Dear Hyde Park Family,

In preparing for our current worship series “God’s Special Agents,” I did some quick research on the meaning of the names Elijah and Elisha. As is the case with most names in the Bible, both are packed with meaning. Elijah is derived from two names for God: Elohim (“Lord”) and Yahweh (God’s divine name). His name is therefore a creedal statement: “The Lord is my God.” Elisha comes from Elohim and the word Yasha, which means “salvation.” His name is also a statement of faith: “God is my salvation.”

I like to ask people if they know the significance of their names. Some will tell me what their names mean, like Wendell means “Warrior” or Harriett means “Home Ruler.” At other times, they will tell me that they are named after family members. My older daughter Grace, for example, has a first name of Pamela, which was her maternal grandmother’s name. And the name of my younger daughter Madelyn is derived from both of her parents: Magrey (“Ma”) deVega (“de”) and her mother’s middle name (“lyn”).


And what about my name, you wonder? Well, buckle up. My name is a one-of-a-kind mash-up from my father’s first name (“Maghirang”) and his middle name (“Reyes”). And my middle name is Rojas, my mother’s maiden name. I had long believed that my name is among my most unique traits, and that no one else in the world had the same first name is me. And then one day I did a search on Facebook and was surprised to find thirteen people who also had the first name Magrey.

All of them Hispanic women.

Years ago, I read an article in The Jakarta Post┬áthat suggested that Filipinos have the world’s foremost ability to generate unique names, and provided evidence from actual readers. One very tired-looking mother named her most recent child “Labindalawa,” which means “Number 12.” Another woman named her child “Bonicar,” because – are you ready for this? – the child was “born in the car.” A man named Mike (I seriously doubt that’s his real Filipino name) decided to name his two children “Annie” and “Juan,” for the sheer joy of calling them out in public. “Annie? Juan?” (Get it? “Anyone?”)

One reader coined the process of generating unique names “Filipino-izing,” which is as good a term as any for what my parents did to me:

You get a list of names and then you perform one or more of the following operations: you double bits, add Tagalog nouns, add Spanish religious terms, add English cutesy words, combine Chinese syllables into single words, change V to B and F to P, and then you add a bit of magic and a suffix. To demonstrate, here are some famous celebrity names which have been Filipinoized. Barack Obama becomes “Baz-Baz Joselito Reyes Obayani Jr”. Harry Potter becomes “Harrison Bagwis de los Santos Potter-Pacifico”. Lady Gaga becomes “Our Lady Gaga.” Michael Jackson becomes “Michael Magtanggol del Rosario Jacinto IV”. David Cameron becomes “Dabid-Danilo ‘Boy’ Rizal Camilo”. Fred Flintstone becomes “Pred Antonio Plintstone Isagani III“.

Whew. I guess I should be grateful that my name is simply, “Magrey Rojas deVega.”

I’d be curious to hear the background of your own name. Even if you don’t know its etymological origin, or have a unique story about its source, I hope you are grateful for it. Like many of life’s greatest gifts, it was given to you with neither your choosing nor your deserving. It connects you to a reality beyond yourself, and reminds you of a rich legacy that has been generations in the making. Your name is who you are, and reminds you of to whom you belong.

Grace and Peace,
Reberend Mug-Mug Rosario de Las Vegas

The Rev. Magrey deVega
Senior Pastor, Hyde Park United Methodist

We continue our worship series “God’s Special Agents” with one of the most vivid showdowns in the Old Testament. It’s Elijah versus the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel, in a story that will teach us about prayer, trust, and rejecting the false gods in our lives.

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