Name that twelve!

Names become you, or you become your name. In the Frank A Hilario family, we have a dozen names to identify, plus one.

Did we plan to have 12? When the number of my children went beyond 4, ‘the ideal number’ according to population experts from the University of the Philippines and elsewhere, friends started teasing us to shame us to stop having ‘too many’ babies. A Peace Corps friend, Mike Price, put it nicely like this: ‘Why, you never heard of family planning?’ My instant reply was ‘Of course we have! We plan to have 12.’ And 12 they became. And why is that? It’s in her genes: my wife is beautiful and they are 12 in the family.

You can tell where my sympathies lay and went over the years by looking at the names of my children. ‘How many children do you have?’ is the usual question. My wife Amparo has the usual answer: ‘Only one.’ ‘Only one?!’ ‘One dozen.’ A joke and a non-joke. One dozen surviving.

Cristina Marie, 1968 February 14. #1. She was born in Manila (Marian General Hospital) on Valentine’s Day, and we wanted a name to remember that day, and ‘Cristina’ was in the Roman Catholic calendar. The ‘Marie’ part of name just came out, as we were told it had to be two names. At this stage, I had no intellectual leaning. But I was reading and believing in the wisdom of Henry George’s single tax theory: tax only the land. Mike Price introduced me to Henry George, but I didn’t see how it could be achieved and settled for the Establishment. Other birthday celebrants: George Ferris, inventor of Ferris wheel (1859), Thelma Ritter, actress (1905), Vic Morrow, actor & director & writer (1929), Phyllis McGuire, singer, McGuire Sisters (1931), Andrew Pine, actor (1936), Carl Bernstein, investigative reporter (1944), Nathan Osmond, Osmond Boys (1977).

Jose Mario, 1969 August 27. #2. Also born in Manila (Marian General Hospital). The name is a clerical error of Jose Maria. Jose Maria came from Jose Maria Sison, an Ilocano from Ilocos Sur, he an intellectual before he became the head of the CPP, the Communist Party of the Philippines. I didn’t know about the CPP at that time, but I thought Joma was arguing beautifully about the social injustices and where they were coming from. Other birthday celebrants: Friedrich Hegel (1770), Umberto Giordano, composer (1867), Samuel Goldwyn, film magnate (1882), Lyndon Johnson, American President (1908), Lester Young, a musician’s musician (1909), Mother Teresa (1910), Tuesday Weld, actress (1943), Paul Reubens, actor-comedian (1952).

Maria Lorena, 1971 February 6. #3. The third child born in Manila (Marian General Hospital). The complete name came from that of Barros, the girl who traveled the road beyond activism and died a martyr to her faith, dying for what she believed in. I admired her enthusiasm, even her martyrdom, but I wasn’t about to emulate it, nor was I thinking of it. At this time, I was already deep into intellectual but silent advocacy of organic agriculture – silent because I couldn’t get published. Other birthday celebrants: Franz Schubert, composer (1797), Babe Ruth, baseball legend (1895), Louis Nizer, lawyer (1902), Ronald Reagan, American President (1911), Mary Leakey, British anthropologist (1913), Zsa Zsa Gabor, actress (1919), Mamie Van Doren, actress (1931), Tom Brokaw, NBC anchor (1940), Natalie Cole, singer (1950), Elina Zisi, Miss Greece Universe (1976).

Paul Benjamin, 1972 April 11. #4. The first boy (second child) born at the new Infirmary of UP Los Baños. ‘Benjamin’ was the name of two of my wife’s workmates. ‘Paul’ came from Paul Goodman, whose book I read and whose views about society I agreed with. A good man. I had grown tired of the wisdom of the socialists. In fairness, I never quite understood ‘dialectical materialism’ among other concepts. Other birthday celebrants: Dean Acheson, statesman (1893), Adriano Olivetti, Italian manufacturer of typewriter (1901), Ethel Kennedy, wife of Robert F (1928), Dale Messick, creator of ‘Brenda Starr’ comic strip (1906), Oleg Cassini, fashion designer (1913), Alessandra Ambrosio, international Brazilian model (1981).

Teresa Leonor, 1973 July 27. #5. Born at the Infirmary of UP Los Baños. ‘Teresa’ came from Teresita and ‘Leonor’ came from Leona, both workmates of my wife. The name ‘Leonor’ also came from the feastday of San Pantaleon according to the Catholic Calendar. Socialism was now out of the picture in my mind. Other birthday celebrants: Hilaire Belloc, poet (1870), Joseph Mitchell, best writer of The New Yorker (1908), Alan Chadwick, American proponent of organic gardening (1909), Charles Ginsburg, inventor of instant playback (1920), Norman Lear, TV writer & producer (1922), Maureen McGovern, singer (1949).

