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S Asia Filipino Bhagat Singhs

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PATIALA: Bhagat Singh may be considered one of India's most influential revolutionaries from the freedom struggle, but his tales did not inspire any Indian to adopt his name.

An influential family in the Philipines, however, has been using 'Bagatsing' as their family name for the last 90-odd years! Fascinatingly, the Filipino Bagatsings are one of the most popular political families of the south-east Asian nation, as it has produced the longest serving mayor of Manila - Ramon D Bagatsing - Philippines national hero of World War II who also held several portfolios as cabinet minister. Ramon was mayor from 1971 to 1986.

bhagat-singh.jpg


Besides a senior World Bank executive and president of the Catholic Women's League of Philippines, the family had also sent two of its members to the Philippines parliament.

The root of the Indian name is the family's Jat lineage from Punjab. Matahram Singh had migrated to the Philippines in the early part of the 20th century and married to a Filipino lady, who bore him his first child in 1916 - Ramon.

But decades after Bagatsing was introduced in the family name, the descendants are still struggling to resolve the mystery as to why their forefather chose it for coming generations. They have considered the possibility that Matahram was a relative to Bhagat Singh as he belonged to Banga town, 4 km from Bhagat Singh's native village Khatkar Kalan in Nawashahr district.

In search of answers, Valentino S Bagatsing, son of Ramon, reached Amritsar, Jalandhar and Khatkar Kalan last week, just weeks before the country observes Bhagat Singh's death anniversary on March 23.

Valentino, who is country head of International Finance Company (IFC) in Nepal, told TOI, "Our grandfather first migrated to Hong Kong and then to the Philippines. We are extremely curious about why he adopted the name Bhagat Singh and then 'Filipinized' it."

Adding to the mystery is the fact that Matahram started using Bagatsing before the freedom fighter was executed by the British, says Valentino. "There has been speculation about our family having blood relations with Bhagat Singh, which we are now trying to determine. My research also revealed that my grandfather was connected with the Ghadar activists in Manila."

Bhagat Singh's nephew Prof Jagmohan Singh, however, has given a different interpretation to the entire story. He claims that another family too had made similar queries. "My research suggests that the Filipino family had officially adopted 'Bagatsing' in 1934, when Ramon turned 18. Philippines law allowed every individual to declare his unique family name. Ramon's father suffixed his with "Bagatsing" and family is carrying this tradition," he says.

"In this scenario, we can safely infer that a Punjabi Jat, who migrated from a town located just four kilometres away from Bhagat Singh's village, was influenced by the freedom fighter's sacrifice," he added.
 
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PATIALA: Bhagat Singh may be considered one of India's most influential revolutionaries from the freedom struggle, but his tales did not inspire any Indian to adopt his name.

An influential family in the Philipines, however, has been using 'Bagatsing' as their family name for the last 90-odd years! Fascinatingly, the Filipino Bagatsings are one of the most popular political families of the south-east Asian nation, as it has produced the longest serving mayor of Manila - Ramon D Bagatsing - Philippines national hero of World War II who also held several portfolios as cabinet minister. Ramon was mayor from 1971 to 1986.

bhagat-singh.jpg


Besides a senior World Bank executive and president of the Catholic Women's League of Philippines, the family had also sent two of its members to the Philippines parliament.

The root of the Indian name is the family's Jat lineage from Punjab. Matahram Singh had migrated to the Philippines in the early part of the 20th century and married to a Filipino lady, who bore him his first child in 1916 - Ramon.

But decades after Bagatsing was introduced in the family name, the descendants are still struggling to resolve the mystery as to why their forefather chose it for coming generations. They have considered the possibility that Matahram was a relative to Bhagat Singh as he belonged to Banga town, 4 km from Bhagat Singh's native village Khatkar Kalan in Nawashahr district.

In search of answers, Valentino S Bagatsing, son of Ramon, reached Amritsar, Jalandhar and Khatkar Kalan last week, just weeks before the country observes Bhagat Singh's death anniversary on March 23.

Valentino, who is country head of International Finance Company (IFC) in Nepal, told TOI, "Our grandfather first migrated to Hong Kong and then to the Philippines. We are extremely curious about why he adopted the name Bhagat Singh and then 'Filipinized' it."

Adding to the mystery is the fact that Matahram started using Bagatsing before the freedom fighter was executed by the British, says Valentino. "There has been speculation about our family having blood relations with Bhagat Singh, which we are now trying to determine. My research also revealed that my grandfather was connected with the Ghadar activists in Manila."

Bhagat Singh's nephew Prof Jagmohan Singh, however, has given a different interpretation to the entire story. He claims that another family too had made similar queries. "My research suggests that the Filipino family had officially adopted 'Bagatsing' in 1934, when Ramon turned 18. Philippines law allowed every individual to declare his unique family name. Ramon's father suffixed his with "Bagatsing" and family is carrying this tradition," he says.

"In this scenario, we can safely infer that a Punjabi Jat, who migrated from a town located just four kilometres away from Bhagat Singh's village, was influenced by the freedom fighter's sacrifice," he added.
Bhagat Singh's surname is Sandhu and although, his native village is Khatkar Kalan [pronounced khat'kara'n] he together with his family were in Pakistan at the time of his hanging. After the partition of 1947 they moved back to Khatkar Kalan. Some of his family are in UP India and some migrated out to the West.
 

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