Saturday, February 3, 2007

What's in a Name

Hey there -- friend, blog buddy, or stranger!

Can you tell me your name? Do you like it? Do you feel it's YOU? Why or why not? If it's not you, then what is YOU?

My name is Myrna. No, it's not quite me. What is very, very me is Anna.


Well, when I was growing up, classrooms always had one too many myrna's in them and one has to distinguish one from the other. As in myrna matangkad (tall) and myrna maliit (shortie) --which is me. As in myrna maputi (fair-skinned) and myrna maitim (dark-skinned) -- guess which is me?

(By the way, there are no more Myrna's being born today. Heck, my daughters don't have a single Myrna-friend. When I ask why, they say .. duh, that's a mommy name. In the same way that the bags I use are mommy bags, the shoes I wear, mommy shoes, my hairdo, mommy do ... ho hum.)

I didn't -- still don't -- like pronouncing my own name. Myrna has this R right smack in the middle. You see, I have this problem with R's.: I can't roll them. The reason I am in horror of introducing myself. The reason I invented my own special tongue twister -- Reliable Lory returned the ruler to the library -- in the hope of straightening my own aberrant speech. Hey, you got to agree it's more challenging than "She sells seashells on the seashore!"

Then I read this book "Mr. God, this is Anna" by Flynn. The story of a girl who instinctively knew God and his bigness and his can't-be-missed-ness. I identified with Anna. And so I was, am Anna, whenever I can choose to be -- even before I noticed it didn't have an R in it.

As a mom, I am careful about giving my children names they wouldn't forgive me for. Like Luddendorffo (the name of the UP registrar), Jesusjosemaria (the mayor of Makati), Majaradithaperpetua (which I only invented).

I am also careful about giving a child a name that would be forever a burden to him. Can you imagine if were responsible for an Aristotle who graduates to be class goat? A Lovely who is a wallflower? An Alexander who's not so great because he scares easy?

I am also careful to give a child a name that is -- you know -- simply "her."

Jennifer -- isn't that a lovely name?! Oh, how I ached to name a daughter Jennifer. But I had five boys in succession ... so you can imagine how that name itched and tingled.

Well, my sixth baby was a girl. But If you think I finally had my Jennifer, think again. When we first eyeballed, mom and baby -- I knew without doubt: "Uh-oh, you're very pretty, but you're not Jennifer."

My husband named her Aleta -- after, say's he, a Greek goddess. I think he meant Alathea. But that doesn't matter, because she IS Aleta.

When she was growing up, she hated her name, too, but admitted she would have hated Jennifer more. Because Aleta had a Ma. before it, she was teased as maleta (suitcase) though she conceded she could have done worse.

Today, all grown up, almost a doctor, tall and brown and (to me) beautiful, she is perfectly content being Aleta. Unique and strong sounding , and "very me" -- she says.


"His name was Hugh. Kate had never met a Hugh before. How did one name a baby, defenseless, small and new, Hugh?"

This excerpt from Alice Walker (Now is the Time to Open Your Heart) I used for my 1-2-3 meme which I did quickly but curiously. I wondered aloud what was the point to posting sentences No. 6-8 on page 123 of the book nearest me -- and then tagging other bloggers to do the same, and that was it?!

Prab's mom is right ... everything happens for a reason. Even memes.


jonell said...

What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet...
how can i forget that famous line i know by heart. i was then the romeo in our class play. i was also the director then.. and i was also the one who wrote the script.
i love shakespeare.

so, what's in a name?
my name is jonell--the most absurd name for me. i despise my name so much more than names like Procorpia Bagonggahasa.

and so, i am starting to coerce the people around me to call me "gus". i love the name "gus" so much. if only i can change my name i would pick "gus" more than any other name.

i abhor my name because it is always mispronounced and misspelled. i hate it. but then again i can't do anything about this stupid name (sorry for being sarcastic!).

like you, i have a difficulty in pronouncing a letter--S. i pronounce it quite "eshs" but not "eshh". you can understand my "s" but it is not that vivid as "s".. you see what i'm saying?

oh, well. as human relations say it, the greatest thing you can hear is your name itself (something like that!).

