The foregrounding of surnames as an entry point in organizing local history is a more direct, more experiential, and more communitarian approach in the perspective of the inhabitants of a place. In the level of a town or a province, an array of names of people are to be found. In general, there are several materials for the students of history with regard to the manner how surnames can be checked and compiled.
The geographic spread /distribution of family names is given detail. The intervening events that modified the listing of available markers are discussed. Family names are sources of basic information about a place. From the National Archives of the Philippines, there is a Spanish Document Series dealing with the prestacion personal (personal services), a colonial instrument popularly known as forced labor. The listing of names of people is a bureaucratic procedure which enhanced control and exploitation. The listing is an important source to widen one's knowledge of a history of a town. A copy of the 1884 prestacion personal of the town of Los Banos with 171 surnames is contraposed to an official 21st century population data from the Commission of Elections used in the 2016 national political exercise. The factors that influenced the retention and change in the family names are traced to migration patterns, establishment of institutions, and economic opportunities. Family histories are incorporated in the study thereby showing that local history is enriched through survey of surnames.