I SEE NOYNOY is emerging as the clear winner of the Presidential elections in the Philippines. This is no surprise. How could he fail with such a cute name?!
I wish I was called Noynoy, or Pingpong, or anything Filipino.
Noynoy’s main opponent was Joseph Estrada, whose nickname is Erap, or “pare” (a word meaning “buddy”) spelt backwards. How naff is that?
And if you think Noynoy is a cool, offbeat name, his sisters’ names include Pinky, Viel and Ballsy (pic at the top).
The people of the Philippines probably have the most creative names on the planet. I love visiting friends from Manila and being introduced to their children. “Meet Tingting, Popo, Testament, Peachy, Boris, Mary-Concepcion and Dogong.” (Every name has a story.)
And it’s not just the kids.
The first time I went to the country, I was introduced to a woman who looked about 200 years old.
“Call me Baby,” she said.
So I did. It wasn’t difficult.
But I also met a middle-aged fat guy who wanted me to call him by his given name, which was “Honey Babe”.
I found that WAY harder to do, especially in public.
I gave the guy what I hoped was useful advice. “If you ever find yourself in a rough tough part of the world, like redneck southern USA or Queensland in Australia, places where the guys have names like ‘Killer’ and ‘Deathmetal’, don’t ask them to call you ‘Honey Babe’.”
(This information will probably save his life.)
Residents of the Philippines have a wonderful way of picking up bits of visiting cultures and making them their own.
Noynoy’s full name has six elements: Benigno Simeon Noynoy Cojuangco Aquino III. The parts are, in order, Spanish, Hebrew, Filipino, Chinese, Italian and American (“the third”).
The last time I was in Manila, I asked local people to tell me how their acquired their names. They told me there were four main categories.
1. There’s the group known as “doorbell names”.
These include Bing, Bong, Binky, Ding, Dong, Pingping, Ting, Tek-Tek, Bong-bong, Tong and so on. Recently, some of the Bing-Bings have renamed themselves Bing2 or Bing Squared to sound more sophisticated.
2. Kid labels.
These are not really names, but just nouns used as names. Baby or Girlie for girls, and Sonny or Boy for boys.
3. Religious names.
In the past, there were loads of names such as Maria-Concepcion. These days such names are often cut down to Mari-Con, which sounds like a US multinational. There’s probably someone called Con-Edison in that country.
Jejomar is a name made up of the first few letters of Jesus, Joseph and Mary.
4. Nouns as names.
There’s a congressman called Ace Barbers, which sounds like a chain of hairdressers to me. Ace is his middle name, but he as to use it since he, his father and both his brothers are called Robert.
The wonderfully named archbishop of Manila, Cardinal Sin, died in 2005, sadly. His parents had a great sense of humor. Sin Junior’s first name was Jaime which means “I Love”. (“I love sin”, geddit?)
He used to invite people home with the words, “Welcome to the House of Sin.”
See if you can work out the items on the menu below. If so, you can speak Taglish, one of the main languages of the Philippines.