TEACHERS’ RESOURCE BOX: Mahabang-Mahabang-Mahaba
What’s in a name? This fun story will teach your students how to love the moniker they were born with.
A little boy feels unhappy about the fact that he has an unusually long name: Gatpuno Ping Emilio Juanito Santiago R. Lakanilaw. Writing down this lengthy name in school always tires him out and lets him miss out on playing with his classmates. When he talks to his mother and admits to being frustrated with his name, she surprises him by explaining the reasons why he got every single one of them. In the end, the little boy learns to appreciate his extraordinary set of names.
IDEAS FOR DISCUSSION:
1. Our Heroes’ Names
As mentioned in the storybook, the term “Gat” once indicated that a person was a hero. Ask your students to research about the meanings of their favorite Philippine heroes’ names and share them in class. Take the lead by discussing these examples:
- Dr. José Rizal
Our national hero’s full name is José Protasio Rizal Mercado y Alonso Realonda. José is a Spanish name derived from the Hebrew name Joseph which means “God will multiply.” His second name Protasio is said to be taken from Saint Protase whose feast day falls on June 19 (Rizal’s birthday). It is Greek in origin, and is defined as “the preferred one.” The surnames Rizal Mercado come from his father’s side (Rizal is from the Spanish word Ricial which means green fields, while Mercado means market—a term that pays tribute to his family’s Chinese merchant roots) whereas Alonso Realonda comes from his mother’s side.
- General Emilio Aguinaldo
Derived from the Latin name Emil, Emilio is a name that suits the first president of the Philippines because of its meaning: to strive or excel. As a member of the KKK, he strived to free our country from the grips of Spanish colonizers.
- Gabriela Silang
Maria Josefa Gabriela Cariño Silang was the wife of Diego Silang, the well-known leader of the Ilocano uprising. Her names have deep spiritual weight since they are variants of the names of holy beings Mary (the mother of Jesus) and Gabriel (the archangel who delivered God’s message to Mary). Meanwhile, her second name Josefa is a Hebrew name that stands for “the Lord’s addition.”
2. Naming Practices Around the World
These customs may provide surprising reasons for people’s names.
Africa – Parents believe that the name of a baby can influence the course of his life and his family’s future, that’s why they take many things into consideration before making a choice. Some African babies have two names—one is given as soon as they’re born, and the other is given during a later celebration.
China – It’s no secret that the Chinese give utmost importance to the family unit, making it common practice for the surname to come before an individual’s two-character name. Traditionally, the male members of a generation (siblings and cousins) share the same first character to signify their relations.
France – The French pass on the father’s name to the daughter by simply changing one or two letters to make it sound more feminine.
Hawaii – Hawaiians love giving their children descriptive names based on nature. For example, the first name of actor Keanu Reeves means “cool breeze over mountains.” Names that start with Kelii- (“chief”) or end in -lani (“sky”) could only be used by those with high social standing.
Ireland – Depending on the baby’s gender, the firstborn child adopts the name of the paternal grandfather or maternal grandmother as a way of honoring their elders.
Japan – In some Japanese families, you can tell the chronological order of the boys because their names simply state them. Ichiro means “first son,” Jiro means “second son,” and Saburo means “third son.” Girls, on the other hand, are given more virtuous names such as Akiko (bright child) and Kimiko (noble child).
Sweden – Before the Names Adoption Act was passed in 1901, family names in Sweden were originally patronymic. The most common surname was Johansson, which meant that the person was the son of Johan.
3. Say What?
These lengthy, mind-boggling names will make your students gasp for air while saying them.
This Hawaiian name has got 37 letters to it! Believe it or not, the masculine moniker stands for “the beautiful aroma of my home at sparkling Diamond Hill is carried to the eyes of heaven.”
A 305-meter hill found in New Zealand, this land formation gained popularity due to its lengthy name that means “the summit where Tamatea, a man with big knees, a climber of mountains, a land-eater who traveled about, played his nose flute to this loved ones.”
- Krung Thep Maha Nakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit
This is the actual name of Bangkok, the capital of Thailand. It roughly translates to “the land of angels, the great city of the Emerald Buddha, the impregnable city of Ayuthaya, the grand capital of the world endowed with nine precious gems, a happy city abounding in an enormous Royal Palace that resembles the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated god, a city given by Indra and built by Vishnukarn.” Definitely a mouthful even in English!
4. Name Game
Challenge your class’s vocabulary by doing this short activity.
For the first round, ask your students to describe themselves using the first letter of their names such as Jolly Joanna or Boisterous Beth. Each student should give an adjective that has not been used by his other classmates. Applaud the students who come up with unique and creative descriptions for themselves.
For the tougher second round, make them pair up with their seatmates and come up with fitting adjectives for every letter of their seatmate’s name.
C – Cute
H – Hardworking
E – Energetic
S – Sincere
K – Kind
A – Animated
Challenge them even further by asking them to come up with adjectives for every letter of their last name as well!