MANILA – Have you ever noticed that most of the Christian calendar-based names of the Filipino people have started vanishing and being replaced by foreign-sounding ones which are sometimes difficult to spell when written but more pleasing to the ears when pronounced?
There was a time when parents in this country used to consult the old Christian calendar to find the most suitable names to be given to their newly-born sons or daughters during the christening in the church. Such a calendar contained names of saints and other religious personages, among others.
This was perhaps the reason why most of the Filipinos born during and at least before the first half of the previous century had the old-sounding names such as Aquilino, Tiburcio, Marciano, Ignacio, Clodualdo, Gervacio, Virgilio, Nemesio, Domingo, Lope, Gelacio, Severino, Hospicio, Salustiano, Sebastian, Canuto, Flaviano, Agustin, Fausto, Augusto, Feliciano, Felino, Eutiquio, Faustino, Rufino, Cipriano, Perfecto, and Raymundo.
In an article titled "Calendar: What's so important about keeping track of the time" in the 1998 Centennial Edition of the Philippine Students' Almanac, writer and researcher Mario I. Miclat wrote: "With the coming of the Spaniards, it had become the custom in the Philippines to name a baby after the saint whose feast day fell on his (or her) birthday."
The almanac contained 12 pages which listed names suggested for children born during each of the 12 months of the year. Some of the names listed in the almanac were carried by most of the Filipino great men and women, including Jose, Protacio, Emilio, Andres, Jacinto, Manuel, Bonifacio, Luis, Diego, Gregorio, Mariano, Marcelo, Epifanio, Antonio, Melchora, Marcela.
The almanac was edited by National Artist for Literature and Executive Director Virgilio S. Almario of the Children's Communication Center and published by Filway Marketing Inc., the exclusive distributor of Collier's Encyclopedia in the Philippines.
The centennial edition was printed in time for the celebration of the first 100 years of Philippine independence in June 1998.
Miclat also mentioned the old "Kalendariong Tagalog (Tagalog Calendar) ni Honorio Lopez" as another source of Christian names for newborns. This calendar started publication during the revolution against Spain in 1897.
Today, however, parents no longer base the names of their baby boy or girl on the Christian calendar. Instead of being named after saints and other religious people, children are usually named after popular film stars, international beauty queens and noted political personalities here and overseas.
Here are some of the names we often read or hear about nowadays; Abigail, April, Bernadette, Charlene, Christelle, Clarice, Dawn, Fay or Faith, May, Joy, Julie Anne, Nadine, Rhianna, Sharon, Shirley, Theresa.
It may be recalled that after the first election to Malacañang in November 1965 of former Senate President Ferdinand E. Marcos, numerous baby boys and girls born in 1966 and at least the following three years were christened either Ferdinand or Imelda, after the then First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos.
According to Rev. Fr. Danny Pajarillaga of the Filinvest II Parish Church in Barangay Batasan Hills, Quezon City, it is seldom that parents nowadays get the name of their baby boy or girl from the Christian calendar.
"Dapat ganoon sana, pero hindi na ngayon. Bihira na po ngayon ang nagpapabinyag sa old names (That should be nice, but it's no longer the practice at present. Very few nowadays are christened with the old names). By the way, the old names were usually Christian names taken from the old Christian calendar," he said in answer to an online query from this writer.
Pajarillaga was formerly officiating priest at the Ina ng Buhay Parish in Jordan Heights Subdivision, Barangay Nagkaisang Nayon, and at the Christ the King Parish in Kingspoint Subdivision in Barangay Bagbag, both in Novaliches. (PNA)