Before my parents got married, they had an agreement that my father would name their male children and that my mother would name the female children. “Anna Daniella” is the name given to me by my mother. Every bit of my name as well as the nickname she gave me was well thought of. When asked why, she would say, “Wala lang, Trip ko lang.” As if it is some secret she held dear to her heart.
My first name has a total of twelve letters, the first having four and the second with eight. She said she wanted to break tradition, which is why she created her own rules on giving me and my sister our names. My father’s family wanted my mother to follow their tradition. All of my father’s siblings have two first names and all of them follow the numbers three and seven, corresponding to the letters of their two names. So to break this tradition, my mother gave me two first names with four and eight letters.
The first part of my name came from my mother’s name — “Analiza Henedina”. The name “Anna” also comes from the Hebrew name “Hannah”, which means ‘favor’ or ‘grace’. The second part of my name came from the name of my mother’s favorite writer, Danielle Steel. She changed Danielle to Daniella so that it would sound more feminine. Daniella is also a female version of Daniel, a Hebrew name that means ‘God is my Judge’.
Growing up, a lot of nicknames were given to me by my friends and family. There were names such as Anda, Dan, Dani, Ella, Badids, Diday, and Adabadidang. My mother and father used to argue on what nickname to give me. Combining the first letter of my first name and the two letters of my second name was my mother’s idea, that is how I became “Ada.” When my mother first saw me after she gave birth to me, the first word that came to her mind was “ada”, a Tagalog word meaning ‘fairy’. “She is my ada.” To her, I was a fairy, a beautiful maiden. When asked, she would always describe me as a beautiful baby girl with an extremely fair complexion, chinky eyes, and blood-red lips. A lovely first sight of a newborn baby. But my father hated this name. He hated it so much that once my mother left the country for her Ph.D. when I was only three years old, he insisted people call me Anna instead.
My father’s family did not approve of the name my mother wanted to give but she still went out of her way just to give me the name I have today. I love my mother dearly but I have always hated the name she gave me. At the back of my mind, I always thought that my name did not fit me. It was too feminine. It was not me.
There was a time in my life that I felt so uncomfortable with my name I kept on telling my mother that I wish to change it. But after she told me the reasons for my name, I decided to keep it. My name is something from my mother that would always be a part of me and who I am. But I do prefer to be called “Niel” since it is gender-neutral and I find it more fitting. It would also stop my father from bugging me all the time about my name.
I am my mother’s child, a child bore by a rebellious mother. She rebelled against my father’s family traditions and I now am rebelling against the name she gave me. I am truly my mother’s child.