Posts tagged ‘Manila ‘

I. am. Boots.

Ms Boots Anson-Roa

My given names are beautiful. Maria, after the mother of Christianity. Felicitas, a family name shared by my mother and maternal great-grandmother. Yet I am not commonly called either of those names. I am, for better or worse, referred to as Boots.

This nickname was gifted, or burdened, by Lourdes, my godmother or Ninang who interestingly enough has a funny moniker of her own: Baby. (We’ll have to save that for another post!) At the time I was born, Ninang Baby was fascinated by the Manila starlet Boots Anson-Roa. Tall, thin, famous, and movie star gorgeous, perhaps Ninang Baby wished all those traits on her new goddaughter. I possess, alas, none of those qualities, but the name stuck.

“Did you wear lots of boots as a child” “These boots are made for walking” “Puss in boots” I’ve heard them all. As a child, I would shrug, and give the above mentioned explanation. After a while I just smiled and stayed quiet. It certainly didn’t help that Ninang Baby gave her daughters beautiful, glamorous, and no-need-to-explain names: Beverly, Abigail, and Claudette.

As a pre-teen I hated my name. Especially when my Lola Inay or grandmother, visiting for the summer months, would start gift and souvenier shopping for all the cousins back home. With so many grandchildren, it was easier to get the same gift for all. A particular gift that still sticks in my memory were these ceramic necklaces, each one scripted with a girl’s name. One by one a ceramic necklace was purchased, wrapped, and deposited into the treasure trove that is the balikbayan box. Beth. Christina. Ella. Beverly. Abigail. Claudette. Cat. Liesel. Leslie. And no matter how many times Lola Inay scoured the displays at Claire’s, I knew there would be none for me.

Not that I didn’t give up without a fight. During the fourth grade and after a Gilligan’s Island marathon, I announced to my family and friends to refer to me as MaryAnn. Because, 1) people admire Ginger, but love MaryAnn; 2) I liked the way I wrote the cursive M, uppercase; and 3) I would finally score the coveted ceramic necklace! This went on for a good three months, until one by one, family and friends reverted back to the shoe name. Sigh. **Though funny enough, a recent FaceBook friend request inquired if I once went by the name MaryAnn**

Later on I grew to like, ok tolerate, my name. In a way it set me apart. Boots was easy enough for substitute teachers to pronounce during roll call. Say it loud and it sounds strong, one syllable. Say it soft and it can sound mysterious…or meek. During the eighties, say it any which way, and it just sounded preppy.

Flash forward **ty years. I am still called Boots, and sometimes Bootsie, Butch, and even Pretty Bootsie (god love my nieces and nephews). But I am also referred to as wife, mother, sister, cousin, in-law, friend. I am Boots, after all, for better or worse.

11 comments February 24, 2011

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