IS THAT YOUR NAME?

What’s really in a name? Is it really the name that matters or the connotations surrounding the name that carries more weight? Consider the name Casey Anthony, which under ordinary circumstances means nothing except perhaps for her family and her friends. But after the trial that acquitted her of murder in the death of her two-year-old daughter Caylee the name has gone down in US history in ignominy. How about the name Bobbitt? The name especially with Lorena attached to it has become synonymous to the cutting of the penis, which was what Lorena did to her former husband John in 1993 after he raped her. The name Ampatuan in the Philippines has become synonymous to words such as mass murder, mass grave and Maguindanao Massacre. Curiously enough, one of the accused, the younger Ampatuan, announced that his wife and children are petitioning to have their surname changed to his wife’s maiden name to put a stop to being called murderers. The younger Ampatuan maintains his innocence of the massacre, singing that it was his father and brother’s machinations.

The name-debate was made in famous in William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. In Act II, Scene II, Juliet lamented: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”. It was quite understandable why Juliet was lamenting about Romeo’s name after meeting him at the ball. The love of her life was the hate of her life as well. If, in Juliet’s mind, he wasn’t Romeo then their relationship wouldn’t be complicated at all. Juliet, in a way, was justifying the idea of a name especially since Romeo meant the enemy of her family.

Names, I believe, start out as innocuous labels of people, things and events until things get in the way. We can’t, for instance, control other people’s actions, the way they treat other people or the way they carry themselves, which, ultimately, taint their names. But there are instances that we can be a little more astute. Inventors of the names I saw in Manila should have read Merriam-Webster or Oxford before boldly naming their businesses. One establishment is near my place and I can’t really put my finger on what the company is all about because I can’t get over the name. In colourful letters (I think it’s either green or purple) its acronym spells FART, short for Fashion & Art. [Aside: How does one take them seriously?]

Another one was written on the panels in a mall concealing their renovation work. The areas that were not yet ready were sealed up in pink panels with drawings of stuffed toys and a huge backpack with a label Douche bag. My mum and I were the only ones snickering among the passers-by. [Aside: The painter, I thought, must have been having one very bad day.]

Last name that got imprinted on my mind was connected to the cheering squad of this elite university I watched performing on TV. It was an all-male cheering squad called Babble Battalion.  [Aside: Tell me, who wants to listen to someone babbling?]

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