What's in a name? i don't even know the etymology of my name. J O N E L L. what a name!!


Prab said...

For some reason, I love this entry. Not only for the way it was written, but for something else too. I can't quite put my finger on why, though. Maybe it's because it made me stop a moment to think if I like my name or not. And yeah, I guess I do.

My complete name in Sanskrit means the "bliss of that which colors the dawn," or something like that. My grade two teacher just shortened it to it's current version after she couldn't pronounce it properly (Hi, Mrs. Lazatin, wherever you are). I'm perhaps the only person in the world with this name. I think this is why as a kid I wasn't sure I liked it a lot. But like your daughter being called "maleta," I guess I grew into my name.

On a lighter note, you got that right about Mr. Ludendorffo Decenteceo. Even his last name is a bit unusual. lol

At special mention pa 'ko. Thanks, ha. :D

pining said...

Hi Anna, my name starts with E, ends in N, six letters.. I use to hate my name, but as the years go by I realized that my name is unique, especially since not a lot of people here has a name like mine. It's me alright, Pining is my alter ego, like Clark Kent to Superman!
My boys' name are unique, too. Clue-- both are popular tv American sitcoms. My first born likes his name alright; he doesn't want to be called by his nickname.
BTW, I've got a friend called Myrna, too. And she's a lovely person. Like you :-)

kate said...

i have a secret first name, which is angeli, a name i rarely use; it was from my mother, because her name was angelita. my sister is angela, my brother, angelo. o di ba, di mo maitatangging magkakapatid :)

natawa ako sa posibilidad ng pangalan na jennifer! :) di ata bagay sa bunso. parang... mabait pakinggan. haha.

sifting through theses in mass comm, i once came across a curious name: Ma. Jurisprudence. i'd never forgotten her since (obviously). am still wondering if she had a sister named Ma. Democracy or something.

annamanila said...

Jonell! So you're really Gus .. if you had your way ... so that explains Gusot. :) Well, from where I sit Jonell sounds fine and unique though I am sure you're often asked how it's spelled. Lemme see, isn't your dad's name Jose and your mother Nelia? Sometimes names have to do with generations, you know. Aaah .. but you're young and cam still wait to 'grow into' your name, as Pining here says.

Prab! I think I know what your name is. It's a seven-letter name, isn't it? I don't know Sanskrit but I know Mr. Google. Haha But I won't divulge it here -- baka may magtanggal sa akin sa blogroll nya. :) I like your name and -- I dunno --something essential was lost when it was contracted. But I know how a name like that can put us into unwanted pressure.

annamanila said...

Pining! I also tried to decipher your name, like Prab's. And I think I got it .. a variant of the oldest and most feminine of names ... isn't it. Ay naku, I hope I didn't give it away. Pero it is beautiful and just trips on one's tongue. (Wala ding R - haha) There was once this lovely Pinay actress with that name, surnamed Villar. Ask your mom ... its possible you were named after her. Can it be we just tend to be too harsh, too critical of our own names when we were young and knew no better?!

Kate! Wow ... so Katherine (or Kathleen?) Angeli? Dreamy! But I was thinking how you were as a three or four year old trying to write your kilometric name for the first time. (Eh si Bonch eh kay dalidali -- haha). Eh sige na nga, aaminin ko na, Catalina ang second name ko. :)

kathy said...

Oh, I'm likewise fascinated with names. I actually wrote a post with exactly the same title. :)

Thanks for visiting my blog. I've added you to my blogroll! Hope it's ok. :)

Prab said...

It did, didn't it? But I don't mind, kasi the shortened version is more me, I think. Grabe, I got googled! lawl!

