What’s in a name?

Are you old enough to remember the Name Game song? It goes something like this:

“C’mon everybody, let’s play a game

I bet you I can make a rhyme out of anybody’s name…”


I’ve been thinking about names lately. A mental note is stuck on my head, reminding me to write a post about names. Let’s start with my name:

Beng is too short to be a real name so I guess those of you who don’t actually know me can surmise that it’s only a nickname. The only time I actually see my full name is when it’s printed on official documents, or embossed in credit cards, or when it appears on other cards such as my company ID, SSS, health card and so on. I have the same name as my mother. There were times, especially when she was still based here in the Philippines, when mails would arrive and I wouldn’t immediately open envelopes with my name on them. Because I wasn’t sure those letters were for me!

The story is I have a twin brother, a junior, with the same name as my father. My hypothesis goes: Pre-ultrasound days, my parents didn’t expect there’ll be two of us and when a boy suddenly appeared, the instinct was to name the boy after my father. When pressed for a name for the other twin, why not name her after the mother so they’ll be a pair? That might have seemed cute back them, or they just panicked. But for the record, there’s no actual “Jr.” in my birth certificate. Just my archaic-sounding name, with apologies to my mother who didn’t choose her name either.

Though my name might not officially make it to the “unusual names” list, I have met people whose names qualify. I know a dentist (and for a time a bit too well), who was born during the feast of the three kings. Everybody calls him “Mel” but his real name is “Balgamel”—a mix of the three kings’ names Baltazar, Gaspar and Melchor. Then just recently I learned that Jigs, the husband-to-be of a friend, is “Jigsaw” in real life. Our pastor named his second son “Genrev,” his way of making his son’s name “biblical” for the boy’s name is a compound of the first and last books of the Bible Genesis and Revelation. My former churchmate Brian and his wife Dana named their twin sons Blue and Red (They held off naming their sons who were born prematurely until they decided to stick with the supposedly temporary color names).

There are authors whose interesting names alone can sell books. There’s Stan Toler (I wonder if he’s a six-footer), and Dutch Sheets (Does he have a sister named Floral?) I don’t have any more time to tell you the names of people in seemingly wrong professions like our very own Cardinal Sin, and of Pastor Dollar (in the US). But to end this post, let me share the name of this internist who wins the Most Unusual Name in my book, bar none. The nurse told me his father is a mathematician, and he has another brother with a similarly formed name. For a second I was tempted to make an appointment, just to ask him how he copes with the endless questions he is surely getting from people like me whose interest is piqued:

I’m calling on Mathematicians out there who can tell me the significance of Dr Javier’s name. I tried googling it, to no avail. And I am opening the floor for you to share any unusual names you have come across with. More points go to those of you who actually know these people! So, have you got any names? Or does your name qualify? 🙂

PS: On the tricycle, on my way to work this am, I saw the name of the Tricycle Regulatory Office OIC: Restituto A. Pagsisihan. Talk about having “synonyms” for a name!

PS: And I remember another friend with the name “Great Bayani Mabuti” with siblings Genuine and Mahal. If you think his name is too “good” to be true, you better believe it!

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Comments
48 Responses to “What’s in a name?”
  1. bernadette says:

    There is a Chinese man here who has the name of Pue. Everyone calls him as sounding Pweh but then they just say it as it is. My husband calls him Puy for reasons he cannot really pronounce it well. Then I buy our gata from a man named Utoy…I just call him Mang Tuy. Do you know that in Germany they have a Name’s Day? And they really greet the celebrant on that day like it was his birthday. My father-in-law has four names…so I asked my husband, how many times a year does he have his birthday? That floored my husband, of course.

  2. Abaniko says:

    Wonder what Dr. Javier’s nickname is. TH kaya? Ang sagwa pakinggan, no? 🙂

  3. mommy g. says:

    So how do we pronounce the doctor’s name? 🙂

  4. mommy g. says:

    Of course we know the story of our friend Love Good and her brothers. Do you know that her admirable eldest brother was almost refused travel document by DFA because the department thought his name was not for real?

  5. mommy g. says:

    isang hirit pa. i remember that brannigan song—may sayaw pa! hehe. 🙂 tony, tony….. pony!

