A reader of our blog “Euskararen Jatorria”, asks us from the Philippines the possibility that his surname «Deocariza» could be of Basque origin, because he has exhausted other possibilities and none has given him a reliable result.
Our methodology is relatively simple; it is based on the revision of hundreds of thousands of toponymic names to determine if some of them may be directly related to the surnames or other descriptors that they offer us.
The Basque tradition frequently relates the family names with the name of the house or headquarters in which the family new members were born. That house, usually inherits the name of the place, therefore there is usually a relationship between the place name that describes a place, the house that was built on it and the family name.
For example, if a place was rich in pear trees («madari» in Euskera), the place could be called «Madariaga» and if a house was built there, it received the same name as the place and those who were born in it, would be called Madariaga although centuries later the pear trees had disappeared and now there were pines.
Speaking in Spanish, the language of the empire, when a secretary referred to one of the sons of the solar called Madariaga, he inscribed him as Juan, Pedro or José De Madariaga, that is, the preposition «De», remained attached to the surname.
The same could happen with some men from the village of Ocáriz (nowadays it appears as Okáriz when being subject to Basque spelling).
Okáriz is a village with about twenty houses located in the «Llanada Alavesa», very close to the Basque capital, Vitoria.
There is also a very similar toponym, «Okarizti» in Gipuzkoa, whose final part, «arizti», means clearly, «oak forest».
On the other hand, the initial part, «Oca, Oka», which is also of Basque origin, it is very represented in very scattered places of the world; only in Spain, there are some thirty places that carry the «oca» morpheme, such as Oca, Ocaña, Ocarin, Ocarampe … but there are also spells in «k», Oka, Okaeta, Okalar, Okamika …
There is an Oka river in Bizkaia, another Oca river in Burgos and a third Oca in Pontevedra; In addition, an important tributary of the Volga river in Russia, is also called Oka, all of which are vestiges of a language that was spoken for millennia in much of Europe, Asia and North Africa.
The same for the current surname «Deocariza», the most probable is that it was initially «De Ocariz» in reference to an ancestor who went to the Philippines and was there registered according to his place of birth. It should not be surprising that the places in the end led to an «a» that is nothing but an article that used to be added to the names, so the ancestor would be identified as «De Ocariza» and his name ended up in the form «Deocariza».
Nowadays, such a surname is not found in the lists or in the censuses, because for centuries, the children of the lineage who stayed in the manor were the firstborn, while the younger brothers left the house to go as monks or nuns, soldiers or to promote business.
That led to the surname was for the eldest son, wearing «Lope» at the beginning, in the Basque language, an adjective that describes the eldest of the saga who kept – in this case – with the name «Lope de Ocariz», gradually disappearing the name in its form initial «De Ocariz».
Therefore, it will be easy for the interested party to find current famous people with the «Lope de Ocariz» form.
In short, the surname gathers abundant evidence to correspond to some natural predecessor of Okariz, who was not the eldest son of the clan and who went to the Philippines to look for luck.