24 October 2007

What's your name?

Ano ang pangalan mo? What's your name?

Growing up as a Filipino-American, this has always been a sticking point for me.

I was blessed to have been named Monina, after my mother's beloved childhood doll.

But in a culture filled with Jenny's, Mollie's, Erin's, and Erica's, my name stood out like dinuguan at a school PTA potluck. I even insisted, at a young age, that family members call me "Nikki" in an attempt to be normal.

As I matured, I recognized what a tremendous gift my parents gave me. My name was unique. It truly represented my one of a kind character. But still, when someone struggles to pronounce my name (honestly, how hard can Mo-nee-nah be?), I can't help but be annoyed.

I recently read how some Filipinos came up with baby names like Luzviminda, Jejomar, and Twit Twit. My cousin's middle name is Amir - a mix of his parents' names: Aminah and Raul, a play on words not uncommon for Filipinos.

So when I found out I was pregnant, finding the perfect name for our baby was a tough mission. Her name would be the foundation - the building blocks - to her future. Dad2Amara and I wanted a name for our daughter that represented both her heritages. We wanted to be inspired by our origins and not by the latest trends. My a-ha moment happened when I stumbled upon the name Amara -- a name having beginnings in German, easy to pronounce, and simply sounded less puti (sorry if that offends anyone). We paired Amara up with my Lola's first name, to honor the matriarch of our family.

Even though Dad2Amara do not have an immediate plans to expand our family, names and their origins always fascinate me. How did you choose your children's names? Was it as easy as A-B-C for you? And what about you? Are you comfortable with your name?

Photo courtesy: mconnors at MorgueFile.


pinaynewyorker said...

My little boy is named SALVADOR ANGELO, SALVADOR being his Dad and grandpa's given name, and ANGELO because he was literally my ANGEL, and his Dad was into ANGEL (as in David Boreanis' vampire).

As for me, I was named after a once famous singer in the 60s named Dinna Gonzalez -- which is now my married name.. talk about destiny!

la dra said...

I have a cousin whose name are a combo of their parents: Myrna and Ray. His name is Ramir. I think another common practice is to name the girls with the same first initial as the mom and the boys the same as the dad or vice versa.

monkeyporkbun said...

Dang dinuguan! That deserves its own posts. I have childhood horror stories about dinuguan. That part of your post really made me laugh!

Names: On Beritt - I did a lot of writing in high school about strong young women and their adventures, misfortunes and antics, and each of them had strong names. Back then I thought I would grow up to be a writer (not too far from the truth)and even had an idea for a series of books for young girls . . .I'm digressing again, anyway - Beritt (though in my stories the original spelling was BERIT)was one of my characters' names. On Eliot - I *let* my husband choose the name of our second child regardless of its sex. Eliot was the only name I could agree upon and only after I decided its spelling. I feel kind of controlling and mean in that way. I guess I like names that don't sound like they can be steamrolled or molded. It's a personal issue I know. It's another way of protecting my girls. I had a hard time as a girl and it's my job to ease the learning curve and I'm not into being apologetic about it. Geez, all this is coming up about a name. I'm sure glad someone asked the question. It's interesting to read this back to myself.

On my name, Gena, I like my name now. Though when I was young I felt A LOT like you did. I wanted to be more normal or girly so I invented names like Jenilee and I even tried that one on. It lost though when I wrote one of those corny assed love notes to a boy signed Jenilee. He asked my friend out loud "Who's Ginelli?" I shrunk into my seat and ducked corners every time I saw him from then on.

My name suits me and I spell it for people so I don't have to go through the pain of hearing them try to spell it back to me. Once I even had someone insist that the spelling of my name was incorrect. Music to a spelling bee winner's ears! Imagine how arrogant one has to be to tell someone that their name is spelled incorrectly. Oh wait, that's just ignorance. I'm logging off now (I'm supposed to be on a technology break!) I dare someone else to ask me a question. I can talk forever or at least all night and on no coffee.

I really like the name Monina and its origins. Thank you for this post!

Karmela said...

Filipino relatives call me not by my full name ("Karmela") but by my nickname ("Kalay"). Don't know where my nickname came from but evidently, I was named after a rich old lady my mother admired. People, both here and in the U.S., don't seem to have a problem with my name, especially here in Washington, D.C. where you're likely to go to school or work with an Ingrid, an Isabella and an Iqbal.

But my last name is what gets people. It's too difficult. The "J" is pronounced the Spanish way. It trips people up. But I didn't mind correcting people about my last name's pronunciation. Even when I got married, when I could have easily changed to the simpler "Johson" which was hubby's last name, I chose not to do it. Like you, I recognized the gift that was my father's last name. It's so unusual that I'm pretty sure I'm related to every single person who possesses it. I want them to be able to find me if they chose. I love my last name so much I even gave it to both my kids as their middle names.

Speaking of baby names, here is how hubby and I decided on our kids' names.

His criteria: it had to sound good yelled over the PA system of the sports arena. As in, "Now. Number 42. Heeeere's Coby Johnson!"

Yep, he wanted to name baby #1 "Coby."

I said, no way. Too trendy. My criteria:

It had to sound good after the title, "Supreme Court Justice."

"Supreme Court Justice Coby Johnson." Blech. Doesn't sound right.

And as you can probably guess, I won.

"Supreme Court Justice Alexander L. Johnson."

"Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth L. Johnson."

And both names sound good over the PA system too. :-) Have a great weekend, cuz!

MarysMom said...

We named our daughter after both her grandmas- her Lola Mer (Mary) in the Philippines and Gramma Esther in Iowa. Hence, the very old-fashioned sounding, "Mary Esther". Mary loves her name and the grandmas are tickled pink about it, my husband and I scored a lot of brownie points...

angie said...

(visiting from kimchimamas)
i had a unique name for texas, but a fairly common one for korea. when i was a child i hated it and ended up with an american name (angie). BUT when i present research, i ALWAYS include my first initial "U.". it's a little sad for me that i've grown more used to my american name than my korean, though . . . only my parents and siblings call me my given name.

my daughter was named by her paternal grandmother (and i gave her the first half of my mom's name as a middle name.)

my son is named after his paternal and maternal grandfather's via my (ex) husband's family tradition of such . . . and we just call him J.C.

both children love their names and their names fit them appropriately. (though i'm going to request their last name be hyphenated with mine.)