by Stephen Cenon D. Talla
In the 70’s during one of the Grand Reunions of the Imperial clan, Luis G. Dato presented the Imperial Family Tree Volume One. It is a 40-page typewritten document enumerating thousands of members. The Imperials, its origin has been the subject of debates among the Bikolanos (or among its heirs) throughout the years. There has been a lot of conjectures, myths and stories on the circumstances of its roots.
According to the “The Imperials in Bicol History” by J.A. Carizo of the Biklish website:
There are claims that the Imperials are from Spain. They came to the Bicol Region to take advantage of the era of colonization. No specific dates are available but my theory is they came sometime between the 17th and 18th centuries. The reason is that the love for Spain seemed to have dissipated in the 19th century Imperials as they hated the Spanish Crown by participating in the Philippine Revolution. Not unless the Imperials that came to Albay and the Bicolandia are sort of victims of injustice in their motherland. Thus, they hated Spain and they wanted to take revenge by driving their fellow Spaniards out of the Philippines. This, though, is less likely considering that prior to the First Philippine Revolution, the Imperials are beneficiaries of colonization being holders of large tracts of lands and being political power holders. These, in addition to their being “illustrados” or highly educated elite.“The Imperials in Bicol History” by J.A. Carizo
According to the historian Martin Imperial Tinio, Jr.:
The Imperial oral tradition says that the family is descended from 2 brothers shipwrecked in the San Bernardino Strait in the early 17th century and landed in Manito. The story is probably true a most of the land in that town belongs to the Imperials. They eventually moved down to Daraga, Albay and one is said to have migrated to Baao in Camarines Sur.https://remembranceofthingsawry.wordpress.com/2010/06/01/the-families-of-old-bicol/
According to some stories, the “two brothers shipwrecked in the San Bernardino Strait” were in fact Lucas and his brother, Excelser. While the story is too practical to be true, there is no empirical evidence that they were. The volume one of the Imperial Family Tree of Luis G. Dato, although evidently including the Albay branch, never mentioned, explicitly, that the two were brothers.
In his essay, “The Vignettes of Baao History 1962,” Luis G. Dato wrote, “… family tree of Benito Ymperial, one of whose grandsons was Mons. Jorge Barlin, first Bicolano and first Filipino bishop. The Barlin branch is one of at least five branches of the Imperial family, the others known being the Imperial Esplana Sanchez-Arroyo-Barrameda, Imperial (Singalong), Imperial Fajardo, and the Imperial branch of Albay. How they are related to each other has not yet been satisfactorily established and in what degree of consanguinity.”
On page 38 of the family tree volume one, Excelser had two children, Vicente and an unnamed one, which was noted by Luis G. Dato as — “moved to Camarines Sur.” If one will assume that it was Lucas Imperial, then he and Excelser were father and son, not brothers according to the stories. Furthermore, Luis G. Dato researched the tree, why leave it blank when he knew that it could be Lucas, who migrated to Baao, Camarines Sur, and was the father of the Imperials of the town?
Another story circulating right now is that before they adopted the Imperial surname, they were called “Kaiserlich” — which literally means “Imperial” when translated from German to Spanish. However, Kaiserlich is not a German surname. The word is derived from, Kaiser — a common German surname originating possibly during Caesar’s life, as a term for “leader.”
For now, let us assume that, considering the current advancement in science and methodology of research, we are still at a loss with the origins, etymology of the surname, and the specific relations of each branches, still, there was an undeniable fact that Lucas, for some reason, traveled to Baao, Camarines Sur and settled there, while Excelser remained in Daraga, Albay to flourish in the arts and politics over the years. With the Volume two still out of our reach, for now, we will have to assume about, the other branches, with their connections with Lucas Imperial.
Imperials of Baao
Luis G. Dato, an Imperial descent himself, conducted the research and documentation of the genealogy of the 5 generations of the Imperials, almost 200 years, which spans from “Andeng” Lucas in 1782 through the 1970s.
The Imperial family is considered as one of the elite and highly educated clans of Baao, Camarines Sur. The study on the genealogy, which comprised of around 2,000 members at the time of Luis G. Dato’s documentation, produced such illustrious personalities as Fr. Felipe Fruto Ll. Ramirez, S.J. (a Jesuit, ecclesiastical faculty of Theology at the Loyola School of Theology), Luis G. Dato (an early 20th century romance poet in English and mayor of Baao circa 1940s), Rodolfo G. Dato (editor of the seminal work on the first anthology of Filipino poets in English called, Filipino Poetry 1924, lawyer and former Dean of Liberal Arts in the University of the Nueva Caceres), Bishop Jorge Imperial Barlin (the first native Filipino Bishop of the Philippines), Joker Arroyo (Philippine senator), and many more (and still counting.)
The following copy of the Imperial Family Tree Volume 1 is made available to us courtesy of my friend, batch mate (in St. Monica Academy) and cousin, Dino Arroyo Andes. Thank you.Imperial-Family-tree-Volume-optimized-1