The Philippines was colonized by Spain for more than 300 years. For that long period the Filipinos have adopted some Spanish culture and traditions. Roman Catholicism and Spanish surnames are the evident and enduring legacies of the Philippines’ Hispanic past.
During the Spanish era there were Filipinos who had no family names. This situation created difficulties on matters such as census, taxation and settlement of criminal and civil cases when the distinction of one person from another was necessary. To address the situation, Spanish Governor-General Narciso Claveria Y Zaldua issued a decree on November 21, 1849, urging natives of the Philippines who did not have family names to adopt one based from the Catalogo Alfabetico de Apellidos, a book of surnames published in the Philippines and other islands of the Spanish East Indies in the mid 19th century. The list in the book included Spanish surnames and indigenous ones. The native surnames were culled from several words from the Philippine languages such as Tagalog, Ilocano, Cebuano, Hiligaynon and others with Spanish providing the bulk of the surnames. The decree of the governor general was implemented through the friars and local officials in the different parts of the archipelago.
At present Spanish surnames and native sounding ones are used by most Filipinos. Ethnic groups such as the “Lumads” or natives can be distinguished by their first or family names. And so are the Muslims who use Arabic and other words indigenous to them as their names. Although some Christian Filipinos with Spanish surnames have Spanish blood, Spanish surname is not an indication of Spanish ancestry in most cases. Basque surnames often indicate Northern Spanish ancestry of the person bearing the name while Castillan and Catalan surnames are mostly used by indigenous Filipinos without Spanish descent.
In the present era significant number of Filipinos has Chinese surnames, and this is indicative of the increasing contribution of the Chinese to the Philippine society as well as the ethnic composition of the Filipinos. Unlike Spanish where Spanish surname does not necessarily indicate ancestral origin, Filipinos with Chinese surnames almost always have Chinese ancestry.
Following is a list of Spanish, indigenous Filipino and other surnames that are used by Filipino families. Although some of the names may be included in the Catalogo Alfabetico de Apellidos, the following list of surnames is not taken from that book. And the following list is not complete either.
Spanish family names that contain the suffix “ez” are similar to English family names such as Johnson or Peterson where the suffix “son” means son of. For example, Johnson means the son of John. In like manner Fernandez means the son of Fernando.
Alvarez- son of Alvaro, Diaz or Diez- son of Diego, Estevez- son of Esteban, Fernandez- son of Fernando, Hernandez- son of Hernando, Iñiguez- son of Iñigo, Jimenez- son of Jimeno, Marquez- son of Marcos, Lopez- son of Lope, Martinez- son Martin, Pelaez- son of Pelayo or Pelagio, Rodriguez- Son of Rodrigo, Ruiz- son of Ruy, Sanchez- son of Sancho, Vasquez- son of Vasco, Velasquez- son of Velasco
Spanish surnames derived from names of places:
Aragon- an autonomous community in Northern Spain, Avila- a Spanish city, Bilbao- a Basque city and municipality in Spain, Burdeos- from the French city of Bordeaux, Burgos- a city in Spain, Cadiz- a city in Southern Spain, Capistrano- a small town in Italy called Capestrano, Madrid- the capital of Spain, Navarra or Navarro (Navarre)- an autonomous Basque community of Northern Spain, Pamplona- The capital city of Navarre, Rabat- a city in Morocco, Salamanca- a city in Spain, Sevilla- a city in Spain, Tolosa- a Spanish town, Tolentino, a town in central Italy, Valencia- a city in Spain
Spanish surnames with religious connotations:
