Quantcast

Young Blood

My name is…

By

A name gives an identity to an otherwise obscure character. It defines a human being, making him/her tangible, unlike a concept that one can think of but can never really feel or visually identify.

Introducing one’s self is a normal thing. It’s like an initiation rite for a possible connection (whether romantic or platonic). We saw how Aiza Seguerra amazed everyone when she joined that pageant on national TV while strutting to “Wake up, little Suzie.” And yes, admit it or not, many of us still imitate the proud-to-the-whole-world intro “Maria Venus Raj… Tweneee Tuuu… Philippines!”

My fascination with names does not come as a surprise to the people around me. My first name is Roderick. And if you’re going to ask me, yes, I was named after the comedian who originally portrayed Petrang Kabayo and popularized Rick Astley’s Together Forever dance steps. (But mind you, he is the only Filipino actor who won twice as Best Actor in the Asian TV awards!)

The oldest child in the family is named Santi (but I don’t remember any personality by that name, and I’m not sure if my mother was aware of the delicatessen at the time of his birth), and the next, Sheryll (Mr. Dreamboy, Mr. Dreamboy! with matching signature peace sign pose). The middle child is the Megastar, while the one before me was called “Lumayo ka man sa akin, at ako’y iyong limutin” when he was a kid. (His nickname? A brand of machine lubricant.)

My name has gone through evolutionary stages. Sometimes it’s Rod. Sometimes it’s Rick. My nickname is Erick. They also call me “Kuya Dick,” the nickname of the Filipino actor from where my name was taken. (And yes, it sometimes evokes a “Say what?!” look from foreigners when they see me respond to being called such. In my high school days, there were three Rodericks in our class. We were called by our surnames, because one of them was seated next to me; our seating plan was based on the alphabetical listing of our last names.

My surname also catches attention. Literally sounding like a toad, it is not a typical Spanish- or Chinese- inspired surname that is common among Filipinos (300 years under the Spanish regime… you know the drill). F-R-A-G-O. Oh, it’s a frog. Thanks to a famous advocate of the use of the Filipino language, my surname was somehow uplifted from being the butt of jokes.

My literally big band of brothers calls me “Bunso” (youngest sibling) for the simple reason that I am vertically challenged. I may not be the youngest in our group, but when we’re together, I look like a kindergarten kid flanked by his brothers who are in college.

During my college days, I changed my name for literary writing purposes. I’ve always used “China Eyes” for my literary works, but because the editorial board wanted the literary folio to have a more dignified character, we were requested to use real-sounding names. The best of the best, our editor in chief, always used KChristian. The accountancy genius that could make a run for Pablo Neruda’s money used RMCorporation. My best friend used Andrei. The rest chose to use their real names.

Kchristian. RMCorporation. Andrei. Then China Eyes? Yes, they were right. It just did not jibe with the “dignified character” our folio had wanted to exude. I couldn’t come up with a real-sounding name, so I picked up a telephone directory and randomly pointed at three names: John. Arthur. Villanueva.

John Arthur Villanueva. I now had a more dignified literary name.

When I started working for the campus-based FM station in my early college days, I needed an “air name” (just like the real deejays). I’d always wanted to use Wayne, but the management deemed it too soft for my “almost-female-sounding” voice. They named me Walter instead. When I transferred to a local FM station, the station manager added Ricky (a play on my nickname, Erick). I was then called “the lovable, life-sized teddy bear, Ricky Walter.”

I’m also using a different name in my current work in the BPO industry. We had an agent named Rod Ric and another named Erich; that’s why any combination using my real name wouldn’t be feasible (lest the Quality Assurance team curse me for life). So I chose Adrian. Why Adrian? Wala lang. It was the first name that popped in my head when I was asked to choose a phone name.

I have known various people whose names (and the story of how they got those names) fascinate me. My father has been called “Adobo” since he was a kid because he loves adobo, regardless of the protein ingredient in the dish.

I have a dear friend, and a co-member of the faculty back in Batangas, who has three names: Franco Emman Von. There were moments when I had this urge to ask him: “Was it hard learning how to write your name when you were in kindergarten?” And then I would always remember his last name: Cena.

