The main purpose of The Clavería Edict of 1849 was to have a more orderly system of Filipino family names for tax collection in the Philippines. Before Spanish rule, an individual's second name, similar to a surname, was taken from one of his or her children. If Impit had a son named Purok, he was called Impit, amá ni Purok, Impit, father of Purok. Others had names based on a physical quality such as scariness, Catacutan, or having a fair complexion.

After Spanish settlement, besides the indigenous method of naming, so many early Christianized Filipinos acquired names after the same Hispanic saints or religious phrases such as de los Angeles that it caused some confusion among Spanish rulers. So on November 21, 1849, Governor General Narciso Clavería ordered a distribution of surnames to be assigned to Filipino families from The Catalogo Alfabetico de Apellidos. In some cases, the name distribution was too orderly, in that some towns with only a few families and servants ended up with surnames all beginning with the same letter.

Filipinos with Hispanic last names were usually only allowed to keep their particular names if they could present proof that they had been using it in their families for some generations. Some Filipino aristocrats and those in remote areas were able to retain their indigenous names. Even so, some Filipino names lost some of their meanings with the shifting of accents from one syllable to another. All this for money.

The First Meaning of Filipino,
Philippines, Hans Buwalda,
Katálogo ng mga Apelyidong Pilipino, Hector Santos,

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