Manila Vanilla

What it's like to be a U.S. Fulbright scholar, basketball player, journalist, and the whitest man in Metro Manila.

My Photo
Name:
Location: Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines

New Yorker by birth, shipped across the globe to the world of malls, shanty-towns, patronage, corruption, basketball and a curious burnt-toast smell that wafts around at dusk

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Great Names in Philippine Basketball

Filipinos' penchant for bestowing playful names to their children is a well-trodden subject for foreign writers, probably because it's an easy target for witticism and ridicule. To some extent, this is warranted; some names -- Ketchup and Cherry Pie come to mind -- are truly unfortunate. But there's also a cross-cultural mismatch in play. Syllables that sound normal and more or less attractive to Philippine ears don't ring as sweetly on Western ears (and, I presume, Japanese, Indian and Kenyan ears). These are the Buboys, Biboys, JunJuns, Nonoys and their brethren. The British writer Matthew Sutherland called these monikers "doorbell names" for their onomatopoeic qualities in a pair of articles that are constantly making the E-mail forward rounds in Manila. Laughing at the doorbell names hints at foreigners' attitudes of cultural superiority, but being silly isn't a crime. I'm aware that the nickname "Bong" just means "junior," but it still makes me giggle.

So, for my foreign readers who aren't treated to daily coverage of Philippine basketball and the Pinoys who don't bother following the sport, I'd like to run down some of the PBA's great names.

1. Tagalog names. Aris Dimaunahan of the Coca Cola Tigers is my hands down favorite name in the league. His surname, which means "can't get ahead of," could not be more fitting for a speedy guard. I remember watching him strip Willie Miller in the backcourt during a game last conference and seeing Aris look back at Miller as if he were saying "Dimaunahan!" he scooted ahead for an uncontested lay-up. Don Dulay, a Fil-Am rookie point guard on the Welcoat Dragons, also has a colorful name. "Dulay" means climbing around trees, from branch to branch, to pick fruits and collect birds' nests. Dulay, at 5-5, is one of the shortest players in the league, but he's quick and crafty as fuck and finishes well against the big players. It's easy to imagine his forays to the hoop as him skittering through the trees before flipping the ball past the lumbering big men's attempts to block his shot. On a related note, I met a taxi driver named Lyle Katakutan -- Lyle "Fear" -- in Cebu City last weekend, and if his son makes it to the league, he will catapult to the top of this list.

Racela, a member of Ateneo's 1988 championship squad, watching his college team take on La Salle in the first game of the 2007 semifinals.


2. Holiday names. The granddaddy of this category is Olsen Racela, the San Miguel-turned Magnolia stalwart (the San Miguel Beermen recently changed their name to the Magnolia Beverage Masters). The heady playmaker and ball-hawker extraordinaire Racela was born on All Saints' Day, hence the phonetic equivalent "Olsen." His brother Nash, an assistant coach in the league, was born on National Heroes Day. The third Racela boy wasn't born on a holiday so he was named Wally for "walang okasyon," Tagalog for "no occasion." The Barangay Ginebra Gin-Kings have a three-point specialist named Sunday Salvacion. I don't think translation is required for this overcooked Catholic name. Of all the plays in basketball, however, the three-point shot might be the best visual metaphor for the leap of faith, and Sunday's prayers are answered about 40 percent of the time.

3. The Greeks. To my knowledge, the only Fil-Greek of note is WWE superstar Bautista. There are, however a couple Greek gods and demigods playing for Welcoat. Neither comes close to living up to his namesake. Start with Jercules Tangkay, pronounced "Hercules." He was a hero in the minor league, the PBL, but hasn't cracked one of the PBA's worst rotations on the Dragons. Still, he's worth keeping around for comedic reasons like Nutty Professor memories ("Hercules! Hercules!") and the onanistic potential of pronouncing his name with a hard "J." Not far from Jercules on the Welcoat bench, you can often find Adonis Santa Maria, who wins the ironic name award for being one of the ugliest mofos in the whole PBA. It's like he's got Johnny Bench's catcher's mitt for a face. Needless to say, this Adonis doesn't have a cult of women burning incense for him; he does, however, have about four gay fans who shriek like banshees and wave a banner embroidered with Santa Maria's name when he scores.

4. Revenge of the Nerds. For me, these are funnier than the doorbell names. A lot of Filipinos have names that are extremely dorky by American standards, and I'm always tickled to see someone named Nelbert Omolon throwing down a tip dunk for Santa Lucia, or Kerby Raymundo dropping double-doubles for Purefoods, or Chester Tolomia banging threes on Coke.

Raymundo showing the Chinese that Kerby ain't no punk name.


5. Doorbell names. The PBA has its share of these. They are far more numerous than the other types I've discussed and include many of the best players in the league. Here is a brief list: Donbel Belano, Mac-Mac Cardona, Ren-Ren Ritualo, DonDon Hontiveros and Jondan Salvador.

