What’s in a name?

Originally posted on: ‘2010-09-24 12:14:11’, ‘2010-09-24 04:14:11’

Mrs Rosero. Regina Rosero. Regina Layug-Rosero. I suppose this change has been en route for the past 6 years, but it”s still a little jarring to see sometimes.
A few months ago I received an invitation to a press conference, something I had to attend for work. The letter was addressed to “Ms. Regina Rosero.” Back in June, I requested copies of our marriage certificate from the NSO. Naturally, I used my maiden name when I filed the request. A week later, Air 21 delivered the documents to our house. The village guard called our house and asked, “Meron po ba diya’ng Layug, Regina? May Air 21 delivery po kasi,” said Bernadette, our security guard. “Ako yun,” I said, laughing. It”s funny, but sometimes it stings a little that there are people who will not know me by my own name. It isn”t a new story, or a new feeling. For decades women have had to struggle with the question, “Why must I take my husband”s name?” If it isn”t your husband”s, it”s your father”s name. What name is really your own anyway? For decades, women have tried to solve the problem. Many have accepted their multiple roles as independent women, as wives, as daughters, as sisters, as mothers, and they have chosen to embody this multitude of roles by hyphenating. Many are hyphenated women. I think I first encountered the term in college. As a Literature major, I studied various texts about identity, gender, culture, and so on, and you can’t read all that literature without having to read all sorts of critique and analysis and crap. I never enjoyed literary theory, but (naturally, I suppose) I enjoyed women’s studies. Women’s identities as they transformed from one form to another, as they shifted from daughter and sister to lover and wife, then to the all-encompassing role of mother. But though we grow and move from one role to another, we never really shed our old skins. They cling to us throughout our lives, and that multiplicity is encompassed in that tiny hyphen, the one that bridges our old identities with the new.
I’ve been surrounded by hyphenated women all my life. My mother, also a writer, raised me in the company of her friends from college, collectively known as the Sisterhood. The Sisterhood is composed of writers, strong women who had strong feelings and opinions about women’s lib, women’s health, women’s rights, everything women. And three of them who were married chose to hyphenate their professional names, such that all who read their work knew that they had identities and personalities of their own before they married. So it’s funny how, eight years after college, here I am, a Hyphenated Woman myself.
There’s no point in hyphenating my last name legally, as that will just cause confusion when my given name is already so kilometric. So I decided to change my name in all my legal papers to my married name.
As I consulted various friends, it’s funny how so many of them said, ‚ÄúBut you don’t have to do that.‚Äù It seems more of my friends are pro-Independent Woman than I realized. And I had to say to them, ‚ÄúI know, but when we have kids they’ll carry my husband’s name anyway, and if I use a different name there will be confusion legally, and I’d like to avoid all that.

But I did consider keeping my name. For a brief moment before I applied for a new postal ID, I saw my name written out with my husband’s last name, and there was a little stab at my heart. Is this how it feels to shed an old life and start anew? How many other women have felt this sense of loss as they bid their father’s name goodbye and accepted their husband’s as their own? I am not the first, and I certainly won’t be the last, but that didn’t make the shock of my new name any less startling.

Then I went ahead and filled up the form, and presented the marriage certificate, and the clerk at the post office banged away at her typewriter, the typebar emphatically spelling out my new name: Regina Teresita Magdalena L. Rosero. A week later I claimed my new ID, and I stared at it with fascination as I contemplated my new identity. I joked to my neighbor and college friend, Mary Ann, Look, I no longer exist! A new person has taken my place!
Though legally Regina Teresita Magdalena Layug no longer exists, all my bylines now use Regina Layug-Rosero. I insist on this, because despite my hullaballoo about shedding the identity I had established over my 28 years, I am actually proud to carry my husband’s name. Like many women before me, I embrace my new identity, my new family, my new name. My in-laws are wonderful people who accept me not as a daughter-in-law, but as their own daughter, and my brother-in-law is as close to me as my own blood brother. No longer am I simply the daughter of Marian and Fer, but also of Baby and Boy; no longer am I simply sister to Victor, but now also to Ron; no longer am I simply myself, Regina, but now I am also wife to Oneal.
I’m proud to be this new person, even if it does still take some getting used to. But it’s all me.’


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s