name giving

Name giving in the Philippines

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Name giving with royal names

Country of Princesses and other Blue Blood.
There is no country in the world where so many Princes and Princesses live than the Philippines. How would that be possible, you will ask yourself, there is no Royal family in the Philippines?
True, there are no royal families in this country, yet there are many Princesses, Princes, Dukes, Duchesses’, Lady’s, Queenie’s, Sarina or Tsarina and many more of these names.
Philippine Boxing hero Manny Pacquiao, for example, named his daughters as follows: one is named Princess and the other Queen Elisabeth. And there is a well-known singer with the name Princess.
This does not mean these are their official names, often just a nickname. Having a nickname is part of the Philippine society. People often use the nickname of a person without knowing their real name.
And it is not only for girls to have such name, also boys have names like Prince, Duke, Baron and others.

Name giving with funny names

Next to these royal names, there are many other remarkable, at least for us foreigners, names in use. One of the Senators has the official name Joker, while the vice-president is named Jejomar (short for Jesus, Joseph, Maria). Women are sometimes called Luzviminda (named after the three regions in the Philippines: Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao), and these are most of the time their official names.

During their lives, often when they are still young, Filipinos get a nickname. Sometimes a short version of their real name, but also just the first word the child is saying.
One of the most funny I think is the nickname of an actor José Sixto Raphael González Dantes. Nobody knows him with that name, but when you mention DingDong Dantes everybody knows. I do not have to explain to you what DingDong also means.
Other nicknames like that are: DingDing, BongBong (a son of the former President Marcos), BumBum, Nonoy, Lotlot , NoyNoy (president Benigno Aquino) and many others like Penpen, Dandan, Denden, Dondon, Dindin, Lala, Nene, Bebe, Jonjon, Junjun, Tintin, Yanyan, Tingting, Toto, Katkat, Macmac, Maimai, Nognog, Ningning, Chichi, Baba, Bangbang, Bingbing, Bambam, Bimbim.
Further I heard about names like: Peanut, Girlie, Barbie, Bambi, Junior and Baby (even for adults). Remarkable is that these names are found in all layers of the society, not only the less educated and poor, but also rich, and well educated families. And what do you think of a man called: Honey Boy ?

Many Filipino nicknames for English or Spanish names are just made by spelling the name in Tagalog alphabet and adding the suffix “-ing” at the end.
That Americans have put a large impression on the Philippine society can be seen in the name of this person: John F Kenneth Dee.
Also Chinese descendants sometimes have nice looking names: Van Go; there’s even a man called Ivan Ho.




Why would you call your children after the days of the week or your favorite desserts, or even give them numbers as name: One, Two, Three and so on? I met a person with the name Six; because he was the sixth son in the family!
When you ask a Filipino why he names his children like that, his answer is always: Why not?

One other remarkable thing in name giving in the Philippines is the fact that they like to use and place the letter H in their name. For what reason is not known by me, but they even do it in their nicknames.
BongBong becomes BhongBhong of VhongVhong (V is often pronounced as a B). Jhun, Bhoy, Rhia. This is something from the last few years. Many youngsters change their name and add an H in the name or at the end.

(found somewhere on the internet:)
I have heard of a funny story which actually happened during a Little Miss Philippines contest on Eat Bulaga! tv show in the late 1980s.
According to the story, there was a contestant nicknamed Kengkeng. When one of the hosts, Vic Sotto, asked her why she was nicknamed Kengkeng, her answer on live TV was: “Kasi po, noong ipinanganak ako, ang taba-taba daw po ng aking pukengkeng!”
If you didn’t understand the joke because it’s in Tagalog, I’m so sorry but this is one occasion which I will not translate in English. So this is a good reason for you to ask your Tagalog-speaking friend for a translation, or get to know one who is. But make sure you show this blogpost first because if you ask it verbally without properly contextualizing the line, I can’t guarantee that you won’t get slapped in the face!

One Comment

  • HeyJoe commented on 19 February, 2015 Reply

    People are always amazed at Filipino names. It’s quite simple to figure out. For one, most wacky names are really just nicknames. Secondly, many Pinoy have Spanish names, so if it is not that, it seems strange. The real reason, legal or common, is simple. When the Mexicans occupied the Philippines and brought civilization, one of the requirements was names. It was also easier to tax them. Well, they sent a book, and actual book, from Mexico, as to what names people were allowed to use. The only thing is, when a Filipino picked a name, all their relatives and neighbors were jealous and copied that name. So out of hundreds of names available, only a handful were used! This is the very reason why there are so many Dela Cruz’s in the Philippines. So when you have a barangay that has 47 “Juan Dela Cruz’s”, it’s easy to see the appeal of Ding Dong. 🙂

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