In the past week, I joined my colleagues at the National Historical Commission of the Philippines in conducting a Local Government Unit (LGU) Training on History and Heritage in the Cagayan Museum, Tuguegarao City, Cagayan. The format was similar to the one we conducted in the NHCP Museo ni Jesse Robredo in Naga City last year in which heritage advocates and LGU officers from Quezon attended.
We discussed the different mandates and services of the NHCP such as the enforcement of the Flag and Heraldic Code, protocol for commemorative events, the process of naming and renaming streets and marking historical sites, responding to heritage issues, establishing a local history museum, and conserving historical objects.
One of the special things that made the almost week-long event is meeting heritage advocate Prince Wilson A. Macarubbo who is vice president of the Cagayan Heritage Conservation Society. It turned out the "A." stands for Agbayani, that he had relatives in Claveria, Cagayan and had roots in Vintar, Ilocos Norte. My grandfather was born in the same town.
Some participants especially from Pangasinan also asked if I was somehow related to the Aguedo Agbayani, governor from 1972-1976, 1978-1986, and 1992-1995. His son, Victor, was governor from 1998-2007. When we were going home, we made a stopover in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya and visited its People's Museum which was apparently launched during the tenure of Rodolfo Agbayani (1992-2004).
This brings me to the main message of this essay: genealogy matters. Whenever people asked me if I was related to the abovementioned Agbayanis, or even Tetchie Agbayani and Bayani Agbayani (the latter is just a screen name), I could not reply definitively.
Which reminds me of how little family history I know. While my mother was born in Lopez and is proud of her Quezonin identity, her family migrated from Manaoag, Pangasinan during the 20th century. They had moved collectively in search for a better life. She now tries to reconstruct a family tree, a project that had been in her mind since we held a simple family reunion in 2016.
While the rich and famous could keep track of family histories and have the resources to do so, genealogy is not exclusive to them and to the so-called 'nobility.' Thanks to efforts to digitize personal records by religious organizations and genealogy websites, it is now easy to write family histories. We even have people like Mona Magno-Veluz, known on social media as Mighty Magulang, who has shown how fun it is to do genealogy.
Finding ourselves in the web of relationships within our clan, community and even beyond, helps us understand not only our family's history. It also enriches local history and even national history. And, more importantly, we get to understand ourselves better through the stories we find out.