Living with a kilometric name
I FOUND quite amusing Roderick M. Frago’s Youngblood article “My name is…” (Inquirer, 10/20/12). It reminded me of the countless comments people made about my kilometric name—Claude Lucas de Castro Despabiladeras—which often gets mispronounced.
In my first grade in elementary school at JASMS-QC (where I teach now), one of my teachers called me “Cloud.” That’s probably not as bad as “Clou-deh,” which was how another teacher very erroneously pronounced my name. Then in college at UST, my second year Philosophy professor also called me out during class attendance as “Cloud” for about two weeks until a classmate, who could no longer stand it, politely corrected him: “Sir, it’s not ‘Cloud’, it’s ‘Claude’” (rhymes with “laud”). From then on, Sir P. started calling me “Cload” (“C” plus “load”). My given name, by the way, is a combination of the names of two of my parents’ favorite directors—Claude Lelouche and George Lucas, whose spirits do seem to be alive in me when I find myself helping direct my students’ plays.
As for my surname, well, it has inadvertently taken on many forms these past 30 years: “Despalabadera,” “Despaderas,” “Desapaladera,” “Despabiladadeque(!),” etc. But my favorite version came from my high school student who gave me a book for Christmas in 2004. In the dedication, he (or his mother, I suspect) wrote: “Dear Sir Claude Despedidas, Merry Christmas! I hope you enjoy this book.” When I share this anecdote with friends, I jokingly add that maybe that thoughtful student (or the mother) wished me gone.
On my first two days in college, almost all my professors expressed amusement at my name, as well as those of three of my classmates: Suerte Maddatu (girl), Jose Jesus Tadeo Quildlat (Jojit), and Ateneo Papa Jericho So (whose dad, according to him, had an affinity with the Jesuit university, hence the name he gave his eventual Thomasian son).
I write this with levity as I have been blasé about the fact that people mispronounce my name, although in high school I wondered why my parents did not give me a name that is simpler and more common: Carlo, Charles, Mark, Peter, Paul, John, etc. But now I like it very much precisely because it is uncommon.
In closing, let me say that I truly enjoy reading Youngblood because of the published essays’ wide-ranging topics. Whether serious or light-hearted, they are very honest and true as the writers really bare their hearts and minds to the world. The articles also add zing, variety and sometimes a sense of humor to the Opinion spread which is otherwise understandably serious and more focused on current issues. The youth have so much to say, and it’s wonderful that the Inquirer has provided them with this section where they can share their stories.
—CLAUDE LUCAS C. DESPABILADERAS,
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