And to answer your question, yes, and no. You only got half of it right, may kadugtong pa yun. :D

nao said...


my name is naomi. better known as nao (that sounds like "now") my pinoy friends & colleagues here in Toronto called me naomi (combination of "now" and "me") while my white colleauges and white friends called me naomi (pronunciation ne-yo-mi)

hate ko ang neyomi na tawag sakin. parang hindi ako. ewan ko sino nakaimbento nyan.

Anyway, nice meeting you Myrna. Thanks for peeping through my blog, appreciate. Take care


annamanila said...

Kathy! Loved your blog on 'names' .. its really a fascinating subject, isn't it. KKK hahaha ... kkloka .. you must be a crazy bunch of kikays. Yup, some parents may have to attend baby-naming seminars ha ... o that should be a module sa expectatnt parent seminars. Ay naku, nung time ko, wala pa nyan ... so just played it by ear and listened to my elders, sifting in and sifting out.

And see my blogroll .. dyaran .. kathy is already there. Thanks for adding me in yours. This is really lotsa fun.

Prab! So I have to google Prab____________ again. Well, I don't really mind -- it makes me feel like Sherlock Holmes trying to unearth whodunit from a handful of clues. Btw, did u get hold of Alice Walker?

annamanila said...

Naomi! A biblical name. Exquisite, like Ruth and Rachel. Am just reminded of a Rachel I knew in my youth .. we called her Rakel (as tho she were Racquel). Soon, she got to know it should have been pronounced Ray-chel but had a hard time coercing her friends to break out of the familiar, to the point she no longer wanted to talk to us. On hindsight, we should have tried harder, no?

Anyways, can't tell you how delighted i am that you walked into my parlor. Someday ... siguro by 2020 (kung buhay pa ako) -- I will also have a dreamhouse like yours .. with dreamy music to boot. "Usapang names" ... wish i thought of that title. Maybe I could still add it, parenthesized? Ur permission please.

noemi said...

My sister is named Myrna. We're so close but its too bad that she is in the states now. Anyway, I don't like my married name. So masculine. can you imagine if I had a daughter named Candy and if shortened would be Can Dado. I chose really nice names for the two girls. They love their names. Thanks goodness.

Prab said...

I have to look through the boxes pa, sadly, and I don't have time yet 'coz I still hafta work. I will ASAP. :)

annamanila said...

Noems! As if I didn't know your maiden name ... so castillian! :) (TL talaga kay Butch ha!) Don't we sometimes miss the names of our fathers! Kaya ako, whenever i get published, I use my hyphenated name --a concession to my dad who was a frustrated writer. So your sis is my tokayo .. i wonder whether she likes her name. :)

Prab! Sige lang -- no hurry. Btw, still haven't gotten in touch with Fr. Jboy -- but u will hear from me by midweek.

zeroimpact said...

I agree and everything happens for a reason
A name may carry so much, but then again it may not
It's how we see things at each stage of life

dimaks said...

Suddenly, I recalled my trigonometry teacher back in college few years ago. Her name was Myrna and she was so good that she seemed just playing with our daily mathematical problem solving. The same name of teacher and attitude I had when I was in 3rd year high school. Now, I wonder if you are by chance, also good in math?

On the names, nowadays, parents seemed to have enjoyed giving long and complicated (sometimes plain invented ones) names, that made their kids cry in their primary school days.

That meme about the book could have been better if the tagge were asked to related what's written on page 123 to one's life :)

Have nice weekday coming!

houseband00 said...

Hi Anna,

Welcome to the blogging world. Where names aren't really important. =)

Thanks for the leaving a comment.

I hope you have a great week ahead.


Brian said...

I once asked my mother why she gave me that name. She told me that she wanted me to have a name that didn't have nicknames, so that I would always be called by my given name.

There are many websites that give meanings behind names, and I just looked at this one: Behind the Name. It says:

The meaning of this name is not known for certain but it is possibly related to the Old Celtic element bre meaning "hill", or by extension "high, noble". Brian Boru was an Irish king who thwarted Viking attempts to conquer Ireland in the 11th century. He was victorious in the Battle of Clontarf, but he himself was slain.

vernaloo said...

hehe great post Anna este Myrna..ang galing mong sumulat.

