Friday, January 16, 2015

Tracing the Ancestry of a Pope, Pastors, and Priests

Although he is not a Filipino, all this media attention about the visit of Pope Francis I to the Philippines has made me curious about his genealogy. And though I do not possess the necessary resources to do an independent research on his family history there are several well-documented articles online that I can recommend for those who wish to know more about the genealogy of this popular pontiff.

The blog site HispanicAncestors is one of these sites. Although it has done just a quick research on Pope Francis’s genealogy it already has information about the Bergoglio family up to the pope’s 4th great-grandfather.  I have also validated the information contained in this site through comparison with 6 MyHeritage family sites such as the Cimberle Website. Finally, more data was added to this brief study using the Geni profile of Pope Francis.

Pope Francis I's male line has so far been traced up to his great-great-great-grandfather, or 5 generations. The same number of generations has been done on his mother's side of the family (Sivori line).

The Bergoglios have been traced to the province of Asti in Italy where generations of Bergoglios have been living. The farthest traceable ancestor of Pope Francis I is a namesake, Francesco Mateo Bergoglio, who was married to Lucia Quagliotto. Their son, Giuseppe Bergoglio, married Maria Giachino and they had at least 7 children. One of the seven was Francesco Giuseppe Bergoglio, Pope Francis's great-grandfather. A son of Francesco Giuseppe was Mario Giuseppe Francisco who, it was said, migrated to Buenos Aires, Argentina to get away from a Fascist Italy. There he met and married Regina Maria Sivori, a 1st generation Italian-Argentinian born to Italian immigrants. Mario Giuseppe Francisco Bergoglio and Regina Maria Sivori are Pope Francis's parents.

As much as I would love to go back centuries further to complete this amazing pope's genealogy, I simply do not have the resources and the information to do that for now. What this blog post (and later 2 more) is all about, however, is a discussion on the genealogies of three religious figures in Philippine history: Gregorio Aglipay, Felix Manalo, and Apollo Quiboloy, the founders of the Aglipayan or the Philippine Independent Church, the Iglesia ni Cristo, and the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name, Inc. For today, we will begin with the genealogy of Felix Y. Manalo.

In August of last year I met up with a fellow genealogist and a friend, Felvir Ordinario, when I was at the Family History Center of the LDS Temple in White Plains to continue my research on several prominent Filipinos. When we had the time, we discussed and wondered why the above-mentioned three founders of Filipino Christian churches have never had their genealogies explored before. Later I discovered an article by Joseph J. Kavanagh online which discussed, albeit not comprehensively, the early life and family of Felix Manalo. Another online article from Philippine Studies by Pedro S. De Achutegui and Miguel A. Bernad also gave a brief discussion on Gregorio Aglipay’s family. Although my goal today in writing this was to do the genealogies of the three in one article, seeing as there were only two full studies done on Manalo and Aglipay so far, and none for Quiboloy, this article would just be the first in  a series of articles on these religious leaders.

Felix Y. Manalo

A post by my friend Felvir explored the immediate family of Felix Y. Manalo, His article made superb use of archival documents to shed light on Manalo's parents and grandparents. In the end, because of several years' worth of lacking documents from the Taguig collection, he was only able to definitively establish the names of Felix's maternal grandparents though he was able to make some excellent deductions with regard to the father of Felix Manalo.

Felix Manalo's Ancestors and Descendants
After going through several centuries' worth of baptismal and matrimonial records as well as the existing padron records in Taguig, I came to the sad conclusion that because of the scarcity of records, or rather the holes in the available church records of Taguig, there is really no definite way to establish Felix Manalo's genealogy. But, here are some deductions on my part:

Felix Ysagun Manalo was actually legally Felix Manalo Ysagun, the son of Mariano Ysagun and Bonifacia Manalo. My friend Felvir Ordinario's article on Felix Manalo concluded that Felix's grandfather's name was Salvador Ysagun. In the record that this is based on, Salvador's wife and presumably Felix's grandmother was Teresa Villanueva. However, going through earlier records I found only 1 Salvador Ysagun who was born around 1805-1809. He married a Dolores Manalo in 1829 thus it would seem unlikely that Mariano Ysagun, Felix's father, was the son of this couple. However, it is possible that this same Salvador remarried sometime in the 1840s and then later had Mariano. If this were the case then we can extend Felix Manalo's family just one generation more: his great-grandparents were Ygnacio Ysagun and Maria de la Cruz;

