Friday, August 9, 2013
Hilarious & Embarrassing Filipino Names by James U. Sy Jr.
NOTE: Names appearing herewith are all real life. One word entries refer to surnames, unless obviously referring to first and second names. Historically, the pre-Hispanic inhabitants of the Philippine Islands did not have surnames, as was the case for different cultures in Europe at a certain point in time. This is why we encounter names such as Lapu-Lapu, Humabon, and Sumakwel in Philippine history classes. If two people had the same name within a barangay they were differentiated as, “(name), anak ni (name),” a similar representation exhibited in the suffix -son (i.e. “son of,” such as Johnson) in British surnames and the prefixes Mac, or later Mc, (i.e. “son of,” such as MacCormack), O' (i.e. “grandson of/descended from,” such as O'Connor), and Fitz (i.e. “son of”) in Irish surnames. Governor-General Narciso Z. Claveria issued the Renovacion del Apellido decree on November 21, 1849, which ordered the “Indios” to adopt a surname based on a list compiled by Spanish officials, the Catalogo Alfabetico de Apellidos “Alphabetical Catalogue of Surnames.” During the Spanish Era, just before the decree, some Filipinos had adopted surnames; they’re either indigenous, such as Macapagal (hi, GMA!), or the names of saints or other Catholic symbols, such as de la Cruz and San Jose. Interestingly, members of the same family did not use the same surnames. What’s more, some Filipinos changed names from time to time. This made it a living hell for the Spaniards when collecting taxes so the decree mandated that a family will have only one surname, to make taxation monitoring easy. The decree also forbade the use of religious surnames but obviously this was not strictly enforced. The Catalogo was actually a mixture of Spanish surnames (and terms from the vegetable and mineral kingdoms, geography, arts, etc.) and a sprinkling of native names and terms. The implementation of the decree was not standardized so in some islands and provinces, such as Panay, the alphabetical pages of the Catalogo were sent to individual towns, resulting to almost everyone in a particular town to have surnames beginning with the same letter. Even to this day, one can deduce, with roughly a 50-50 rate of accuracy, the roots of a person in Panay given the first letter of his surname, obviously given the exception of women who went on to marry and change their surnames. Diamante and Tortal, for instance, would have come from Dumangas and Tigbauan respectively. Majority of the inhabitants of Negros Occidental trace their ancestry to migrants from Panay and may be surprised to discover this to be true when they search for their original place of origin. So what does this history lesson got to do with hilarious and embarrassing Filipino names? One word: genesis. We will find in the Catalogo some of the earliest funny and derogatory Filipino surnames to be put on record (if I deduced it right). Among those found in the Catalogo were Agta, Baboy, Baboyan, Bogoc, Botbot, Buaya, Cahoboan, Halimaw, Kabaong, Libang, Malibangco, Otot, Tubul, Ungo, and Ung-goy. These examples would definitely elicit a chuckle to Cebuanos, Ilonggos, and Tagalogs to varying degrees. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there. We still find awkward names in our time, many of which have a sexual ring, making their bearers more than just embarrassed. Among the more notable surnames are Bate, Bayag (Laoag), Bayag-na (Bukidnon), Binayag, Galolo (Cebu). Labasan, Labatiti (Bauan, Batangas), Lakipuke, Macabaleg-oten, Pecpec (Ilocos Norte), Puque, P**ayne, T*rug*, and Utitco. Pecpec was the old Ilocano word for “full,” as in a basket brimming with fruit; it was the shift in the word’s meaning that give the surname its notoriety. Some surnames may look innocent enough but when combined with the first names they open the gates to endless taunting from people around the bearer. Such were the case for Bulbulito Bayagbag, Lulu Ang and Malou Ang, Gina Jaculo, Anabelle