The Imperials in Bicol History (Part I)

The phrase “Imperial of Albay” is usually associated with the terms “politicians”, “political clan”, “powerholders”, “patrons”  and the like. In most cases, the association extends to something negative as the politicians from the Imperial clan are being blamed for the misfits of the province either because of sheer ignorance, pure hatred, or even jealousy. But unknown to most, especially the younger generations, the clan has also contributed a lot to the socio-economic (and sometimes, even political) development of Albay and the Bicol Region.

This piece does not seek to be a hagiography of the clan. Biklish is not conceived to be a venue for “praise releases”. Neither is Biklish intended to be a hate site. The objective of the piece is to present some patches of history that is never written in the pages of Bicol development. A portion of this piece will come out as a chapter in the book on local politics entitled “Breaking Local Monopolies of Power: The Case of the Imperials of the Province of Albay”. Other portions were also presented in the Philippine Political Science International Conference presented by this author in Dumaguete City.

It is to be admitted that the piece is incomplete and is still a work in progress. Funding constraints to do further research along with the lack of written documents to supplement some claims are among the hindering factors. But it is noteworthy that some members of the clan are contributing information which are helpful building blocks in the reconstruction of the crumpled pages of Bicol History.

The Early Generations

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 powerholders. These, in addition to their being “illustrados” or highly educated elite.

Aside from having Spanish blood, the Imperials, also have Chinese blood. This was mentioned in passing by by Norman Owen, a US historian who had written a few papers regarding Bicol history. This is being corroborated by the fact that an Imperial lady was able to marry a Chinese General as will be shown later.

But as stated, there is a dearth of accounts written with regards the Imperials and even the Bicol history in general. For this, I will start with the brothers Paciano, David, and Elias all surnamed Imperials.

Paciano, David and Elias were all based in Legazpi, Albay. They were noted as elites but they participated in the first-ever revolution in the Philippines. Not only did they contributed amounts of money but they also participated in activities that led to the establishment of the Revolutionary Government of Albay sometime in 1898. This government was then headed by Anacleto Solano of Camalig. Under the government, Paciano was the Provincial Secretary, Elias was the Councilor for Revenue and David, the member of a revolutionary junta.

When Solano was replaced by Domingo Samson in an election, another Imperial in the person of Agripino (I am not sure of his relation with the three), was also elected as the presidente (an equivalent of today’s city or municipal mayor) of Legazpi. Agripino later vied for local posts in the province but failed.

Another a Imperial whose contribution was buried in history is Carolina, the sister of Paciano. It can be adduced that she also helped the Revolution that later led to her marriage with Gen. Ignacio Paua (also, Pawa). Paua was a full-blooded Chinese who became a blacksmith in the Philippines. He used his skill by producing guns for the revolutionaries that he was later tasked by Emilio Aguinaldo with the collection and generation of money to finance the revolution. In doing his job, he went to Albay, met Carolina, and got married. Paua settled in Albay and became one of the early municipal mayors of the Municipality of Manito.

(to be continued)


32 thoughts on “The Imperials in Bicol History (Part I)

  1. Interesting. I’ll be waiting for the next installment. It’s good to know someone is keeping a record of our local history which would have otherwise faded into oblivion. I used to listen with great interest to my grand-aunt tell stories about early to mid-20th century Legaspi City. Her father, Ramon Arnaldo (my great grandfather) served as Mayor of Legaspi in the ’50s. I would love to know more details about the local history of our city and province but I fear most of the details are lost forever.

  2. I wonder when the continuation of your Albay history will be published. Like the rest I am also dying to read about it. My grandfather, Saturnino Benito was also ex governor of Albay

  3. I know the Imperials during the marcos-era yes
    they were politcians and yes they had their fair share of
    scandal and mistakes but overall in comparrison to the
    other Philippine politcal dynasties they were very decent ,
    very learned , fair . They did not need goons or a lot of bodyguards , most of the time they travelled with just a driver. You could say they had “delicadeza” .

