The Search for Juan: Was Anderson a surname?

In my absence from writing here, I have immersed myself in researching about other families which you can all read about here and here.  Research has given me the opportunity to learn about the rich legacy of other Filipino families.  It has made me more familiar with surnames — it geo-origins and etymologies.  It has given me insight on the varying naming conventions used in each time period.

Juan Anderson Hernandez

Through my readings, questions have been ricocheting in my head: In the name “Juan Anderson Hernandez”, was Anderson his mother’s surname (as oral histories insist)? Or was Anderson a second given name?

1. Was Anderson his mother’s surname?  Juan was born in 1885 during the Spanish era.  During this time, he may have been referred to as Juan Hernandez y Anderson (although I have not found his name in a document in this configuration).  His mother was supposedly a woman of American-Mexican descent.  Given the fact that Juan’s birthplace, the land-locked Lipa, is only a few of kilometers north east of Batangas City (which used to lie along the route of the Spanish Galleon Trade from Mexico) this story is plausible.  His mother would have been called Macaria Anderson before she married Herman Hernandez — but she was only referred to by her married name in her son’s death certificate.

2.  Was Anderson his second given name?  A good example of this practice is our Commonwealth president, Manuel Luis Molina Quezon, who has been referred to in history as ML Quezon — without his mother’s surname.  When Juan entered military service, his superiors would have been Americans and they would have used naming conventions familiar to them.  Another hypothesis I have been working on is that he adapted the second name Anderson to differentiate him from others.  His name Juan Hernandez is, sadly, very common in that region (I have found hundreds in Lipa and neighboring towns).  Anderson might be the surname of an American officer he was indebted to early in his military career.

Let me masticate on these as my search continues.  If my dearest Magno and Hernandez relatives can provide more concrete proof on the origins of Juan and his brother Nicolas, do let me know.  🙂

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The Search for Juan: Details on the Death Certificate

Vital personal details on Juan Anderson Hernandez have eluded me since I began my research.  Finding the right documentation is difficult without knowing the dates and places.  But today was another “Eureka!” day for me.  Thanks to the new familysearch.org’s indexed microfilm rolls and streamlined search, I was able to find my great-grandfather’s death certificate, riddled with names, dates and other details previously unknown to our family.

1.  Juan A. Hernandez was born on 8 March 1885 in Batangas, Batangas, according to his death certificate.  This location is not consistent with oral histories and the mini-bio we found here.  From what was previously known to me, he was born in Lipa, Batangas.

2.  His parents were Herman Hernandez and Maria Macaria Hernandez.  According to my aunt, his mother was a woman of American-Mexican descent with the maiden name Anderson.  As Juan was born in 1885 (well before the Spanish-American War which resulted in the influx of Americans into the country), it would be interesting to find out what brought his foreign mother/grandparents to the Philippines.

3.  His last partner was Dolores Gonzales-Hernandez.  They lived in 404 Barasoin St., Makati, which was in the province of Rizal at the time of his death.  Their home is in the south of the Sta. Ana Racetrack where Juan worked as a steward.  Interestingly enough, a street to the north east of the race track was named after him.

4.  According to my dad, Juan left ex-President Quirino’s home on Novaliches to go to V. Luna General Hospital in Quezon City.  He came in for a check-up and accidentally slipped and hit his head, as he was getting off the examination bed.  On the document, we can see Juan was confined on 29 July 1957; and was attended to by Dr. Felix Sibal.  After 19 days of confinement, Juan passed away on 11 August 1957 at 3:45 pm.  He was 72 years old.  While his obituary reads that he died from a heart attack, his death certificate states that the condition directly leading to death is “undetermined”.  No autopsy or investigation followed.

5.  Juan’s wake was at the Funeraria Popular along 2139 Rizal Avenue, Manila.  He was finally laid to rest on 15 August 1957 at the La Loma Cemetery, also called North Cemetery, in the city of Manila.

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The Search for Juan: The Philippine Senate

The Philippine Senate Building, in the early 1900s

According to family stories, Juan Anderson Hernandez was a decorated soldier even before World War II.  The undated obituary clipping my aunt sent me alludes to a connection to President Quezon and the Philippine Senate.  My dad recalls, with much regret, that some of his military memorabilia were sold off by older relatives after his death.   So our side of the family has very little information on him — only the tales from my Dad, my uncles and my aunts,  exchanged over the dinner table.  My earlier attempts to find Juan in written records have proven futile.  Until today.

Juan’s Bio

Owing to serendipitous googling, I found a book that mentions his name.  Yet another search led me to the Heritage Library (now my favorite library!), where a copy of the book is in active circulation.  Towards the end of the chapter covering the Colonial Senate (1916-1935), I found, to my utter joy, a brief biography of my great-grandfather:

Assisting the Senate as Sergeant at Arms was Juan Anderson Hernandez.  He was born in Lipa, Batangas in 1885.  He had a colorful career during the American period, serving as officer of the Philippine National Guard, a captain in the Reserve Corps of the US Army, and a brigadier general of the National Volunteers of the Philippines — an organization he helped organize before serving in the Senate.

Need I spell it out?  Eureka!

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