Fun Fact: What’s in a (Filipino) Name?

Photo credit: JCT(Loves)Streisand* on / CC BY-ND

I was named after American singer/actress, Barbra Streisand., who was actually born with the conventional spelling of her first name: B-A-R-B-A-R-A, and then dropped the second “a” to be unique. Hence, B-A-R-B-R-A.

My mom named me after her because she was a huge fan; me, not so much. And I’m certainly not a fan of my name because I have to spell it out for everybody. Even then, they don’t always spell it correctly, which is really frustrating.

Up until high school, I went by Barbra, that is, Bar-BRA, not Bar-BA-ra. To simplify the matter of how my name is spelled/pronounced, I began introducing myself as “Barb.”

Then there’s my sort-of middle name. It’s A-N-N, without the “e” at the end. My dad was a huge Beach Boys fan, and I guess my parents compromised and named me Barbra Ann, after the Beach Boys hit, “Barbara Ann.” If you’re of a certain age, then surely you know the song. If not, well, here it is:

In Filipino culture, babies’ middle names are their mothers’ maiden names. So when I was born, I was Barbra Ann Lingat Natividad. My first name is actually Barbra Ann, like Mary Ann. But no one ever called me that because . . . well, I don’t know why. So when I became a naturalized citizen, I dropped “Lingat” and made “Ann” my official middle name.

My family, on the other hand, calls me “Chic” or “Chic-Chic” (pronounced “chick,’ not, “sheek.”) In Filipino families, it’s very common to have a nickname. My paternal grandfather called me his little chickadee, and that’s how I became “Chic-Chic.” Most of my family members call me by the shortened version — “Chic” — while my siblings and younger cousins call me “Ate (pronounced AH-teh) Chic-Chic.” In Filipino culture, older brothers/sisters/cousins have an honorific as a sign of respect. For girls, it’s Ate; for boys, it’s Kuya.

The first time I was married, I changed my last name to my husband’s. Whenever I’d show up for an appointment or something, people would look at me with mild surprise because they were expecting a white woman. So when we divorced, I took my maiden name back. When I married my current husband, I kept my name because: 1) I didn’t want to lose my cultural identity; and 2) for professional reasons — I had already published poetry under the name “Barb Natividad.” Is your head spinning yet? Lol!

Do you have cultural norms surrounding your name? Do you know how you got the name you have? If you’re a single/married woman, would/did you change or keep your last name?

via Daily Prompt: Simplify

22 thoughts on “Fun Fact: What’s in a (Filipino) Name?

  1. My middle name, Leia, came from my great grandmother’s name rather than Star Wars. If I get married I’d be inclined to keep my own last name, more out of laziness than anything.

    1. I wondered if Leia had to do with Star Wars, but for some reason, I didn’t think so. Yeah, changing your name is a HUGE pain.

  2. Ames are a funny thing, aren’t they? I took my husband’s name both times. I was named after my grandparents. Interesting story there, Barb.

  3. I’m Barbara Leigh. I was named Barbara after my great grandmother. My mom chose Leigh as my middle name because she just really liked it. I grew up being called Leigh. Barbara has never been my favorite name to be called. I just don’t particularly like it, lol.

  4. I know that feeling of spelling out your name to every person you meet. There are so many spellings of Saumya and many more spellings of Agrawal. And mind you, all of them are correct. It’s just that people don’t know the one you own officially.

    In India, children are named after the words’ meanings. Saumya means mild. My sister’s name is Srishti which means world. And yeah, we do have the culture of nicknames. But my parents preferred not to give any nicknames to me and my sister, the reason being your nickname (which is always silly and idiotic) becomes more popular than the official name. For over fifteen years I didn’t know the official names of my cousins and my aunt’s and uncles because we call them by their nicknames only. But my friends have given me various nicknames just by moulding my name. I don’t like most of them because I like Saumya the most. But recently one friend called me Mia. And for a change, I liked this one.

    1. Thank you for sharing the Indian culture of naming kids, and about the nicknames. I’m glad you like Mia 😊

      1. Infact, these days many names are taken from daily soaps of television. And there is a new trend also. Some parents come up with names that includes alphabets of their names.

  5. It’s nice to hear the story of your name 🙂 Mine had something to do with a film and mum hadn’t heard any other children having the name Tracey. If I had been a boy I was to be named Jeremy.

  6. I would have thought that many people would know the Barbra Streisand spelling, but I guess that those of us who are older and who can spell!

  7. my mom named me after her then best friend, they are no longer friends now though, my middle name is majella not sure where she got that from, we are shirley majella, shirley is our birth name i’m carol anne an alter though, confused yet? lol

    1. Lol, I forgot that your birth name is Shirley. I think of you as Carol Anne. Also, the image is of the singer, Barbra Streisand 😊

  8. I was curious if your name was Barbra. I like the unique spelling of it. My mother named me after a friend who ended up being in jail when I was born!!! lol… they should’ve known I was going to be wild. Also the spelling of my first, middle and last names are spelled differently, always misspelled by others.
    I have never been married but if I were I’d keep my last name. I like my name. I didn’t grow up with a nickname. My friends have given me a nickname in adulthood; Ace.

  9. This is an amazing blog! My name is Lala it did not came from any of my ancestors name nor my parents name😂 .. my mom named me after a beautiful actress ( not to mention the kind) Lala M ….

    But I always tell everyone that Lala means love .

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