eK! is electronic Kabalen, a web-exclusive Kapampangan journal of ideas

wilfrido david
wilfrido david WHAT'S IN a name? Apparently, a lot! It is a question often asked in every situation imaginable. Your name is your very being. Your character and your looks necessarily attach to it. Nowadays, in this hi-tech age, it could also be stolen from you. Check your bank account number--- your savings might have been depleted already by the other "you."

It is, first and foremost, the question asked by the teacher on your first day in school---"What's your name?", after which all else follows. It is the first thing that sticks in one's mind without having to memorize it. In other words, it is your "label."

If you don't like your name, or your nickname or alias, you only have your parents to blame. Usually, they decide on a Christian name picked up from the Bible, or, more often than not, they have already decided on a name for you long before you were even born. Fathers often abuse the naming right and privilege without thinking of your future.

If the father has no doubt that you are indeed his own and have his features, he decides to give you his own, followed by "Junior," or attaches a "I" or "II," or so on as the case may be, after it. Too bad if he finds out later that his wife had a "secret." Your name cannot be changed as you will it---you have to go to court to do it, or, as with immigrants becoming citizens of their adopted country, you are given the option to change it. I decided not to change my name from "Wilfrido" to something more American like "Wilford" or "Wilfred" because that wouldn't do anything for my looks, and because it entails a lot of potential problems---like having to change everything already under my name to fit my new one, and it will certainly affect my wife's usually peaceful existence.

Anyway, I keep getting mail under Wilford or Wilfred already, even as I am not at all flattered by the fact that businesses that offer their products via mail ads assume that I am American. Gosh, the closest thing I could be American is when eating a hotdog or a hamburger instead of adobo or siopao. (Will my preferring the latter make me part Chinese?!)

There are, however, special circumstances by which you can change your name, and that is if you are running away from the law, or are moving to another state to avoid paying alimony or child-support, or are evading payment of back taxes. Those acts, of course, are illegal and will keep you constantly on your toes, watching your back for the police. You will have no peace of mind---and so perish the the thought.

Unfortunately, you are stuck with your name forever. Your body and soul are tied to it. On the other hand, keeping it is one reason why you will get a Social Security Pension later on in life. You have no choice but to live with it---even if you are called "Dogface," as an alias or reference point, by your friends.

Perhaps most of us are aware that movie stars actually have names that you will never believe they were baptized with. This is one of a few instances where one can get away with assuming new identities. Would you believe that John Wayne had a feminine first name ("Marion")? But then again, Arnold prefers Schwarzenegger purely out of its uniqueness. Now there is a new black actor-star wanting to use "Scwharzenigger" because he thinks it's catchy!

While you can legally change your name---one more to your liking---court fees to do it are probably beyond the ordinary man's pocketbook. So the more imaginative ones just opt to alter their given name by adding a letter or two---like "Jhody" for "Jody," "Phedro" for "Pedro," or changing the nickname altogether, something like "Thibo" for "Tibo," or "Johanna" for "Juanita," etc.

Let's accept it---you can change your face with cosmetic surgery perhaps, but your name is your tag, stuck on you like gum under your shoe. Bear in mind, gentlemen, that only the wife can get away with calling you by her favorite, "HOY!", when she wants something done right away. It doesn't matter and she couldn't care less if you are the CEO in your company. "Hoy" becomes our first name after years of marriage, and you might as well accept it unconditionally.

Foreigners were often baffled why we had "Cardinal Sin" as a church potentate. Who could have thought that Sin was his family name? Now we have a president named Barack Obama, which sounds too much like an alien name---one from the planet Pluto. We also have Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, shortened to GMA, the acronym for a popular TV station. She might yet favor the other station, TFC, anyway.

Why are there whites (Caucasians) whose surnames are "Black," and vice versa. Joseph Estrada's cronies are apt to call him "Erap" rather than by his real name, which, by the way, is Joseph Ejercito. Imagine if GMA's foes baptized her as "Bansot" or "Pandak"? They better not, or the FG will sue.

A rose by any other name is a still a rose. (Apologies to the Bard.) Consider yourself lucky if you have a classy or glamorous name---otherwise, sue your parents or just wish you have never been born.


[About the author. Wilfrido David first retired as Computer-Analyst from the Ayala Group of Companies. He immigrated to the US in 1985, worked there for another 25 years in the Medical Field (Medical Lab Tech), until he retired for the second time. Sometime ago, he was involved with FAANM (Filipino-American Association of New Mexico) as correspondent-contributor-writer-editor, publisher—all rolled into one. He says about that stint, "I ran out of energy, patience, and money but kept on with my duties until the next set of association officers were voted in." The earliest writing he did was for his high school paper in Holy Angel University. His present writing derives from the perspective of a Filipino expat in the US who faithfully keeps up with what's happening in the home country, as gleaned from his Filipino channels on DirecTV, aside from CNN and HLN.]

-Posted: 8:25 AM 10/14/09 | More of this author on eK!
Nextnext