A lot of Filipino names bear traces of love, kinship, family, and colonization.
It is not uncommon for Filipino names to be a combination of our parents’ or grandparents' names. Another deeply ingrained aspect of our culture is the use of nicknames. Often, we do not use our legal first names in our everyday lives. Then there are last names—many of which are remnants of the Spanish influence in the Philippines.
There’s a certain art or technique that comes with naming Filipino children. For example, parents typically give their kids two first names, and sometimes even more. John Paul, Mary Joy, and Alexa Marie Rose are a few examples.
Blended names from parents are also quite common in the country. They are usually a combination of both parents' first names to create a new and unique one for their child. For instance, expect Elvin and Liza to name their child Eliza; Maria and Carlos, Maricar; or Mark and Mellisa, Marissa.
In addition to our official names, we use nicknames—from cute to funny or something completely different and unique. We love rhymes and repetitive sounds. Don’t be surprised to hear people calling Christine, Tin-tin, or Joseph, Jojo at work, or siblings in a household being referred to as Dodoy and Daday, Toto and Tata.
Suffice it to say that these naming practices are an expression of endearment among family and friends.
We have adopted Spanish-sounding surnames and Western influences to the structure of first, middle, and last names. You may also find a blend of both Western and Spanish elements in some names.
I’m one of the few with just one given name—Liezel…that’s it—but that doesn’t spare me from quirky and playful nicknames by friends and family. Wordplay and rhymes in names and nicknames are some of our ways of expressing the familial, friendly, and outgoing nature of Filipinos. Some names may come off as odd, and some may even sound embarrassing, but they all represent our uniqueness and ancestry.
Liezel is a Xilium writer. She has a degree in literature and has spent years mentoring foreign students with their English communication skills in a remote work setting. Her academic involvement includes the development and revision of instructional materials and content. Her distance learning career honed her skills in communication, management, research, and technology.