Pangalan kamo? Ako Verna Sheila...there's this guy who calls me Sheila..maybe he thinks its cute coz he's the only one calling me that but it kinda pisses me off. Why? I have no idea hehe I guess I'm so used with Verna or Verns. Sheila is nice but I feel like it never exists.

sexy mom said...

you have a way with writing, Anna dear, such that one reads to the very end, savors each paragraph, wanting for more.

i have a long name, which i rarely use, not because i do not like it. i just do not use it. i use it only for formal use, when i am required to write my name in full. there is even a song entitled "B...dine" by Pat Boone. That gives away my age. the shorter name is more convenient, gives more prestige, others call me "Dean" or "Doctor", di ba? mas may dating?

annamanila said...

Zero impact! Wow, heavy name, but then the zero neutralizes it ... so... Anyway, thanks for the comment. I think i know what you mean -- it can be a matter of perspective, of attitude -- as in all things in life.

Dimaks! About the only thing i know about trigonometry is it must be three times difficult than geometry which i never took because i had a choice not to (we had this 2-2 plan in HS which i never understood except the part that allows me not to take up any more math subjects), given my experience with algebra. My teacher, Ms. Tanco, bless her, for all her awards as outstanding Math teacher shed tears of frustration over the girl (that i once was) who couldn't find the X in the simplest of equations. Dimaks, you got me started on math -- so sorry.

annamanila said...

Houseband00! Isn't it? To me it is. Your blog name for example .. it is so loaded with images. Eh, don't start me up on what images .. i may not be able to work. Haha. Anyway thanks .. have a great work week too!

Verns! I would have preferred Verna too.

And coming from the raconteur :) --what u said was high praise!

Dine! Oooh I know that song and the movie. Pat Boone used to be my favorite until i read that he didnt want to kiss his leading ladies onscreen (against his religion daw) and until Elvis Presley (shaking hips, lopsided smile and all) happened! Oooh.

Am following your poems from Tweetums' workshop. Galing ah .. at galing ng teacher mo!

rhodora said...

Hahaha! Oh my God! I'm actually rolling on the floor laughing with this post. You are a great writer, Anna!

In high school,we had two classmates nicknamed Joy. So we called them Joybus and Joypat, the tail end being the first syllables of their surnames.

Ako naman, I love my name kasi it was taken from R.W. Emerson's poem The Rhodora. It's my nickname that I don't like - Dora, as in Dora rat killer! And in college, in the dorm where I stayed, they called me Doray! I couldn't correct them, so I just gave it a touch of sophistication and spelled Doray as Dorai, o, di ba? Now, however, that I am older (more matured, excuse me), and know better - I adopted the nickname Rhoda. So there - just call me Rhoda. :D

P.S. I'm doing the 123 meme now... hehe. And oh, by the way - WHAT'S PRAB'S COMPLETE NAME? SIGE NA, PLEASE WHISPER IT TO ME.

Prab said...

Aba, not fair, you're ganging up on me. Nuuuuu!

*covers ears*

rhodora said...

Ayan, Anna - meme done!

Prab, I don't think I can sleep tonight without knowing your complete name. Sige ka, baka umatake ang high blood ko pag napuyat ako. Mmmmm... let me see - Prabably? Prablicious? Prabthyseus...? Ay, Rumplestiltskin na lang Hahaha!

annamanila said...

Rhodora and Prab! Ahahaha. Sobrang LOL ... my office mates are beginning to worry. Grabe. Havent laughed this loud for long.

Eh, Rhodora, I only know half of Prab's name ... pero malapit nang mabuo ... sayang naman pagiging researcher ko. Uhhmmm give me your email kaya? or yout celfone number?

Eh, Prab. Sensya na. Nakyukyutan sa 'yo ang mga tita. Anyway, i wrote sanskrit international something something. I have some 'prabables' (ahhahaa) .. eh pwede ba iprablish dito? Ay naku, si Rhoda, nakakahawa.

rhodora said...

