Filipino name

In the Philippines, varying naming customs are observed, whether it is given name first, family name last, a mixture of native conventions with those of neighbouring territories, etc. The most common iteration amongst Filipinos is a blend of the older Spanish system and Anglo-American conventions, where there is a distinction between the "Christian name" from "surname". The construct of having several names in the middle name convention is common to all systems, but to have multiple "first" names and only one middle and last name is a result of the blending of American and Spanish naming customs. The Tagalog language is one of the few national languages in Asia to use the Western name order while formally uses the eastern name order. Thus, the Philippine naming custom is coincidentally identical to the Spanish and Portuguese name customs and to an extent Chinese naming customs.

For the most part, most Filipinos abide by the Spanish system of using both paternal and maternal surnames, the latter constituting the "middle name". An example would be Jose Cuyegkeng y Mangahas becoming Jose Mangahas Cuyegkeng, where the particle y is used only for legal purposes and is otherwise dropped. The middle name in its natural sense would have been the second name if the person had one, but is never counted as an individual's given name.

Filipinos tend to use middle names and surnames always.

Given names

Filipinos may have one or more official given names (as registered in their birth certificates and baptismal certificates) and various types of temporary or permanent nicknames. Filipinos have a penchant for giving themselves or each other various sorts of nicknames and monikers. Some nicknames are carried for life while others are used only with certain groups so a person can have multiple nicknames at different ages or among different groups of people.

Abbreviations, combinations, and elisions

Long given names can be shortened in various ways. Emmanuel can become Eman, Manuel, Manolo, Manny, or Manoy. Consolación has been converted to Connie, Cons, Sol, or Chona.

Filipino women with two given names such as María Cristina or María Victoria may choose to abbreviate the very common María (in honour of the Virgin Mary) as Ma. (with a full stop), thus rendering these given names as Ma. Cristina or Ma. Victoria. Filipino males with two given names such as José Mariano or José Gerardo could follow the same practice of abbreviating Josés as Jo., but this is not as consistent. Some Muslims would follow conventions found in neighbouring Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia, abbreviating "Muhammad" (and its variants, viz. "Mohammed", etc.) as "Muhd." or "Mohd."

Another common practice rarely seen in other cultures (but common with Spanish conventions) is to elide or combine multiple given names into one nickname. The aforementioned María Cristina and María Victoria may thus acquire the nicknames Maricris and Marivic. Thus the Filipino names Maricel, Maritoni, Marijo, Maritess, and Maricon come from Maria Celia (or Celeste), Marie Antoinette, María Josefa (or Josefina), María Teresa, and María Concepción (or Consolación). The popular male nicknames Joma, Jomar, and Jomari are derived from concatenating José Mariano. Jestoni was derived from Jesús Antonio. These types of nicknames have become so common that they have also been registered as a child's official given name by the parents (e.g., Maricris Llamador Gunigundo or Maricris Ll. Gunigundo). The child Sidperl got his name when his parents combined their given names Isidro and Perlita.

Sometimes, this practice results in a completely new, unprecedented given name. Former Vice-President Jejomar Binay's given name is a combination of Jesus-Joseph-Mary. Former Senator Heherson Alvarez's name is derived from He-Her-Son (from "He, Her [Virgin Mary]'s Son", referring to Jesus Christ). The unique, patriotic female names Luzviminda and its variants Minvilu and Vizminda come from concatenating the names of the country's three main island groups: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

A related custom is that parents combine their given names to create a name for their child. Examples:

  • Maria + Carlos = Maricar
  • Elvin + Liza = Elliza
  • Marino + Erlinda = Marinerl
  • Pearlisita + Ian = Pearlianne
  • Mark + Melissa = Marissa
  • Henry + Mariel = Heriel
  • Reyman + Grace = Mance

Some first names like Lodegrano or Lorimer may have been invented on the spot by the parents or derived from some partially remembered foreign term. Other coined first names have unusual spellings or spellings which are pronounced differently.

Honorifics and titles

Honorifics and titles are sometimes used in place of a person's actual name. Thus, the titles for family elders are often used by the younger persons and then adopted by the wider community: Apo (grandson/granddaughter). Lolo (grandfather) and Lola (grandmother) are used for senior elders; Tatay/Itay/Ama (father) or Tito/Tiyo/Tsong (uncle) and Nanay/Inay/Ina (mother) or Tita/Tiya/Tsang (aunt) for middle-aged elders; Manong or Kuya (elder brother) and Manang or Ate (elder sister) for anyone slightly older than the person speaking.

