The Yan Family: A Brief History…

The Yan family has its roots in Pagsanjan, Laguna.

Pagsanjan's Welcome Arch...standing in the same spot for about 150 years...

Pagsanjan, by any standard, is a small town — approximately 36,000 residents in 7,500 households in some 43 square kilometers.  It sits along the Pagsanjan River, 101 kilometers south of Manila.

The name “Pagsanjan” is a short version of “pinagsangahan,” which was the original name of the barrio which sat where the Balanac and Bumbungan Rivers merged to become one.  It is here where Japanese and Chinese traders founded the town in 1668, originally as a barrio of the neighboring town of Lumban.  In December of that same year, the then-Governor of Laguna, General Manuel Dela Peña Bonifaz, issued a proclamation declaring the barrio as a town.  (It was also then that the town was formally renamed to “Pagsanjan,” because the Spaniards could not pronounce the polysyllabic Pinagsangahan.) Twenty years later, in 1688, it replaced the town of Bay as the capital of Laguna.  It remained such until 1858, during which it bloomed as the cultural and commercial center of the province.


The Yan Family Crest

According to family records which date back to 1719, the family’s patriarch is Don Antonio de la Resurecciόn, born on April 17, 1735.  The last to use the de la Resurecciόn name was his great grandson, Graciano.

Graciano Cosme de la Resurecciόn was born on December 18, 1831 and his wife Maria Limcuando Fernandez on August 31, 1834. They were married on February 16, 1859.  They had 10 children — Ambrosia (1859-1933), Tomasa (1830-1938), Guadalupe (1862-1916), Jose (1864-1924), Lucia (1866-1935), Mariano (1867-1929), Isabel (1869-1870), Carlos (1870-1903), Ramon (1872-1941) and Roque (1879-1960).

This generation of 10 children was the first to use the family name “Yan.”


My family comes from the “Mariano branch” — my grandfather was Mariano Fernandez Yan, born October 6, 1867 and died August 25, 1929.  He was married to Dolores Gertrudes Salem.

Dad and Mom in Burnham Park.

My father was Mariano “Menito” Salem Yan, born August 28, 1917 and died March 13, 1987.  He married my mother, Emerenciana “Dolly” Casado, on May 1, 1946.  He had just ended his service in the Philippine Army in World War II.

My brothers Albert and Louie.

They had three children — myself and my two siblings, Albert and Louie.  Each of us has one child.  Rica and I have Daniel James (DJ), TC and Albert have Kimberly Ann (Kimmie), and Debbie and Louie have Jordan. Chronologically, Kimmie came first, followed by Jordan.  DJ is the youngest.

First cousins Kimmie, Jordan, and DJ.

We all live in the US now, although Albert has made quite a few trips back to the Philippines, since his work takes him to China, Hongkong, and some other Asian countries.

All our children grew up in California, though the three of them have varying degrees of “Filipinization” — the most “Filipinized” being DJ, who still loves adobo, pongki-pongki, longganisa, tilapia and bangus, among other Filipino foods.  Jordan spent his college freshman year in Ateneo, coaching the school’s soccer team, before he came back to finish his studies.  Kimmie is working in the entertainment industry, intent on being a producer of a successful TV series.


Through the generations, a number of Pagsanjenos have risen to prominence in national circles.

In the military, there have been six generals and one commodore — more than any other town in the Philippines.  The most recognized is Gen. Manuel T. Yan, who became Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.  He subsequently became Ambassador to Thailand and the Court of St. James, but is best remembered for the many years of effort he put into resolving the age-old conflict between Filipinos and Filipino-Muslim dissidents in Mindanao.  Other Pagsanjenos of general rank include Brigadier General Fidel Llamas, Brigadier General Elias Lavadia, Brigadier General Cipriano Ramiro, and Brigadier General Luis (Bobby) Rivera.  The lone navy commodore from Pagsanjan is Commodore Remo Lavadia.


Mario Montenegro with his favorite co-star, Delia Razon.

Mario Montenegro was born in Pagsanjan of a Filipino father and French mother.  In his teen years as a member of the famed Hunters ROTC guerillas, he became an active fighter against the Japanese.  In later years, he became a matinee idol, and was nominated thrice for Best Actor awards by FAMAS. His family home still stands in Pagsanjan.  He died in 1988.

Movie idol Rico Yan was a grandson of Gen. Manuel Yan.

Two generations later came teenage idol Rico Yan (a grandson of Gen. Manuel Yan).  He died at a young age but touched the hearts of millions of fans.

He had, before his death, formed a foundation called “Pinoy Yan!,”  a non-profit organization that aims to make young people stay in school and value education.  He died in 2002 of pancreatitis.

He graduated from La Salle, and his funeral was one of the largest in Philippine history, and millions lined the route to the cemetery.


Dr. Francisco Benitez was an eminent educator and first Dean of the U.P. College of Education.  Dean Conrado Benitez, founder of the U.P. College of Business Administration was a great professor of economics. Helen Z. Benitez, (daughter of Dean Conrado Benitez) became President of the Philippine Women’s University; Don Vicente Fabella was founder of the Jose Rizal College. Professor Arturo Guerrero was president of the Trinity College (Quezon City).



6 responses to “The Yan Family: A Brief History…

  1. Where can i buy the family book? I am tracing my roots as well. Thanks

  2. Where can i get a copy of the family book?

    • Sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner. One of the cousins named Dindo — you can find him on the Yan egroup on Yahoo or the Yan group on Facebook — would be your best lead at getting a copy of the family book. Take care — Louie

  3. Ricardo C. Yan II

    Hi distant relative 😀

    • Thanks for reaching out. My eldest brother Philip died in December 2009. The rest of his immediate family (brothers and our families, widow, son) all live in California. It would be nice to get to know you better. Are you on the Yan egroup on Yahoo or the Yan group on Facebook? If not, it’s a good way to get started. Take care — Louie

  4. Hi Sir Louie, I’m sorry to hear that Sir Philip has passed away. 4 years ago. Its only now that I’ve come to visit this site after remember it. Sorry for the late reply. I was still in high school then. now I’m in College. I’m not aware of the Yan egroup on Yahoo as well as the Yan group on Facebook. hoping for your reply soon. – Ricardo C Yan II, 21, Valenzuela City

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