Cynthia Mae, 1976 April 8. #6. Also born at the UP Los Baños Infirmary. Our autistic muse. The name came out of the blue; she came as a bolt out of the blue. She’s not artistic, but she’s all right. She’s a middle-functioning autistic. At this time, I had become an advocate of forest conservation, with the soil as the key to it all. A radical idea from a radical mind. Other birthday celebrants: , Buddha, the Enlightened One (1029 BC), Seymour Hersh, famous American journalist (1937), Kofi Annan, UN President (1938), Julian Lennon, singer (1963).

July Salvador, 1977 July 2. #7. Another one born at the Infirmary Named after the month in which he was born. In any case, ‘Julio Salvador’ sounds nicer. ‘Salvador’ came from Sally, the lady nurse who actually attended the delivery because the doctor was late in coming. Other birthday celebrants: Hermann Hesse, Nobel Prize for Literature (1877), Thurgood Marshall, American jurist (1908), Richard Petty, king of Nascar racing (1937), Michelle Branch, singer (1983), Lindsay Lohan, American model & actress (1986).

Jennifer Claire, 1979 August 6. #8. The only one born at a private clinic, Celino-Estacio, at Los Baños, Laguna. Jennifer came from the long-running TV show of old, ‘I Love Jeanie’ and ‘Claire’ came from Santa Clara. Other birthday celebrants: Lucille Ball, comedienne (1911), Andy Warhol, American leader of the Pop Art movement (1928), Michelle Yeoh, one of Asia’s top film stars (1962), Gri Halliwell, former Spice Girl (1972), Soleil Moon Frye, in ‘Sabrina, The Teenage Witch’ (1976).

Ernest Charles, 1981 May 22. #9. Born at the Quirino Labor Hospital in Quezon City. The ‘Charles’ came from Prince Charles, who got married to Princess Diana. The ‘Ernest’ was after Ernest F Schumacher, the father of the big idea ‘Small is beautiful.’ Schumacher is dead; he died young. My son is dead; he died even younger – ‘fever of unknown origin,’ the death certificate said. Someone you admire dies young; someone you love dies younger – I was blaming myself for his death. A small consolation: Small is beautiful lives on. Other birthday celebrants: Richard Wagner, composer (1813), Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of ‘Sherlock Holmes’ (1859), Peter Nero, pianist & composer (1934), Naomi Campbell, supermodel (1970).

Daphne Cassandra, 1982 December 21. #10. Born also in the Infirmary, the only one whose birth I witnessed with my own eyes, the head coming out, and I saw the hair so dark. The name ‘Daphne’ came from a British submarine used during the Falkland War and was suggested by Jomar and ‘Cassandra’ (from the movie ‘Cassandra Crossing’) was suggested by Jing Lacuna, a roomer in the basement we were renting at San Antonio, Los Baños, Laguna. Jing had become a family friend and was very fond of Ernest Charles, a handsome young boy then. In fact, her family ‘adopted’ the boy and loved him very much. Other birthday celebrants: Rebecca West, famous female journalist (1892), Jane Fonda, movie star (1937), Frank Zappa, guitarist & rock star (1940), Samuel L Jackson, Mace Windu in ‘Star Wars’ (1948).

Neenah Bonafe, 1984 January 20. #11. Another one born at the Infirmary. ‘Neenah’ came from the name of a town of Wisconsin, the home of Kimberly Clark. ‘Bonafe’ came from two friends: Buena and Fe; if you combine the name, it means Good Faith: Bonafe. Other birthday celebrants: George Burns, comic (1896), Joy Adamson, wildlife conservationist (1910), DeForest Kelley, McCoy in ‘Star Trek’ (1920), Federico Fellini, director (1920), Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin, second man to walk on the moon (1930), David Lynch, unique filmmaker (1946).

Edwin Dante, 1988 April 6. #12. Born at the UP Comprehensive Hospital at Bay, Laguna. The full name came from the doctors who attended the mother during delivery: Dr Amante and Dr Edna. Other birthday celebrants: Raphael, one of the most famous Italian artists (1483), Butch Cassidy, famous outlaw (1866), Anthony Fokker, aircraft designer (1890), Lowell Thomas, author (1892), James Watson, with Francis Crick described the double-helix structure of DNA (1928), Merle Haggard, country music star (1937), Barry Levinson, writer-director-producer (1942).

Graciela Antonia, 1990 June 13. #13. Born also at the UP Comprehensive Hospital. ‘Graciela’ came from Graciano, great grandfather from father side, and Gabriel, grandfather from mother side. ‘Antonia’ because she was born on the feast day of San Antonio de Padua, June 13. She was born the year before my wife and I returned in spirit to the Roman Catholic Church. Other birthday celebrants: William Butler Yeats, British poet and playwright (1865), Dorothy Sayers, poet & writer (1893), Paul Lynde, comic (1927), Siegfried and Roy, partners in magic (1939), Ashley & Mary-Kate Olsen, twins who created their own empire of TV movies, videos, books, magazines and a fashion line all by the age of 15 (1986).

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