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Maria Grace Amagna Ibuna

22 March 2012

Grace Ibuna is a businesswoman, who has, over the years, crept into the public eye, because of her colorful choice in partners. She had a brief affair with Gabby Concepcion (who, like her, grew up in San Juan), and bore a daughter Gabrielle Marie or Garie (now a recording artist). Grace was married (and is now estranged from ) Joseph Javier — this marriage bore Ma. Rafaelle Grace and Jose Miguel. Her most recent relationship was with solon Ignacio “Iggy” Tuason Arroyo, who passed away in London this year after a prolonged illness. The battle for the remains and properties of the congressman and the animosity between his partners and children, have been in the news for weeks.

Grace descends from at least two generations of San Juan politicians. Her grandfather, Nicanor Castillo Ibuna, the longest-serving mayor of the city of San Juan, is a footnote in political history as the man who lost to the popular film actor, Joseph Estrada, in a race for mayor in 1967. This win was the germ of the Estrada political dynasty in San Juan. Her father, Rodolfo S. Ibuna, a successful business man, had ambitions of following the footsteps of his father in government. He ran for San Juan mayor and lost to Joseph Estrada in the 1970s. Explore her family tree here.

Grace Ibuna on “The Buzz”.

While the surname sounds indigenous, the origins of the first bearers of the Ibuna surname in the Philippines are not known.

It is interesting to note that “Ibuna” is an Arabic patronymic name, equivalent to “-son”. So, “Ismail Ibuna Mustafa” would mean “Ismail, son of Mustafa”. In modern Arabic naming conventions, this term is very often shortened into “ibn”, “bin”, “ben”, “ibnu” or “ibni”, depending on geography. This patronymic marker, in the long form “Ibuna”, is rarely used — a notable exception is the names of the Tamil-speaking Sri Lankan Moors. We wonder if the Ibuna Clan has some exotic east Asian ancestry waiting to be uncovered.

Resource Notes

1. Constantino-Medina, Rogelio. “Grace Ibuna: We should never regret the things that we have done“. Philippine Daily Inquirer. Date published: 05 February 2012. Date accessed: 15 March 2012. [This article erroneously identifies Grace Ibuna’s father.]

2. Crisostomo, Isabelo T. “President Joseph Ejercito Estrada, from stardom to history: the saga of a child of destiny“. Michigan: J. Kriz Publisher, 1999. Date digitized: 10 September 2008. Date accessed: 15 March 2012.

3. “Names and Titles among the Moors“. Sailan Muslim. Date accessed: 15 March 2012.

4. “Patronymic“. Wikipedia. Date modified: 05 March 2012. Date accessed: 15 March 2012.


Dito, Noon: Manila City Hall

19 March 2012

The image below is a composite of a 2005 photo of the Manila City Hall and 1945 version from the US Library of Congress image showing General Douglas MacArthur watching the envoys from the defeated Japanese forces arrive.  American soldiers and Filipinos look on on the ground floor. The building is now painted, and some greenery has grown around the structure; but the two windows remain.  [I do not own these images.  The original comparison can be found on Skyscraper City.]

Find more “history fades” here.

Karl Suarez Roy

15 March 2012

Karl Suarez Roy was one of the icons of Pinoy rock.  The lead singer of bands such as Advent Call, P.O.T. and Kapatid, Karl has built a career that spanned three decades.  He passed away 13 days before his 44th birthday on 13 March 2012, Tuesday, from a cardiac arrest arising from pulmonary edema.   The Philippine music industry mourns his loss.

Karl is related to respected names in music and law:  Kevin Suarez Roy is Karl’s younger brother and is the front man for the band Razorback.  Atty. Jose de Jesus Roy was Karl’s grandfather and is a pillar of local politics, serving as a Congressman for Tarlac and a Senator of the Philippines.  Atty. Jose “Judd” M. Roy III is Karl’s cousin and is the former Dean and former President of PLM College of Law.  He is currently serving as a member of the defense panel of Chief Justice Renato Corona in his impeachment trial.

The earliest of his ancestors we could trace are Karl’s great-grandparents:  Macario L. Roy (born in 1874 and died in 1951 in Moncada, Tarlac) and Marciana de Jesus.  View his family tree here.

