After great debate, Caroline and I have decided to name our boy Bong-Bong Carojohn Osborne. Think about it. He’ll already have a leg up on everyone else with such a cool name. “Hi there,” he’ll say one day, all super-ripped and handsome. “I’m Bong Bong Carojohn Osborne,” he’ll announce quietly with a smile that exudes the perfect mix of masculinity and sensitivity. That name alone, I suspect, will make girls want to be with him and guys wanna be like him.
Yep. B-BCO will be the toast of the town. Only one thing: we’re not really going to name him that. But it could well be a name we’d come up with if we were from the Philippines.
Or so I learned after reading a wonderfully charming essay today on Babble by Grace Bello called From Bong Bong to Monelle. In it, Bello, who is Filipino, wonders if her community is responsible for the wackiest baby names ever.
“As a Filipino-American, the names in my community always puzzled me. How could a lola (grandma) get away with being called Baby? What was up with singsong titles like Bong Bong? Why was my mother’s cousin given the otherworldly handle Nemrac?”
She then present an extremely entertaining “taxonomy of Filipino naming logic.” I’ve detailed some of my favorites below:
Create a portmanteau name: It’s okay if you had to Google it. I had to. Portmanteau means an odd combination of two things. Hence Carojohn. You know, a mix between Caroline (my wife) and John (um, me). It was either that or Johnline and Johnline sounds too much like something that might run from an outhouse.
Represent where you’re from: According to Bello’s post: ” ‘One [Filipino] composite name that has become popular is Luzviminda, taken from the three main regions of the Philippines: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao,’ said Sarah Toms for the BBC News.” Aha. So, instead of Bong-Bong Carojohn, we could always go with Tengawash which would represent some of the states in which we’ve lived. Only Tengawash sounds like a remedy for gingivitis. Back to Bong-Bong Carojohn it is.
Add your maiden name: HA. Is that Filipino or Southern? Because we’ve got all kinds of maiden names floating around our family tree. And, what’s more, we really are thinking about giving our son Caroline’s maiden name, which is Fiser. (Long i, and the “s” sounds like a “z.”) Only we may not because it’s constantly mispronounced, sometimes even misread altogether, most frequently as “Fisher.”
Anagrams, anyone? It’s here where Bello reveals the origin of Nemrac. I almost named my NASCAR fantasy team an acronym of the initials from my kids’ names: ASK J. (Though I didn’t.) Maybe Caroline and I should consider naming our boy such an acronym, only change it around so that it’s Jask. Jask Osborne.
But that sounds too much like slang for “Did you ask Osborne?”. Which might be confusing.
So I suppose we’ll keep on plodding along. We’re close to finding our name. But I’m afraid that consulting the Filipino community hasn’t quite gotten us there. Though, straight-up, I really do like Bong-Bong Carojohn. It’s got a good beat, no?
You owe it to yourself to read Bello’s essay. It’s quite enjoyable. To see what I mean, click here.