  6. jen says:

    oo nga… pano pronounce ang name nya? sabihin ba dapat each letter and number with exclamation? hehehe… i often wish that meron akong 2 first names … wala lang : -) para masaya

  7. bengalba says:

    Hi Ate Bernadette, interesting Chinese names you mentioned there. 🙂 What does Pue say when he’s disgusted? Me? hehe. Really, a Name’s day in Germany? As in there’s a name commemorated for every day of the year? I can’t imagine!

    Hi Abaniko, yup, u got that right–TH! well, at least that’s what the nurse told me. Maybe his brother’s name is KSP? haha. (joke lang po)

    Hi Mommy G, I made a PS and then realized you were referring to the Bayani siblings! hehe. Yeah, I heard about Great having problems because the people wouldn’t believe it his real name! Si Laura Brannigan nga ba ang kumanta? That’s what I faintly remember too!

    Hi Jen, you know what got me giggling? What if you were the doc’s girlfriend and when you are about to say your marriage vows, “I, Beng, take you TH36Z’Z19, to be my…” Parang tipong sa wedding day mo, magmememorize ka pa ng formula! haha. Babagsak yata ako.
    BTW, your name’s okay. No need for a second name.:) You even have a song to your name.

  8. Lazarus says:

    my bro-in-laws kids have vaguely-spelled names. (e.g. Christhopper). I wonder if these are intentional or they just don’t know the normal spelling.

  9. snglguy says:

    Okay here’s one for the books. Back in first year high school I had a classmate named Evenflo. Yes, his parents named him after the “EVENFLO” brand of baby bottles (is that what they call it?). The nickname we used to call him was “tsupon”… 😀

  10. Gypsy says:

    So, Miz Beng, when are we going to be such good friends that you will actually confide to me your “real” name???

  11. karina says:

    What a name!?

    My sociology professor shared this name of a woman to us ‘Virginia Bagong-gahasa’…

    am not sure if it was true. Ang sagwa naman…

    I know a lawyer who named her kids : Bayani, Buhay and Batas!

    And I know somebody named Maharlika Filipina.

    If you here in Mindanao, you will encounter plenty of these names.

    =)

  12. carlotta says:

    fave na fave ko mga weird sounding names!
    in fact, yung ym id ko initials ng mga fave kong mababantot na pangalan hehehe 😀

    grade 2 teacher dati ng tita ko restituta toquero. me isa pa kong restitutang kilala pero nakalimutan ko apelyido.

    me schoolmate din ako F ang pangalan nya. (di nga lang weird sounding)

  13. bengalba says:

    Hi Lazarus, that variation of Christopher is really unusual!:) it could be a compound word because the first and second parts are valid words. Malamang sadya. 🙂

    Snglguy, for now your contribution wins, for uniqueness. Evenflo, and a guy at that! Oh I pity him. Especially because kids can be cruel, he must have suffered a lot back then! Seriously, what’s his nickname? Even? Or Flo?

    Gypsy, I’m sure I mentioned my real name to you before, maybe you just forgot it! hehe. Pero sige, I will tell you again soon–hintay ka lang how I’ll tell you.

    Hi Karina, A big part of me is wishing that the Bagong gahasa name is fiction! Or else, kawawa din talaga ang babaeng ito. If she’s for real, I hope she’s married now!

    Hi Carlotta (the one who inspired me to consider touring binondo_, Restituta! Pagsisisihan mo talaga ang ganyang pangalan. And I thought Restituto was “bad” enough, may female equivalent pala iyon! As for F, is your schoolmate the sixth child in the family? With the eldest child being A? Just wondering!

    Thanks all for the contribution. Still waiting for some more “names for the book”–who knows what other name will surprise me!

  14. Swipe says:

    The doctor’s dad just might have been a fan of R2D2 and C3P0. 😀

    I once heard a ‘Dina Lalaque’ called on a TV show as a raffle winner. Upon the presentation of the prize, the host asked the lady if she was really a woman. (for non-pinoys, ‘di na lalake’ translates to ‘no longer a man.’

