By Severino Samonte
MANILA -- What or which is the correct and proper spelling of the name of the 56-year-old Caloocan/Kalookan City in northern Metro Manila?
Observant people, even those on a first visit to the city, will surely notice the varying spellings of the city’s name such as with two letter Cs instead of two letter Ks, or even a combination of both letters, as can be seen on the signboards of business establishments on some of its main streets.
Consider this: On Rizal Ave. Extension in Grace Park, banks, drug stores, hardware, electrical and appliances stores, among others, display signboards with the city’s name spelled in varying ways. Most of them choose the name with two letter Cs and some with two letter Ks.
A typical example of this varying spelling of the name of the city is reflected by the signboards of two business firms located adjacent to each other (Nos. 239 and 241) on Rizal Ave. Extension.
Similar business signboards can be found along the city’s portion of Epifanio delos Santos Ave. (Edsa) from Balintawak in Quezon City to Monumento in Grace Park, and along A. Mabini Street from Sangandaan to Maypajo near the city’s boundary with Manila.
These differing spellings, in turn, lead to confusion among some residents themselves, who sometimes spell their city’s name, with the capital letter K at the beginning and the small letter C at the last syllable.
There are also instances where people, especially those not residing in the city, writing the name of the city, with capital letter C at the beginning, coupled with the small letter K at the last syllable.
Most barangay halls in the city’s 188 barangays prefer the spelling with two letter Cs. This is also true with most of the national newspapers and magazines, along with history books. Public and private schools in the city also prefer the spelling with two Cs.
Even map makers, printers and publishers cannot agree on the right or proper spelling of the name of the city.
For instance, the Directories of the Philippines (DPC) based in Makati City is using the name with two K’s. On the other hand, HYDN in Mandaluyong City prefers to use C’s.
Incidentally, the city’s official logo, in existence since 1962, has the name with two Cs. It reads in Filipino: “Makasaysayang Lungsod ng Caloocan Pilipinas" (Historic City of Caloocan Philippines). It also has eight rays of the sun and the image of the imposing Bonifacio monument at the intersection of Edsa, MacArthur Highway, Rizal Ave. Extension, and A. Samson Road.
Caloocan or Kalookan is one of the four cities comprising the so-called Camanava or Kamanava area in the northern fringe of Metro Manila. The first acronym represents Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas, and Valenzuela. Of course, the first syllable “Ka” in the second acronym stands for Kalookan.
Background: But why this apparent confusion in the spelling of the name of the 56-year-old city, a former town of the province of Rizal?
As far as could be recalled by this writer (who was a deskman-reporter at the defunct Philippine News Service or PNS), the difference in the spelling of the city’s name started in the early 1970s when the then Municipal Board passed a resolution which changed the city’s name with two Ks instead of two Cs.
Full implementation of the resolution was disrupted by the declaration of martial law in September 1972 by then President Ferdinand Marcos. Martial law abolished the Congress as well as the local legislative bodies -- provincial boards, city and municipal councils.
Sometime in 1988, with the revival of the Congress, along with the provincial boards and municipal and city councils, then city Councilor Aurora Asistio-Henson filed a resolution (No. 006) which amended the one passed by the defunct municipal board.
Henson, who also became a congresswoman for the first district of the city (1992-1998), observed that the previous resolution (No. 106) only required the use of “Kalookan” to the department heads of the city government and did not cover the private sector as well as the rest of the country.
“The spirit of nationalism and our long and bloody struggle for political independence and national identity would be better served if all offices in the city, whether public or private, and all its residents spell the name Kalookan and not Caloocan,” she said.
“Kalookan, being the Filipino spelling, gives substance and meaning to the history of the city. The name was derived from the Tagalog term ‘look’ or bay,” Henson was quoted as saying.
“The proper spelling of Kalookan must be posted in city hall, barangay halls, public markets, and other places for the information and guidance of all concerned and to avoid confusion,” she said.