Note: All the names of the women in this article are their maiden names.
I’ve always been interested in my family history. I was a history major, it’s just my thing, and I’ve always been jealous of people who can trace their lineage. At the same time, I really wanted to learn more about the history of my surname which is very different from other Filipino surnames. It doesn’t sound very Spanish and I have never seen in on a list of traditional Filipino names. There’s also a lot of mystery surrounding members of my own family. For example, no one really knows who my maternal grandfather’s father was. Him and his twin were solely raised by their mother and she took the name to her grave. Family lore is that the father was a travelling Chinese salesman but, it’s still just a story.
Several years ago, while I was looking through my parent’s files, I found a copy of a family tree that was submitted when we immigrated to Canada. The tree, had 4 generations, including my brother and me. With that in hand I inputted everything on Ancestry and was disappointed that I got no hits on any of the individuals on my tree. Because of that I set it aside.
Last week my mom sent me the photo below. The lady with the glasses is my maternal grandmother’s mother, Leoniza Ignacio, or better known in our family as Nanay (mother) Loleng. I’ve always heard of her because she was my mother’s namesake as they were born on the same day. Nanay was a stern and strict woman. When my dad was wooing my mother she was always the self appointed chaperone and would never leave the room if he was around. She was also a very busy woman. She married 3 times, widowed twice. My family is from the third husband. Interestingly, her descendants, from all three husbands, have an annual reunion in the Philippines. I never got to meet Nanay Loleng. She passed away just before my mother’s 18th birthday.
The woman sitting in the photo is Nanay Loleng’s mother. Initially, we didn’t know her name. Luckily, my mother was well connected with many of Nanay Loleng’s descendants and we were able to figure out that her name was Josefa Bumanlag. Finding this out blew my mind. I’ve never had a family connection this far back. I never thought I could.
The people around her are all her children. As a sidenote, my mom wanted to make sure you all know that the two sons in the back were both over 6 feet. You must understand that this is a big deal for us. I’m 5’2 my mom is even shorter. We believe that this photo was taken in the 60’s with a Polaroid camera.
I sat on this information for a couple of days but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I wanted to know more. So on Monday, May 4, 2020 I decided that instead of playing Sims all day I would spend my time updating my family tree with the new information. If Ancesty.ca wasn’t going to give me information on my history, I’ll fill in the blanks myself.