Typhoon Tirade
LOOKING ASKANCE - Joseph Gonzales (The Freeman) - September 15, 2019 - 12:00am

Typhoon Marilyn is upon us.  "Marilyn?"  You might ask.  Since when did 'Marilyn' become a Filipino name?

The phenomenon of baptizing destructive tropical cyclones with women's names began ever since I was a toddler. That was, oh, perhaps twenty years ago. (I can't really be expected to remember these things.). But back then, we had typhoons baptized as Sisang, Yoling and Didang.

Scanning them, these names would come across and sound like really Filipinized names.  Sort of like the women you encounter in the university dormitory, where more traditional names were common, like Liwayway, Luningning, or Likha.  Contrast that with the Manila denizens, who were apt to have either Spanish names that started with Maria (Maria Consolacion, Maria Christina and Maria Consuelo) or sexy American monikers like Kelly, Sabrina or Jill (ten points for those who guess the television show where those trio came from).

These typhoon names were a stubborn point of pride for our weathermen, who would blithely disregard international naming conventions in favor of "ng"-ending double-syllabic women.  Who cares about Linda, Sally or Hillary.  We wanted Naning, TIning and Pating.  (Totally just made those up).  Our typhoons would discard the internationally recognized names, and take up another identity upon entering Philippine shores.

Nothing Western or Caucasian about those names ravaging Batangas, the Visayas or the coasts - they were firmly, cruelly native.

So 'Marilyn' is an aberration. There is nothing remoteLy, originally Filipina - too JFK-era-ish, come to think of it. Unless we accept that over the past couple of decades, we've had Filipina celebrities like Marilyn Reynes,Marilyn Villamayor, Marilyn this and Marilyn that. So perhaps, the weathermen have been brainwashed and have now come to accept that it has transformed into a Philippine name?

But what an unimaginative exercise. It might have been more fun if PAGASA, our weather bureau, picked out names that reflected traditional Philippine culture.  Perhaps not pop culture, as I wouldn't want to be suffering weather disturbances named Kylie and Kendall.  But there are plenty of unique names to choose from.

There are the schoolmarmy names like Eusebia, Teodora, and Facifica. Ultra-traditional, bound to deliver a hard rap on the knuckles or even an insta-slap of the face, much like those quick gales that spring up, dash in, and cause a bit of destruction before heading up to Taiwan or Hong Kong to rattle the Chinese neighbors.

Or the weathermen could go on a riff with the theme of 70's and 80' bold stars, like Paloma, Coca and Sarsi (the softdrink beauties). (Wonder why nymphets and B-list actresses disappeared over recent years. Is it because the internet made porn instantly accessible and hence, denied the careers of budding skin trade purveyors?)

Optionalities include the celebrated stage actresses who could whip out a whirlwind of emotions, such as Armida, Virata and Cecile.  They could certainly storm the stage, why not the country?

Maybe visual artists, ballet dancers, sports figures, heroines, or comic book characters?  Pacita might be a colorful, ravaging vision.  Darna, typhoon signal number 3, might have been a lightning-struck sight to behold. The universe is out there, for the mildly imaginative.  So again, back to Marilyn.  What gives?

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