what’s in a name?

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if you’ve had an e-mail address in the last two decades, you would have come across this article about filipinos having names/nicknames that sound like a bell tolling (e.g. ding-dong, bong, bing, etc), or have a random “h” thrown in (behn is a good example). others got the very general “boy” or “baby” (i have 2 aunts called baby and 1 uncle and 1 cousin called boy). however, if you were born anywhere near my late grandmother, you would have been “gifted” with a more unusual nickname.

i decided to blog about this after being reminded by a high school classmate of one of my nicknames and also after coming across an old picture of a lovely young girl, a cousin or niece a number of times (can’t recall) removed. instead of the caption in the back identifying her as irene, her given name, she was called “japok.” why? as a child, she laughed whenever you clapped your hands in front of her. the “pok” sound just sent her into fits of giggling. my grandmother started calling her that and it stuck. i think the kid is a teenager now and apparently still answers to that, poor girl.

then there’s tatu, the son of my grandmother’s best friend; his real name is angelito. there’s saraminang, whom i think you actually know as grace. there’s koyang poktu, whose real name also is angelito. then there’s my cousin noel, whom we called kutil growing up because, well, he had a wart when we were kids. one time in high school (we were batchmates), i yelled across the quadrangle for him. i didn’t shout kutil, just “kut.” but it was enough to have him scampering and hissing at me, he he he.

any weird nicknames among your friends and family?

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8 Comments Add yours

  1. claire espina says:

    Kats the Brit who penned that article is Matthew Sutherland, married to one of my best friends Kitty Go. Kitty's fam was gently skewered in that article with her wonderful permission and I suspect participation. In 2002, we three attended Vanessa (Kitty's younger sister's wedding in NYC) and of course, she is the Van Go – featured in that hilarious article… Dong, Ding-Dong, Vic-Vic,

    I am Calembang – from my Lola who said I was such a talker when I was a kid she was reminded of the clanging church bells whenever I was about. I know of a girl who was “Bandang” and it was cute until she went to school…

    I still love my nickname which has been transmuted to Clembang or caleng or cleng. Still denotes the noisy bells – and I think I live up to its meaning ne?

    On the other hand, Kats was, is and will always be cool.

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  2. Guagua Girl says:

    LOL! it's funny how nicknames come about, right atche? i love cleng. must be that bell sound again, 😉 that article was truly hilarious — and, as the brits say, mostly bang on!

    i gotta admit, one of my nicknames is “pusa” and you can guess where it came from 😀 folks from high school use that still 😛 i had that yelled at me from across the street the last time i was back in the philippines. it was so funny. the weird thing is my mom apparently had the same nickname in high school, though her given name is nowhere mine *scratching head

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  3. Betis Boy says:

    kats, no need to scratch your head, just look at your eyes… and who shares that sharp stare 😛

    yup. i have two aunt baby's and two tito boy's too. i think the generation before us were given nicknames by their elders based on traits — like aching calembang — so we also have an aunt called daldal, my dad is called tisyu (i still don't understand what that stands for), my bro was called donyung by my titos, and of course he repetitive names like meng-meng, and banban. also, you have those parents who combine their names to create ones for their kids. i have an aunt whose name starts with “a” and her husband starts with “g” so all their kids have double names that start with those letters. and lastly, those whose names were literally taken from the patron saint in whose feastday you were born (like mine). and yeah, my lolo was called kutil too, because he had a prominent one near his ear.

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  4. Guagua Girl says:

    your brother is called donyung?!?! what's the origin? i remember you telling me how your nickname confused your mom's friend into thinking she has 3 girls 😛

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  5. Betis Boy says:

    yup. and you do know how my brother's name is spelled right? the donyung i really don't know the meaning of 🙂

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  6. claire espina says:

    Okay, you'd think people who came here might be a bit hip na ne? My brother dated a girl named: Ercon. We all took a double take cause we thought it was Aircon (short for airconditioning) – pronounced by my brother who is 'Mercanized…

    The kid's name came from Ernesto and Concepcion…

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  7. Guagua Girl says:

    HA HA HA, at least it wasn't Conesto 😛 seriously, atche, i don't understand how these parents can't think it's anything but cruel and unusual punishment to saddle their kids with these half-and-half names … i'm waiting to be introduced to a filipino brangelina 😉

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  8. Betis Boy says:

    but believe it or not, those aren't the worst names around. where's that article kasi about the worst names that parents named their kids… i think one got away with “hell” boy and a name for a baby girl that sounded really slutty.

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