Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What's in a name?

One of the things that I do to break the monotony of my class is to translate the names or surnames of my pupils into either English or Filipino during roll calls. Filipino names and last names can be very funny when translated into English. Since I’m a subject teacher, I teach all the sections of grade six so I have a lot of names to make fun of (in a nice way of course). I have difficulty remembering faces how much more connecting the names to faces, so, somehow by having fun while roll calling the humor helps sort of a mnemonic device.
Here are some of examples.

  1. Vinz Cannot be Stolen    -Vinz Dimarucut.
  1. Ann Martiz Cannot be defeated     - Ann Martiz Dimaraig
3. Reyeen the Savior         -Reyeen Salavador
    I explained that Salvador in English is savior.

    And so on…

    Last school year, one of the activities I asked my pupils to do was to ask their parents how they were given their names. Most of them had explanations that were logical and there were some who were named by their parents for “weird” reasons and there were those who could not explain how they got their names. There was one pupil who even now gave no explanation for his name—One Lookas Cruz. I was tempted to talk to his father about this name, but I was stopped by my sense propriety.

    I had a pupil whose name made me laugh until now. She was Champagne Henessy Beato. I told her that I get drunk by just calling her name . I explained to her that she was named after two alcoholic drinks. There was Eva Salon. So, naturally,  I called her Eva’s Salon and she has a brother, Alex, who is in grade six now. He is now Alex’s Salon.
    There were Caucasian names that somehow created a picture of either a meztizo or a Fil-Am, but upon calling the name and seeing the pupils raising his or her hand, I am disappointed and amused to find out that he/she is not what I imagined him/her to be.

     There was James Walter O. Russel. Upon reading the name, I scanned around the room looking for a Caucasian or a Fil-Am or an Afro-American only to find out that James Walter O. Russel is a flat nosed, brown little boy—a typical “bata” no traces whatsoever of any Caucasian or Afro hmmm…characteristics. I asked him if he has an American blood; he said none.

    There was Mureen Poquita...hmmm...but I did not even attempt to translate her last name into English.
    I have learned that my pupils’ names tell something about their parents and not about my pupils and, as is traditional among Filipinos, do not follow the calendar anymore. There were pupils whose names combine the first syllables or the full name of their parents (a trend that is still in vogue) and there were names that are defy explanations whatsoever.

    Making fun of their names made my pupils laugh  but I was also sensitive lest I offend,so,  when I see a frown or a smirk especially among the girls, I apologized then stopped. But generally speaking,  we had great laughs and fun.

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