint). Philippine National Archives, Manila. 

External links