By Nino Manaog
I know of a well-known family from the highlands whose children’s names are Athena, Socrates, and Archimedes. They hail from the upland Buyo, a sitio adjacent to our barangay Bagacay, where they must have not only witnessed but also created their own Mount Olympus. Amazing!
I wonder why Nestor has even become very popular here locally, sounding even more Filipino when it is originally Greek. Homer is not, or Homar. But Omar? Omar is very common. Omar Shariff? Or Omar Khayyam?
And why does Hermes sound so high-brow? Hermes Diaz. Hermes Rodriguez. Hermes Sto. Domingo. But why not Mercurio? The latter is an actual family name, not a given name.
And why, too, are there more Socrates I know than Aristotle or Aristoteles? Certainly, I know nothing of Plato or Platon, except for an apellido.
I know of some Teofilo. Or Diogenes. Theophanes (poetic one, here!). But everybody must have not seen Aristophanes as a name in a list. Or Euripides or Anaxagoras. Or Pythagoras.
One must be so careful with naming their child Hippocrates, the so-called father of medicine or Heraclitus, traced to be the father of history. These were two great names in worlds of the past, but here and now, a mistake in one syllable might create some quandary if not furor.
I had a pen friend Minerva Cercado back in the 1990s. Hers is a beautiful name but I am afraid it does not sound good with all Filipino surnames. How about Minerva Diaz? Minerva Deserva? Minerva Seva? Minerva Raquitico? Minerva Ragrario. Hmm? Twists the tongue.
There’s a guy named Delfin Delfin. And I am sure there must be Delfin Delfino. Based on the oracle of Delphi. (But why is Delfina pretentious?)
If one were so steeped in Greek mythology, I wonder if she names her triplets or multiple births after The Furies, The Muses, or the Fates.
There’s one name I remember: Indira Daphne? Nicely paired. Wonderful. How snugly it puts together the Eastern and the Western sensibility. At least, it’s not Indira Gandhi—if she was so named by her parents (plus their surname), I wonder how she would measure up to that big name.
Would you admire a father who’d name his child Psyche? Or would you say he’s out of his mind? Is he still sane if he adds Delia to it? As in Psyche Delia Magbanua?
Maura. Chona. Lota. Why couldn’t I easily associate these names with anything pleasant—only something pleasurable? Ah, biases! Stereotypes.
After all, names are just labels.
That’s why some names are being picked so carefully—so as to reflect their parents’ sensibility. If it’s John Joshua, they are highly religious. Joshua Aaron, equally so.
But nobody names their little girl Ruth Sara; it sounds redundant—both women were biblical and blessed. But put together, why does it not sound good?
Peter Gerard? Acceptable. John Kevin? Pretentious. Kanye James Wade? Are you out of your mind?
Should we cry foul—how do we express concern about the names of children born through this pandemic? First name, Covid Bryant; surname, Santiago. Quarantina Fae Marie, surname de la Cruz. Shara Mae Plantita Diaz De Dios. Dios mio!
The list goes on.
Well, I know of a biology teacher who named his kids Xylem or Phloem, or something—and added to them a more common name. I think they’re still sane because at least, they didn’t go all the way naming them Stamen or Pistil or Chlorophyll. Or Stalk. Or Leaves or Photosynthesis. But obviously, their Science teacher way, way back must have really made an impact on them.
While Paraluman, Ligaya, and Lualhati are popular native names for Filipinas, why don’t we have Filipino males named Lapulapu or Lakandula or Humabon? Clearly, these are strong names! Is it the same as naming your boys Ares or Mars? What’s wrong with that?
If it’s okay to be named Magtanggol, or Tagumpay, or if you may, Galak—all positive names—why can’t we have Hamis, Sarap, or Siram or Lami when they sound just as appetizing as Candy, Sugar Mae, or Dulcesima?
Other parents are so enamored by popular girl names from television like Kendra, Kylie, Khloe—and all the Kardashians, but why aren’t they easily drawn to Georgia, Atalanta or Europa?
Europa sounds so good for a girl’s name. Don’t you think? Asia? Wow! But why not Alemania or Venezuela? Or Antarctica? Or Australia?
How about Filipinas? Why not Filipinas?
Interestingly, a beautiful tall woman I met was named Luvizminda—and she is from Iloilo, yes, Western Visayas. Her parents clearly wanted to articulate the middle syllable “Visayas,” probably being Visayan themselves. It’s just original.
I knew someone named Filipinas. Her parents were probably not content with Luzviminda as in Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao—counting each of the islands of our country.
When they named her, were they rallying against regionalism, or lamenting the pointlessness of ethnicity? Were they protesting the divisiveness of their own people so they settled for the single, collective name of the archipelago?
Did they really consecrate her to the country, the only Catholic nation in Asia—because it really means something to them? When she was born, did they wish for her to make it big, really succeed in life and lead the country more than Corazon Aquino—topple the patriarchy oligarchy tyranny (yes, in that order) and cure the ills of society?
Maria Filipinas, is that you?
Inang Bayan, let’s go!