Zubiri in Zubiri

I have always wondered how my surname came to be. There is a political clan of Zubiris in Bukidnon which I’ve heard from others originally came from Negros. The patriarch ruled as a governor in Bukidnon. Eventually the son followed the father’s footsteps, and the younger Zubiri is now a senator.

However, my family line of Zubiri comes from the Lubang Island, Mindoro Occidental in southwestern Luzon.  And my ancestors are as normal as you and me; they did not arise from spontaneous generation but surely traveled from a mainland before settling in the small island. I could think of two theories how we got our surname. My genealogy could be traced to an insulares Spanish family (making me a Spanish mestizo, si?).  Or we are a result of the block delegation of Spanish surnames in the Philippines more than a century ago.

A quick google and wikipedia search of Zubiri yields several popular results: a small town in Esteribar Valley in the region of Navarra in Spain, the philosopher Xavier from Spain, the sexy Filipino actress Diana, the senator Juan Miguel, and finally mine (ha!).

I may now be in Western Europe, but I never considered going to Zubiri (the town!) until about two weeks ago. While preparing my itinerary in the east-northeastern part of the Spanish peninsula. I initially thought of going to Bilbao. I found no inexpensive accommodations, and complusively decided to go to Pamplona where I found a contact through hospitality club and was willing to take me in. I advertised myself as someone who is ‘tracing my roots’ in Spain, and wanted to visit the town of Zubiri.

I arrived in Pamplona early afternoon last Friday. About two hours after setting foot in the Basque country, I found my roots, my home! Not back to the Philippines, but 20 kilometers north of Pamplona, in Zubiri, Esteribar, Spain.

Edited 15 April 2009:  I found this wikipedia entry on Basque diaspora:

“Basques in the Philippines

The Philippines having been a Spanish colonial asset for over 300 years, was populated by the conquistadors, merchants, clergy, sailors and entrepeneurs that were mostly of Basque origin. These families of Basque lineage over time entrenched themselves and slowly integrated into the Philippine social landscape, developing themselves into some of the most prominent families in the country. This is evident to this day in the market dominance of Basque-originating families such as the Aboitiz shipping magnates, the Zobel de Ayala family and political clans like the Zubiris and the Ozámiz. A majority of names of Iberian (mostly Castilian and Catalan) origin in the Philippines, however, come not from actual peninsular ancestors but from the Catálogo alfabético de apellidos, a list of surnames imposed on the former Spanish province’s native inhabitants by then Captain-General Narciso Clavería. As a result of this, most Basque surnames in the Philippines are a veritable indicator of actual Iberian Peninsular ancestry, while common Castilian and Catalan family names in the Philippines could very well be traced to the catalog used by the colonial administrators in issuing out family names to natives of the Philippines who did not yet use surnames.”

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