I have a coworker who is called Darkness by her peers, but is no way near to being dark at all. Her skin is flawlessly white, and her personality is too cheerful and bubbly. But then I would always remember her last name” Carilimdiliman (extreme darkness).

I also had a female schoolmate in elementary/high school with Francoise as her second name. That we, her classmates, always argued about how to properly pronounce her second name is an understatement. Unlike the French, we called her “Frank-wise.”

Sometimes, I can’t help but wonder: What if I had a different real name? What if I were a son of Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala—would Roderick as first name sound cute? I can imagine people calling me with a name that can put every Mexican telenovela character to shame.

But what if my name is the typical name, like Joseph, Daniel, or Robin? I bet there will be countless other people with the same name within a 50-mile radius. And will my life savings grow dramatically if were given an even unusual, not-so-Filipino name, like Mamokul?

They say a rose by any other name is just as sweet. But I know that had I been given the name Brando, it won’t go with my bubbly and gay personality. And yes, I just can’t imagine being given a real female name, like my cousin, Kuya Jennifer.

So I guess I just have to stick to perfecting the Together Forever dance steps to compliment the usual pick-up line, “Where’d you get that name?” Besides, it’s always fun imitating the trying-to-be-straight gay antics of the Filipino comedian after whom I was named.

What’s your name again?

Roderick M. Frago, 28, is a customer service representative for a medical billing account, peer counselor for TheLoveYourself Project, and change agent for the HIV/AIDS program of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine. He says he hopes to go back to graduate school at the University of Santo Tomas  and finish his master’s degree in creative writing.


Follow Us


Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


More from this Column:

Other Stories:

No related posts found!

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Short URL: http://opinion.inquirer.net/?p=39044

Tags: column , names , Roderick m. frago , Young Blood



Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
Advertisement

News

  • Sayyaf man linked to Sipadan kidnapping falls
  • Drilon calls for sobriety as mudslinging, witch hunts loom due to pork scam
  • S. Korea ferry toll hits 150 as search gets tougher
  • If Napoles names Aquino allies, they’ll be brought to bar of justice – Palace
  • Lacson says diamond-studded earring snatched from wife fake
  • Sports

  • Wizards beat Bulls in OT to take 2-0 series lead
  • Pacers rally past Hawks 101-85 to even series
  • David Moyes out as Manchester United manager
  • Nadal to face fellow Spaniard at Barcelona Open
  • Defensive Chelsea holds Atletico in scoreless draw
  • Lifestyle

  • Haneda International Airport: A destination on its own
  • Wanted: Beauty queen with a heart that beats for the environment
  • Kim Atienza: At home with art and design
  • Life lessons I want to teach my son
  • Sweet party for Andi Manzano
  • Entertainment

  • Ex-Fox exec denies allegations in sex abuse suit
  • Kris Aquino backtracks, says Herbert Bautista and her are ‘best friends’
  • Summer preview: Chris Pratt enters a new ‘Galaxy’
  • Bon Jovi helps open low-income housing in US
  • Summer movie preview: Bay reboots ‘Transformers’
  • Business

  • McDonald’s 1Q profit slips as US sales decline
  • SEC approves SM’s P15B retail bond offer
  • $103M Vista Land bonds tendered for redemption
  • Oil slips to $102 as US crude supplies seen rising
  • SC stops Meralco power rate hike anew
  • Technology

  • Engineers create a world of difference
  • Bam Aquino becomes Master Splinter’s son after Wiki hack
  • Mark Caguioa lambasts Ginebra teammates on Twitter
  • Brazil passes trailblazing Internet privacy law
  • New York police Twitter campaign backfires badly
  • Opinion

  • One-dimensional diplomacy: A cost-benefit analysis of Manila’s security deal with Washington
  • No ordinary illness
  • Reforest mountains with fire trees and their kind
  • Day of the Earth
  • When will Chinese firm deliver new coaches?
  • Global Nation

  • No word yet on inking of US-PH defense pact during Obama visit
  • Filipina, 51, shot dead by 24-year-old American boyfriend
  • China, rivals sign pact to ease maritime tensions
  • Visa-free US trip? Do not believe it, says consulate
  • Obama visit to Asia seen as counterweight to China
  • Marketplace