Rizal’s Baptismal Record

Today, Filipinos are commemorating Dr. Jose P. Rizal’s 119 death anniversary. A doctor, a novelist, a poet, a painter, a sculptor, a teacher. Rizal was a Renaissance man, a great Filipino hero.

On 28 September 1862, the parochial church of Calamba and the canonical books, including the book containing Rizal’s baptismal records, were burned. Here is a transcript of Rizal’s baptismal certificate issued by Father Leoncio Lopez originally written in Spanish.

“I, the parish priest of the town of Calamba, whose signature appears below, certify that as a result of inquiries, which with the proper authorization were made for the restoration of the canonical books (that were burned) on the 28th of September 1862 and are found in the file of baptisms, book n 1, page 49, it emerges according to the declaration of competent and sworn witnesses that Jose Rizal Mercado is legitimate son from the legitimate matrimony of Don Francisco Rizal Mercado and Dna Teodora Realonda (that) he was baptized in this parish on the 22nd of June 1861 by the parish priest Reverend Father Rufino Collantes, and his godfather was the Reverend Father Pedro Casanas. And I sign this as true. -Leoncio Lopez.”

JoseRizal_B_12-0869_PH-PAM__00228 - Copy







Elpidio Quirino

On November 16, 1890, Elpidio Quirino was born in Vigan, Ilocos Sur. He was the sixth President of the Philippines and the second President of the Third Republic.

from Wikipedia

The scarcity of early records from the province of Abra makes the tracing of his paternal ancestry extremely difficult, if not impossible. At least one more generation can be found on his mother’s side, since records in Agoo, La Union go back to 1867.

Elpidio Quirino Family Tree

Elpidio Quirino’s family tree gereated from Familysearch.org

More info:

Quirino was a practicing lawyer until he was elected as a member of the House of Representatives in 1919, and in 1925, Senator. He collaborated with President Manuel L. Quezon in securing the passage of the Tydings-McDuffie Act in the United States Congress in 1934. After serving with the Constitutional Convention of the same year, he became Secretary of Finance and then of the Interior in the Commonwealth Government. After the war, in which most of his immediate family were massacred, he was elected Vice President, serving as the first Secretary of Foreign Affairs in the Roxas administration, and becoming President after Roxas’ sudden death in 1948. Quirino saw his mission as restoring the people’s faith in government, as well as solving problems of agrarian unrest.
Learn more about President Elpidio Quirino:
View photos of President Quirino on the Presidential Museum and Library Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/govph/sets/72157635082169232/
(Photo courtesy of the National Library of the Philippines.)

Source: Malacañan Palace Facebook page

Jose Rizal’s Pedigree

On this day, 154 years ago, José Protasio Mercado Rizal y Alonzo Realonda was born in Calamba, Laguna. He comes from a prestigious family of Chinese, Malay, Japanese, and Spanish descent. This is a representation of his family tree which I made in 2008.

Rizal AncestryUsing Geni.com, one could see his/her relationship with some famous people like Rizal. Just for fun, I checked whether I was genealogically connected with our national hero. Here is what came up:

Dr. Jose Rizal is Felvir Ordinario’s wife’s first cousin thrice removed’s wife’s second great nephew’s wife’s great uncle!

Felvir Ordinario
You → Sariah Ordinario
your wife → Jovencio Araneta Guanzon
her father → Andres Guanzon
his father → Domingo Guanzon
his father → Jose Guanzon
his father → Paulino Guanzon
his brother → Agapito Guanzon
his son → Juana Tuason Rodriguez
his wife → Matea Tuason Rodriguez
her sister → Florencia Rodriguez Sioco
her daughter → Javier “Javing” Sioco Gonzalez
her son → Vladimir Mercado Gonzalez
his son → Cruz
his wife → Mauricio Rizal Cruz
her father → Maria Alonso Cruz
his mother → Dr. Jose Rizal
her brother

Check if you’re a cousin of his too!


Forever Preserved: Genealogical Records after the Bohol Quake

Five days after the destructive quake that struck Bohol last October 15, there have been over 2,000 aftershocks and around 200 deaths reported. The numbers are still rising.

