Politics of Naming a Child

nude-baby-1a.jpgAfter a mix of excitement, fear, and anticipation typical to any Caesarian delivery, or any delivery for that matter, our family welcomed the birth of a baby boy on March 1. “Baby Boy” is my sister’s third child and the welcome party feasted on fresh fruits and tales of how we siblings went through our own trip from the womb.

Baby Boy is a week overdue, though, so imagine the anticipation. By 10:37 a.m. the baby belted his first cry in the mortals’ world. I saw him only on March 3, our father’s 55th birthday celebration.

As soon as the mother saw her 7-lbs offspring and when she was done narrating her ordeal with childbearing – discussions shifted to name-giving.

Oh, that supposedly sacred exercise.

But our simple discussion led to an exercise of influence.

It involved the obviously elated grandparents, the intervening siblings of the mother, the father who tends the hospital fees, the baby’s elder brother and sister, and friends of the family who peeped on the newborn and the mother.

There’s the aunt who insists on giving the baby two names, one bearing the parents’ preferred name and her own choice. Aunt proposed the name of her ex-boyfriend for the second name. So you could hear her “suggest” names like ‘Geoff Steven.’

But the baby’s father is reacting. He said it is unfair to name the child with someone’s memory who is already out of circulation (in family circles).

He then suggested the child should be named after someone successful so he might be able to inherit part of their blessings and good vibes.

Then the names of typically successful people were floated like “Lucio” (Tan), “Sam” (Milby), “Mar” (Roxas), “Barack” (Obama), “Manny” (Pacqiuao), “Albert” (Eisntein), “Mike” (Arroyo) and many others.

Someone from the family asked who are the successful people and how do we measure their success.

It drew a brief debate on the definition of “success”. The major clash points include the idea that popularity is success, that winning an election or a boxing match, or being able to file libel charges against journalists, and also that having the money are measures of success.

In the end we decided to expand our criteria beyond “successful” people’s names based on material victories. I even suggested that we should, instead, name the baby “Success” if indeed we wanted the child to carry it by his name.

Baby’s father then agreed to skip the “successful” tag and made a condition: just a short first name. He cited the problem his eldest son went through learning to write his name: a combination of all the first letter of the names of our family’s members.

His name: “Jewahjihan.” The baby’s father also detested the nick name given to shorten the unfamiliar sounding name: “Warren”. He said it connotes “war.”

So the chat went to naming the baby after a good person so that he may in one way or another would become good (when he grows up). So “Benedict” (the Pope) was floated. No body affirmed the move, but no body also objected it.

Everybody in the family, except my Protestant father and the baby’s elder brother and sister, knows the 77-year old pontiff.

My father’s protest was civil. But my nephew and niece were more vocal. “Who is he?” they asked.

When showed a picture of the leader of the Roman Catholic church, they said “why should a baby get an old man’s name?!”

Instead they suggested “Gerald”, which is the name of a matinee idol who won in a reality TV Show over a television network.

I reacted harshly (batting for “Benedict” for its timelessness). I told them the celebrity will soon fade away from the limelight. But those kids were designed not to understand that yet.

Besides, I have to subdue my reaction. in May 1977, some screaming matinee idol fans among my relatives suggested to name me after actor Navarro. So I got this name thanks to 1970s media.

We decided to add another criteria: uniqueness. That is why the suggestion floated to name the baby after “Kaamulan” because he was born on the heels of the celebration.

Then a friend of the baby’s grandmother seconded saying “Mulan” could be a good nickname, which means “survivor”.

I suggested “Malampuson” the Binisaya name for “successful” so we do away with Western sounding names. It fell on deaf ears, of course. I would rather wait for my turn to name my own child.

In the confusion and the desire to make it a healthy exercise, we gave ourselves a week to finalize the baby’s name.

Other families probably have less hassle on this matter. Probably, most of them already knew if the baby is a boy or a girl because of pre-natal services, so they got ready names to give.

Besides, most parents decide on the name on their own in finality.

In our family, it appears to be more democratic. Or is it? Everybody was given a chance to suggest a name that would go through a consensus. Hopefully, someday, the baby wouldn’t regret getting a name just because someone popular has it.

We’ll see whose suggestion prevailed in the marketplace of ideas.

Come Monday next week, “Baby Boy” will have his name. That is his universal human right. (Photo grabbed from a website on baby pictures. To be updated.)

About mindanaw

A Journalist from Mindanao

7 responses to “Politics of Naming a Child”

  1. Cat says :

    hi there, bloghopped here

    your entry reminds me of our neighbor, they are funny parents actually. Your family thought that it would be good if the baby is named after a successful person, our neighbor thought that also but they named their sons and daughter after popular characters they’ve seen in the tV. First, they named their twin boys B1 and B2(as in Banana 1 and Banana 2, since the twins were born at the height of the shows popularity) then came their daughter, they named her Garci. Funny thing is, when other neighbors go to their house and see this baby, they would say “hello Garci”

    you have a very cute nephew, he looks big already and to think, he’s only less than 2weeks old:)

  2. Waltzib says :

    Hi Cat,
    Thanks for posting a comment. It surely is really a funny but also “very family-centered exercise”. In short it gives the family time to contribute on something for the “common good” hehe.

    But the baby on the photo is not our new born. I grabbed it from another website whose URL i could no longer recall. But I hope to upload the baby’s photos here as soon as we get one.

    Thanks.

    -Istambay sa Mindanao

  3. Cat says :

    hello Istambay sa Mindanao, it’s me again

    yeah, when giving a name it’s usually a big deal. When my niece came, well she already had a name but before she was born my brother and my sister in law had also a hard time chosing the name suited for my niece, I was still in our province that time and i remember that my SiL would call and asked us what would be the best name and we would give silly names,hehehe, maybe because of too much excitement that we would finally have a new member in the family. And i agree with you, it’s funny but it makes two families closer.

    hope to see your nephew(your real nephew) and hopefully by that time you already have a name for him.

  4. Shahsem says :

    All Greetings ! ! !
    Information rules the world.
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  5. cebu real estate says :

    i think its not a good idea and babies might not like it when they grow old ..

  6. mindanaw says :

    Delayed reaction and update (The baby’s name is now Raymund. I could not trace who suggested it but its the one written on his birth certificate.)

  7. Grommaliailla says :

    А у тебя посты никто не ворует c блога? А то меня вывели уже – тырят и тырят

    здесь видел ет gamebulletin.ru

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