Angeles- angels, Apostol- apostle, Asuncion- refers to the assumption of the Virgin Mary, Bautista- refers to St. John the Baptizer, Concepcion- refers to the Immaculate Conception, Cruz or de la Cruz- cross or of the cross, Evanglelista- evangelist, Espirito- spirit, Mesias- Messiah, Manuel- variant of Emmanuel, Natividad- nativity, Nazareno- Nazarene, Querubin- cherub (a kind of angel), Papa- pope or daddy, Pascua- Easter, Salvador- savior or redeemer which refers to Jesus Christ, Santos- saints, Trinidad- Trinity
Filipino surnames derived from name of Saints:
Agustin- Augustine, Andres-Andrew, Antonio- Anthony, Bernardo- Bernard, Diego- James, Felipe- Philip, Francisco- Francis, Juan- John, Pedro- Peter, Jose- Joseph, Lazaro- Lazarus, Lucas- Luke, Marcos- Mark, Mateo- Mathew, Pablo- Paul, Roque- Roche, Santiago- variant of Diego, Tomas- Thomas, San Diego, San Jose, San Juan, San Miguel, Santa Maria, Santa Ana
Filipino surnames which are Spanish in origin:
Abad, Abasolo, Aboitiz, Acosta, Agudo, Aguirre, Alcantara, Alcaraz, Alcazar, Alferez, Almirante, Alvarado, Aquino, Araneta, Arce, Arroyo, Azcuna, Ayala, Barrameda, Barrientos, Barriera, Bello, Belmonte, Borja, Borromeo, Burgos, Bustamante, Caballero, Cabrera, Calvo, Camacho, Campo, Campos, Cardenas, Cardona, Carmona, Carrasco, Carvajal, Castillo, Castro, Cayetano, Chavez, Cordero, Corrales, Cuevas, Delgado, Domingo, Duarte, Duran, Echeverria, Elizalde, Espina, Espino, Espinosa, Estrada, Fajardo, Feliciano, Felix, Ferrer, Figueroa, Flores, Fortich, Franco, Fuentes, Gallardo, Galvez, Gamboa, Garcia, Garrido, Gascon, Gaston, Gil, Giron, Gomez, Gonzales, Guerrero, Guevarra, Gutierrez, Herrera or Herrero, Hidalgo, Javier or Xavier, Lara, Legarda, Legaspi, Ledesma, Lobaton, Lorenzo, Loyola, Loyzaga, Lluch, Madrigal, Martin, Mata, Medina, Melindez, Mercado, Miranda, Molina, Monsanto, Montero, Monzon, Morales, Muñoz, Narvaez, Nieves, Neri or Nery, Nunez, Ocampo, Ochoa, Ojeda, Ortiz, Osorio, Padilla, Pardo, Paredes, Pelayo, Pineda, Peralta, Perez, Pimentel, Pinzon, Porras, Prieto, Quiñonez, Ramirez, Ramiro, Ramos, Razon, Recto, Rendon, Reyes, Rivera, Roa, Robles, Roces, Rocha, Roxas or Rojas, Rosales, Rubio, Sabido, Salinas, Salazar, Salcedo, Sarmiento, Serrano, Soriano, Suarez, Tapia, Tejada, Torres, Trujillo, Valdez, Varela, Vargas, Vega, Velasco, Velez, Villaverde, Villegas, Villanueva, Yañez, Zamora, Zaldivar, Zayas, Zubiri
Indigenous Filipino surnames:
Abucay, Agawin, Akut, Awitan, Baal, Baang, Bacolod, Bagaipo, Baguio, Bahian, Balaba, Balingit, Baluyot, Banaag, Banal, Bantilan, Bayot, Boctot, Bohol, Bonghanoy, Bual, Cabacungan, Cabagnot, Cabahug, Cabanag, Cabunoc, Cagalawan, Calaycay, Caliso, Canoy, Casicas, Catacutan, Cayabyab, Cunanan, Dagondon, Dagudag, Dato, Dayanghirang, Dayot, Dayrit, Dimaandal, Dimaano, Dimarucot, Duhaylungsog, Dumlao, Ga-a, Gaane, Gapuz, Guinto, Jumao-as, Jumawan,Kara-an, Katipunan, Lactao, Lagbas, Lagman, Lago, Lamdagan, Langit, Lapid, Lapus, Lawas, Layug, Lesaca, Ligutan, Ligutum, Lucagbo, Luzon, Maambong, Mabalot, Macabinta, Macabu-ac, Macahiya, Macapagal, Macaraeg, Magbanua, Magpulong, Mahinay, Magsaysay, Magsayo, Malinao, Maloloy-on, Manalo, Mangubat, Mangaoang, Maniwang, Manotoc, Mantaring, Manulat, Maquiling, Maturan, Mutia, Pacana, Pacatang, Pacquiao, Palad, Pangilinan, Patalinghug, Pilapil, Punongbayan, Purugganan, Raagas, Rapanut, Sabanal, Sacay, Saguisag, Suaybaguio, Sumalpong, Sumulong, Supsop, Surigao, Tagalog, Tamsi, Tangcalagan, Tubongbanua, Tumanda, Tumulak, Tungpalan, Tupas, Ucab, Unabia, Undag, Ungab, Ungos, Visaya, Yabes, Yabut, Yacapin, Yaranon, Yasay, Ygot
Surnames of Filipino-Chinese families:
Ang, Chan, Chang, Chee, Chiang, Ching, Chiu, Chua, Co, Cojuangco, Dy, Gaw, Gan, Go, Goking, Gokongwei, Lao, Li, Lichaoco, Lim, Limsiaco, Sia, Siao, Tan, Tanjuatco, Uy, Woo, Yap, Yee, Yip, Yu, Yuchengco
Family names of Muslim Filipinos:
Abas, Abubakar, Ali, Alonto, Ampatuan, Casim, Darimbang, Lucman, Macarambon, Mangudadato, Macaraya, Matabalao, Muhammad, Paglas, Pangandaman, Panandigan, Rasul, Salappudin, Sultan, Usman, Utto