Filipino Naming Traditions and Practices

Naming after Saints

My nephew was born on November 30. And if you are familiar with this traditional naming convention, you’ll know what his name is. His name is Andrew. We also have our hero Andres Bonifacio, whose birthday is being celebrated on this day. Andres is the Spanish equivalent of the English Andrew.

A tradition on naming children is naming them after patron saint of the same day.  Like my nephew named Andrew and our hero Andres Bonifacio were both born on November 30,  the day of  St. Andrew the Apostle.

My classmate in grade school had the same first name as our teacher, same birthdays too.  My oldest sister was born on June 21, she’s named Luisa. She has a former classmate born on the same day, his name is Luis. I had a roommate in college named Marian Luisa, and I asked her when she was born. Expectedly, she was born on June 21. I had an officemate Luisito, and true enough he was born on June 21.

Naming after a patron saint on the day of birth was a common practice in the Philippines. Now it is rarely practiced.

Naming based on the Bible

I had a cousin named Jesus (pronounced in Spanish) but we always called him by his nickname Jessie.  A former president is named Gloria. Our former Vice –President Jejomar Binay’s first name was based on Jesus, Joseph and Mary.   There was a movie director named Ishmael and a current one named Isaac. Kris Aquino’s eldest son is named Joshua. I had classmates named Maria and a nephew named Joseph. An officemate has a daughter named Hannah.

Naming after a parent/parents

Another naming convention is naming the son after the father.  Our former president Benigno Aquino III was named after his father Benigno Aquino Jr. who was named after his father Benigno Aquino Sr.  My uncle named all his three sons after him. They are distinguished from each other through their nicknames.  

Naming after the mother is less common but this is also practiced.  A daughter of Imelda Marcos is named Maria Imelda Josefa  nicknamed Imee.

A derivative of a parent’s name is also used. My brother is nicknamed Ronnie and he has a son named Ronnel. My brother Abner’s only son is named Arben and my brother Henani’s son is named Hernan. An actor Bernard named his son Dranreb which is Bernard spelled in reverse.

Combining the parents’ names is also a practice. Thus, Alfe is from parents Alfredo and Fe.

Giving names with starting letters same as the starting letters of the names of their parents is also common. Thus, the children of Imelda and Nestor have their given names starting with the same starting letter as their names e.g. Irene Nerisse

Naming after Famous Persons

There’s Fr. Socrates Villegas. Our popular world boxing champ Manny Pacquiao has a daughter named Queen Elizabeth. I had a professor named Epictetus. There are many named after famous movie celebrities such as Susan and Vilma.

Naming based on events

Bollywood actor and beauty queen Sushmita Sen was in the Philippines last January 2017 to judge that year’s Miss Universe pageant held in the country. The trip was special for her as Philippines was the country where she won the Miss Universe crown herself in 1994. What made it even more special was her meeting four Filipino girls, courtesy of Jessica Soho of GMA7, who were born in 1994 and named after her.

A GMA News reporter is named John Paul, he’s called JP Soriano, because he was born during Pope John Paul’s visit to the Philippines.

And in the days of Covid, reported that babies were named after it, a feat which trended in social media:

  1. Covid Bryant
  2. Covid Rose
  3. Coviduvidapdap

Uncommon but Interesting

I have a friend whose parents aimed to name the kids such that the first letter of the children’s names spell Everlasting – thus, Edna, Virgilio, Edmond, Ruby, Lani, Arnold. There were only six kids so they were just Everla.

A friend’s three children had names which  all started with Rich e.g. Richard.

The first name of our former senator Heherson Alvarez was from He her son.

Our former senator Joker Arroyo has a brother named Ace.

Senator Saguisag, an activist during his youth has a son named Rebo (for rebolusyon)


Note: You might also like to read Traditional Filipino Family Names

1 thought on “Filipino Naming Traditions and Practices

  1. Pingback: Traditional Filipino Family Names | Just Sharing

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