Via Kapatid on Flickr (

The surname Roy is of Scottish origin. It comes from the Gaelic word “ruadh” which means “red”.   It is hypothesized that this surname originated from a nickname.  It’s original bearer must have had red hair or had ruddy complexion or wore red clothing.  In other countries, “roy” may also be a variant of “rey” which means “regal” or “of royal manner”.  The name is widely used in England, Scotland, France and India.  The name is not common in the Philippines.  Could it be that Karl’s Castillian profile hints a yet-unknown Caucasian ancestry?

Research Notes

1. Bruce Roy. “Roy-Royes Family Links“. Date accessed: 15 March 2012.

2. Concepcion, Pocholo.  “Rock star Karl Roy, one of local music’s best acts; 43“. Inquirer On-Line. Date published: 14 March 2012. Date accessed: 15 March 2012.

3. Francisco, VJ.  “Congressman Roy“.  The Lawyers’ Journal, Volume 15.  Indiana:  Indiana University, 1950.  Date digitized: 09 August 2010.  Date accessed: 15 March 2012.

4. “Karl Suarez Roy“.  Geni.  Date accessed: 15 March 2012.

4. “Jose J. Roy“.  Philippine Senate Official Web Site.  Date accessed: 15 March 2012.

5. “Roy Family Crest and Name History“.  Date published: 01 December 2011.  Date accessed: 15 March 2012.

“Bastos” surnames, circa 1849?

10 March 2012

There was a glaring absence of the "mythical" surname "Bagonggahasa" in the catalog.

On the 21st of November 1849, the Governor General of the Philippines, Don Narciso Claveria y Zaldua, issued a law (thereafter called the Claveria Decree) requiring Filipinos to adopt new surnames from the Catalogo Alfabetico de Apellidos for consistent civil and legal administration.

I had the opportunity to look at the annotated 1971 reprint of the catalog (printed by the Philippine Historical Institute) at the Filipinas Heritage Library this week and made a few observations.

1. The notion that the edict mandated the use of Spanish names is false. The catalog had a wealth of Spanish AND indigenous names to choose from. The fact that majority of the people selected Spanish names perhaps reflected the prevalent colonial mentality that a foreign name would make one’s family appear more distinguished.

2. The catalog is alphabetized A-Z; but the names under each letter are not consistently alphabetized.

3. I noticed several “unfortunate” surnames. I am sharing a few names which probably would be a disaster for anyone to use today. I swear, these truly were among the options our Filipino ancestors chose from!  If I applied myself, I could probably find more; but from cursory search, here’s what I got:

An-an … Anacan … Anticristo … Anuba … Aray … Ari … Baboy … Bacla … Bajo … Bastardo … Bayag-usa … Binobo … Bobo … Bocol … Boso … Cac … Cupal … Devil … Fallec … Fango … Poqui … Puse

Now aren’t you glad your great-great-great-great-Lolo had a nasty case of Spanish colonial mentality?

The joy of finding your roots

8 March 2012

This article is reprinted from The Freeman, Cebu, and is dated 11 July 2010. You may read the source post here.

CEBU, Philippines – Martin “Sonny” L. Tinio Jr., author of the book Philippine Ancestral Houses, is one of those who are hooked on genealogy. He started tracing the Tinio family tree in 1972. “It was Martial Law and I got bored so I did the family tree,” he said.

But the work was not easy, he said, since he had to go through old records from churches and other government institutions to find information about his ancestors. “The records were so dusty. I think nobody ever opened those books. I was sneezing and even had hay fever. Mainit pa kasi walang aircon,” he recalled. Sonny decided to stop going through old records and do the family tree by interviewing family members. But this method was not also easy breezy! He had to go to the province and interview a long line of people, asking them who their relatives are! Sonny later found out that oral tradition is not reliable. “It was all jumbled up! I realized this when I did the biography of my grandfather, Gen. Manuel Tinio,” he said.

Deciding that church and government records were the most reliable, Sonny and his family hired a historian to research about their family tree. He narrated that the woman they hired had to go to different areas in Nueva Ecija and go through church records in every place. “There was no Family History Center then so the best way to get reliable information is to really go through church records,” he added.

