Names have stories

Part 2 of Draft notes for Symbols and Stories: Rewriting our past to decolonize our future (working title)

The name I write under is not the name on my driver's license, my social security card, or my water bill. The name I use at work, at church, or visiting friends is different from my writing name. My 'real' name is a dull affair, really, a terribly EuroAmerican name that's likely best for an author of sci-fi or pop romance. It is a deliberately made name, created in a moment when I wanted to shed all semblance of my old life before marriage and create a new one far, far apart from my parents.

When I started sending out work in '97, I realized that people might not take my work, my stories and poetry about being a person of color, seriously if my name was so apparently...well...white. So I rewrote myself taking the name Rebecca Mabanglo-Mayor.

In the Philippines, a child is given their mother's maiden name as their middle name, and when a girl marries, their maiden name moves to replace their mother's maiden name. In my case, then I would have been Rebecca Mayor Saxton. Unfortunately, Mayor is often mispronounced in the US and can sound just as Euro as Saxton. It didn't feel to me to be enough of a shift. I needed my name to not only shift the consciousness of my readers, but my own consciousness of my self and my writing.

I also wanted to honor my maternal ancestors, Agutaya and Mabanglo, but I realized that their names were their mother's married names and so on back in time beyond what my geneology research could find. So I centered on my mother and my grandmother's once again, shifting the convention slightly to create a hypehnated name, a nod to my biPacific nature, to Celeste Mayor who remained in the Philippines even when her sons were able to immigrate to the US. And to Anita, my mother, and Maria, my grandmother, who made the transPacific journey to begin a new life. A life I try to capture in my writing.

Next: Filipino colonization experience


bino said...

hi miss mayor. i used to have a hyphenated name too. one day, i thought, well that name is so long if i publish a book, my name would go around the spine. :-) so i took on a middle initial.


Rebecca Mabanglo-Mayor said...

That must be one long middle name, bino, m'friend. *wink*

Thanks for dropping by.

duydas: n. related to the durian fruit, but not as tasty.