My mother and I are embarking on a project: To update our family tree. Over dinner we discussed certain guidelines. First the genealogy will only go back as far as my great great grandparents, which means the project will trace the family tree from the late 1800s. In case there are contentions, varying opinions shall be recorded and will be validated in the appropriate time. This project will in no way supplant existing genealogical records.
This is an ambitious project, one that is bound to be controversial and touchy. Several years ago my uncle’s Christian wife, wanting to know more about the family she married into, started making a similar project. My late maternal grand aunt, Bai Masunding, advised her that there were things better left unwritten. She defended her research by saying that she only wanted her children to know their roots. Bai Masunding made a stern warning, “Stop lest you be struck by lightning.”
The heart of royal genealogies is to prove descent from Shariff Kabunsuan, the nobleman from Johore who came to Mindanao in the early 1500s credited for the spread of Islam in the island and the establishment of the sultanates. He is believed to be a direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Nobility is, thus, based on this connection to the Prophet.
Genealogical records or tarsila, particularly those with credible information, end in the late 1800s. This project is going to take up where the earlier chroniclers left off. So excuse me while I wear my anti-lightning helmet lest I be reduced to a heap of blackened bones.