Albay Province, Philippines Genealogy

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Province of Albay

Guide to Province of Albay family history and genealogy: birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, family history, and military records.

Province of Albay

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History


Long before the Spaniards arrived, Albay had a thriving civilization. Formerly called Ibat, and then Libog, Albay was once ruled by Gat Ibal, an old chief who also founded the old barangay of Sawangan, now the district of Albay and part of the city of Legazpi.

Spanish colonial period


In July 1569, Luis Enriquez de Guzman, a member of the expedition led by Maestro de Campo Mateo de Saz and Captain Martin de Goiti, led a group which crossed from Burias and Ticao islands and landed on a coastal settlement called Ibalon in what is presently the province of Sorsogon. From this point another expedition was sent to explore the interior and founded the town of Camalig.

In 1573, Juan de Salcedo penetrated the Bicol Peninsula from the north as far south as Libon, establishing the settlement of Santiago de Libon. Jose Maria Peñaranda, a military engineer, was made “corregidor” of the province on May 14, 1834. He constructed public buildings and built roads and bridges.

The entire Bicol Peninsula was organized as one province with two divisions, Camarines in the northwest and Ibalon in the southeast. In 1636, the two partidos were separated, and Ibalon became a separate province with Sorsogon as capital. In the 17th century, Moro slave raiders from southern Philippines ravaged the northeastern coastal areas of the province of Albay.

Mayon Volcano, in one of its most violent eruptions, destroyed the five towns surrounding its base on February 1, 1814. This eruption forced the town of Cagsawa to relocate to its present site, Legazpi.

A decree was issued by Governor-General Narciso Claveria in 1846 separating Masbate, Ticao and Burias from Albay to form the comandancia of Masbate. Albay was then divided into four districts: Iraya, Cordillera or Tabaco, Sorsogon and Catanduanes.

Glicerio Delgado, a condemned insurecto (insurgent), started revolutionary activities in the province. With a headquarters in the mountain of Guinobatan town, he joined the revolutionary government of Albay as a lieutenant in the infantry.

A unit of the Philippine Militia was then organized by the Spanish military authorities. Mariano Riosa was appointed major of the Tabaco Zone, which comprised all the towns along the seacoast from Albay to Tiwi, while Anacieto Solano was appointed major for the Iraya Zone, which was made up of the towns from Daraga to Libon. Each town was organized into sections of fifty men under the command of a lieutenant.

During the Philippine Revolution on September 22, 1898, the provisional revolutionary government of Albay was formed with Anacieto Solano as provisional president. Major General Vito Belarmino, the appointed military commander, reorganized the Filipino Army in the province.

American colonial Period


The sovereignty of the country was transferred to the United States after the Treaty of Paris (1898). During the Philippine-American War, Brigadier General William Kobbe headed the expedition that landed at the ports of Sorsogon, Bulan and Donsol. From there, the Americans marched to Legazpi and captured it.

Although a civil government was established in Albay on April 26, 1901, Colonel Harry H. Bandhortz, Commanding Officer of the Constabulary in the Bicol Region, said that General Simeon Ola, with a thousand men, continued to defy American authority after the capture of Belarmino in 1901. Ola was later captured with about six hundred of his men.

World War II


During the Second World War, the Kimura Detachment of the Japanese Imperial Forces occupied Legazpi on December 12, 1941. The region was defended only by the Philippine Constabulary unit under the command of Major Francisco Sandico.

During the Japanese Occupation, the military general headquarters of the Commonwealth Army of the Philippines remained active from 1942 to 1946, and the 5th Infantry Regiment of the Philippine Constabulary was established from 1944 to 1946 and stationed in Albay. Then came the clearing operations and anti-Japanese insurgency in Bicol Peninsula, helped by the local Bicolano resistance. Some Bicolano guerrilla groups invaded around the province of Albay during the Japanese Insurgencies between 1942 to 1944, and were supported by local Filipino troops under the Philippine Commonwealth Army and pre-war Philippine Constabulary 5th Infantry Regiments attacking the enemy soldiers of the Japanese Imperial Army. In the aftermath of three years of siege and conflicts, many Bicolano guerrillas were forced to retreat by the Japanese around the province before liberation in 1945 by Allied forces.

