Tracing Surname Origins: Daen of Manito, Albay

I am a 2-month old History instructor at the young but growing Community College of Manito.

In line with my personal interest, with the trend of writing about local history and to help students learn and understand primary and secondary sources of history I have given them the project of tracing their family roots here in Manito, Albay.

So this three-part post aims to satisfy my own interest and will serve as an example for my students.

Location of Manito, Albay.  Google Maps.


All Filipinos* who bear this family name will trace their roots from the remote town of Manito, Albay in the Bicol region. It is not among the Spanish nor native sounding family names in the 1849 Claveria Catalogue of Family names.  

It might be a family name ALREADY in use before the decree in 1849.  Or it might also be possible that our ancestor who picked it in 1849 simply varied one letter from the listed surnames, two of which are "DAET" and "DAEP".  Or there might be another totally different answer.

The Catalogo Alfabetico de Apellidos was enacted by Governor General Claveria in 1849.  This decree directed heads of families among the natives in the Philippine islands to pick a family name if they haven't adopted one yet.  The list contained 60,000+ surnames to choose from.  This was 300 years into the Spanish colonization already.  Obviously, at this point natives have adopted Christian names but a lot of them still didn't have  family names as practiced by Western cultures.  A lot of the natives were still "Pedro from the east mountains" or "Juanito, son of Manuel the deer hunter".  This more so in our distant town that was only accessible via "paraw/parao" small boats.  They say that the road and wheeled vehicles entered Manito only in the 1950s.

They say that the Bicol region is known for strictly obeying the Claveria decree, the purpose of which was to simplify taxation and administration of the natives.  Thus, towns were ordered to pick from the catalogue family names that started with certain alphabets -- ex., Malinao, Albay residents were designated letter "C" (my maternal family name is CALLOS.  Mother's father is originally from Malinao, Albay).  

In my father's town of Manito, Albay and its neighbor Bacon, Sorsogon, the residents were asked to choose family names in the catalogue that started with a letter "D"

An excellent family roots website, breaks down the family names assigned in the towns in Bicol.  They are:

Legazpi City residents
“B” and “C”
Towns along the Tabaco-Tiwi coast
Manito & Bacon (Sorsogon)
“E” through “L”
Towns that dot the Sorsogon coast
“M” through “S”
Iraya valley from Daraga through Polangui and Libon
Remaining letters
Catanduanes and the rest of the region

This is why in Manito, Albay still proliferates the conspicuous family names:

Dado, Daen, Daep, Daet, Dael, Daez, Dagsil, Daguiso, Dajac, Datur, Dave, Daz, Dawat, Dawal, Dadap, Dalus (though this sounds like "clean" in Ilocano), Datin, Datur, Datiles, Dalde, Daria, Daus, Daseco, Dao, Datu (an anomaly, perhaps, since the decree  supposedly reserved titles for royalty; unless this family were originally rulers of Manito), Danao, Dagta, Datur, Dale, Dalde, Damaso, Dayro, Dairo, Darca, Daria, Davila, Dasalla, Dazal, Dagal, Dayap, Dapa, Dagta, Dayson.  Did I miss anyone?  Send me a private message if I missed it.

There are also family names like Del Castillo, Del Puso, and Declaro but I and my brother think this needs further research as most of the Manito surnames noticeably starts with "Da".  

What about the numerous other family names in Manito, Albay that do not start with a "D"

Well, the Claveria decree did not require everyone to adopt these family names.  Those who already used family names were not required to adopt new ones as long as they could prove they were of Spanish ancestry or they could prove 4 generations of usage.

I don't have access to the Claveria catalogue but I was able to ask from Curator Museum who claims to have access to one.  He says that DAEP and DAET are on page 36, column 1 of the catalogue.  DAET is also a place name in Camarines Norte, also in the Bicol region.  DAEN is not listed in the catalogue.


Now apart from the peculiarity above, if you're a DAEN you will be further asked from what clan you belong.  Your nearest ascendant will inform you that you come from one of the following clans:  

  • Pusiw
  • Padulot
  • Mayaman
  • Lawaan

Our grandfather belongs to the last. 

Pusiw is a species of small birds, Padulot is hard to translate but it can literally mean "to stick", Mayaman both in Bicol and Tagalog means rich, wealthy or abundant in something.  Finally, our clan Lawaan is a tall tree and is used to describe someone who is tall or long limbed. 

I still have to know when and how this clan classification started.   We don't have a formal family tree and everything is passed on by oral tradition and trusting the memory of elders.  Most of what I've heard are from my mother because my father never talked about his family.  He just rarely talked.  More about my father in "Losing Part of My Home" and "Chasing Pa".

There is a branch of the Daens from the Pusiw clan who now have 4 generations  residing in California.  One of them, Manuel Reyes Daen, Jr., has organized a neat family tree based on conversations with his late father.  They have names up to a certain Generoso Daen who was born in 1842.

Since Generoso Daen was born 7 years before the Claveria decree then what are the possible scenarios?

1.  The family name was in use prior to the decree and it's just a coincidence that it starts with the same family name initial assigned to Manto inhabitants,

2.  Generoso Daen's ascendant was the one who picked the family name in 1849 and thus retroactively applied the surname to descendants born prior to the decree.

So I'm a "Lawaan" even though being the tallest in my family I barely stand 5'7" at 5' and 6 1/2 inches.  We have yet to learn the true reasons for the nicknames (bansag in Tagalog or lulu in Bicol).  We have yet to discover the name of Generoso's father.

Continue discovering our roots:

Part 2 focuses on my grandfather, Crispin Daguiso Daen, Sr.   

Part 3  is an ongoing work on the Daen family tree in cooperation with all the Daens out there and with Mr. Manny Reyes Daen, Jr who has been doing a great job with the Daen Facebook page.  Here we try to show the origin of the Daen family name and its 4 clans.


*Filipinos because there are people who are not of Filipino ancestry who have the same DAEN family name.  An example is the New Zealand Sculptor Lindsay Daen.  The similarity in the family name is just a coincidence.  There are also "Daen" companies in Spain.  Another coincidence is the similarity to Danish names.  Other coincidences are other companies like Bin Daen Group of Companies in the UAE.


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