This same couple, Ygnacio Ysagun and Maria de la Cruz, further brings an interesting tidbit to Manalo's genealogy. The Ysagun family in Salvador Ysagun's marriage record was described as morenos.  In the unique Spanish socio-racial classification system, a moreno was a dark-skinned mixed race, usually a 2nd generation descendant of a black person and an indio.  So if Ygnacio Ysagun was 1/4 African, that would make Felix Ysagun Manalo, his great-grandson, 1/32 African;

On Felix's maternal side we can most probably stretch the family tree two more generations. Bonifacia Manalo, Felix's mother, was the daughter of Andres Manalo and Maria Cruz. Going through the Taguig records I could only find one Andres Manalo and when you compare age and generational gap it is almost certain that this Andres is the correct person. Andres Manalo was born in 1834, the son of Manuel Manalo and Candida Torres. Manuel Manalo's baptismal record gives us the great-great-grandparents of Felix: Evaristo Manalo and Maria Pili;

The baptismal record of Andres Manalo
Here is where another interesting thing comes to our notice. Manuel Manalo was described as a moreno in his son Andres's baptismal record. However, Manuel's father, Evaristo, is described as a criollo, a term to describe Spaniards born in the Philippines.

What is clear with what little information we have on the genealogy of Felix Y. Manalo is that both his paternal and maternal sides have been living in Taguig since at least 1782. Another clear conclusion we can come up with is that the earliest Manalo and Ysagun generations were of Hispanic descent. Of 17 identified as morenos, mestizos, and criollos, 15 were Manalos while only 2 were Ysaguns. The two Ysagun men, Antonino and Ygnacio Ysagun, were both described morenos. The 15 Manalo men can be divided into 4 criollos, 1 mestizo, and 10 morenos. Interestingly, these racial classifications only appeared from 1782 to 1838 records. After that everyone was either mestizo or indio.

Another interesting aspect of the family of Felix Y. Manalo was the fact that though his parents were consistently described as poor, many of his maternal relatives were local functionaries. 10 of the Manalo men were listed as cabezas de barangay while 4 Manalo women were wives of other cabezas. One of these was Bonifacia Manalo, who remarried to Don Clemente Mozo.

Finally, one last observation on the Manalo/Ysagun family tree. Before the 1885 marriage of Mariano Ysagun and Bonifacia Manalo, there were at least 2 earlier unions between these 2 families. In the 1790s we see the baptismal record of Maria Manalo, daughter of Policarpio Manalo and Agustina Ysagun. In 1829 Salvador Ysagun (incidentally the grandfather of Felix Manalo), married his first wife, Dolores Manalo. 

The earliest Manalo-Ysagun union as seen in this baptismal record
It is unfortunate that though the records of Taguig, Metro Manila, go back as far as the late 1600s, there are several decades missing from these thus making it impossible for us to get a clearer picture of the genealogy of Felix Y. Manalo, the man considered by his followers as "the Last Messenger of God". Still, with more research done, we should be able to expand this family tree further. (To be continued...)

In the meantime, welcome to the Philippines, Pope Francis! Viva il papa!


Hispanic Ancestors, accessed January 15-16, 2015.
Cimberle Websiteaccessed January 16, 2015.
Geni profile of Pope Francisaccessed January 16, 2015.
Quennie Ann J. Palafox. 122nd Birth Anniversary of Ka Felix Manalo, April 3, 2013.
Felvir Ordinario, Tracing the Ancestry of Felix Manalo, August 2014.
Joseph J. Kavanagh. "The "Iglesia ni Kristo"", Philippine Studies vol. 3, no. 1. Manila: Ateneo de Manila Press, 1955.
FamilySearch, Registros parroquiales, Catholic Church. Saint Anne (Taguig), Bautismos 1683-1830.
FamilySearch, Registros parroquiales, Catholic Church. Saint Anne (Taguig), Bautismos 1830-1855.
FamilySearch, Registros parroquiales, Catholic Church. Saint Anne (Taguig), Matrimonios 1825-1856.
FamilySearch, Taguig (Rizal). Record Management and Archives Office, Vecindarios 1878-1892.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Remembering the Unhappy Josephine Bracken

