By Juan L. Mercado
“THE BEGINNING of wisdom is to call all things by their right names,” a Chinese proverb teaches. Widsom has never been one of ex-president Joseph Estrada’s strengths But he insists on being called by what he claims is his right name.
“My name is not bigote ( mustache),” the bearded Estrada told the Inquirer. “It is Erap. People call me Erap.”
That outburst came after fugitive and ex-cop Cezar Mancao pinpointed Bigote as the “mastermind” in the Cavite rubout of publicist Salvador “Bubby” Dacer and his driver.
The two were kidnapped by 22 Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force men President Estrada then was reeling from the BMW stock resources scandal. Dacer and driver Emmanuel Corbito. were strangled and their bodies burned. Investigators itch to ask Mancao if the documents burned dealt with the BMW scam.
“Jose Velarde” was not his name either, Erap insisted – at least through part of his tumultuous .impeachment. He didn’t know “Jose Velarde” from Adam. Authorities searched for a phantom“Jose Velarde” who had a very down-to earth Equitable Bank book. It’s contents caroomed from an initial one peso deposit to over P3.2 billion in less than a year.
That account belonged to his good friend Jaime Dichavez, Erap claimed. Dichavez skipped town before a subpoena reached him. He didn’t leave forwarding address.In a February 2002 hospital-detention suite interview, Erap told ABS-CBN’s Pia Hontiveros, out of the blue, that he signed as “Jose Velarde”. That included signing a half-a-billlion loan guarantee – No, no, no. Not for Erap but for his crony William Gatchalian.
Was this THE Jose Velarde everyone futilely searched for, since impeachment erupted into People Power Two?, many asked then. The Anti Graft court’s decision convicting Erap for plunder,found: Estrada and Jose Velarde were one and the same persons.”
“The beginning of wisdom is to call all things by their right names”? The mustached brother of Marx comedians Moe and Harpo once cracked. “No. Groucho is not my real name. I’m just breaking it in for a friend.” So, is Estrada doing a Groucho now in the Dacerp-Corbito rub out? Surely, Erap is not doing this for a phantom Bigote? Greater love than this no man has than he lay down his name for a friend.
A name, the dictionary tells us, is “a word or phrase that constitutes the distinctive designation of a person or thing”. It’s in the applications where the screw-up begins.
“William Saunders” and “Jane Ryan” were aliases that appeared on Swiss bank papers. Esda I crowds stumbled across the papers littering Malacanang floors, after the Marcoses scrambled aboard Chinook escape choppers.
It was not illegal, in 1986, to have pseudos on bank books. But the Marcoses never admitted to a Groucho caper. The desposits were so large, they couldn’t be explained away. The $35 million the Marcoses stashed with embattled Merrill Lynch, Inquirer reported this week remained intact. Imee and Bongbong Marcos are ferreting the dicator’s loot stashed with former cronies like Lucio Tan.
Filipino maxims on names are linked to integrity, notes the authority on our proverbs: UP professor emeritus Damiana Eugenio.
“Can we go to market with our once respected name?, Aklanons ask. “A good name is better than wealth,” Ilocanos and Boholanos say while Masbatenos counsel: “Take care of your good name for the sake of your children.”
The Philippines is a country “where exoticism rule the world of names,” Matthew Sutherland wrote in the Observer: from “doorbell” like : Bing-Bong, Ding-Dong to “repeating names”: Len-Len or Jing-Jing. “They’re refined by using the “squared” symbol, as in Len2 or Mai2.”
Do randomly inserted letter ‘h’ give a touch of class to an otherwise average name”: like Jhun, Lhenn, Ghemma, and Jhimmy”. Or how about “A Rhose By Any Other Name” . That’s a spin off from Shakespeare’s 1595 tragedy : “Romeo and Juliet.”
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose/By any other name would smell as sweet.” Juliet fretted over Romeo’s family name. They belonged to the feuding Montague and Capulet families. These were the Veronese version of our own feuding political dynasties. “Is she a Capulet?, a bewildered Romeo asks. “My life is my foe’s debt.”
Many bicker over names of places where one resides : upscale subdivision or crummy squatter areas “We go to gain a patch of ground / That hath no profit in it but the name,” Hamlet groused. But then he lived in a castle, albeit spooky.
The major faiths share a deep reverence for Divinity’s name. Muslims have 95 other names for Allah. Jews would not address God directly. In “God Of A Hundred Names” say Barbara Greene and Victor Gollancz collate into a book the prayers of various faiths — including the Christian affectionate address: “Our Father”.
Names have a function more than just accidental applications. Adam, Genesis tells us, named all creatures. He “called his wife Eve because she was mother of all the living.” John The Baptist’s name was chosen before his birth.
“Our name is legion,” screamed the spirits in the Gerasene cave dweller, in response to the demand by One whose name, Luke writes, was chosen before his birth. And the night before He died, he was to pray for others: “Protect them with the Name you gave to me.”