People in the community are often addressed by their military or police rank, professional titles or job descriptions, either with or without their names. Architect, Attorney, Engineer, Teacher, Dok/Doctor, Direk/Director, Manager, Bisor (supervisor), Boss, Tsip/Chief, are used in the same way as Mister, Miss, Ms., or Mrs. especially when the addressee's name is not yet known by the speaker. This is often done as a sign of respect and to avoid giving offence. Even foreigners who work in the Philippines or are naturalized Filipino citizens, including foreign spouses of Filipinos, who hold some of these titles and descriptions are addressed in the same way as their Filipino counterparts, although it may sound awkward or unnatural to some of them or language purists who argue that the basic titles that precede surnames and either Sir or Ma'am/Madam are to be employed for simplicity. Also, Sir and Madam/Ma'am are not to be used preceding a nickname.

Numerals and birth order patterns

People with the same name as their father are registered as Junior (abbreviated to Jr.) or numbered with Roman numerals (III, IV, V, etc.); their father adds Senior (Sr.) after his surname or suffix. Inevitably, the younger person tends to be nicknamed Junior or Jun permanently. This can also be applied to numerals, i.e. the nickname being Third or Fourth. Because of this, a family will necessarily bestow a variety of unofficial nicknames to distinguished the various people having with nearly identical official given names.

Many nicknames are bestowed by parents or other elders on children while they are still toddlers. Examples are the numerous Boy, Toto/Totoy (young boy), Girlie, Nene (young girl), Baby and similar types of pet names given to people who received them as kids and carried them into adult life and seniority. They've carried the nickname all their lives and see no incongruity in being called Boy or Baby even when in their sixth decade. Some are diminutives of the actual name, such as Pepito for Pepe, Juanito for Juan (or the English form Johnny for John), and Nenita for Nena. Thus, a person used to being called Joselito (Little Joseph) as a child may retain the nickname as an adult even if he could already be called José or Joseph.

The names of children in some families may follow a certain pattern, such as beginning with a certain letter of the alphabet, e.g. Diego Arnel, Diamond Amelia, Danford Arman, Dolores Allison, such that all their initials will be the same, i.e., DAZL if the middle name is Zulueta and the surname is Lim. An example of this is that former Senator Joker Arroyo (legal name) has a brother named Jack.[1] Siblings can also be named after certain themes, such as countries, car trademarks, and popular brand names - for instance, World Champion boxer and incumbent Senator Manny Pacquiao named his two daughters Queen Elizabeth and Princess[1].

Reversals, indigenised names and Anglicisation

The Filipino given name Dranreb was invented by reversing the spelling of the English name Bernard, while someone calling himself Nosrac bears the legal name Carson. Joseph Ejército Estrada, Thirteenth President of the Philippines, began as a movie actor and received his nickname Erap as an adult; it comes from Pare spelled backwards (from Spanish compadre, fellow godparent) but now means mate or buddy in Filipino.[1]

An old custom is to replace or insert Filipino phonemes into a Spanish or English name: Mariano becomes Nano, Edwin becomes Aweng, Eduardo becomes Dwarding, Roberto becomes Berting, Ponciano becomes either Popoy, Onse, or Syano. Sometimes there is a tendency to convert a grand-sounding given name into something very ordinary, such as when John Paul becomes JayPee, Peter John becomes Peejong, Anthony becomes Tonyo, Ronald becomes Onad, María Elena becomes Ineng or Inyang, or Ambrosia becomes Brosya.

Complementary to this is the practise of Anglicising (with the implication of "modernising") a Spanish given name. Thus José Roberto becomes Joseph Robert (further shortened to Joebert). Eduardo becomes Edward and then Eddie or Eddieboy (sometimes further shortened to Daboy). Consolación becomes Connie; Corazón becomes Cora or Cory; Juan becomes John or Johnny; Teresita or Teresa becomes Terê, Tessa, or Tessie; and Gracia becomes Grace.

Monikers and progressional names

The variety of Filipino names, some of them with negative connotations in Anglicised form, often take foreigners by surprise.[1] Most Filipinos don't notice any negative English connotations, however, unless somebody points it out.[1]

Many Filipino celebrities and high-status personalities, such as actors and politicians, don't mind having such types of nicknames;[1] in fact, their nicknames are often more well-known than their actual given names. Film and television celebrity German Moreno didn't mind using the nickname Kuya Germs (kuya = elder brother). National Artist of the Philippines for Fashion Design, José Pitoy Moreno, would never be recognized anywhere under his official given name, but so far, he is the only prominent Pitoy in the world.