In 1945, Filipino soldiers of the 5th, 51st, 52nd, 54th, 55th, 56th and 57th Infantry Division of the Philippine Commonwealth Army and the 5th Infantry Regiment of the Philippine Constabulary participated in the liberation, recaptured the province of Albay and helped Bicolano guerrilla fighters and American soldiers defeat the Kimura Detachment of the Japanese Imperial Forces. A major role in the resistance and liberation of Albay was played by Major Faustino Martinez Flor of the Philippine Army's Bicol Brigades unit. The Bicol Brigades were assisted by the U.S. Navy through Major Faustino Flor's eldest brother Julian Martinez Flor (1901–1990), who had joined the U.S. Navy in 1919 as a machinist in the Overhaul and Repair Dept. at the North Island Naval Air Station. Eventually Julian Flor became a Warrant Officer, and retired in 1935, returning to the Philippines. A few years later, when Japan invaded the Philippines, the U.S. Navy reinstated Julian Flor back into service to assist his younger brother Major Faustino M. Flor, and the Philippine Armies "Bicol Brigades." Their base of operations was the Sto. Domingo Church, where the Flor's maternal great-grandfather was buried in July 1873. The Flor brothers, especially Major Faustino, are still held in high regard by the people in Bicol, Albay. After the war ended, U.S. President Harry S. Truman and Naval Secretary James Forrestal personally awarded a Bronze Star, and a Purple Heart to Julian Flor for his "heroic achievement for his planning, and execution of Guerrilla activities mainly in the Bicol Province, but also in Cavite, and Leyte Gulf. Julian Flor is credited for surviving and escaping a Japanese military camp, saving 4 downed American airmen, and stealing vital papers which revealed various strategic Japanese military plans."


Research Methods

The vast majority of your family research will be in civil registration and church records. This article explains different methods for obtaining these records.

Civil Registration (Registros Civiles)

  • The recording births, marriages and deaths, provides important information of events in a person's life and required valid evidence, making these records very important.
  • Most vital records from before 1889 come from Catholic parish and diocesan archives.
  • In 1889, the Spanish government created the Central Office of Statistics, which required each parish priest to give the government a detailed list of the births, marriages, and deaths in his area.
  • After the Philippine Revolution of 1898, the church and state became separate. Within the first few years, officials responsible for civil registration were appointed in each municipality.
  • In 1930, civil registration became mandatory and, in 1932, the Bureau of Census and Statistics was created to oversee all civil registration in the Philippines. It was not until 1940 that most registrations began to be recorded.
  • Contents:
    • Births: Child’s name, birth date and place; parents’ names, residence, and occupation; witnesses’ ages, relationships, residences.
    • Marriages: Bride and groom names, ages, residences, occupations, marriage date and place; sometimes ages and/or birth dates and places; parents' names; residences, occupations; witnesses and officer who performed ceremony; former spouses.
    • Death registers: Name of deceased, age, death date and place, occupation, name of surviving spouse, informant’s name and residence, cause of death, sometimes birth date and place, parents’ names, children’s names.
    • Fetal deaths: Record of all stillbirths, includes information similar to birth and death data shown above.
  • Population coverage: Before 1922, 20%; after 1922, 90%.

1. Online Civil Registration Records

Your search should start with several online collections of civil registration records:


2. Microfilm Copies of Civil Registration Records Searched at a Family History Center

You can also search microfilmed copies of available civil registration records. If the locality and time period you need are not included in the online records, the next step is to try to find them in the microfilm collection of the Family History Library. Currently, they are being digitized, and plans are to complete that project by 2020. Check back occasionally to see if your records have become available. In the meantime, some of them might be available at a Family History Center near you.
To find a microfilm:

a. Click on this link to see a list of records for Philippines, Albay.
b. Click on "Places within Philippines, Albay" and a list of towns and cities will open.
c. Click on the town or city you wish to search.
d. Click on "Civil Registration" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
e. Choose the correct event and time period for your ancestor.
f. Some combination of these icons will appear at the far right of the microfilm listed for the record. FHL icons.png. The magnifying glass indicates that the microfilm is indexed. Clicking on the magnifying glass will take you to the index. Clicking on the camera will take you to an online digital copy of the microfilm.

3.Writing for Records

  • Civil registry documents that can be obtained from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). Click here for detailed instructions for requesting certificates by mail. Click here to order records online.
  • A copy of the records have been retained in local civil registry offices. Because many records were lost or damaged in the war, checking both the national office and local office might help find a surviving record. To write to them, address your letter to:

City Civil Registry
(postal code--find it here) (City)
Albay, Philippines


For other religions, Google the denomination and the location. Many churches maintain websites.

Write, call, or personally visit the parish or church. Ask for permission to study their records or make arrangements for them to search for you. It is usual to pay for their help in the form of a donation to the church. When you write, send the following:

  • Full name and the gender of the person sought.
  • Names of the parents, if known.
  • Approximate date and place of the event.
  • Your relationship to the person.
  • Reason for the request (family history, medical, etc.).
  • Request for a photocopy of the complete original record.
  • Check or cash for the search fee (usually about $10.00).


English is the official language of the Philippines. This Letter Writing Guide will help you with organizing your letter and phrasing your requests.

Church Records

Church records are very important for family research. Civil authorities did not consistently register vital events in the Philippines until the nineteenth century. Church records, on the other hand, were well kept from 1569 (in accordance with the directives of the Council of Trent), with some records dating even earlier. They are generally an excellent source—and many times the only source—of names, dates, and places of births, marriages, and deaths. Key records are baptisms/christenings, marriages, and deaths/burials.

