Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Finding a Bato in the Mato: Edgar Matobato's Surname Definition

With Senator De Lima once again making headlines for walking out of the senate for the second time around, my mind turned to the last name of the man whose presence in the senate hearing on the alleged extra-judicial killings has started all these in-fighting among the senators. I am talking about Edgar Matobato, whose last name from the very start sounded very unique to my genealogist ears.

After weeks of searching online I discovered another genealogical gem: the last name MATOBATO clearly fits its bearer - at least in Edgardo's case.

The family name is obviously a composite of two words - MATO + BATO. Going the obvious route, which is Filipino, the surname Matobato is derived from the two old Cebuano words mato, derived further from the proto-Austronesian term which means 'water', and from bato, obviously a Cebuano word which in turn has been derived from proto-Austronesian and means 'stone' or 'rock' or 'hard'.

But we can also go the Spanish route. The word MATO is a Spanish word derived from the Portuguese word mato, which means 'forest', 'jungle', or 'woods'; however, it may also may have been derived from the Portuguese verb matar, in turn derived from the Latin mactare, meaning 'to kill'. The second word bato, meanwhile, is another Portuguese verb, this time derived from the word bater, from the Latin battuere, which means 'to beat up'.

As a genealogist I have always believed that names have always held significant meanings, especially surnames. Even for a race of people like the Filipinos whose surnames are mostly derived from a list of names forced upon them, last names in the Philippines still mean a lot when you dig deeper into its history. 

And what is more fitting, more intriguing surname for a confessed killer like Edgar Matobato than to have a last name that means to kill, to beat up, hard, stone, and woods or jungle. I can already start imagining him beating up his victims, then killing them with rocks or stones, then burying the bodies in the deep forests.

By the way, the last name Matobato does not appear to be very populous. It is the 16th most populous last name in the town of Alangalang, Leyte but appears to be ranked as the 38,130th most common last name in the country and only about 0.000750%, or less than 1% of the population carry the last name.

Edgar Matobato (from newsinfo.inquirer.net)

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Dilemma of Using the Surname De Lima

Yesterday, September 21, was the anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law in the Philippines. This led me to think about the Marcoses, which led me to think about EDSA, which then led me to thoughts about how EDSA should have been EDLSA if we were to follow the proper way of writing Spanish surnames with articles like "de", "de los", "de la", "de las", and many more. As I mentioned in a previous post, in modern times, Filipinos have simply lumped these particles together, such that surnames using "de" followed by a name beginning with a vowel are usually combined (such as Deparine from de Parine, Deabordo from Deabordo, Delima from de Lima, and so on). "de los" and "de la" have also transformed into "Delos" and "Dela"; thus, Epifanio Delos Santos. If we were to be really strict about it, the acronym for Epifanio de los Santos should have been EDSLA and NOT EDSA.

Technically, it should be "DLDS" when Using De Lima's Surname
Speaking of De Lima, I am appalled at people's disregard to do simple research on how to write a name like Senator Leila de Lima. I have seen many funny memes on social media using De Lima's name in instances like "Delima Death Squad", an allusion to the DDS with which President Digong has always been accused of leading or protecting at the very least. 

As a genealogist I feel I have to speak out at the blatant misuse of De Lima's last name. While alphabetizing surnames does not always follow the same rules, if we were to pick out popular surnames in history and the arts we know that President Charles de Gaulle of France is always known and listed as "de Gaulle", while famous composer Ludvig van Beethoven is only known as Beethoven. However, Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes, author of the famous work Don Quixote, is always known and filed under Cervantes and never de Cervantes.

We have to understand that because majority of surnames in the Philippines with a particle are of Hispanic origin, then we will concentrate on the rules of alphabetizing Spanish surnames. Many people from the English-speaking world consistently treat surnames with a prefix the same as any other surname or treat surnames with spaces as if it were one word. However, according to The Chicago Manual of Style (15th ed.): “In alphabetizing family names containing particles, the indexer must consider the individual’s personal preference (if known) as well as traditional and national usages.” So it follows that we must follow the rules governing name alphabetization in the name's country of origin.

In the case of the now household name Senator Leila de Lima, if we want to alphabetize and file her in a list of names, The Chicago Manual of Style and Spanish naming customs say that she should be filed as "Lima, Leila de" because the Spanish "de" is not used before the last name when it stands alone. This is also the same rule that applies to names with the prefix dela, de la, delos, and de los.

What do you think, Madam Senator?