Middle names

Maternal names

Christians (as well as certain Muslims, Chinese Filipinos, and others) in the Philippines formerly followed naming patterns practiced throughout the Spanish-speaking world (the practice of having the father's surname followed by the mother's surname, the two being connected by the particle "y", which means "and", such as Guillermo Cu-Unjieng y Araullo). If the second surname starts with i, y, hi or hy, the particle becomes e, following Spanish rules of euphony, as in Eduardo Dato e Iradier. Sometimed this second rule is overlooked.

This practice changed when the Philippines became a United States colony in the early 20th century. The order was reversed to follow the conventional American form "Christian name - Middle name - Surname," which in this case is actually "Christian name - Mother's surname - Father's surname" (Francisco Concepcion Casas or simply Francisco C. Casas). The conjunction y was dropped, although it is still used in certain contexts today (most notably names in criminal records, like the names used in placards used in mug shots, such as shown in the image on the right).

Currently, the middle name is usually, though not always, the mother's maiden name (followed by the last name which is the father's surname). This is the opposite of what is done in Spanish-speaking countries and is similar to the way surnames are done in Portugal and Brazil. The blending of American and Spanish naming customs results in the way Filipinos write their names today.

Furthermore, application forms for various legal documents define the first name as the "Christian name(s)," the middle name as the "mother's maiden surname" (this becomes the basis for the middle initial), and the surname as the "father's surname."

Bearing the mother's maiden surname as the middle name or middle initial is more important to a majority of Filipinos than to use one of the given names as a middle name or middle initial. Filipino culture usually allocates equal value to the lineage from both mother and father except in some prominent families who practice a strictly patriarchal system (usually of Spanish or Chinese heritage).

Exceptions apply in the case of children with single parents. Children born out of wedlock bear their mother's surname as their surname, with no middle name. The unmarried father must resort to legal and administrative procedures if he desires to acknowledge the child as his own and for the child to be registered with his own surname (in which case the child will use the mother's surname as his/her middle name). Exceptions also apply to Filipino children who have non-Filipino descent.

Maiden and married names

When a woman marries, she may: use her maiden first name and surname and add her husband's surname; use her maiden first name and her husband's surname; or use her husband's full name, but prefixing a word indicating that she is his wife, such as “Mrs.”[2] She may also decline to adopt her husband's surname and continue to use her maiden name since there is no law in the Philippines which obligates a married woman to use the surname of her husband.[3]

  • A woman may use her birth surname after marriage. However, once she has opted to use the surname of her husband, she shall continue using it until her marriage with her husband is validly terminated, such as through annulment, subject to certain conditions.[2][3]
  • All children from this marriage will automatically have the mother's birth surname as their middle name, and the father's surname as their surname.[2]

Until the middle of the 20th century, it was common for married Filipino women to insert the particle "de" ("of") between her maiden surname and husband's surname (as in Margarita Mangahas de Cuyegkeng or Margarita M. de Cuyegkeng), another common Spanish naming custom. However, this practice is no longer common.

Married Filipino women who are professionals may choose to hyphenate their surnames (such as Margarita Margarita - Cuyegkeng, instead of simply Margarita Cuyegkeng or Margarita M. Cuyegkeng), at least in professional use, and use it socially even if legal documents follow a different naming pattern. This practice allows others to identify them after their marriage and helps others keep track of their professional achievements; otherwise, her unmarried and married names would seem to refer to two different persons (Margarita Gomez Mangahas as compared to Margarita Mangahas-Cuyegkeng).

Middle initials

Before digitization of records, middle initials and sorting of surnames follow the first letter of the name after Hispanic de, dela, del, delos. For example, the name Jose delos Santos dela Cruz is shortened as Jose S. dela Cruz and surname sorted on the letter C. Today, the middle initial must be the letter D (Jose D. dela Cruz) and surname sorted in the letter D.


Indigenous languages

Though most Filipinos adopted Malaysian/Indonesian, Chinese and European (especially Spanish and English) surnames, some chose surnames that derive from words in autochthonous languages, like Tagalog, Visayan (Cebuano and Hiligaynon), Ilocano, Kapampangan and Pangasinan. Many indigenous surnames derive from words displaying qualities of people, especially those related to strength (e.g. Tagalog Macaraeg and Panganiban), defiance (e.g. Tagalog Dimayuga) or settlement (e.g. Cebuano/Hiligaynon Magbanua).

Most indigenous surnames are spelled closely following the Spanish-derived orthographic conventions of the time. Many of these words are spelled differently today in the various Philippine languages (following spelling reforms since the late 19th century).[4]

Below is a non-exhaustive list of several common surnames from native Filipino languages. Variant surnames are listed beside their original forms. Language of origin are given in parentheses.


