Thursday, July 5, 2018



The Spanish have a saying.

"Quien nombre no tenía, García se ponía." "Whoever lacks a name, is given the name García."

Back in the days when people were beginning to adopt family names or surnames in great numbers, let's say around the year 1400 or so, García was chosen by or given to so many in Spain that García came to be, and still is, the most common surname in Spain. Thus the saying, "If you don't have a surname, we'll call you García."

A million a half people in Spain today have García as a paternal last name. Another million and a half have García as their maternal name. García is so common that almost 80,000 people in Spain are García García, from both mom and dad's sides. The next most common surname (Fernández) doesn't even reach a million.

So, as the Spaniards went out into the world, to their conquests in America, Asia and Africa, the García name went with them. García ranks very high in places like Mexico and Argentina, and it is the most common name among Hispanics in the United States.

Closer to the Marianas, García is in the top ten most common surnames in the Philippines.

But when we come to our own islands, the Marianas, García doesn't make even the top twenty. In 1930, there were just a little less than 60 people on Guam with the surname García, and that includes women who were married to García men. There were more Gumataotaos than Garcías on Guam at the time.


And yet, it seems as if the García surname had the possibility of becoming a huge family on Guam, as far back as 1727. In that Census, there is a García family listed in the roll of Spanish soldiers, which meant that the names listed could be Mexican and other Latin American, as well.

The head of that family was Lázaro García, married to Juana de Cárdenas. They had three boys (Feliciano, Ignacio and Dionisio); enough, it seems, to plant the name rather well in these islands. But in the 1758 Census, only Feliciano is still listed among the sons of Lázaro (also named in the 1758 Census) and he is married to a Chamorro, Ignacia Taitiguan.

In 1758, there are new Garcías unseen in the earlier census. Two are Filipino, and one is listed under the Spaniards who could have been a son of Lázaro, but maybe not. There is also an orphaned male with the last name García. The two Filipino Garcías are incidentally married to Chamorro women. All these males with the last name García could have established a large number of García descendants, but by the 1800s, the number of Garcías on Guam remained small.

IN 1897

In what I call "modern Guam," the Guam about which we have much more information and can make clearer connections within families, there seems to have been three main lines of Garcías at the turn of the century in 1900, based on the 1897 Census and birth records from the early 1900s.

Two of those three lines, the García-Lujáns and the García-Manibusans, seem to date back to the Marianas in the early 1800s and could be descendants of the even earlier Garcías of the 1700s, either Spanish or Filipino in origin or both.


A Francisco Luján García from Hagåtña married Gertrudes Aquino. Their line continued and they have descendants to this day.


A Justo Manibusan García also from Hagåtña married Angela de la Cruz. One of their sons married Magdalena Pereira Atoigue, and they have descendants. A daughter, Antonia, married Félix Martínez Camacho, and they were the parents of former Governor Carlos García Camacho and the grandparents of former Governor Félix Pérez Camacho.

García-León Guerrero

A Santiago García from Pampanga in the Philippines moved to Guam at least by the 1850s and married a Chamorro woman named María de León Guerrero.

Their son Demetrio married Isabel San Nicolás and they have many descendants. Demetrio's signature is seen at the top of this post.

A possible son of Santiago and María was Antonio León Guerrero García, and he married Gertrudes Cabrera, and they also have descendants.


Today, there are many more Garcías from many different origins. Filipino Garcías continue with new lines started, such as Jesse García who married Amparo (Paning) Díaz Gumataotao, and Tomás García who married Engracia Palomo, Father Pat García's grandparents. Jesse's brother Bert García has part-Chamorro grandchildren.

Then there are Hispanic Garcías. Juan Sáenz García, from Mexico, was stationed in the military on Guam before the war and married María Garrido Eustaquio. They had children who gave them descendants to this day. In Saipan, Juan García originally from Cuba but then in the U.S. military, married Fermina Sablan Pangelinan, and they had children and now descendants. Not too long ago, Thomas García, whose family hails from Enseñada, Mexico, had a child with Lynn Borja from Guam and another with Persha Mendiola, also from Guam.

And, given, the presence of Chamorros today all over the place, there are bound to be new lines of Chamorro or part-Chamorro Garcías that we're only beginning to know about.

So, while the García name was not as numerous among Chamorros as it was among Spaniards, Hispanics and Filipinos, little by little there are more and more of them as time progresses.

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