Generally registers exist for the following denominations:

  • Roman Catholic (Iglesia Católica) 1579-
  • Philippine Independent (Aglipayan) 1902-
  • Church of Christ (Iglesia ni Cristo) 1914-
  • Presbyterian 1899-
  • Baptist 1900-
  • Methodist 1900-
  • Protestant Episcopal 1901-
  • United Brethren 1901-
  • Disciples of Christ 1901-
  • Congregational 1902-

Other religious groups in the Philippines:

  • Islam (Muslim immigrants and converts 11th-15th centuries, also called Moros)
  • Buddhist, Taoist, Confucian (Some Chinese immigrants arrived in the 16th-19th centuries, but many more arrived in the 20th century)
  • Hindu (East Indian immigrants arrived in the 20th century)
  • Jews (Arrived in the 20th century)

Contents:

  • Baptismal records: Baptism dates; children’s names; parents’ residence and names (sometimes mother's maiden name is given); witnesses’ and godparents’ names, and sometimes their residence and relationship to infants; sometimes grandparents’ names.
  • Marriage records: Candidates’ names; marriage and/or proclamation dates; often birth places, residence, witnesses, former spouses and parents’ names.
  • Death/burial records: Name of deceased; burial date; often age and cause of death; residence; spouse’s name, especially for women; parents’ names for deceased children.

1. Online Church Records

These very limited collections include some church records:


These Ancestry.com collections are much larger:


A similar collection at MyHeritage should also be checked. This collection shows even larger statistics. Also, frequently, the search engines at these partner sites bring up slightly different results. Your ancestor may show up on one but not the other:


Ancestry.com, findmypast, and MyHeritage.com can be searched free of charge at your local Family History Center or the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. .

2. Microfilm Copies of Church Records Searched at a Family History Center

You can also search microfilmed copies of available church records. If the locality and time period you need are not included in the online records, the next step is to try to find them in the microfilm collection of the Family History Library. Currently, they are being digitized, and plans are to complete that project by 2020. Check back occasionally to see if your records have become available. In the meantime, some of them might be available at a Family History Center near you.
To find a microfilm:

a. Click on this link to see a list of records for Philippines, Albay.
b. Click on "Places within Philippines, Albay" and a list of towns and cities will open.
c. Click on the town or city you wish to search.
d. Click on "Church Records" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
e. Choose the correct event and time period for your ancestor. "Bautismos" are baptisms. Matrimônios and "Casamentos" are marriages. "Óbitos" and Defunciones are deaths. "Índice" is the index.
f. Some combination of these icons will appear at the far right of the microfilm listed for the record. FHL icons.png. The magnifying glass indicates that the microfilm is indexed. Clicking on the magnifying glass will take you to the index. Clicking on the camera will take you to an online digital copy of the microfilm.

3. Writing to Request Records

Unless you know your ancestor was of another religion, begin by searching Catholic records. Albay Province is in the Diocese of Legazpi. Write or telephone to inquire whether the diocese holds the parish records:

Bishop of Legazpi
P.O. Box 38
Legazpi City 4500 Albay, Philippines

Phone: 077 772 18 05
Fax: 077 772 18 05

Or write directly or call the parish. Click here for a list of addresses and telephone numbers for parishes in Albay.


For other religions, Google the denomination and the location. Many churches maintain websites.

Write, call, or personally visit the parish or church. Ask for permission to study their records or make arrangements for them to search for you. It is usual to pay for their help in the form of a donation to the church. When you write, send the following:

  • Full name and the gender of the person sought.
  • Names of the parents, if known.
  • Approximate date and place of the event.
  • Your relationship to the person.
  • Reason for the request (family history, medical, etc.).
  • Request for a photocopy of the complete original record.
  • Check or cash for the search fee (usually about $10.00).


English is the official language of the Philippines. This Letter Writing Guide will help you with organizing your letter and phrasing your requests.

Reading the Records

  • Many records are written in Spanish. You do not have to be fluent in Spanish to read your documents. Genealogical records usually contain a limited vocabulary. Use this Spanish Genealogical Word List to translate the important points in the document. Handwriting skills are taught in BYU Spanish Script Tutorial.
  • Online interactive slideshow lessons are available to help you learn to read these records:




Tips for finding your ancestor in the records

Effective use of church records includes the following strategies.

  • Search for the relative or ancestor you selected. When you find his birth record, search for the births of his brothers and sisters.
  • Next, search for the marriage of his parents. The marriage record will have information that will often help you find the birth records of the parents.
  • You can estimate the ages of the parents and determine a birth year to search for their birth records.
  • Then repeat the process for both the father and the mother.
  • If earlier generations (parents, grandparents, etc.) do not appear in the records, search neighboring parishes.
  • Search the death registers for all known family members.

Cemeteries


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Family History Library


Websites

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