MANILA – Do you belong to the few groups of Filipinos who have family names different in spelling when written but sound similar when pronounced?
If yes, then you can easily understand and relate with the problems cited in some parts of this article. While such similarity in pronunciation may be pleasing in one's ears, the difference in spelling when the family name is written may create slight confusion or perplexity for some.
Examples of such family names are Guevara/Guevarra, Guerero/Guerrero, Espinosa/Espinoza, Estabillo/Estavillo, Nepomoceno/Nepomuceno, Gonzales/Gonzalez, Gutieres/Gutierrez, Serano/Serrano, Sicat/Sikat, Samuco/Zamuco, Sanches/Sanchez, Jimenes/Jimenez, Maderaso/Maderazo, Abolencia/Abulencia, Balbuena/Valbuena, Balderama/Valderama, Baldes/Valdez, Baldoria/Valdoria, Goles/Golez, Ismael/Ysmael, Ison/Yson, Jomadiao/Jumadiao, Martines/Martinez, and Rojas/Roxas.
What is the most undesirable effect of having family names with almost the same sound when pronounced but spelled out differently?
Cesar "Chito" M. Guevara of Quezon City has this to say as he lamented that oftentimes, his family name is often spelled with double "R."
"My family almost always have this problem: In our birth certificates, PRC (Professional Regulation Commission) licenses, and passports, even though we are making it clear that we spell our family name with a single R," he said. Guevara was commenting on a recent Facebook post by Bunny Arville on the Filipiniana Page titled "Who is Pedro Guevara?"
Arville wrote: "If You Live in San Juan, then you know P. Guevara Street. But who was P. Guevara? Pedro Guevara (February 23, 1879 -January 19, 1938), was a Philippine soldier, lawyer and legislator and Spanish writer who became Resident Commissioner from the Philippine Islands during the American colonial administration. He joined the Filipino forces during the Philippine Revolution and assisted in promoting the peace agreement of Biak na Bato at San Miguel, Bulacan in 1897. He also served throughout the Spanish–American War and the Philippine–American War, attaining the rank of lieutenant colonel."
It caught the attention of at least 180 members of the Filipiniana group, many of them heaving praises on Guevara. However, the comments and posts were not all praises. Cesar Guevara wrote that the name of a street in San Juan City and another in Sta. Cruz, Manila, spelling the name Pedro Guevarra (with double R) was erroneous.
Stressing that the spelling needs correction, he said the subject of the write-up was his grandfather.
"We used to live in P. Guevara St., Sta. Cruz, Manila. It was spelled with a single R way back in the 1960s. In fact, my grandparents were already there since the 1930s. And all correspondence and addresses used by my family was P. Guevara with single R. Even this article we are reading spelled the family name with a single R. My grandfather, Judge Guillermo Guevara, once wrote an article in the Manila Times entitled "Why Guevara should not be spelled with a double R. And Pedro Guevara is our great grandfather, so I should know," he said, adding that "It's more likely that it is only in the Philippines that Guevara is spelled with a double R."
When told that a historical book on the Philippine Legislature, from the Pact of Biak-na-Bato (1897) to 1992, titled "Foundations of Freedom: A History of Philippine Congresses" written by veteran writer and editor Jose P. Abletez, listed the name Pedro Guevarra of Laguna's 2nd District with double R, he said it maybe a typographical error.
This caused me to do quick research, thinking positively that there is indeed another family name Guevara spelled with double R. I have in mind our former Philippine News Agency (PNA) photographer with the same family name spelled with double R: Johnny Guevarra (RIP).
After a cursory glance at a number of written sources, including the DPC (Directories Philippines Corporation) Yellow Pages 2008-2009 Metro Manila Edition, I found there are really persons using the family name Guevara (with single R) and also Guevarra (double R). Some of the other family names with similar sound when pronounced but with different spelling are listed above.
The National Press Club (NPC) of the Philippines, in its 50th Anniversary Commemorative Book, listed six members with the family name Guevarra, all spelled with double R.
Next, I looked at the 1998 Philippine Centennial Almanac for Children which has a single sentence entry for Feb. 23, 1878. It said that "Pedro Guevara, politician, writer and resident commissioner of the Philippines in the United States, was born on Feb. 23, 1878. He died on Jan. 19, 1938." Yes, the family name only had one R.
The almanac was edited by National Artist for Literature and Children's Communication Center Executive Director Virgilio S. Almario.
The family name with a single R also appears at the signboard of the Pedro Guevara Elementary School in San Nicolas, Binondo, Manila.
The school principal, Editha Lopez, told PNA photographer Ben Briones that the family name Guevara as written on the signboard has only one R.
However, P. Guevarra St. in Sta. Cruz, Manila is written with double R. The street begins from the vicinity of the Chinese Cemetery, crosses Aurora Blvd., Blumentritt St., the Philippine National Railways (PNR) railroad track and extends all the way parallel to Rizal Ave. until V. Fugoso St. (formerly Zurbaran) near the Central Market and the Dr. Fabella Memorial Hospital.
The street sign for P. Guevarra St. in San Juan City also has double R. It is now up to these local governments if there is a need to make the proper and long overdue correction. (PNA)