On Kapampángan Surnames

An article on Filipino surnames has been going around Facebook recently. For some reason my comments on that article were removed and my succeeding comments were no longer approved. So here is my brief overview on Kapampángan surnames. Nothing comprehensive. There are other classifications that I did not touch on, including the Hispanised and even indigenised surnames of Japanese Christians and Chinese mestizos who also formed part of the traditional Kapampángan elite.

BANSAG, the root of the word PÁMANSAG, from the 1860 edition of Bergaño’s Vocabulario de la Lengua Pampanga en Romance.

What has been described in length in the first part of that article on Filipino surnames are what we simply call PAMANSAG in Kapampángan ~ a cognomen that usually describes a person’s unique character or ability that sets him apart from others. Though a number of PAMANSAG did become surnames, Kapampángans have a different method of naming families and not just the individual.

The meaning of the surname PÁNGILINAN, from the 1860 edition of Bergaño’s Vocabulario de la Lengua Pampanga en Romance.

Kapampángans have PAMAGAT or titles of nobility like the Gatbonton, Gatmaitan and Gatdúlâ. We also have the PANDAMLÂ ~ Sanskrit surnames like Galúrâ (गरुड), Lacsínâ (दक्षिण) and Lacsamána (लक्ष्मण) which were perhaps a carry over from the 10th century Buddhist era not found in your history books. These are quite similar to the Sanskrit surnames many upper class Javanese still have despite being Muslims, a testament to their Buddhist and Hindu past. We have PANDIUÁTÂ, surnames reserved for the SÚGÎ ‘pure blood’ whom we believed were descended from the DIUÁTÂ ‘gods’ like Lakandanum (Laquindanum) ‘god of water’ and Lakanlále (Lacanlale) ‘god of care and protection’. A great number of Kapampángan surnames are PANGGAMPÂ, clan surnames belonging to hereditary occupations like Mánansálâ, those who enforce the SANSÁLÂ ‘prohibitions’, Mánalastas or the ‘heralds and interpreters’ and Mánalóto ‘those who echo the old stories’, and many more.

From page 178 of Pangilinan’s 2012 book on Kulitan, the indigenous Kapampángan script.

In 1849, Kapampángans were exempted from Claveria’s decree that attempted to standardise the surnames used by the natives of these islands. Two hundred years before, in 1649, the Spanish king granted Kapampángans autonomy and exempted them from tribute for all eternity as a reward for their loyal service in protecting the Spanish East Indies from Dutch invasion. Their nobility were enrolled in the Spanish hidalguia, the lowest level of Spanish aristocracy, and were allowed to be addressed as Don ‘lord’ and Doña ‘lady’. Kapampángans therefore kept records of their families and retained their indigenous surnames so that they can pass down their exemptions and privileges to their descendants. This all ended with the Amerikan occupation at the turn of the 20th century.

First page of the copy of the Spanish Royal Decree of 20 May 1649 granting Kapampángans autonomy and tribute exemption for all eternity. from the Archivo Estatales, Ministerio de Educacion, Cultura y Deporte.

Sadly we Kapampángans are always lumped together in this uniformed mass we call Filipino. Each ethnolinguistic group within the islands still named after King Philip II has its own story to tell, different and distinct from the mainstream storyline imposed by the policy makers in Manila. The Kapampángans, like many other ethnolinguistic groups within the islands, already had a distinct identity, history, language and culture long before the idea of a Filipino nation was even conceived.

Bibliography and Suggested Readings:

Bergaño, Diego. (1732). [Reprinted 1860]. Vocabulario de la Lengua Pampanga en Romance. Manila: Imprenta de Ramirez y Giraudier.

Beyer, Henry Otley. (1918). Ethnography of the Pampangan People: A Comprehensive Collection of Original Sources. Manila, Philippines.

Beyer, H. Otley. 1943. A Brief History of Fort Santiago (With Historical Notes of the Walled City). Quezon City: University of the Philippines, N.P.

Henson, Mariano A. (1965). The Province of Pampanga and Its Towns: A.D. 1300-1965. [4th ed. revised]. Angeles City, Philippines: By the author.

Larkin, John A. 1972. The Pampangans: Colonial Society in a Philippine Province. 1993 Philippine Edition. Quezon City: New Day Publishers.

Larkin, John A. and Cushner, Nicholas P. (1978). Royal Land Grants in the Colonial Philippines (1571-1626): Implications for the Formations of a Social Elite. In Philippine Studies, Vol. 26, No. 1 & 2 (1978), 102-111.

Santiago, Luciano P.R. (1990) The Houses of Lakandula, Matanda, and Soliman [1571-1898]: Genealogy and Group Identity. In Philippine Quarterly of Culture and Society, Vol. 18, No. 1.

Santiago, Luciano P.R. (1990). The Filipinos Indios Encomenderos [ca. 1620-1711]: Genealogy and Group Identity. In Philippine Quarterly of Culture and Society, Vol. 18, No. 3.

Santiago, Luciano P.R. (1991). The Beginnings of Higher Education in the Philippines [1601-1772]. In Philippine Quarterly of Culture and Society, Vol. 19, No. 2.

Santiago, Luciano P.R. (1991). The Brown Knight: The Rise and Fall of Don Nicolas de Herrera [1614-1680]. In Philippine Quarterly of Culture and Society, Vol. 19, No. 3.

Santiago, Luciano P.R. (2001). Laying the Foundations: Kapampangan Pioneers in the Philippine Church 1592-2001. Angeles City, Philippines: Holy Angel University Press.

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