Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Philippine Typhoon Naming Conventions.

Isn't it about time they finally stopped doing that...?

Written in: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Mood: Randy is theorizing.
Audience: Everyone.

Previous Post: Typhoon Haiyan

Signs of life are coming back to the most seriously affected areas of Typhoon Haiyan (what Filipinos call Yolanda). While I've never stopped being me, I can now finally go back to the usual tone of this blog. Not that there's anything wrong with being observant - I just thought it bad form to take advantage of a disaster to grandstand and/or use it to advance your self interests.

You know, like what so many political figures in the Philippines are doing...


Honest question: Are there any initiatives to discontinue the Typhoon naming convention in the Philippines? Why not just use their international names? It's a regional phenomenon after all, affecting not only the Philippines. Or would that completely eliminate PAGASA's raison d'etre?

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/13/131106-supertyphoon-haiyan-yolanda-philippines/
(Fig 1: What they lack in predictive capability, they make up for in creativity.)

It never used to bother me as a kid, because

Continued...

...because hey, for all I knew then that's what they were called everywhere.

But with "Haiyan" making headlines, it somewhat throws off people in the international community when affected Filipinos keep calling it "Yolanda". It's not the first time this has happened. Typhoon "Ondoy" and its epic floods also made big headlines here, but for us tuning in to international news 'twas better known as "Ketsana".
 

If this spate of record breaking Typhoons in the last decade is the new normal - what with the warmer oceans - then the Philippines cannot go this alone. The helping hand of the international community will be required from time to time. At the very least, we here in the Filipino diaspora will unwaveringly and unrelentingly help whenever and however we can. For ease of understanding everywhere, might as well go with the international naming convention.

Seriously, it's not like Filipinos in the Philippines are not used to foreign names! Heck, if anything, Filipinos are less used to names with traditional "Philippine Heritage". Who still names their kid over there with either Hispanic sounding names? Fewer and fewer for sure.
My parents' generation were probably the last to be widely named like that (eg: Domingo, Luis Jr., Fe, Pedro; Francisco, Honorato, Wenceslao, Reynaldo, Leoncia, Corazon, Sofia, Catalina, Carmelita). Nowadays, it's all English - Pinoys have traded Miguel for Michael, Marco/Marcus/Marcos for Mark, Isabela for Elizabeth, Maria for Mary, etc... 

Or that corny shit I call "Psuedo English" or "Pseudo Foreign" - names that sound English or Foreign, but not really. Yes, Filipinos actually invent names because they sound cool and exotic (exotic to them).  ...like my real name! So unique, so weird is it, that it is forever the source of confusion.

Or maybe they would still use English names, but it'll be entirely corny, cheesy, or just plain wacky to native English speakers. Things like Xugar (presumably a stylized "sugar"), Apple, Cherry, Cherry Pie, or Queen Elizabeth Pacquiao. Sometimes, they'd even give 'gender specific' names to kids of the opposite sex; I know of a young boy whose name is Danielle - yes, with an "e", like a girl. You might also encounter Filipinos with nicknames like Boy, Girlie, Baby... Sweet pet names for a kid, but what then when they turn into dour adults? You'd have to be a Hollywood A-lister's kid in order to pull that off.

And those Pre-Spanish Colonization names? Virtually nonexistent. Too bad, because they were badass. Some of them still exist as last names, but that's about it... and I'm willing to bet their owners are resentful of being born into a name that is oh so 'native'. Such is the Philippines, where everything foreign is cooler, more desired, and sought after.

Who knows, finally aligning Philippine Typhoon naming conventions with the international standard might not only get rid of unnecessary confusion but also perhaps a bit of bureaucracy. I imagine that like any government agency around the globe, these names are selected by a PAGASA committee, argued over, and only eventually picked after much of citizens' taxes have been spent. ...or it could be one dude picking names out of hat, for all I know... The point being: In an age where the Philippine population is very internationally aware and multilingual, where there is a huge Filipino diaspora exposed to various cultures of the world, and where the rest of the international community is tuned in and sympathetic to what ails the Philippines, there really is no need for it in this day and age.




Next Post: I am Walter Mitty

 

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