Not to discount the lives that have been damaged and lost, the most poignant images of this calamity are probably those of the centuries-old Catholic Churches that have been destroyed. Some were even levelled to the ground. These were the first imagery seen on the news, and they will forever be etched in history as reminders of this tragedy. In natural disasters like this, historical records (and in this context genealogical) are the other significant casualties.

Various Bohol Churches Photos after the Earthquake by @Amirkimpoy Twitpic

Loon Church: before and after. This church was levelled to the ground. (hoto by @LailRara Twitter)

As an advocate of records preservation, one of my first concerns were the records found in these churches. What of them at the face of this great catastrophe? Were they destroyed along with the structures they were housed in? Fortunately, A little recollection and a quick search on the catalog in FamilySearch erased my worries.

Years back during my stint at the Family History Support Center, I remember some friends who were preservation technicians for FamilySearch talking about their experiences in microfilming Bohol records. One specifically recalled working on records in Baclayon, the second-oldest of the churches in the island. The next thought that came was how far back were they able to microfilm. Here is what I found from the catalog search:

Alburquerque 1869-1999
Antequera 1881-1983
Baclayon 1747-1999
Balilihan 1840-1980
Calape 1870-1983
Catigbian 1939-1975
Clarin 1922-1975
Corella 1881-1981
Cortes 1769-1990
Dauis 1752-1985
Dimiao 1827-1963
Garcia Hernandez 1858-1971
Loay 1812-1962
Loboc 1884-1995
Loon 1753-1967
Maribojoc 1767-1973
Panglao 1697-1992
Pilar 1872-1999
Sevilla 1901-1957
Tubigon 1852-1964
Valencia 1871-1966
Tagbilaran 1742-1970

As can be seen here, the Catholic churches of  Baclayon, Loon, Loboc and Dauis, that were initially reported as totally destroyed, have had their earliest extant records preserved. The project, which entailed the microfilming of records of genealogical value, has been on-going the the Philippines since the early 70s and started in Bohol in the 90s. This was a collaborative project of FamilySearch and the Diocese of Tagbilaran, through Bishop, Most Rev. Leopoldo S. Tumulak D.D.


When record custodians agree to have their collections preserved, FamilySearch captures images of each record (books, documents, etc.) and stores copies at the Granite Mountain Records Vault in Utah, U.S.A. The record owners are then provided with a copy of their records in microfilm format or digital copies stored in hard drives. They are also given unlimited access to their preserved records online, via FamilySearch’s website. These microfilmed and digitized records are protected from the elements, thus virtually preserving them “forever.” When calamities like floods, fire, and earthquakes strike and damage the original records, the record custodians can always request a copy of their collection from FamilySearch free of any cost.

An example of this scenario happened in Bacolor, Pampanga in 1991 when the Our Lady of the Holy Rosary parish church was half-buried in lahar after the Pinatubo eruption. All of their church records were completely ravaged by the flood, but fortunately, FamilySearch has microfilmed their records from 1680 up to 1962. They were given a copy of their records upon their request.

What of the records?

As of writing, the people of Bohol are still trying to pick themselves up from the fatal blow of this destructive  force of nature. People’s lives are more important and it is understandable that everyone is trying to make sure that the affected citizens are being attended to. But after all has been said and done, people will ask the question ‘what of our records?’ Reports are yet to come in as to what extent has this quake and the series of aftershocks that came with it (not to mention the rains that came after) has affected the genealogical records in the 48 towns of Bohol. But by merely looking at the photos of the fallen churches, one is inclined to conclude that the event might have had its toll on the fragile records as well. It is safe to say however, that the 22 churches that include the hard-hit towns of Baclayon, Loon, Loboc, and Dauis, can rebuild most of their records collection with the help of FamilySearch.

There is hope.

Thus we see here the great benefit of proper records preservation. The magnificent churches of Bohol that housed records for over 300 years have finally succumbed to the power of nature, and most probably along with the crumbled structures are gone the valuable records of our Catholic brothers and sisters. It will take time to rebuild the buildings, but 300 years of written history can now be easily restored (at least the data that are in them). It is my sincere hope that the rest of the towns in Bohol (and other towns in the country) who have not had their records preserved will still be able to salvage much of their records collections for future generations, and finally collaborate with FamilySearch to digitize what’s left of their documents.

To my Boholanon friends, fear not. Some, if not much of your genealogical history is intact. You may visit http://familysearch.org anytime to learn how to access them.