What’s in a name

What’s in a name?
Imnas Martinez-Williams, RN-BC, WCC
October 13, 2010

I was trying to find something to do the other day while finishing up the last load of my laundry. So, I took my laptop and sat it on the kitchen table and start typing. I Googled so much words that I could think of and then I said, why not Google myself?

Then I went typing Imnas, my birth name. To my surprise, I found at least 10 more people and places bearing the same name. Three are nurses including myself, a psychiatrist, a nursing board passer in the Philippines, a town in Sweden, a name of a hotel also in Sweden, a travel agency in Manila, a title of an Ilocano song (a native dialect in the Philippines) and an acronym for a research organization here in the US. I contacted two of my namesakes and yes they are both Ilocanas. My mother was from Candon Ilocos Sur.

Hmm, not bad at all. As a very unusual name, it’s not bad to know that it’s not really an alien name which the people I met think it is.

I grew up in the Philippines where there is always nicknamed Baby in the family. It’s either the eldest daughter or the youngest child in the family. Maybe my parents didn’t think of having another girl so being the last child they named me Baby. All my childhood friends call me Baby even until I went to college. Every friends I have call me Baby even those whom I worked with in the newspapers. I only used my birth name for a tagline to my stories and paying for my taxes.

I still use the same name even when I came to the US. However, the Americans laugh at me when I tell them my name. Why wouldn’t they? A baby to them is an infant or a colloquial word they use to refer to their girlfriends, wives or pets.

So to make the story short, I started using my birth name IMNAS. However, trouble came when my American friends start pronouncing it. Not one of them could pronounce it properly. There are times I become Ignas, Iminas, Emnag, Immaw Immas, Emas , Igbas, just to name a few. I hang up on telemarketers when they couldn’t pronounce my name properly. Can you blame me? They cannot make me buy their stuff unless they pronounce Imnas the right way. It’s my money why can’t I demand something that is due me, right? Only those who hail from Ilocos province know what my name means. I’ll tell you why later.

My sister-in-law who was having hard time pronouncing it christened me Innie. The evolution of my American name. It’s easier to remember and say it, don’t you think? It’s sassy and classy. Thanks to Vee.

My older patients think Imnas is cool. Never mind how it is said, as they always tell me. It’s unusual and not a good prey for identity-theft unlike the Heathers, Ashleys or Stefanies which are common names of Americans. On second thought, they raised a good point there.

I love my name don’t get me wrong but I still couldn’t think of any reason why my parents would name me Imnas when my other siblings were given normal names Noemi, Bessy and Sharlyn. It looked like my parents didn’t spend any effort of finding one for me. I love them anyway. I could have changed it to a name that pleases me long ago when I received my US citizenship. The immigration officer asked me if I wanted to change my name before she pens it on my naturalization certificate. I refused because my parents gave it to me. I said I’ll be Imnas till the last breath of my life.

So those who are interested to know what Imnas means here are what Google search engine gave me. It is an Ilocano word for beauty, lady, lass, or precious one. (That’s making me feel good already). I wonder if Imnas will pop out if you Google these words. It’s just a thought.

Imnas Vasternorrlands Lan is a place in Sweden with a population of 9,059,651,with a land area of 450,295 km2. Their currency is called Swedish Kroner. I didn’t bother look up how much is its equivalency in the US dollar as I was getting excited to find more about my name.

Google also gave me a name of a travel agency in Manila maybe named after the owner, a name of a hotel also in Sweden, an Ilocano song titled “Imdengam O Imnas” which translates to “ Listen, O Precious One”. Then there is Integrated management Natural AreaS a title of a seminar in South East Europe about protecting the natural resources and last but not the least the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Science (IMNAS) which is an honorific society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare.

So there they are the people and places I share my name with. I wish there are more but I am not complaining. What’s in a name is a name.

I don’t mind how you address me, Imnas, Innie, Baby, I answer to all of them.–IMW

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