Hahaha! Prab, hijo, huwag pikon, ha. Ganyan lang talaga mga bumabatang tulad namin..

But I'm serious, Anna. Here's my email:

Be waiting! :D

Prab said...

ROFL. I've heard worse, actually. At work, I've been called Prabito y Burrito, or El Prabito. Go figure. :D

Btw, you're almost there. If you guess it right, I'll write something in my blog honoring your Sherlock Holmes-like investigation. :D

Just don't cheat by going to the UP College of Engineering to ask the admin people there, okay? Hahahaha!

annamanila said...


Okay, I think I got it na. But before I tell you, i want to be sure I got it right.

It's a two-word name. The first word has 7 letters and ends with a T. The second has 6 letters and begins with an R.

(Eh teka muna, shall I post it here?)

Worried some, but you're ok!!

pining said...

Anna, maybe it is.. maybe it isn't. But it probably is.
Prab, like Rhodora, I also thought, "probably it's prabably", .. huwag mapikon Prab, we're just havin' a laugh, he, he.

Prab said...

You got the first part right, but not the second part. More clues: the second part only has 5 letters. O ayan, give away na. :D

annamanila said...


The other names I got were: Ananda (meaning bliss), Aruna (meaning reddish color), and Rajnan (no meaning but sounds like a fine masculine name). Aside from Prabhat of couse (the dawn).

I had thought you were Prabhat Rajnan .. after Prabhat Rajnan Sarkar founder of the Ananda Marga movement. But you did say you thought you were the only one in the world with your name.

Five letters you say. So, you may be: Prabhat Aruna. Or Prabhat Marga (hindi siguro). Or Prabhat Anand.

Okay my best bet is: PRABHAT ANAND.

Do or die .. unless i get another crack. Omg, this is fun.

annamanila said...

Pining! You ha ... u intrigue me with your name too. Let me see .. does it have a V in it? Then I'll know if it is or isn't what I have in mind.

Again .. you ha ... sumali ka pa sa amin ni Rhodora. Buti na lang di pikon si Prab.

rhodora said...

Yes! Prabhat Anand! Ganda naman a! Galing mo, Anna! Pero di kaya nahirapan si Prab pag praktis ng pagsulat nung bata pa siya. hehehe.

annamanila said...

Rhodora! Still waiting for Prab to confirm. So don't congratulate me yet. :)

Anonymous said...

my mother's sister who is a Jehovah's Witness was the one who gave my name Naomi which represents as "gentleness" in the Bible for Naomi (sister-in-law)of Ruth.

(*giggles*) of course you can use that as a subtitle.

Have a happy day Anna!

Prab said...

Really, really close. As in sobrang close. If you find out, sasapukin mo ko. :P

Prab said...


Napapangiti ako, sobra. Incidentally, Arun was one of the names of Mr. Sarkar, since I read somewhere that he was born during sunrise. O diba, you're not the only one who researched/is researching. lawl! :D

noemi said...

Check your email or if not please visit our newest project Join us and invite other Pinoy Moms too!

annamanila said...

Naomi! Gentle? Seeing your pic, it seems to apply. Reading your blog -- the adjective is pilya! Teka, si Naomi is the mom-in-law ni Ruth na nagpausa ng 'whither thou goes i will go, ur people will be my people." Unless i interchanged them. Won't be surprised if i did -- hahaha. Anyways, taga Pasig din kami, di nga lang sa Kapasigan. But madalas din duon dahil my sons attended Pasig Catholic College.

annamanila said...

Prab! Ha? So slippery naman ng pangalan na yan. Will you give me an itsy-bitsy clue .. what is the beginning letter?

Noemi! I registered with pinoymomsnetwork as soon as I got your invite. Am still waiting for my password. Thank you, truly appreciate.

Abaniko said...

My real name is too common. How I wish my parents named me Zeus. I feel the character. Haha. Hey, I bloghopped from Prab's site and I read you were once a teacher. I was too. I taught in UP Diliman for 4 years. So, we have something in common now. :D

rhodora said...

