Kathleen.

This is how I wrote my first name in grade school. This is how it also appears on my school records from first to fourth grade. My birth name is quiet long so I hated writing it. My first name has 18 characters and my parents didn’t seem to worry about their daughter’s future struggles when they gave me the name.
My real first name is Ma. Kathleen Stiffany. And most of the times, people misspelled it.

Ma. (with a period), is pronounced as “Maria”. I grew up with a religious family and they believe that as the eldest daughter (and granddaughter on my Mom’s side); I should have the Virgin Mary’s name.

Kathleen on the other hand seems to have no clear history. When I was in fourth grade, I asked my mother why Kathleen. She told me it’s because of my birthday: April 9 which is a Philippine holiday, Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor). I wasn’t satisfied because it didn’t sound related to it but I didn’t ask more. When I was in high school, I heard that my name was taken from a novel. Imagine my reaction when I heard that my name is from a book! Although until now, I don’t bother ask what the book is and what kind character Kathleen is.

Stiffany has a pretty simple background but I love the way it is spelled because it can have different pronunciations. I am named after my Uncle Stephen who is the only brother of Mom. They changed the spelling just so it can be unique. This is pronounced as the usual Stephanie and can also be /es-ti’-fani/. But I prefer /Ste-fa’-ni/ like Gwen Stefani’s.

When I started watching beauty pageants, I thought my name would sound good as a contestant. My introduction would be a bomb! Haha! But my struggle in school was very annoying. Every time we will have an exam, I need to write my name on boxes and I ALWAYS just write “Ma Kathleen Acebuche” because those are the only characters that would fit on the boxes. DepEd has to know that there students who has more than 10 character first name.

At home, I am simply called as Kathleen. Outside though, I have a lot of nicknames. Well, this is what you get when you have a lot of names too! My other relatives too tend to mix up my name or they don’t know my full name. But did you know that I am not yet the “lucky one”?

My nephew has 14 characters in his first name. I also have three younger cousins who have longer names and have more complicated spelling that even our grandparents and aunts could not spell correctly.

Am I happy with my name? Yes, I am! Nonetheless, if I were to rename myself, I’d like to add “April Rose” to it. April is my birth month and Rose is my Mom’s.

Ma. April Rose Kathleen Stiffany. Wow! Why they didn’t think about that?

*Featured image: theranches.org

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