Unlike their lowlander counterparts, Igorots living in the Cordillera Central in northern Luzon were not conquered by the Spaniards, thereby preserving their naming customs from foreign influence. Each group had their own naming customs, but generally, like Indonesian names, there is only one given name and no surname to speak of. The given name's meaning is usually connected to natural phenomena or objects, such as danum for water. It was only the Igorots who have had interacted with Spaniards and lowlanders for trade who were given a name that follows the binomial "first name"-"surname" system, such as Mateo Cariño and Mateo Carantes.

It was only at the turn of the 20th century and the advent of the American occupation of the Philippines that the naming customs of the Igorots slowly conformed with the national legal naming system used to today, aided by the evangelization efforts of American Protestant missionaries. Most older people, however, still keep the singular given name given to them by their parents while also using the so-called "Christian names" to conform to Philippine law. The singular given names of some individuals living in the early 20th century have since been adopted as a surname by their descendants.


Almost all Filipinos had Spanish or Spanish-sounding surnames imposed on them for taxation purposes, but a number of them have indigenous Filipino surnames. On 21 November 1849, Governor General Narciso Clavería y Zaldúa issued a decree stating that Filipinos should adopt Spanish surnames to make census counting easier. Some Filipinos retained their native pre-colonial names, especially those who were exempted from the Clavería decree such as the descendants of rulers of the Maharlika or noble class. These surnames of the native nobility include Lacandola, Macapagal, Macabulos, and Tupas whom each descended from different Datus. They were allowed to keep the name to claim tax exemptions.

The Spanish surname category provides the most common surnames in the Philippines.[5] At the course of time, some Spanish surnames were altered (with some eventually diverged/displaced their original spelling), as resulted from illiteracy among the poor and farming class bearing such surnames, creating confusion in the civil registry and a sense of detachment from their better-off relatives. Except for the "ñ", Filipino surnames from Spanish are written without accents owing from the use of typewriters in civil registry imported from US that lacks special characters.

Below is the list of common Spanish surnames, categorized by Spanish regional origins, with variations or altered renderings enclosed in the parentheses.

Castillian surnames

Galician and Castillian patronymics

Catalan surnames

Basque surnames

Portuguese-Galician surnames


Filipino spelling of Chinese names. Many modern-day Chinese Filipinos, mostly Hokkien and some few Cantonese, or Hokkien people that initially immigrated from Hong kong, have last names with one syllable like Lim, Cheng, Lao, Ang, Lo, Chua, Ong, Chiu, Yan, Uy, Ching, Sin, Go, Tan, Yap, Cu, Ke, Wu, So, Yu, Dy, Khu and Sy. However, early Chinese Filipino families took on the complete name of their patriarch, thus their names had three syllables or sometimes they would also append "-co" at the end from 哥("ko"), which means brother, such as Cojuangco, Gotamco, Yuchengco, Lichauco, Limjoco, Tanseco, Tancinco/Tansingco, Ongkiko, etc. Some took their single syllable chinese family names, spelt in a hispanicized latin spelling, then appended -son or -zon from 孫 ("sun"), which means grandchild, such as those like Quezon, Singson, Japson, Jocson, Joson, Henson, Pecson, Unson, Dyson, Hizon, Syson, Quison, etc. There are also those that used this style but instead of a family name, they used hokkien transcriptions of birth order numbers appended with -son or -zon or even -co, like Tuazon, Tiongson, Sioson, Dizon, Samson, Sison, Goson/Gozon/Gozum, Lacson, Quitson, Pueson, Causon, Tuaco, Tiongco, Sioco, Singco/Cinco etc.[6] These were adopted into the mainstream Filipino surnames and do not exist anywhere else in the world. Their names were transcribed using the Spanish-derived orthography used during the 19th century.[4]

Below is a list of some common, single character Chinese surnames commonly borne by some Filipino-Chinese:


Some Filipinos bear Japanese surnames. They most likely indicate Japanese ancestry either from the many Japanese who settled during pre-colonial Philippines when it was separated among different nations (kingdoms, rajahnates, sultanates, tribes, etc.), colonial times, or more recently from World War II.[7][8][9][10][11] During the Macapagal and Marcos administrations, only few Japanese Filipinos have entered military services and this was very limited due to the post-war prejudice and distrust of the Filipinos to the Japanese who were naturalized or to people with Japanese heritage. These people in military service during that time are descendants of World War II Japanese soldiers who were captured, pardoned and settled in the Philippines, or descended from pre-war immigrants who became economically successful in their ventures in the country, and married local Filipino women. Japanese migrants in the Philippines in the early 19th Century are categorically Issei, or "first generation", who have been born in Japan and migrated to the country or to other countries primarily to U.S, Brazil, Mexico and Peru; their descendants are either full-blooded Japanese who extend their descent categorically to Nisei and Sansei, or a generation of Filipino-Japanese with combined or Filipinized cultural practices and lifestyles less often categorized to both Nisei or Sansei. However, there's no official categorization of the generation of Japanese migrants unlike in U.S. and Brazil since post-war developments in the Filipino social landscape enabled them to be socially and economically integrated to the Filipino society, making their cultural practices and lifestyles fully Filipino and ignoring or obscuring their Japanese heritage.

