Filipino Last Names and Meanings

Popular Filipino Last Names and Their Origin


If you’ve come across any Filipino last names, you won’t be too hard pressed to notice that the majority of them are of Spanish origin. Have you ever wondered why?

The short answer is the Spanish colonization of the Philippines. Let me explain.

Filipino Last Names
Filipino Last Names


Why do Filipinos have Spanish Surnames?

When Spain colonized the Philippines, they brought with them their Spanish influence, which also extended to their names.

The Spanish found that the majority of the surnames were all similar and related to saints. Furthermore, the surnames used had no link s to families so it was hard to know from a persons name, their relations. This made it hard for the Spanish to collect taxes and control the Filipino people.

Consequently, the Spanish Governor General, Narciso Claveria, issued a decree in 1844, in which a list of family names were put together, the majority of which were of Spanish origin. The Filipino people were then ordered to choose a name from this list, an order that was strictly enforced by the Spanish.

This then lead to the majority of Filipinos bearing Spanish surnames, something which is noticeable to this day.


20 Most Common Filipino Last Names Surnames With Meanings

Compiled below is a list of the most popular and commonly used last names in the Philippines. We have put down the meaning and origin to help you understand these names a little better.

Reyes – Meaning ‘kings’ or ‘royals’ in Spanish.

Cruz – Meaning cross in Spanish.

Santos – Translates to the Spanish word for saints.

Bautista – Referring to St John The Baptist.

Ocampo – Name of a famous Filipino historian.

García – Spanish name meaning Son of Garcia

Mendoza – Meaning cold mountain.

Torres – Spanish name referring to someone who lived in or near a tower.

Tomás – Twin

Andrada – Derived from the Greek word meaning manly or strong.

Castillo – Toponymic name referring to someone who lived in or worked at a large building or castle.

Flores – Meaning Flower

Aquino – Spanish, Portuguese, Italian origin last name referring to someone from a place called Aquino.

Navarro – Toponymic surname referring to someone from a place called Navarre.

Salazar – Meaning old hall.

Mercado – Meaning Market. Geographical surname referring to someone who lived near a market or worked at one.

Villanueva – Geographical surname referring to someone from a place called Villanueva. The Spanish Villa meaning outlying farmstead, and nueva meaning new.

Ramos – Someone from Ramos. Also referring to someone who lived in a densely wooded area.

Castro – Toponymic surname meaning Castle or fortress.

Rivera – Spanish and Italian origin last name meaning Riverbank.


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