Davao del Sur Province, Philippines Genealogy

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Province of Davao del Sur

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

Province of Davao del Sur

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History

Prior to the creation of the province on May 8, 1967, the undivided province of Davao where Davao del Sur belonged and Davao City which is the capital of old Davao shared the same history.

The province of Davao Del Sur was created by the defunct Congress on May 8, 1967 under Republic Act No. 4867. It started functioning as a province on July 1, 1967 which was comprised of only ten (10) municipalities where Digos as the capital. The elective provincial positions were filled by appointments by the President of the Philippines until the time when the officials were duly elected and qualified in the 1967 election.

The province derived its name from the word “Daba-Daba”. This is a bagobo word which used to refer to a “Sacred Brass” that belonged to the legendary bagobo chieftain named Datu Duli. Datu Duli lived at the rolling hills of the famous Sandawa Mountain, the ancient name of Mt. Apo. Later on, the letter “O” was added to the word which meant justice to the bagobos. It was added to describe the fairness with which justice was dispensed with by Datu Duli among his people. As years went by, the word “Daba-Daba” was shortened to Daba-o which later on was pronounced Davao.

The early inhabitants of Davao del Sur were the Bagobo-Guinggas who occupied the places at the foot of Mt. Apo, the Bilaans of the Hagonoy Valley, the Manobos in Malita and Jose Abad Santos and other ancient tribes. The aboriginal tribes are believed to belong to the second wave of Indonesians who came to the island from Southeast Asia years before the birth of Christ (BC), probably between 1,000 and 2,500 years ago. These early settlers lived a peaceful life, developed a rich culture unaffected by outside influence until the end of the 14th century when the Muslim Malays from Java and Sumatra introduced the Arabic strain into the ways of life of the early Davaoweños, The Muslim influence became an established fact with the famed Mohammedan leader Shereef Kabungsuan of Arab as its first sultan. Muslim tribe like the Maranaos and Maguindanaos occupied certain places of Davao Del Sur. The original inhabitants remained unconverted to the new faith.

The introduction of the Christian religion in Davao del Sur occurred after the colonization of the northern islands. Here is the account of Zaide:

“In 1847, Jose Uyanguren, a wealthy soldier adventurer, offered to the Spanish government a proposition that he would pacify and colonize Davao at his own expense. Governor Claveria approved Uyanguren’s proposal on February 27, 1847. In two years of hard fighting, he was able to pacify the warlike tribes and founded a settlement which he called Nuevo Vergara in honor of his natal city in Spain. It is now Davao City “ (Zaide, History of the Philippines, Mc.Cullough Printing Co.,

Manila 1957, p. 72).

However, the Spanish entry into the province dates even before Uyanguren’s pacification drive. The early excursion of Spain in Davao del Sur occurred during the period of exploration. Alip accounts that one of the early Spanish expeditions landed in one of the islets in Sarangani. This is the Villalobos expedition in 1542.

At the turn of the 20th century, other tribes from the Visayas arrived who later became the leaders of the province in government, particularly the Cebuanos. Soon they were joined by the pioneering Ilocanos and Ifugaos who occupied the municipality of Magsaysay. Others came captivated by the promise of Mindanao all of whom built together what is now the province of Davao Del Sur.

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, Davao del Sur.
b. Click on "Places within Philippines, Davao del Sur" 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)
Davao del Sur, 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, Davao del Sur.
b. Click on "Places within Philippines, Davao del Sur" 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. Davao del Sur Province is in the Diocese of Digos. Write or telephone to inquire whether the diocese holds the parish records:


Bishop of Digos
House of the Clergy
Dona Aurora St.
Digos, 8002 Davao del Sur
Philippines

Telephone: (082)553-2012
Fax: 553-5852

Or write directly or call the parish. Click here for addresses and telephone numbers for parishes in Davao del Sur.


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

Websites