Mrs. Schemer, I presume? | Inquirer Opinion
High Blood

Mrs. Schemer, I presume?

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet…” but, Sir William, had you heard of “Bubuy,” “Rek Rek,” or “Weng Weng,” would you still of that same opinion be?

My sister Rose was baptized “Esperanza.” Children are often cruel, though often unaware of it. We, her sisters, would tease her: “Esperanza,  labandera!” Years later, she up and called herself, simply, “Rose.”


Some add prestige to their names by inserting an “h,” so we have “Bhoy,” “Bhughoy” or “Khwalah.” Many don’t have the vaguest idea what their names mean. Gnomastics, the study of names, doesn’t say why girls like to have boys’ names like “Alex,” “George,” or “Frankie.” And some boys change not only their names to girls’ names when night falls, but miraculously, their appearance as well. Meanwhile, over at Chinatown live Kenneth Sy and Andy Lim, said to be born blind and in the dark.

Princess means “daughter of a king,” and the king’s name is… Manny Pacquiao!


My husband Peter, who recently passed away, was fond of collecting puppies. They all had fancy names asserting their nobility and pedigree. We had Andre von Sya Top from Cibubur, Indonesia. Later, his name was reduced to plain “Eric” because Peter thought “Andre” was a sissy name for a dog. So Eric it was, although Andre was more suitable for this sweet and loving boxer of a dog. He was very gentle and even allowed Sam, another boxer, to bite him in the ear every now and then.

Our loveliest boxer had two names: “Bonnie Bones.” We found her in a cage too small for her at the Chatuchak market in Bangkok. She had the most soulful eyes one could ever find in a dog. I used to sing to her: “Boney Bones, where can she be?/ Boney Bones, she had no meat on/ Boney Bones, come back to me. This would really crack us up, my daughter Sandy and me, but Bonnie recognized the song as hers and showed her delight by smiling and wriggling her whole body and docked tail.

Then there was Dona with a tilde. I had the name before I got the dog. She turned out to be a scruffy little puppy with bits of rice on her head when I came to claim her from the nice Thai gentle man who told Peter that if we took his house he would give us a magnificent dog for free. Many people fall for that “FREE” word so we got Dona.

Uli was a dachshund bought from an agent in Singapore, but he came all the way from Australia, flown to Singapore and shipped to us in Ho Chi Minh City. Had I been in control, I wouldn’t do that to a little dog, all alone in the pet compartment of a roaring jet plane and arriving in two countries in a little box. But he impressed me as someone who was very brave and we more than made up for it during his 15-year stay with us.

Peter thought he would name Uli for his golfing buddy, Ulrich Hahn of the Taipei Banker’s Club. I wrote the name “Ulrich von Schmier” on his medical certificate, but when Uli Hahn heard about it, he went out and got himself a German Shepherd and named it “Peter.” And when Peter dropped him off after a game of golf, Uli would insist that Peter come in for a drink and naturally, Peter the dog would come around and Uli would yell, “Peter! Get out of here, you stupid dog!” The childish games that old men played…

And now comes Manila Mayor-elect, Joseph Ejercito Estrada. “Estrada” is the name he and his two senator-sons are using for political gain, so I asked a friend of mine at the Department of Justice whether they were committing fraud by using the name “Estrada,” which is Mr. Erap’s screen name. And my friend said, “No, for as long as they don’t change the name on their birth certificate.” One has to apply to a court of law for that.

A young woman who had just started work in our office sent me a message on my phone that her name is “Menerva.” I told her that the one who wrote that name on her birth certificate perhaps didn’t know the spelling of Minerva, the Greek goddess of wisdom. And is it Sheila or Shiela?


I have many names. When I was using my married name, Schmier, I was called “Shelly” or “Sherry Schemer” depending on which Chinese-influenced country I was currently living in. Someone would say, “Would you please spell that for me, Mrs. Schemer?”  I had to drop the name.

When I married my first husband, M. de las Alas, I was often asked how I was related to Don Antonio de las Alas. When widowed for the first time, I started using “Wilson,” my father’s name, and I got a big kick out of saying, “Miss  pa  po  ako!” LOL!

By the way, whatever name you choose to use, check it out in the Internet. You might find that the name you so carefully chose for yourself is shared by a dozen others, so secure your identity by inserting, perhaps, a middle name or initial to distinguish you from the rest.

Shirley Wilson de las Alas, 75, says she lives alone and loves it. She works part-time as a social entrepreneur and studies guitar and piano in a music school.

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