Anna, pinahihirapan ka ni Prabhat. Hahaha! Feeling ko, halos gets mo na. Konting konti na lang.

annamanila said...

Abaniko! I could have sworn that was feminine. But is your name Nicky? Ay, naku -- sorry i have been in a name-analyzing mode all week. :)

Marami yatang taga UP na nagbloblog? WE bloggers online .. we teach each other di ba, learn from each other. Ay naku -- sorry ulit .. serious mood.

Dine said...

now i am getting curious about prab's real name...share naman!

btw, Anna, have you seen my post on Alien Tongue? i am not sure what your reaction will be.

Abaniko said...

I thought Abaniko's masculine as it ends with an "O". And no, my real name's not Nicky. Far from it. I think I'll blog about my blog name one of these days. :)

Prab said...

Whoops, sexy mom, curiosity killed the cat. lol (read: 'wag na po dumagdagdag sa mga taong di pinatulog ng name ko. hahahahah!)

Tita Anna didn't get it, but I'm gonna give her something for the effort.

annamanila said...

Abaniko! Well, it's just that abaniko is fan, pamaypay ... and there was this song pamaypay ng Maynila which tells (if i recall right) how the pinay of old used the fan to communicate their feelings in various nuances to gentlemen suitors -- all because it was not considered for ladies of breding to speak out. So that's how i misread your name.

Intriguing topic -- names, though i didn't expect it to stir up a hornets nest. Exciting!

rhodora said...

Naku, heto na naman tayo, ha.

Yes, for me, Abaniko also is associated with something female. But as Abaniko himself said, - since it ends in o, it will pass for a male name too.

O, sige nga - what are female names ending in O and what are male names ending in A? Umm... Cielo, Cielito... Ay, ayoko na, tama na 'to. Nakaka-aliw pero nakaka-baliw! Hahaha!

Hop na lang ako sa next blog mo. Serious na tayo ngayon....

annamanila said...

Brian! I didnt notice your comment -- it didnt go through my email. I saw it in the moderation page when i went to the dashboard to post a new entry. Thank you for the interesting info about the etymology of Brian. It has a lofty origin ha.

I tried anna too ... it means food .. i was hoping -- food for the soul but no such luck ... rather gross food subsstances! haha

Looking forward to the book Bre! :)

Toe said...

Great post Anna. I used to hate my given name until this Cuban lady called me with her spanish accent and I love it now. I don't like my nickname either.

I'm definitely Toe.

I love your daughter's name... Aleta.

lady cess said...

hi anna. i bloghopped here from pinoymoms. i really enjoy reading your blog, hope you wont mind exchanging links.

been laughing while reading your post. your daughter must be the pun of the jokes when she was in gradeschool, but am glad she's come to love her name. i can so relate because i have a weird, very unique name, and so i was a victim of knock-knock jokes all throughout my life as a student. now, i still would wish for another name, but i honestly cant think of any that would fit me.

annamanila said...

Toe! I won't mind going into another name hunt for you. Haha. It was fun with Prab. Toe is cute, your signature toe-pic is great.

Lady Cess, we really enjoy each other's blogs di ba. I am amazed how much more happy, informed, and insightful i have become since i joined the blogging community. But still can't enter your place. :(

carlotta said...

i love this post! sobra akong natawa sa inimbento nyong name--majaradithaperpetua... LOL!

mahilig ako sa mga weird names, mas mabaho pakinggan at i-pronounce, the better. ^^

naalala ko nung grade school my classmates used to call me "medyas" coz my surname almost sounds like it if they don't pronounce the "j" silently. i was like, "a, ok."


kimmy said...

hi, anna. i came across your blog through mommy dine.

i like my name very much. and i am eternally grateful that my parents gave me a 'normal' name. i remember back in college, i had a classmate named rambo. it's not a nickname. it's his real name. poor guy. hehehe...

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