From an outsider, it will be curious why some of my relatives are using De Ramas while others, like me, are using Ramos. The elders provided an explanation to this. But before that, let me trace and share briefly my genealogy.
My mother hails from Tuy, Batangas (Tuy is pronounced as ‘tuwi’). Her entire clan occupies Mataywanak, a barangay in Tuy. Her grandparents are Engracio ‘Gara’ De Ramas and Paulina Rodriguez. They had six children: Epifania, Emeteria, Manuela, Cipriana, Epifanio, and Cristina. Of the six, Epifanio was given the surname De Ramas, and the rest were Ramos. My mother’s father is Epifanio. He married Divina Consul of Balayan, Batangas. They had five children: Constancia, Francisca, Juanita, Paulina, and Gregorio. Of the five, Juanita was given the surname Ramos, and the rest were De Ramas. Juanita is my mother. She married Roberto Tan Go of Manila. They had three children: Diana Joann Jane, Jan Robert, and Chinee Jane. We all use Ramos.
During our last family reunion, the discussion about the surname surfaced. One of the explanations offered was registration mistake. Records of the civil registry during their time was done manually, i.e. handwritten. Records cannot be traced easily and it was possible that the registrar committed an error in writing Ramos instead of De Ramas. However, since Tuy is such a small town and everybody knows almost everyone, erring in registration might be next to impossible.
And so the enquiries went deeper. Our family history was uncovered. A Japanese soldier was allegedly murdered by a certain Engracio De Ramas, or Mamay Gara, as they fondly call him. In order to avoid retribution from the Japanese forces, Mamay Gara was told to change his surname and as well as his children’s. From De Ramas, it was changed to Ramos.
Some of his children registered as De Ramas used Ramos in their daily transactions, like Epifanio. Officially, he is Epifanio De Ramas; informally, when interacting with his coworkers, he is Epifanio Ramos. This explains why my mother’s birth certificate indicates Epifanio Ramos as her father. She is Ramos by birth.
Other relatives also modified their surnames. Those who moved to Bicol used Deramas, while those who moved north used De Llamas. The reasons for the changes remain unknown to me.