“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other word would smell as sweet.”
–From Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare
I got inspired to quote from Shakespeare, after reading an article which appeared recently on Philippines Today. The article is about a recent mess at the 1st Philippine Festival held in Tokyo last month. Read all about it in the website.
I’m fascinated with Pinoy names. I often wonder what goes on in each parent’s mind as he or she decides on a name to give a baby. Some prefer the oldies but goodies – sticking with the usual baby names that are commonly used, like Paul, Peter, Elizabeth, etc. Some prefer (not often with success) to combine the names of the parents, resulting to usually ridiculous-sounding names. I had a classmate in elementary who was named “Pergelyn” – a combination of “Perla” and “Eugene.” She had an older sister who was named “Pergenette.” One of our teachers absolutely hated her name, and even told her about it in class. A friendly advice to would-be parents: if it sounds ridiculous, do your child a favor and don’t force it!
Some resort to naming their children with the same initials. For instance, my mom found it cute to name all three of her daughters with names starting with the letter “K.” The reason? So that we would be known as “The Three Ks.” Kapisanan ng mga Kikay sa Kangkungan. 😛 I also have cousins who were all named with “J” names.
When it was our turn to name our baby, we decided that we will stick with Filipino names only. It’s not because we want to be nationalistic or that we want others to get the impression that we are an eccentric couple who want to make a political statement. No, we’re not that ambitious, thank you very much. Combining our names was out of the question (Epiferine? Kathefanio?). So we took a cue from our surname, “Bagarinao,” which happens to be an original Filipino name, just like “Sacdalan” or “Dimagiba.” We therefore decided to give our baby an original Filipino name as well. We chose “Kalayaan.” A friend of mine, who is French (Hi there, D!), found the name really beautiful. He said it sounded like one of those names in the Lord of the Rings (LOTR) book. A name for an elf perhaps?
When my mom heard about it, she was downright furious. Are we out of our minds, naming our baby like that? One of our friends actually commented, “Ba’t di na lang LIBERTY?” Hmm. Does Liberty sound better than Kalayaan just because it’s in English? I beg to disagree. “Ok lang kasi nasa Japan kayo. Pero pag umuwi na kayo ng Pilipinas…” someone remarked as a last-ditch effort, as if to save us from making one of the biggest mistakes of our lives. I was both amused and outraged at how fellow Pinoys thought so little of Filipino names, thinking that it sounds so “baduy” or outdated, or whatever. Ladies and gentlemen, there’s only one reason why we named her with a Filipino name. Because she is one. When she goes into the world “out there,” people will take one look at her name and know that she is a Filipino. The Japanese name their children with Japanese names. So do the Chinese, the Indians, and Indonesians. Why can’t we do the same?
On a lighter side, I myself am guilty of making jokes about Baggy’s name. He happens to be named after his father, Epifanio Sr, as you can tell from his name, Epifanio Jr. But I bet you didn’t know that his mother is named “Epifania.” Perfect. Three Epiphanies, just like the three Magis.
I looked it up in the dictionary, and here’s what I found:
a. A Christian feast celebrating the manifestation of the divine nature of Jesus to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi.
b. January 6, on which this feast is traditionally observed.
2. A revelatory manifestation of a divine being.
a. A sudden manifestation of the essence or meaning of something.
b. A comprehension or perception of reality by means of a sudden intuitive realization: “I experienced an epiphany, a spiritual flash that would change the way I viewed myself” Frank Maier.
Just now, I am experiencing an epiphany myself, it’s giving me goosebumps. January 6 happens to be our wedding anniversary. I married Epifanio on the day of Epiphany. What a perfect coincidence!