Rizal's Wandering Swallow, Josephine Bracken
One of the most misunderstood women in Philippine history is Josephine Bracken, otherwise known as Mrs. Jose Rizal. The National Hero himself referred to her as his dulce extranjera and Errante Golondrina (the wandering swallow). Her role in Rizal’s life was not always the romantic ideal that we would have wanted for our greatest hero. Some writers and historians have tried to paint her in the most unflattering of ways. Several have alleged that she was an illegitimate daughter of an Irishman in Hong Kong and a Chinese woman and that her relationship with her step-father, George Taufer, was more than father and daughter. It does not help that even among the educated and respected writers politicians, such as Austin Coates who claimed in his 1968 biography of Rizal that Josephine was illegitimate and of mixed race, and the late Sen. Raul Roco who implied in a keynote lecture at a National Conference in Cebu City that Josephine was a bar girl whose relationship with her foster father was probably far from innocent!

Naturally, much if not all of these allegations is untrue. In the book The Philippines and Round About, With Some Account of British Interests in These Waters by Sir George John Younghusband of the British-Indian army, she was described as "the daughter of a sergeant in the British service, an Irishman who, when his term of service had expired, had settled down at Hong Kong. Miss Bracken was born at the Victoria Barracks, Hong Kong, and her mother dying soon afterwards, she was adopted by a kind couple named Tauffner, who took her to Manila with them and reared and educated her."

In Austin Craig's Lineage, Life and Labors of Jose Rizal: Philippine Patriot, Josephine is introduced to the readers through her step-father, George Taufer: "he and his wife, a Portuguese, had adopted and brought up as their own the infant daughter of a poor Irish woman who had died in Hong Kong, leaving a considerable family to her husband, a corporal in the British Army on service there."

These books are two of the earliest references we have of Josephine Bracken, and though no names of her parents are mentioned here these validate Josephine Bracken’s own short autobiography where she stated:

Rizal's carving of Bracken
“My mother is a native of Ireland and was married to my father on the 3rd of May 1868 in Belfast, Ireland.  My father’s name is James Bracken and my mother’s maiden name was Elizabeth Jane MacBride.  We were five brothers and sisters, Charles, Agness, Nelly, Francis and myself Josephine.  Charles was born on the 10th of April 1869.  Agness was born in Malta on the 14th May 1873. Francis was born on the 2nd of June 1875 and died on the 1st April 1875.  Nelly was born at Gibraltar on the 21st July 1871 and I was born in Hong Kong at the Victoria Barracks on the 9th of August 1876.  My father is a corporal and detachment schoolmaster of a detachment at Pembroke Camp.  My mother died on the 2ndof September 1876 after giving birth to me.  After the loss of my beloved mother I was then removed to the care of a (illegible) laborer until her burial.  As my father is a military he could not attend to all of us especially for me being so very small he gave me to a family to be adopted.  The kind and benevolent couple Mr. and Mrs. Taufer took very good care of me until I was seven years old.  Unfortunately at that age was when my adopted mother died.”

Of course, some historians have also cautioned us that this supposed autobiography of Josephine is nothing but a forgery, though the source was most likely Josephine or even her father.

At any rate, the whole point of this article is not the Irish roots of Josephine Bracken, which has already been superbly discussed in another blog under the title The Story of Josephine Bracken andthe Proof of her full Irish Origins.

Josephine remarried to Vicente Abad after becoming a widow. Though many Abads of Cebu claim Vicente as an Abad of Barili, Cebu, existing records show otherwise. This particular Abad family was of creole origin, unlike that of the Barili Abads who were, by the time of Josephine’s and Vicente’s marriage, already classified under the indio racial category. Because the surname is pretty common in the Spanish peninsula and there is also no conclusive documentation proving that the Abad last name of Barili is not from the Claveria decree, at this point Vicente Abad has to be considered as not related to the Abads of Barili, Cebu.

Vicente Abad was the third son and fourth child of Vicente Abad and Maximina Recio. Because records consistently describe the children of Vicente Sr. and Maximina as creoles or mestizos and Vicente Sr. as a Spaniard, then it is logical to assume that Maximina was an india or a mestiza herself.

Vicente Abad, Sr. was hired by the Spanish colonial government to oversee the tobacco industry of the colony, being considered as one of the foremost experts in the tobacco industry. In 1885 he was named chief technical adviser for the Compania General de Tabacos de Filipinas, a position he held until the Philippine Revolution when he decided to return to his country of origin, eventually dying in Zaragoza, Spain, in 1900.