Lat, and Lucky T. Tinio. The list can be extended further with the following: Bagonggahasa (Paete, Laguna), Dimagahasa (Boac), Dimalanta, Dimapasoc, Dimaregla, Norma Hinalay, Lanta, Loshang, Dina Macuja, Lolita Magtanan, Agnes Masikip, Panti, Pokpok, Ray Pinoco, and Sariwa. It should be noted here that Bagonggahasa refers “to something newly sharpened,” with the root word being hasa “sharpen,” but often misread as gahasa “rape.” But inspite of this semantic explanation, Ligaya Bagonggahasa and Virginia Bagonggahasa do not fail to elicit smiles. Some may be grossed out with names having a smell such as Anne Bajo, Bakekang, Inodoro Casillas Jr., Dina Lego, Libag, Annabelle Otot, and May Regla. Still other Filipino names can embarrass in a different way: Jose Bangag, Lani Bayot, Mario Bayot, Bogtae (Bacolod City), Richie Bab Boyboy, Calvo, Galit, Kulubot, Maitim, Nasilawan, Oliver Orongsolong, Pagsisihan, Ely Pante, Pinadamutan, Sipsip, Tagapulot, Talong, Tanga, and Ubaldo Punongbayan. Things have changed through the years though, even the names themselves. Eustaquio for example named his son Eustaquio Jr. , who in turn named his own son, Stacy. Patricio Bucog went to the USA and when he returned to the Philippines he was already Pat Bone. Hilarious names are a great challenge to the children who own them. Classmates are fast to tease, call names, and the like. Consider Rommel Kennedy Polotan. Every time their teacher called out “Polotan” during a roll call his classmates would always shout “Beer! Beer!” Or in the case of Miss America, Miss Africa, and Miss Austria, all classmates in the same class, where during roll calls, their classmates would clap their hands and after their names had been called out in succession, the whole class would sing We Are the World. Some other Filipino names ring a “memory recall” bell, but minus the embarrassment that goes with the other previously discussed names. Consider these: Mary Christmas Aguinaldo, Benny Bilang, Cagandahan, Caguapuhan, Christmas Joy (born on Christmas day), Halloweena Coffin (Filipina born on All Saints Day in the Philippines and married to an American), Happy Joy Joy De La Cruz, Sanctus Espiritu, De Mayo Flores, Chica Go, Philip P. Ines, Sixto Pepito Jualo, Kim Arthur, Rich Pobre, Honeygirl Pulot-Pukyutan, Halina Tayo, and Spaghetti 88. Filipino celebrities have their own place in the country’s harvest of hilarious names, mostly because Filipino comedians chose screen names that sound funny. Babalo, Palito, Pokwang, and Pooh are just some that come to mind. Those old enough during the Bomba era of the Marcos regime would remember stars such as Coca Nicolas, Pepsi Paloma, and Sarsi Emmanuelle, all adopting names of popular brand of softdrink in the 1970’s/1980’s, perhaps to quench the thirst of their fans. Papa Lito is a DJ at Campus Radio in Bacolod City. Samson Samson, a gay, joined the Pilipinas Got Talent Season 4 auditions and adopted the screen name Delilah, as a member of the Fiesta Broadway on March 3, 2013. Actor Cesar Montano is Cesar Manhilot in real life. Actress Lovely Rivero’s real name is Ginebra Miguela Macalinao. Cheers to everyone who got that clear. Of course, Filipino celebrity-inspired names are now the in-thing: Jean Claude Andam, Genghis Chan, Jackie Chan (once went to University of St. La Salle), Magic Chiongson, Edgar Allan Pe (ADMU alumni), Edgar Allan Pomar (Bacolod City, Negros Occidental), Fernando Pon Jr., and Jonathan Livingston Sy (ADMU alumni). So what does this review of hilarious and embarrassing Filipino names teach us? The would-be parents should have the prudence and common sense to choose a name that will not bring ridicule to their child, a name that they could live up to and not one that they will hate for the rest of their lives. Sensible parenthood also means not punishing kids with kilometric names, otherwise he/she would have just finished writing his/her name and the class is already handing in their test papers. I’m just lucky to have a short name that is not funny or hilarious.