    I had a classmate named Warrior. He was definitely born before the Ultimate Warrior of professional wrestling came to prominence.

    I also had a classmate named Winter. I’m not aware if he had a sister named Summer, though.

    Another classmate was named Sir Christian. His parents must’ve overdosed on Camelot.

    And who trumps Sir Christian? Lord Hermie, our other classmate definitely does. If that’s not enough we also had a Baron in our class. Fortunately the nobility ended with them and us common folk were left to our devices.

  15. Swipe says:

    Almost forgot the Racela brothers of basketball. Olsen was born on All Saints’ Day. Nash was born on National Heroes’ day.

    Filamé, a classmate from UP, not related to the Racelas was born on Fil-American Friendship Day.

  16. carlotta says:

    if i remember correctly yeah, the eldest is called A. 😀

  17. bernadette says:

    Another one ito…I now recall getting to know a person (tricycle driver siya) here in our province with the name Perfecto Biglang-Awa. I was just thinking if there was one with a surname Perfecto, a nice name would be Nowanis Perfecto 🙂 (kurneh).

  18. snglguy says:

    Hehe, seriously I don’t know what’s his real nickname was, or if there is actually one, but he did take to the nickname “Tsupon” like duck to water… 😀

  19. Beng says:

    Hi Swipe, you know, I think that’s what I said to the nurse. haha.

    Now, as for Dina Lalaque, that is one funny name, wrought with meaning! I wonder if her parents realized the trouble they’ll subject their daughter into when they decided on that name. “Dina” could be attached to any last name with meaning.

    Warrior sounds like a tough name. You don’t mess with somebody with that name, unless your name is Max or Bruno. (PS: May Ultimate Warrior pala na wrestler).

    Winter is a nice name. I like the sound of it.Too bad we don’t have winters in the Philippines (or should that be “buti na lang”? 🙂 )

    Racela brothers pala yung sikat na magkakapatid with witty names. I heard about their names way before pa. If I’m not mistaken, Olsen and Nash have another brother with the name of “Wally.” As in Wally, for Walang Okasyon. haha. Ewan ko lang kung tutuo ito.

    Sir Christian? O di ba, dignified agad ang dating. He doesn’t need to become a professor to be respected, with that kind of name. As for Lord Hermie, that sure is awkward. If I had a friend named Lord, I would be on my toes whenever I’d have to address him. Like I wouldn’t be able to complain, “Hay naku, late na naman si Lord!” Parang anytime, tatamaan ako ng kidlat.

  20. Beng says:

    Hi Carlotta, haha, so tama ang guess ko na “A” ang panganay na kapatid ni F!
    At Filame, buti na lang ang meron lang ay Fil-Am friendship day. Or else, she’ll have siblings with names like FilJap, FilChi, or FilAus and its infinite variations.

  21. Beng says:

    Hi Ate Bernadette, Hmm, “Perfectly merciful” naman ang name ng tricycle driver na ito. At wala pa nga yatang “Nowanis Perfecto” kasi nga ang root word, “No One.” 🙂 This name-recalling is getting to be more interesting than I thought!

  22. Beng says:

    Hi Singlguy, I hope “tsupon’s” ok and has gotten himself a new name. 🙂

  23. Em Dy says:

    In college, I had a classmate called Pagibig. While riding in the Ikot jeep, I saw her walking around and shouted her name. The other people in the jeep must have thought me crazy for shouting Pag-ibig.

  24. Anna says:

    I know someone named Rofebar: Ro for his dad, Ronando; Fe for his uncle Fernando; and Bar for the bar exams. Rofebar, I gather, was born in 1968, the year Ronando and Fernando passed the Bar.

  25. Swipe says:

    Beng, unfortunately, Lord Hermie was a big pain in the you know what. Teachers would often remark that he should always be the best behaved student in order to do justice to his name.

  26. Beng says:

    Hi Em Dy, you know what is the perfect profession for you? Doctor! 🙂 Thanks for dropping by. “Pag-ibig”? Oo nga, that must’ve looked weird. lalo na, imagine kung guy ang gumawa ng ginawa mo! Parang public (utility vehicle) declaration of affection! 🙂

    Hi Anna, that’s unusual–the suffix bar at the end of a name. Weird. Pano kung nagduktor? Rofeboard? ;)hmm, that got me thinking.

