Your Name is What?

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” a quotation from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

I was particularly impressed by the knowledge that I picked my son’s name well. A cousin-in-law of mine, Francis, pointed out to my son that there were only two statues of saints who were carrying the Baby Jesus and continued to ask my son to identify who these were. Of course, there was silence as my son was not particularly into statues; nonetheless he knew who Sts. Joseph and Anthony were. So, behold – the two saints were TADAH – he guessed right, his namesakes.

There was a mass baptism held at the church recently and the priest in his sermon spoke of name choices. It used to be that some parents chose to name their children after their own parents’ – if a boy, then after the two grandfathers; if a girl, then after the two grandmothers. It did not stop there. Added to the name of the grandparents was the chosen name, so already you have three names there. Then, of course because of tradition, if the child was a girl, you would have to add Maria before the given names; and if a boy, you would have to add Jose. The poor kids nowadays have difficulty in getting official documents as sometimes because of the many first names, chances are, these would no longer be fitted into the “boxes” provision for first name. I have that problem. Do you?

Anyway, back to given names. The next generation of parents this time went for the names of current celebrities. You have Madonna, Britney, Michael (it never gets out of style), Justin. Here in the Philippines, somehow compound names like Rogenilda (derived from Roger and Nilda) also became popular. I had a student before whose name was simply “X” – accordingly, they were eight children in the family and her parents from the eldest, thought of names starting with 8 letters for the eldest and then she being the youngest was named with a single letter. To be baptized, however, the priest asked her parents to add Maria to her name as “X” does not mean anything.

It is difficult to have namesakes. Again, here in our country where Reyes, Santos, Cruz or the delos Reyes, delos Santos and dela Cruz, are the most common surnames, there is the issue of Filipinos having the same first names and last names. Usually, it is the middle initial or the second given name which breaks the tie, so to speak. Case in point, I have three other namesakes and we, four all live in Quezon City. So, whenever I have to get government documents, there are some hitches.

Then you have the nicknames. You have “Baby” already in her 60s. You have repeated one-syllable nicknames, i.e. Bongbong. You have initials, EJ for a nickname. Then you have nicknames taken from idols, like the real name is Lourdes but her nickname is Mikey – from her crush, Michael Douglas (that was a lifetime ago when Streets of San Francisco was a hit TV series).

So, what is really in a name. A lot, I should say. It is the unique you. It is what makes you, you. It is what identifies you from the others, even from your namesake. That’s why our elders keep on giving this bit of advice, “Take care of your name. It is the only one you’ve got.”

There have been a lot of discussions on Names, I am sure you may have read, watched or listened to one already. One important note from all these is: You are what your name is.

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