20+ Popular Filipino Last Names

September 13, 2021

Whenever we talk about apelyido or Filipino last names, what usually comes to mind are the popular Spanish-based surnames like Santos, Cruz, and Reyes. But since the Philippines' history shows that many other countries have conquered it, there is no surprise why some of the existing clan names have originated from its previous colonizers. For instance, it is also common to hear Chinese, Portuguese, and Italian-sounding names. If you'd like to learn more about these, then you've come to the right place! 

As we have discussed in our previous post about the most common Tagalog names, there are different bases when it comes to earning your name back in the day. Prior to the prevalence of the Spanish culture in the Philippines, names are usually based on personal characteristics and physical traits. For this reason, there are names in the traditional family tree that sounds a bit odd. When the Spaniards came, and the Philippines became a major trade route, several families have started adopting different last names.

While not many history books recognize this fact, there are few anecdotes that state that some of the Spanish surnames then were simply given by the government and were based on everyday words, indigenous terms, and a few derogatory remarks. In fact, there used to be surnames like asuang, ungu, and ungu, which all means "monster" in the Tagalog language. Interested to know more about the origins and the most common Filipino surnames today? Read on below.



10 Filipino Last Names Of Spanish Origin

10 Filipino Last Names Of Spanish Origin

While there is no denying that most Filipino names are derived from Spanish and can be found on the Catalogo Alfabetico de Apellidos. On the flip side, newer variations of the name have been "Filipinized", which means that some of the letters may have changed or are even misspelled. To learn more about the Spanish surnames that the locals have used, check out the table below.

SurnameSpanish MeaningVariations
CruzCrossCruces / De la Cruz / Cruse
Del RosarioRose garden / RosaryRosario / Rozario / De Sario
GonzalesCastle / son of GonzaloConzalaz / Gonzalas  Gonsalas
HermanoBrotherHerman / Germano / German
OracionPrayerOrsen / Orsin / Orson
ReyesRoyals / KingsReyez / Reis / De los Reyes
SalvadorSaviorSalvatore / Salvato / Salcedo
SantosSaintDe Santo / Santiz / Sentis
TorresTowersTorrez / Tores / Torez

Aside from all those, let us just clarify that the most common surname based on the 2016 report of the Philippine Statistics is Valencia and it refers to the Spanish word meaning valor, vitality, and health.


10 Filipino Last Names Of Chinese Origin

10 Filipino Last Names Of Chinese Origin

Since different cultures can be found in the country, you might be surprised by how many families in the Philippines make use of surnames of Chinese origin.

SurnameChinese Meaning
GongTo give
GuTo care for
Lee / LiLogic
TanTo talk
WangA monarch


10 Common Surnames In The Philippines

10 Common Surnames In The Philippines

Now that we know the most common surnames in Spanish and Chinese let us now draw our attention to the 100% Tagalog surnames. As we have discussed before, most surnames in Tagalog are based on a specific characteristic of a person. With this being said, it is not uncommon to hear surnames starting with "dima" like the following:

  • Dimaandal (meaning the person cannot be shoved)
  • Dimasalang (meaning that the person is untouchable)
  • Dimatibag (which means that the person cannot be harmed)
  • Dimayuga (which manes cannot be shaken)
  • Dimakulangan (which means that the person is never lacking)

Odd as it may be, these Filipino surnames have been passed down by their ancestors, and you'd be surprised that there are literally streets and towns named after these last names.

SurnameTagalog MeaningOrigin
AbayanTo stand asideTagalog
BacolodFrom Negros Island, PhilippinesWestern Visayas
BacunawaSerpent Cebuano
BatungbakalStone / SteepTagalog / Filipino
MendozaCold mountainTagalog
ManaloTo winTagalog


Other Popular Filipino Surnames

Now that we know the traditional Filipino surnames, we hope that you are able to show the world now that you know all the meanings behind almost every last name of Filipinos! But if you think that that is all the surnames we have for you today, we also have listed below many surnames that are also used in the country.

AbeFather of many
AquinoSt. Thomas Aquinas
ArgüellesSon of Arguello
BautistaSt. John the Baptist
Del RosarioRosary
GarciaSon of Garcia
PerezTo penetrate / breach

As we reach this part of the post, we hope that you were able to find the meanings behind the family names in the Philippines. Which of these Filipino surnames is your favorite? Let us know in the comment section down below. Also, suppose you are interested in getting to know more about the rich culture, traditions, and language of the Filipinos. In that case, we highly recommend that you read our most recommended learning resource below.


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What sets it apart from its competitors is that it comes with gamified content and an AI-based chatbot where you can easily reinforce what you have learned from the lessons. While you can simply use it for just 10 minutes a day or less (while you are running an errand or stuck in traffic), the challenging games and quizzes will keep you on your toes!

So, what are you waiting for? Challenge yourself today and explore 60+ foreign languages with the Ling App!

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