WHAT is in a name that even Popes of the powerful Roman Catholic Church in Rome change? Is it an innate yearning, a search, or a human chase for egoistical comfortable calling?

The introduction of Christianity in the country and the 300 years of Spanish domination have to a certain extent erased our Pilipino ethnic names, except in indigenous tribal communities.

History will tell us that edicts were then issued by the Spanish rulers declaring Christian names and tagged on everyone for identification. It is amusing to know that the first letter of names labeled on citizens had to be the same in specific regions, and mandated in alphabetical order in other areas.

Priests and pastors too, then and now, can be blamed for the loss of native names when they impose Christian saints' names on children at baptism. This tradition is still commonly practiced in rural communities.

Eventually, name preferences evolved after western personalities and Hollywood artists such as John, Joel, Jonathan, Howard, Frank, Angela, Thelma, Daisy, etc. And to those who migrated abroad: Jose became "Joe" and Casimiro to "Cashmere" as examples. Constriction of both parents or godparents' names also became popular such as Marlu out of her father's name Marcelo and Lucia her mother, or of godparents.

Calling out names must be unexciting that nicknames have to be concocted. Francisco is "Kiko" in Tagalog and "Tikko" among Ilocanos. Marcela could be Ellah while Cristina as Cris or Tinah, and so on.

On Facebook, we noticed text messages addressing His Holiness Pope Francis simply as "Pope Tikko" as their manner of endearment to the Holy Father. He was originally Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina. He chose Francis when he was elected Pope after St. Francis of Assisi of the 12 and 13 Century who "loved the poor and preached to the birds."

The customary tradition among Latin Americans, the Spanish speaking population in South America, sweeps away other nationalities for having four or five names. By chance, this custom is preferred so the person has a wider choice of a nickname in later years.

The current Mexican president is Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. Possibly he can choose Andy, Manny, or Lope as a nickname.

In our clan coming out from seven brothers and sisters, most of our descendants are tagged with the native names of ancestors either from the Ibaloi side of the family in Benguet or the Tuwali side of Ifugao.

Surely other clans have adopted this norm to remember their ancestors. Presently, members of the International Ifugao Cultural Foundation (IICH) are listing native names. In so doing, they are also writing their respective family genealogy least it may be forgotten by succeeding generations.

The listing or compilation will be archived later for easy reference among members when choosing appropriate names for their children.


As I am writing this piece, a Facebook friend forwarded an article on social titles written by a certain Ann Murry. She wrote:

"Why is it that Filipinos are so fond of social titles? Just because they worked hard for the title and think not everyone can do what they do?

"It really amuses me to see the name of a person with prefixes and suffixes on the name: Dr. Juan de la Cruz, EdD; or Engr. Juan de la Cruz, MME. When you have a prefix, a suffix may not be placed and when you have a suffix, a prefix may not also be placed.

"As a general rule, we only write our terminal degrees. If that's not a terminal degree, then do not place it. Unfortunately, a great number of people who possess certain terminal degrees believe wholeheartedly that they belong to a higher class-a class of people who hold greater professional, personal, and overall human value than others.

"This is high and might form of arrogance and superiority. Regrettably, it has been going for millennia."

Outside the country, I observed not all professionals place a prefix like Atty., Dr., Engr., etc. nor suffix to their names. One can only identify them in their business cards that indicate their calling or field of expertise.

This calls to mind the story of a Brazilian friend who says there are more lawyers than any other professions in his country. He exaggerated that almost 80 percent of these lawyers earn their living as taxi drivers! The ID cards displayed in the visors of their taxi cabs do not indicate their profession as lawyers.

So, how about Atty. Juana de la Cruz, SBSS (Sobrang Believe Sa Saliri)? Or Engr. Juan Dimaculangan, KSP (Kulang Sa Pansin)?