Catálogo alfabético de apellidos

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The Catálogo alfabético de apellidos (English: Alphabetical Catalogue of Surnames; Spanish-influenced Tagalog: Alpabétikong Katálogo ng mga Apelyido; Tagalog: Katitikang Talaan ng mga Pangalang-angkán) 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.

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. 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[edit]

Surnames were culled from many Philippine languages, including Tagalog, Ilokano, Cebuano, Hiligaynon, 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, and human characteristics.

Examples of surnames include Daquila (modern Tagalog dakilà, "noble"); Magsaysáy ("to recount"); Balani ("magnetism"); Malaqui (malakí, "big" or from the prophet Malachi); Dimatulac ('di matulak, "cannot be pushed"); "Bathala" (Visayan-Sanskrit, "God"); Panganiban (Tagalog, "spirit medium", "to be possessed by"); Lagip (Ilokano, "memory"); Putî ("white"); Talóng ("aubergine"); 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 native male religious leaders); Bacla (baklâ, "effeminate", "male transvestite"); Otot (utót, "flatulence"; Tangá ("stupid", "daydreamer", from Chinese ti-ang/ti-ng/to-ng via anga-anga); Limotin (limutín/limutin, "forgetful"/"to forget"); Lubut (Cebuano, "buttocks"; Tagalog kulubút, "wrinkles"); Tae ("faeces"); Ongoy (unggóy, "monkey"); Aso ("dog", from Chinese A-So); Jalimao (halimaw, "monster"); and Yyac (iiyák, "will cry").


Words and surnames derived from Spanish include Bajo, Balbutin, Buey, de Guzmán, Escondo, Escribano, Escritor, 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, 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.

Dissemination of surnames[edit]

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. For the Spanish surnames, there are surnames of Basque, Castilian, and Catalan origin. Basque surnames are mostly used by Filipinos of Spanish descent, while Castilian and Catalan surnames are mostly used by indigenous Filipinos and Chinese Filipinos. A number of mestizo Filipinos with Spanish birth surnames surprisingly have no Spanish blood and have other European ancestry, including those of American blood through intermarriage with indigenous Filipino ancestors with Spanish surnames.

Actual practise[edit]

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 town of Oas, Albay, for instance, many surnames there begin with the letter R such as Roa, Reburiano, Rabajante, and Relleve. On the islands of Banton, Simara,Maestro de Campo or Sibale and towns of Calatrava and [Odiongan, Romblon|Odiongan] surnames that begin with the letter F are prevalent such as Fabic, Fabrero, Festin, Fadrilan, Fadriquela, Famatigan, Fabicon, Faigao, Forca, Fondevilla, Fabella, Faeldan, Fabello, Faderon, Falculan, Fabiala, Fajilagot, Formilleza, Farao, Fadri, Fetalver, Fetalvero, Fadri, etc.

Also, in the town of Sta. Cruz, Zambales, many surnames begin with the letter M such as Morados, Mayo, Movilla, Mose, etc.

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 "F", "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.

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


  • Clavería y Zaldúa, Narciso (1973) [1849]. Catálogo alfabético de apellidos (reprint). Philippine National Archives, Manila. 

External links[edit]