NAMES of places fascinate me as I wander from town to town as a journalist.
That the Spaniards influenced how various places in our island got their names goes without saying. Thousands of miles away from home, the homesick friars couldn’t be faulted for imagining miniature Toledos, Medellins and Santanders here.
Take the town of Alegria for example. Browsing through the names of its nine barangays is like scanning the map of Portugal or Spain or any of those countries that produced saints for export. You have Compostela, Guadalupe, Legaspi, Lepanto, Madridejos, Montpeller, Santa Filomena and Valencia. You also have the town of Malabuyoc and its barangays Armeña, Tolosa, Cerdeña, Labrador, Montañeza, Sorsogon and Sto. Niño.
And let’s not go into the saints' names. We will run out of space.
Historians might want to check what’s with these towns during the Spanish occupation, because most of the other municipalities in Cebu have barangays whose names are as bisdak-sounding as tinughong and linusak.
Take the town of Bantayan for example. Not one of its barangays has a Spanish-sounding name. The names Ticad, Tamiao, Doong, Songko, Patao and of twenty other barangays make you think the Spaniards in Bantayan had nothing but respect for local (exotic?) names.
In the rest of the province, among the most common native names are Cogon, Tubod, Bato, Lamak and Basak.
Other barangays were named after animals. Catmon has Tabili, Aloguinsan has Punay, Barili has Sayaw, Santa Fe has the mythical Okoy. Dumanjug not only has a barangay named after the lizard, the lizard has a home there – Balay’g Tiki (home of the lizard).
Many names are of plants and trees that used to thrive in the area. The town of Compostela has plenty of this: Cogon, Basak, Dapdap, Magay, to name a few. You also have Siotes in Tuburan, Aguho in Daanbantayan, Mayana in Barili and Pangdan in Naga.
Parts of a house can be names of barangays, too. That’s why you have Sandayong in Tuburan, Hagdan in Oslob, Atop-Atop in Bantayan and Salug in Dalaguete. By association, you may include here Duyan in Catmon, Atabay in Alcoy, Bangkito in Tuburan and Paypay in Daanbantayan.
The natives loved adjectives. Otherwise, you won’t have Mainit in Oslob, Maalat in Madridejos, Malapoc in Danao, Manipis in Talisay, Malingin in Daanbantayan and Matun-og in Balamban.
While we're at it, I wonder if it was not the Americans who named the town of San Francisco and two of its barangays, Unidos and Union. Hmmm… Compared to the Spaniards, the Americans seemed to suck at the names department.
Other names tell you who once ruled the village as chief. Kang Bantug (Bantug’s village) became Canbantug, Kang Banua became Canbanua and Kang Suhe became Cansuje, all barangays in Argao. This method of naming a barangay was also common in the other southern towns of Dumanjug, Samboan and Ronda.
If this method of naming a place after its leader is to be observed today, you wonder what Cebu’s name will be in the future.