    Hi Swipe, hala, di pala good boy si “Lord.” But then again,it must really he hard to live up to a name such as that. 🙂 Uy, kita ko blog mo. I also have a “crush” on ipod touch.

  27. verns says:

    Hi Beng! tawa ako ng tawa sa entry na to hehehe

    Anyway I know a family from my hometown na lahat ng pangalan ng mga anak ay alcoholic drinks kasi mahilig uminom yung tatay hehehe pero in fairness Mayor naman yun ngayon…crazy hahaha

  28. Rae says:

    Beng,
    Punta ako ng punta sa msbeng blogspot mo, hindo mo na pala inuupdate yun kaya pala noon May pa ang last post mo. Anyway, may sulat ako sa yo doon. Just read it. Punta ka ulit dito sa pasko para masaya.

  29. Beng says:

    HI Rae, wish I could there nga. 🙂 Wish lang. Di bale, next time. Kakagaling ko lang diyan this year eh. Thanks for dropping by, Rae. Tagal na nating di nag-uusap ah.

  30. freeze says:

    ooh, i so remember the song. I sing it to my two year old niece and she giggles with the name game.

  31. bengalba says:

    HI Freeze, thanks for visiting. It really is a fun song to sing. 🙂 Now I’m wishing they’d play in on the radio again.

  32. Eiya says:

    Dr. Javier has a brother, a lawyer named Z19, a close friend of mine. I hope my friend forgives me for revealing that here 😉

  33. Beng says:

    Hi Eiya! I’m embarrassed that somebody who knows the doc saw this post! Oh well, the internet really has made the world smaller, huh? That’s an interesting tidbit you shared–a brother for the doc with an unusual name! It must been hard for them growing up, having to convince people that yes, that’s a name.
    Thanks for dropping by. 😉 Say Hi to Doc and Atty for me. 🙂 Pakisabi na rin sorry na nabanggit sila dito.

  34. madie says:

    Oh my, just happened to browse his name…I know him long time ago, a special friend????I could say…I used to call him Jessie as what he want me to call him or ZZ. But he’s fun to be with…kare-kare lover.

  35. Beng says:

    If you ever get the chance to see him again, please say that a blogger found his unusual name so interesting that she wrote about it. 🙂 Thanks for dropping by and making a comment, Madie. 🙂

  36. madie says:

    yeah, unusual name…at first, when I saw his name on his medical books, can’t believed it either, i thought he’s just making it up…maybe plate number, you see, how can you forget someone with that unusual name … and it just so happened that he’s my ex. Oh, I just hope I can get a chance to see him again and joke about this.

  37. Marvin Salaveria says:

    he’s my cousin. and his nickname is jessie =)

  38. Beng says:

    Hi Marvin. So the guy with an unusual name has a normal-sounding nickname! 🙂 Please send my apologies for featuring him in my blog without permission. But as you have read, I didn’t say anything damaging! I just think he’s worth mentioning. 😛

  39. Gidgeon says:

    My real name is Gidgeon. I don’t know why the extra “G” in the middle.

    The Racela’s are a close friend of ours. One replied about the brothers (Olsen born on All Saint’s Day and Nash on National Heroes’ Day) but forgot to mention the youngest of the three named Wally, as in ‘walang okasyon’

    • Beng says:

      HI Gidgeon, I wonder how you found this blog. Hey, thanks for the comment. Yes, I heard about “Wally” Racela already, from a friend from DLSU who was his schoolmate. 🙂 Yes, the extra “g” in your name is kinda interesting.

  40. Jerome Villanueva says:

    While googling I came across to your site because of the name “Great Bayani Mabuti” yes indeed there is such a name. He is my classmate in Elementary at Fort Bonifacio and he is our class Valedictorian or Salutatorian.

    Just an FYI

  41. anne garcia javier says:

    the doctor and the atty. you are talking about are really good people. they are successful and down to earth, too. they are cool and superb.promise. there names are unusual but they are extraordinary guys….

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