To date, Sonny has 33,000 names in the Tinio family tree and the number is increasing thanks to the LDS Family History Center, which he visited everyday for three years! “I add a hundred names to the list everyday, thanks to the Family History Center, where it is so convenient and so clean. The staff are very accommodating pa,” Sonny said.

Maricel Claudia Alabastro of the Mayo Clan of Lipa, Batangas, is also one of the many who found her ancestors through the Family History Center. “It was February 2006 and Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, a relative, was installed as Cardinal. We have scheduled a reunion in April and we wanted it to be really grand since it was the biggest reunion of the Mayo Clan. So I decided to research on our ancestors. The Mayo Clan already had a family tree but it was not extensive. So I came to the Family History Center to research. I started with the name of the Cardinal,” Maricel said.

Since the LDS has microfilms of government and church records from all over the country, as well as records from other countries, Maricel came to know that her ancestor was a British soldier, Antony Mayo, from the aristocracy of Great Britain and Ireland, who arrived in Lipa, Batangas together with the British forces during the British Expedition to Manila in 1762-1764. Maricel found that Antony Mayo chose to stay in Lipa, fell in love with Dona Feliciana Casilag and had a child, Don Sebastian Mayo, who became the Gobernadorcillo of Lipa in 1797.

Aside from finding out that she had British descent, Maricel also found out that her ancestors were responsible for the coffee boom in Lipa, Batangas.

But the search for her family was not easy, despite the convenience offered by the Family History Center. “You also have to have common sense. You really have to use your brain and know a little history because there were times when our ancestors had to change their family names. I had to read all the microfilms from Lipa,” she said.

Why look for your ancestors? Family pride is one of the reasons why one traces his roots, aside from setting family records straight. But Sonny said that tracing your roots can also be informative in so many ways. “Family traits, vices and mannerisms stay in the family so you will know what to expect,” he said.

Sister Caroline Fitzgerald, one of the persons in charge of the Family History Center in Manila, said that it is really a golden age for genealogy, “The Filipinos are starting to remember their families.” So far, there are 80,000 microfilms from the Philippines that contain church and government records. There is still a lot to do, she said, when it comes to preserving the records of the world but the volunteers of the LDS are patiently microfilming these records so that these will be shared to all.

One of the more recent records that the LDS in the Philippines has microfilmed were the records at the Manila City Hall, said Ms. Pilobello. “Before World War II, all vital records – birth, death, marriage – were transmitted to Manila. The LDS was able to microfilm the records. We were in the process of digitizing the records when Ondoy hit. It flooded the Manila City Hall and destroyed many of the original records. Good thing na naka microfilm na sila! After Ondoy, marami nang lumapit sa amin, asking us to help them put records on microfilm. But still there are also people, organizations, and even countries that do not allow the LDS to microfilm. But the Church hopes that we will be able to microfilm all records in the world. We are not doing this for the LDS, we are doing this for us all,” she concluded.

The Family History Center is across the main temple in White Plains. According to the annoucement, the library will be closed until 26 March 2012 due to the on-going temple renovation.

Dito, Noon: San Agustin Church

5 March 2012

I took the historical image I found here, taken after a series of earthquakes the late 1800s that damaged one of the towers; and a photograph I took in August 2011 to create this composite of the historic San Agustin Church.

Erected in 1607, the church is the oldest church in the Philippines. Spanish conquistadors Miguel López de Legazpi, Juan de Salcedo and Martín de Goiti are some of the many historical figures buried here. The main church survived the Battle of Manila in WWII; but the adjacent monastery was levelled and rebuilt in the 1970s.

Find more “history fades” here.

A Lenten procession in Manila, 1910s

5 March 2012

As we enter the season of Lent, it is only fitting that March’s masthead embraces the Filipinos’ piety and loyalty to their faith. This month’s header was taken from University of Wisconsin’s digital image collection.  The photo, taken some time between 1907 and 1916, is an image of a crowd watching the Easter procession in front of the Manila Cathedral. The original image captured a good cross-section of the Philippine society — an “insular possession” of the United States. You can see men in crisp suits and buntal hats, women in butterfly-sleeved saya and belo, American and Filipino soldiers in khakis and ranger hats and the faithful laymen bearing the karosa.

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