Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Getting named Melchor/a, Gaspar/a, or Baltazar/a in old Paoay, Ilocos Norte

Melchora Aquino turned 201 yesterday.  According to her biographies, she was born on 06 January 1812.  In the old church calendar, that date was the feast of the Three Kings, or the Epiphany. It has become a moveable feast, but until today, the Spanish community still commemorates the visit of the magi Melchor, Gaspar and Balthazar (though there are no three kings in the nativity story) to the manger in Bethlehem.

In the popular song, 06 January is the 12th day of Christmas represented by "12 drummers drumming," which has nothing to do with the magi, but which stand for the "12 points of doctrine in the Apostles' Creed" (Richert).

In my research on the history of our Ilocano town, San Narciso in Zambales province, and on the genealogy of the town folks whose forefathers were migrants from Paoay, Ilocos Sur, I found out from the baptismal records of the San Agustin church there (in microfilm at the LDS Family History Center on Temple Drive, Quezon City) that children acquired their names on their baptismal day during the 1800s.

Each day had its own set name or names.  The female name derived from the male; hence, Melchor/Melchora, Gaspar/Gaspara and Baltzar/Baltazara on 06 January.  The records show that these "magi'-cal names were also used on baptismal days close to that date.

Part of baptismal record of 06 Jan 1813, Wednesday showing baptism of Balthazar and Melchora.

These are four pages of the baptismal records of 06 Jan 1816, Sunday  All the babies were either Balthazar or Balthazara.

These pages of the 10 Jan 1818, Tuesday, baptismal records had babies baptized as Melchor or Melchora.

Unless I see the baptismal record of Melchora Aquino, I will always think that she was baptized on 06 January 1812.  Being the birth record itself, that church document would tell me how many days old she was on her baptism from which I'll deduce her birth date.


  • Film No.1214241. Bautismos 1812-1823. Registros parroquiales,1758-1979 of the Catholic Church. Conversion of St. Augustine of Hippo (Paoay). Family History Center, Church of Latter Day Saints, Temple Drive, Quezon City.

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