Much as people, unbeknownst  to me or otherwise,  whenever they would hear my name, or read it, would slightly frown (as if they heard a gobbledygook)…  or scratch their head (as if they were asked a difficult question in a quiz bee)  … or would asked me to say it again (playing deaf ha, or poking fun?), I was inspired to vigorously pounce on the keyboard and come out with this piece.

But why the big fuzz over my name? Why would it always draw, if not attention, giggles?  What’s in a name anyway? And yeah, what’s in my name anyway?

A LOT!!!

I was baptized Massuline Antonio Dupaya Ligaya.  There have been many who said that my given name is a little odd. Actually, that Massuline should have been Mussolini (yeah… from the Fascist dictator of Italy, Benito Mussolini) only that the midwife who had me registered in the civil registry of Lal-lo, Cagayan where I was born, misspelled the name. My parents told me that it was my grandma (father side)  who picked the name. Of all names, I really wondered during my younger years why my Lola Basilisa would pick such a name… the name of an infamous dictator who, at the end of the 2nd World war would be hanged upside down by the angry Italians. However, there is also Antonio in my name. Lola Victoria, my grandma (mother side) insisted the inclusion of the name because I was born June 13 (1967), the feast day of St. Anthony De Padua of Spain.

At least I could heave a sigh of relief that my other name is Antonio, not Adolf. Just imagine if I would have been  named MUSSOLINI ADOLF. My gosh, I would have had the names of two of the most infamous figures (Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler) of the WORLD WAR II. I may have been an abomination to  those who suffered from their atrocities.

Anyway, it would be the Massuline that people would notice, and not the Antonio. There were those who said that my name is just a letter away from “masculine.” Jokingly they would add that perhaps I am not “ciento porciento” a masculine. Why? Because my name is that… one letter short of masculine. Then I would jestingly retort, “Tssee! Want me to hit you with my shoulder bag!”

There were those who would ask if I am a follower of the Islamic faith. They would reason out that my name sounds Arabic. I would retort that it is not Arabic but essentially Latin. Then I would ask if they know Mussolini of Italy from where my name was taken from.

Actually, in my family, we all thought that what is in my birth certificate was Mussolini. That’s why in all my official documents and IDs, it was Mussolini then that was reflected. Then, in 1990, when I applied for a passport, I discovered in my birth records from Lal-lo that instead of M-U-S-S-O-L-I-N-I the spelling of my first name is M-A-S-S-U-L-I-N-E. It was only in during the 2000s that I decided to follow the spelling as reflected in my birth certificate. It was when I took the Licensure Examination for Teachers that I started using Massuline. Thereafter, I underwent the tedious and expensive process of changing the spelling of my name in all my records…. in all the schools where I studied, SSS, PAG-IBIG, PHILHEALTH, etc.

It is only in the records related to my marriage that I have not changed my name yet. Meaning, I was married as MUSSOLINI but still single as MASSULINE… hehe. (Just joking…. seriously joking… or jokingly serious.)

In so many instances that my name would be misspelled and mispronounced Thus, when attending official gatherings, meetings and seminars I would always present my I.D. (with a with a pronunciation guide) to ensure that my name wont be murdered.  In one of my poems  I jokingly explained how my name should be read. The following are excerpts in my aforementioned poem. Below the excerpts are the English translations.

– – – – – – – – – –

Into four syllables, MASSULINE should be divided
write this way… MAS-SU-LI-NE, so you could get
MASSU in MASSULINE should be carefully read
following the pronunciation key at the end… (mäsū)

The “LI” should not be read as li as in Bruce Lee
but as  as in lie, that’s when you fabricate a story
the “NE” let’s make it simple and your task easy
just follow  the sound of “ni” in the word bikini

– – – – – – – – – –

And what about my nickname (or shall I say nicknames)? I have in the following excerpts from my poem mentioned above some explanation about my nicknames.

– – – – – – – – – –

With different nicknames I was identified,
from my initials, some have called me MAD,
from Antonio, with TONY, I was also tagged,
believe me, even with MUSSI, I was identified.

At work, Sir Mad and  Dr. Ligaya are my epithets,
oh my, with too many nicknames, I am perplexed,
back in childhood my playmates even had me labeled,
they would call me DADDU, and I’l be angered.

But of all those monickers I got called with,
there’s only one I would consider so sweet,
I would feel so delighted whenever I hear it.
That is CHING, music to my ears indeed.

– – – – – – – – – –

Tony, Mussi (make it Massu if you wish  to), Mad, Dr. Ligaya (sometimes Sir Joy), Daddu…. whatever… it’s fine with me. But I’d rather be called CHING… it makes me feel at home… for that’s how my beloved mother, father, siblings, relatives and the love of my life call me.

But please don’t combine MAD and CHING. If so that would be MADCHING. Ouch… that would be a “t” sound short of “MATSING” (a Filipino term for monkey.)

MASSULINE ANTONIO DUPAYA LIGAYA… that’s my full name. CHING… my nickname…HARDPEN my nom de plume.


Teacher-Writer-Lifelong Learner M, A, and D are the initials of my two first names (Massuline and Antonio) and my mother's family name (Dupaya). Ligaya (a Filipino word which means happiness in English) is my family name. MAD is actually one of my nicknames aside from Tony and Ching. My full name is Massuline Antonio Dupaya Ligaya. Many times I was asked the question "Why do you write?" I don't write for material rewards nor adulation. When I write poems, stories, and essays, when I do research, the process of creating them gives me immense joy and seeing them completed brings me great satisfaction. I don't write for cash incentives, "likes," and "praises." I would be thankful should I get those but the happiness and sense of fulfillment I get while doing them and completing my works are my real rewards. Is teaching difficult? No! When I teach, I don't work but I play. My educational philosophy - "The classroom is my playground, the students are my playmates, and the subject is our toy." I am a lifelong learner too. My daily goal is to be better than I was yesterday. It's difficult, but it's worth the try. It's not for what I get from doing it but for what I become. Proud to be me! Proud to be a FILIPINO! TO GOD BE THE GLORY!

Posted on March 19, 2013, in Names, Pen name. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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