6. The Best of the Rest. I can't fit these guys into a category, but I dig their names. Lordy Tugade on Magnolia -- I'm not sure about the religious connection with his name, but it's a good bet. His teammate Samigue Eman, whose father works for San Miguel corporation, and whose name is a contraction of "San Miguel." Eman was actually drafted by the San Miguel Beermen; it was match made in heaven until they renamed themselves to promote Magnolia's new line of health teas. Jimwell Torion -- this shabu-loving Tasmanian devil of a guard is currently out of the league, but watching reckless karate chopping defense and shameless ball-hogging was absolutely hilarious. He is sorely missed. Homer Se -- the definitive butcher, he will probably name his son Laimbeer. Topex Robinson -- I have no clue what the deal with his name is.

Finally, a disclaimer for anyone who might feel compelled to comment on the fact that almost all of these players' first names are nicknames. I know that. Olsen Racela's given name, for example, is Rodericko Cesar Escueta Racela, and many of the players mentioned here have similar Spanish-style compound names. I'm glad they use the fabulous nicknames instead.

6 Comments:

Anonymous CresceNet said...

Oi, achei seu blog pelo google está bem interessante gostei desse post. Gostaria de falar sobre o CresceNet. O CresceNet é um provedor de internet discada que remunera seus usuários pelo tempo conectado. Exatamente isso que você leu, estão pagando para você conectar. O provedor paga 20 centavos por hora de conexão discada com ligação local para mais de 2100 cidades do Brasil. O CresceNet tem um acelerador de conexão, que deixa sua conexão até 10 vezes mais rápida. Quem utiliza banda larga pode lucrar também, basta se cadastrar no CresceNet e quando for dormir conectar por discada, é possível pagar a ADSL só com o dinheiro da discada. Nos horários de minuto único o gasto com telefone é mínimo e a remuneração do CresceNet generosa. Se você quiser linkar o Cresce.Net(www.provedorcrescenet.com) no seu blog eu ficaria agradecido, até mais e sucesso. If is possible add the CresceNet(www.provedorcrescenet.com) in your blogroll, I thank. Good bye friend.

11:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hilarious article ... re: the etymology of "topex", it was a pimple medication in the 80's ... go figure !!!

- canmaker

6:57 PM  
Anonymous moneyball said...

couldnt stop laughing! going back a couple of decades there were willie generalao, an apt surname for a point guard; ed ducut (meaning snatch or steal), not so apt since he was a center; ric catacutan, though as a journeyman, there wasnt really anything to fear about him and luke dacula, who incidentally legally changed his name to luke dator, not much of an improvement if you ask me.

10:23 PM  
Anonymous JonarSabilano said...

Topex Robinson's given name is Christopher, as far as I know. People shortened it to Topher, then Topex.

3:18 PM  
Anonymous boksilog said...

very very funny article! ROFLMAO

8:24 PM  
Blogger PAK MUS said...

saya mengucapkan banyak terimakasih kepada KI HADAK yang telah menolong saya dalam kesulitan,ini tidak pernah terfikirkan dari benak saya kalau nomor yang saya pasang bisa tembus dan ALHAMDULILLAH kini saya sekeluarga sudah bisa melunasi semua hutang2 kami,sebenarnya saya bukan penggemar togel tapi apa boleh buat kondisi yang tidak memunkinkan dan akhirnya saya minta tolong sama KI HADAK dan dengan senang hati beliau mau membantu saya..,ALHAMDULIL LAH nomor yang dikasi KI semuanya bener2 terbukti tembus dan baru kali ini saya menemukan dukun yang jujur,jangan anda takut untuk menhubungiya jika anda ingin mendapatkan nomor yang betul2 tembus seperti saya,silahkan hubungi KI HADAK DI 085=259=457=111 ingat kesempat tidak akan datang untuk yang kedua kalinya dan perlu anda ketahui kalau banyak dukun yang tercantum dalam internet,itu jangan dipercaya kalau bukan nama KI HADAK
BUKA INI DANA GHAIB TOGEL










saya mengucapkan banyak terimakasih kepada KI HADAK yang telah menolong saya dalam kesulitan,ini tidak pernah terfikirkan dari benak saya kalau nomor yang saya pasang bisa tembus dan ALHAMDULILLAH kini saya sekeluarga sudah bisa melunasi semua hutang2 kami,sebenarnya saya bukan penggemar togel tapi apa boleh buat kondisi yang tidak memunkinkan dan akhirnya saya minta tolong sama KI HADAK dan dengan senang hati beliau mau membantu saya..,ALHAMDULIL LAH nomor yang dikasi KI semuanya bener2 terbukti tembus dan baru kali ini saya menemukan dukun yang jujur,jangan anda takut untuk menhubungiya jika anda ingin mendapatkan nomor yang betul2 tembus seperti saya,silahkan hubungi KI HADAK DI 085=259=457=111 ingat kesempat tidak akan datang untuk yang kedua kalinya dan perlu anda ketahui kalau banyak dukun yang tercantum dalam internet,itu jangan dipercaya kalau bukan nama KI HADAK
BUKA INI DANA GHAIB TOGEL

11:05 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home