Vicente’s eldest child, Clodoaldo Abad y Recio, was born in Cebu on September 7, 1865. He graduated with a medical degree from the University if Santo Tomas in 1890. He distinguished himself in the medical field and served in various government posts during and after the Spanish regime in the Philippines. Clodoaldo was followed by the only girl in the family, Victoria, who was born in 1868. Then she was followed by Jose Mario Abad y Recio, who was born in Loon, Bohol, on January 19, 1871. He obtained a BA in Pharmacy in 1892 from the University of Santo Tomas and, like his older brother, also distinguished himself in his chosen field.

The youngest in the family was Vicente Abad, Jr. who was born in Cebu in 1876 and obtained his degree in Pharmacy in 1896. He was an agent of the Tabacalera Company, just like his father, in Hong Kong, and it was there where he met Josephine Bracken later married her on September 15, 1898.

Their marriage produced one child, Maria Dolores Bracken Abad, born on April 17, 1900. But even this birth was shrouded in controversy. Early articles written about Bracken's only surviving child were also full of questions, with some alleging that due to her very Filipina visage she was probably not Abad's child but probably Rizal's. However, considering Rizal died in 1896 and Dolores was not born until 1900, these speculations were simply nothing but speculations and laziness on the part of the researchers to actually check primary records. Even the simple checking of the dates would have saved these so-called historians from speculating nonsense.

Whatever the case, Dolores B. Abad married an Ilokano, Salvador Mina, son of Juan Mina and Isabel Lamadrid, on April 4, 1926, in Manila. Her marriage record clearly indicated Josephine Bracken and Vicente Abad as her parents. From this marriage, 2 sons and 2 daughters were born. One of Dolores’s grandsons, Macario Ofilada Mina, wrote Errante Golondrina, an honest and well-researched biography of Josephine Bracken.

An incomplete family tree of Josephine Bracken (click to enlarge)
In one review of Errante Golondrina, the reviewer wrote: “The Rizal family, and others, roughly elbowed Jose's 'poor Josephine' aside in an indecent haste to grab whatever was left of his estate. And therein lay, in some ways, an even greater tragedy. In Rizal, among the noblest men of his, or any other race, Josephine had seen the face of what the Filipino could be. In the actions of Rizal's family and others she saw the Filipino unmasked, as they actually were, not Rizal's Filipino. (Filipinos) are not what I thought them to be, I took them to be like my husband, but I see that I am deceived,” wrote an embittered Josephine from Hong Kong. Rizal's name and his books have been quoted repeatedly since his death, his story is known to every schoolchild, yet the country of Rizal's imagination is as unborn as the child he and Josephine almost had. In their story is the sad story of the Philippines.”

Indeed, what a sad life Josephine Bracken lived. Today, as the country celebrates Rizal’s martyrdom, let us also remember the life of the woman who remained by his side until his death. Josephine Bracken’s life was sad from the very beginning. In Rizal’s company she finally found some happiness, only to be cut short by Rizal’s death. Her story and Rizal's indeed is a sad story of the Philippines.

Click here to view Josephine's family tree.


  1. George John Younghusband. The Philippines and Roundabout, with some Account of British Interests in these Waters, London: Macmillan, 1899.
  2. Augusto de Viana. A Glimpse into the Life of Josephine Bracken, April 10, 2013.
  3. 1911 Ireland Census, National Archives of Ireland, accessed December 28, 2014
  4. Austin Craig. Lineage, Life and Labors of Jose Rizal: Philippine Patriot, Austin Craig
  5. Erlinda K. Alburo. "La Dulce Estranjera", SUMAD: Essays for the Centennial of the Revolution, Cebu, 1999.
  6. The story of Josephine Bracken and the Proof of her Full Irish Origins.
  7. Gene Cabrera. Josephine Bracken: Her Struggles and Her Last Days, July 2, 2011
  8. The Life and Times of Josephine Bracken, November 12, 2003
  9. Various records accessed from FamilySearch (marriage record of James Bracken and Elizabeth Jane McBride, marriage record of Maria Dolores Abad and Salvador Mina, baptismal record of Charles Breakin (Bracken), death record of Victoria Abad y Recio).
  10. Manuel Artigas y Cuerva. Galeria de Filipinos Ilustres: Biografias a Contar Desde las Primeros Tiempos de la Dominacion Hispana, de los Hijos del Pais que en sus Respectivas Profesiones Descollaron ơ Hayan Alcanzado alguń Puesto de Distinción en Sociedad, Manila: Imp. Casa Editora "Renacimiento", 1917-1918.