Wednesday, June 20, 2007

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?

I always took my first name, Maria, for granted along with the rest of the girls unwittingly named by Filipino parents. It's like an appendix. It doesn't serve any purpose but when it exploded after some bouts of dancing I had to undergo a surgery in my fourth grade.

As insignificant and boring my name is, I had problems changing my school records to spell out the name after realizing weeks before highschool graduation that my birth certificate bears the name "Maria" and not "Ma." I had to argue with a bank teller that our payroll mispelled my name on my paycheck. She claims Ma. Irezza is an different entity with Maria Irezza. Again, I had to insist that our security replace my identification card at work, again for the same reasons.

I remembered back in Grade II on the first day of classes my seatmate was having a hard time pronouncing my name so I saved her efforts by introducing myself as Maria. The name stucked for an entire year and I vowed to myself never, ever do that again. At one point I even kidded my friends that it's pronounced like the diva, Mariah, to no avail.

Every first day of classes I had to endure the mispronunciations of teachers to ee-re-sa and other whatnots. I had to correct them everytime that it's ay-ri-za. Nobody seems to get it the first time. I asked my father how did he came up with my name. He just wanted to come up with something unique. I find my name interesting really but I cringe eveytime they misspelled my name on bills, valid id you name it they've messed it!

After watching "Joseph, The Dreamer" play in highschool. I researched if my name might be based from the Bible and the closest variation is Ezra. I even rationalized that maybe I was named after my Aunt Marissa to which I share the same birthday. But all grown up and married with two kids she found that she also has a second name based on the patron saint of our birthdate. You know how folks base the name on the calendar. Thus she got the name Petronillia. I'm still lucky.

My official nickname is Iris but relatives and close friends call me Aye. Story is, as they told me, that I had a playmate who pronounced Iris as Aye. Some people calls me 'ah-yi', others 'ah-ye'. And it's not a derivation from my maiden name Magnaye! Now that I'm married I had now too many z's on my name.

The callcenter I'm working for made us choose an American name but I decided to just keep my name Iris. I noticed that I kept getting comments for "Maria" from customers. Turns out that my name included in our customer satisfaction surveys is Maria. And so to get good returns from customer I started using Maria until I have felt like it's really my name. I have owned my name for the first time in my life. I am not now indifferent or ashamed of it. I felt complete now without the baggage of an add-on name. "Hi my name is Maria I'm here to help!"

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