What’s That Name Within a Name?

“But persistent name calling? That prolongs hurt. It stretches out. Each nasty word stretches the rubber band further away, until finally, one day, it snaps back at you with maximum impact.”–Randa Abdel-Fattah, Australian Writer

Many Filipinos are adept in creatively “assigning” names for a particular person, be it in jest or disgust.

“‘Yang si Palíto marúnong lang magdalá ng mikrópono, péro hindí namán guwápo.” Apparently, the aspiring singer was nicknamed Palito because the shape of his face resembled that of Palíto the actor/comedian.

A singer back in the ’80s who was known for his novelty songs was called “Vincent Daffalong” in allusion to his seemingly underprojected/flat nose (“dapâ ilóng”).

An oversized person who literally makes waves while he “bounces” his way through the crowd is often nicknamed “balyena” or whale.

In an argument, for lack of better words to say, a wife would say to her husband, “Pára kang manók, puták ka nang puták!”

Some may find it funny; but to some, it could be deeply insulting; more so, to the object of the name itself.

The following is a meme/post that is currently trending on Facebook which I feel many people find amusing. These are female names common in the Philippine culture that some creative wisecrackers have turned into shortened forms of quips related to rumor-mongering.

Marites – Máre, itó ang latest (Sister, here’s the latest)
Marietta – Máre, itó pa (Sister, here’s another one)
Marisól – Máreng tagásulsól (sister snitch)
Marissa – Máre, may isa pa (Sister, there’s another one)
Maris – Máre, anó’ng tsísmis? (Sister, what’s the rumor?)
Marina – Máre, anó na? (Sister, any news?)
Mariposa – Máre, i-post mo na! (Sister, post it now!)

Sound interesting, don’t they?

These name-jokes may seem hilarious at face value, but good luck to the would-be mothers who have initially thought of those names as options for their newborn daughters. They might want to consider renaming their child, prónto!

Psychologically, in my opinion, it would create a stigma for those whose names appear on the list. I would understand if there will also be parents in this decade who would veer away from naming their daughters as such for fear that their child may be chided or heckled at someday because that joke went viral today. I am sure that no one would want any of his relatives go through that nightmare.

The truth is, those are derogatory remarks hidden under the guise of name-calling, which, to me, is a poor excuse for insecurity. Those who are not confident enough to present or defend their point in an argument sometimes resort to name-calling when they cannot explain themselves further.

As a sociologist with a background in Psychology, I understand that certain types of insults and jokes (which are sometimes half-meant) come about due to potential causes: hurt, insecurity, overconfidence, boredom, and insanity, among others. This practice has somehow become a form of escape and/or entertainment for many people. Humans are social beings, and their need to be entertained is insatiable, I understand. However, doing this whether intentionally or unmindfully for the purpose of pulling a comic relief but at the expense of others is tantamount to bullying.

Remember that people, in general, are wired differently.

Thus, personal experiences, events, as well as daily occurrences affect each person relatively, in various ways. Let us strive to be mindful of others amidst fulfilling our personal goals. After all, we can still be absolutely funny or argumentatively sound without being demeaning to others.

*Currently working at the Philippine International Convention Center, where she began services 22 years ago, Kathryn Valladolid Ebrahim is an alumna of St. Scholastica’s College–Manila; she finished a degree in Bachelor of Arts, major in Sociology, at the University of Santó Tomás; drawing and writing are her primary avocations.