Many of our Kapampangan ancestors retained their pagan surnames like Isabel Salopinan, Maria Pangisnauanan, Ines Balinacnac and Lucia Gumamela. The Spaniards found these names quaint, quirky and inconsistent, making it difficult for them to hold a census and impose a tax collection system.

And so in 1849, Governor General Narciso Claveria decreed that the only allowable surnames in the colony would be those contained in the book "Catálogo alfabetico de apellidos" which the colonial government compiled and published. Any surname not found in the book should be dropped and replaced with one found in the book, unless the family could prove they had used it for at least four consecutive generations.

Copies of the Catalogo were sent to provinces and towns so that local government officials could supervise the allocation of surnames. But copies ran short, and so what officials did was they simply tore off pages from the book and sent them to the villages, resulting in whole communities having family names beginning with the same letter. (In an island in Romblon, for example, everyone is a Festin, or Fadrilan, Famatigan, Fabicon, Faigao, Fangonil, etc.)

There were names in the list that had no takers, for obvious reasons: Otot, Colangot, Ung-oy, Baboy, Bangcay, Cupal, Talong, Gajasa, Bacla, Tanga, Gago, Tae, Jalimao, and Dilangbutiqui. The Spanish compilers of the Catalogo, full of contempt and ridicule for the natives, had probably included these foul names in the list to trap illiterate natives into adopting them.

Some provinces, like Laguna, ignored the decree, which is why many surnames in that province have remained indigenous (e.g., Biglang-awa, Carunungan, Cagandahan, Dimagiba, Dimaunahan, Mulingtapang and Tukodlangit) .

I suppose there were areas or at least some clans in Pampanga that ignored it, too, because we still have many original Kapampangan surnames today, like Pangan, Paras, Tayag, Pangilinan, Baluyot, Pamintuan, Pangan, Tulud, Laquindanum, Cubacub, Quiboloy, Turla, Manarang, Manalang, Saplala, Timbol, Sangil, etc.

You may not recognize some of them because their spelling has been Hispanized (Bunduk to Bondoc, Binuya to Vinuya, Kanlas to Canlas, Kalma to Calma, Manangkil to Mananquil) or because the pronunciation has changed (Mácapagal to Macapagál, Laús to Láus, Mániago to Maniágo, Mánabat to Manábat, Mángubat to Mangúbat). (To be concluded)