Ten things to know about the Catalogo

HISTORY MATTERS - Todd Sales Lucero - The Freeman

For some historians, the 1849 Claveria surname decree created nothing but confusion for Filipinos. It is true that many Filipinos today continue to be unaware of the decree’s repercussions and thus continue to have the wrong belief that their surname is from a Hispanic ancestor when it merely came from a list provided by the Spaniards. People also continue to believe that having the same family name equates to kinship when it simply means their ancestors adopted the same last name from the same page of the list. To educate the public about the decree, we dedicate today’s column on the 10 things one must know about the Catalogo Alfabetico de Apellidos.

The Catalogo is the list of surnames and words from various languages, including indigenous, that was distributed all over the islands when the Claveria surname decree was enacted. And although the decree was enacted on November 21, 1849, it was only the following year, beginning February and March 1850, when it was implemented. Though this decree will forever be associated with Narciso Claveria, it was Antonio María Blanco, the acting governor-general who briefly served after Claveria, who guaranteed the decree’s enforcement. By December 1850, most towns under Spanish rule had complied with the decree. Here are some facts you need to know about the Catalogo:

First, the Catalogo has 141 pages containing surnames. There are 18 more pages preceding it, containing the decree by Claveria and other related documents. But the surnames themselves are contained in 141 pages.

Second, although official documents and many Filipino historians say there is approximately a total of 60,662 surnames in the Catalogo, there are many instances where there are blanks between names. Also, there are approximately 4,404 duplicate surnames, or surnames that cannot be made out or that are only partially recognizable. Thus, all in all, there are only 53,517 surnames that can be discerned with certainty, or 7,145 surnames less than what has been previously assumed.

Third, the surnames in the Catalogo are grouped into six columns.

Fourth, while it is supposed to be an alphabetical listing of names, there are many instances when surnames were not arranged correctly. In fact, in some cases, though not extremely numerous, surnames were incorrectly included in the column of names that begins in another letter, such as the surname “Casuga” which was included with the letter “B” surnames.

Fifth, while the surnames are distributed over 141 pages, not all pages have the same number of surnames. In pages where one list of surnames of a letter ends and the next batch starting with another letter begins, there is a small gap between these so that would make the number of surnames slightly lesser. But on a full page, there are 72 surnames per column, which totals to 432 surnames per full page.

Sixth, while there are 26 letters in the alphabet, only 23 letters are represented in the Catalogo; there are no surnames beginning in letters I, K, W, and X. However, there are entries for the Spanish letter Ll.

Seventh, nevertheless, while there was no provision for letters I, K, W, and X, there are actually 14 surnames that start with the letter “I” (Ildaneg, Ilibino, Ilili, Ilipin, Illamil, Illar del Pazo, Imimin, Incan, Intreca, Intulio, Ipda, Ipilitina, Ipjangay, and Isiso) and two that begin with “K” (Kacambra and Katurat). It is most probable that the letter “I” surnames were meant to be included in “Y” while “K” was meant to be included as “Q”. The letters “I” and “K” were interchangeable with the letters “Y” and “Q” during the Spanish period.

Eighth, the letters with the most number of surnames begin with the letters C and B; C has 5,167 surnames while B has 4,898 surnames.

Ninth, the letters with the least number of surnames are the letters Z and Ll; Ll has 113 surnames while Z just has 193.

And, finally, the tenth: the first surname as listed in the Catalogo or as arranged alphabetically is AACAIN, while the last surname is ZURRAR.

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