More recent economic developments in both countries enabled exchanges of both peoples for various economic reasons, whether for employment, higher career opportunities, business expansions, or philanthropic ventures, thus a few Japanese expatriates making such ventures settled in the country today, marrying local Filipino women and raising a generation of Filipino-Japanese children taking their education in the Philippines and living in a mix of Filipino and Japanese cultural lifestyles.

Below is a list of a few Japanese surnames borne by some Filipino-Japanese:

Anglo-American English

These are the surnames of Filipinos of British and/or American heritage, as these surnames are both shared by the Americans and the British. But much of the Filipinos bearing these surnames were more descended from their American fathers or grandfathers, whom a handful of them settled in the Philippines before the Second World War. Today, with the recent influx of British expatriates who settled in the country and married local Filipino women gave rise of the modern generation of Filipino-British children.

German surnames

A number of Filipino-Germans, Filipino-Austrians, Filipino-Swiss and Filipino descendants of German Americans bear these surnames. Some have German surnames because of the immigration of the Jewish communities from Europe during the Commonwealth era in the Philippines. A few of the Filipinos with German heritage became television and film personalities since 1950s.

Below is the list of known German surnames borne by Filipinos of German heritage. Alternate or Hispanized spelling of surnames are provided in the parentheses.


The use of Arabic names is prominent among the Filipino Muslims. The country has Islamic influence from what are now Arabs, Persians, Malays, Indonesians, and Indians, who have traded with ancestors of Filipinos, and introduced Islam to the southern parts of the archipelago beginning in the 13th century. Some names, including Fátima, Omar, and Soraya, bear direct influence from Arab sources and Spanish ones, given the latter's period under Moorish rule. Filipino Muslims, or called "Moros" as how the Spaniards called them, also bear and maintain unique blend of indigenous Moro and Arabic surnames, some are registered with Spanish renderings. Among Maranao families, some Maranao surnames are often used as a given name to their children. Others may or might have borne surnames from their mothers, manifesting scant matrilineal practice.

Below a list of known Moro surnames, combining the surnames borne by Maranaos, Maguindanaos, Iranuns, and Tausugs. Alternate or Hispanized spellings are enclosed in the parentheses.

Other surnames of foreign origins

Filipinos who hold middle or family names from other non-English-speaking nations also follow the conventions mentioned in this article, despite the proper naming customs that are followed in those nations. Such surnames indicate their foreign heritage, primarily due to the influx of migrants and workers from Europe and East Asia, South Asia, and more recently from Middle East.

Below is a short list of known surnames of other foreign origins. Some of these surnames have their spelling altered over time, making their foreign origins or nationalities obscure and often hard to determine. Possible and apparent nationality or ethnicity of these surnames are enclosed in the parentheses:

See also


  1. Kate McGeown (27 March 2011). "Playful Filipino Names Hard to Get Used To". BBC News. Retrieved 1 January 2014.
  2. "Civil Code of the Philippines". Title XIII: Use of Surnames, Republic Act No. 386 of June 18, 1949.
  3. Acosta, Persida (July 1, 2013). "No Philippine law obligates married woman to drop her maiden name". Manila Times. Retrieved February 4, 2014.
  4. Morrow, Paul. "Clavería's catalogue".
  5. "List of some surnames in the Philippines". Archived from the original on 2009-10-25.
  6. Tan, Antonio S. (1986). "The Chinese Mestizos and the Formation of the Filipino Nationality". Archipel. 32: 145.
  7. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on October 19, 2014. Retrieved October 27, 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. "Philippines History, Culture, Civilization and Technology, Filipino".
  9. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on July 1, 2012. Retrieved February 6, 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. Adachi, Nobuko (26 October 2006). "Japanese Diasporas: Unsung Pasts, Conflicting Presents and Uncertain Futures". Taylor & Francis via Google Books.
  11. Shiraishi, Saya; Shiraishi, Takashi (27 August 1993). "The Japanese in Colonial Southeast Asia". SEAP Publications via Google Books.
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