Friday, January 01, 2010

ELEKSYON 2010: The Presidential Name Game

Every election season, especially a presidential one, I always try to find another way to look at the candidates’ chances of winning the race. While the Social Weather Station and Pulse Asia try their best to scientifically measure the chances of winning of presidential aspirants, here, in this first installment of the Genealogy of the 2010 Presidential Candidates series, I would try to expound on the various meanings and symbolisms of the family names of the presidential (and vice-presidential) candidates.

NOTE: Family names in the past were given to people as a form of description of one thing or another; patronymics were names that tell who the bearer’s father was, toponyms indicated the place of origin of a person, and descriptive surnames describe a striking feature or characteristic of a person. While many of the surnames borne by Filipinos are not really original (as majority of Filipino last names were adopted due to the 1849 Claveria decree) family names, I have found over the years that despite this many people’s names have been influential in shaping events and circumstances in various points of their lives. Below are the etymologies and other possible connotations of the names of the top 4 for both the 2010 Presidential and Vice-Presidential elections based on the BusinessWorld-SWS December 5-10, 2009 Pre-Election Survey:


The Aquino surname is an Italian/Spanish geographical surname and designates the bearer as “one coming from Aquino”, a locality in the province of Frosinone, region of Lazio, Italy. It is derived from the Latin name Aquinum, a place-name derived possibly from the personal names Acuvius and Akviiai. Aquinum is reconstructed from the Greek word achuros, meaning 'chaff', the Latin acus, meaning 'needle', and the Low High German achel, which means 'spike'.


Villar is a Spanish geographical name that is derived from any of the places called Villar in the Spanish peninsula. It is a Castilianized spelling of the Catalan and Galician cognates Vilar, which means ‘village’ or ‘(outlying) farmstead’. It is a derivative of vila, meaning ‘(outlying) farmstead’ or ‘(dependent) settlement’.


The real surname of ERAP, Ejercito, is a Spanish word for ‘’army”. Estrada, on the other hand, may refer to a military term for a pathway or covered walk.


The only patronymic among the presidential candidates’ surnames, Teodoro is a Spanish form of the Greek name Theodoros, which means “gift of God”.


Ordinarily, Spaniards use the version ROJAS as a family name and the one with an “x”is a Filipino version of the surname. It is derived from the Spanish word rojo, which means red.


Loren’s last name is a possible Hispanization of the French Le Garde, which literally means “warden or guard”.


No known definition.


The surname Manzano is another name with a geographical root. It is a topographic name for someone who lived by an apple tree or orchard, derived from the Spanish manzano, which means ‘apple tree’, in turn derived from the Old Spanish maçano, from maçana, meaning ‘apple’. Maçana is further derived from the Late Latin (mala) Mattiana, an apple named in honor of the horticultural writer Gaius Matius.

It is interesting already to discuss the many personalities and possibilities of these candidates’ chances of winning based on what their names suggest. For instance, Noynoy Aquino certainly has a lot to live up, not just because of the famous parents he has, but because his name is associated with the most important church doctor known in the Catholic world, Saint Thomas de Aquino (or Aquinas). Villar, on the other hand, has a last name that is apt for his business, considering he has a multi-million real estate company. Erap’s names, either his real or screen name, both have connections to the military, and it is ironic that he was removed due to a coup. Gibo, though certainly far from being a “gift of God”, has a surname that has religious connotations, thus putting him side-by-side with his cousin Noynoy.

On the Vice-Presidential front, MAR’s name is somewhat particularly interesting. In human color psychology, and even to the ancient Greeks and Hebrews, red is associated with many emotions that "stir the blood", including anger, passion, love, pain, and sacrifice. His stepping down from the presidential race in order to make way for Noynoy was certainly a very big sacrifice on his part. Loren’s name has a double meaning: perhaps it is telling the voters to be on guard so that she won’t be cheated on again, or perhaps it is warning the voters to be on guard from her possible victory. Oh well, who knows? This article is simply a starting point for my blog’s Eleksyon 2010 Series.

Next article: Family Politics, Then and Now.

1 comment:

Mayor Ramon Guico said...

Well, I'm just hope for a clean and safe election this 2010. And who ever wins as the race for presidency, I wish he/she can change our country from its current state. Anyway, I've been looking for topics as interesting as this. Looking forward to your next post.