    And the Imperial Girls are very beautiful a mixture of
    “chinita” with a streak of “natural blonde” ..

  4. Hmm… I still think its not enough information. If you want to get details on Imperials, I know people. Well, I’m an Imeprial anyway.

  5. good day…..i am looking for my father’s relatives,the late Perfecto Arnaldo…,i hope you can help me,i never meet them in my intire life,i am Novelita Maquiniana Arnaldo from Atimonan Quezon and now living here in Malvar Batangas
    this is my mobile no-09079798871..

  6. I’m Rainnel Imperial of Makati trying to find the roots of my Family in Bicol. I’m in a side of chinese blood and my grand father is Jose Antonio Imperial y Mayores. As I know we have a connection from a certain family name Ho.

    1. hi..I live here in Michigan..I hail from the Imperial’s of Pili, Cam. Sur…also heard that we are of German descent…My dad is the late Eduardo Imperial ,son of Engr.Eutiquio Imperial and Salud Imperial ..Eutiquio is the son of Mercedes Estrada and Sening Imperial (don’t know his real name)..this blog is quite interesting…I’d like to find out more about our family…I was told growing up,that all the Imperial’s are related to each other…

      1. My name is Dino Arroyo Andes. Mercedes Arroyo Estrada then was married to Sening Imperial is my grandfather 1st cousin( Eleuterio Barrameda Arroyo). My great great great great grandfather was Lucas Imperial born 1782 who is from Legazpi Albay move to Baao, Camarines Sur. . Mercedes mother,Josefina Guevara Arroyo & my great grand father Domingo Guevara Arroyo are siblings. My last name back then was Imperial, then became Guevara, then Arroyo. Your connection would be Imperial, then Guevara, then Arroyo, then Estrada, then Imperial again. I’m the 7th generation from Lucas & you are the 8th generation from Lucas meaning you & my 2 kids are 4th degree cousins. I found out several years ago when my mom attended a family reunion of the Imperial Guevara Arroyo Esplana branch etc in California

  7. My great-grandmother was Carmen Kyser-Imperial. She’s German. According to my mom, she never talked about how she ended up in Bicol. My great-grandfather (Imperial) used to ran a pharmacy in Naga City. I am interested to learn more about where my family came from.

  8. Hello, i am stephen cenon dato talla from Baao, Camarines Sur. My paternal grandfather is luis guevara dato. Lgd’s maternal grandmother is Higina Imperial. I attended an imperial renunion back in the 80’s. Apparently, there was a booklet that was given to all attendees; and there was an Imperial family tree article in it. It was written and authored by Luis G. Dato. I can’t seem to find a copy of it. Lastly, my grandmother Lola Titay was an Imperial. Her full name is Cristeta Bañaga Imperial 🙂
    I saw Dino Andes posted a comment. He is the brother of my classmate in SMA in Baao, Cam Sur.

  9. Hi I am Gerwards Imperial cabral, my mother was from clan of imperial of bicol, my Lolo was Victor Imperial

  10. Hi I am Gerwards Imperial cabral, my mother was from clan of imperial of bicol, my Lolo was Victor Imperial of Calauag Quezon, my mother once told me that their roots are from Imperial of Albay, I am so interested to find my roots from Imperial side since I am in the genX, I do not have so much information about the clan of my mother who’s father died when I was only a kid.

  11. Hi J.A., I am an Imperial on my mother’s side from Camarines Sur. I have been researching on the genealogy of my mother but have not been successful thus far. Would you have any information on: (1) Manunel Gubat Imperial; (2) Esperanza Fabiano Imperial; and (3) Martina Odoyle Imperial all circa 1800s–early 1900s. Wold appreciate any leads. Thank you and keep safe. Malen

  12. I also read somewhere that there is a book on the Imperials of Camarines Sur (genealogy/ family tree). Would you know about this too?

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