How Pinoys Got Spanish Names
How did we get Spanish names?
Even the class idiot knows that the
Spaniards, of course, gave them to us. But the story goes way back when
Muslim missionaries from the Middle East were already active in what was
then a non-Christian archipelago that became the Philippines.
At that time the world's maritime industry
was the exclusive preserve of two powerful Iberian kingdoms, Spain and
Portugal. Call them greedy if you will but
the two countries were at odds as to whose
ships can sail into what oceans in pursuit of oriental goodies - silk,
tea, porcelain, spices...
But being presumably reasonable people they
agreed to ask some character named Rodrigo de Borja Y Doms - uh, let's
just call him Rodrigo - to divide the planet between Spain and Portugal.
If they paid Rodrigo handsomely, well, he needed the money to support
his illegitimate children in his household.
Why Rodrigo? Because the guy was no other
than the then very powerful world figure known as Pope Alexander VI.
Whoa... a pope with illegitimate
children? Well, that's another story.
Anyway all parties sat down and signed in
1494 what became known as the Treaty of Tordesillas, arrogantly dividing
the planet into two along longitudinal lines. But at the time there was
no such thing as GPS that can accurately determine longitudinal lines.
Sea captains were not really sure what newly discovered lands belonged
As fate would have it, enter into this
picture a lame Portuguese sea captain named Ferdinand Magellan. His
country spurned him so he turned his coat from Portuguese to Spanish. He
led Spanish ships out to sea going west to get to the east in search of
the Spice Islands and got lost in the middle of nowhere in the Pacific.
He stumbled into what is now the Philippines
in 1521 and claimed the archipelago as Spanish territory. Of course, the
natives did not appreciate this and the legendary native chieftain
Lapu-lapu and his men killed Magellan for his arrogance.
But the folks in Spain considered Magellan a
What skipped attention was that the
Philippines, according to the division laid down by Rodrigo, er, Pope
Alexander IV, was supposed to be in Portugal's
half of the world!
But that didn't matter. Spanish colonizers
poured into the archipelago. Friars, backed by guns, rammed Catholicism
down the natives' throats. Might makes
And the friars baptized the natives. That
accounts for the Spanish names of Filipinos today.
Fred writes from Livonia, Michigan and
sometimes Fredericksburg, Virginia.