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Traditional Filipino Nicknames

3 September 2010

Jose Rizal was also called “Pepe”.

The nickname is something every Pinoy parent plans about the same time they come up with their child’s “real name”.  For example, my nickname is Monette; and I have two sisters named Suzzette and Nanette — no way that was a fun coincidence.

Growing up, childhood nicknames brand us.  Calling an acquaintance by a nickname elicits a sense of immediate familiarity.  The Pinoy practice of calling complete strangers Tito-Tita (uncle-aunt), Kuya-Ate (big brother-sister) and Manong-Manang (big brother-sister) feeds that very need for familial intimacy.  Politicians make up traditional nicknames to appear more approachable to their constituents.  In a visit to Bicol years back, my husband’s cousin (who also happened to be mayor) introduced me as “Monang”, which temporarily disguised my pseudo-urban upbringing.

To paraphrase the Pinoy comedian Rex Navarrete , every Filipino family is “required by law” to have a “Boy” and a “Baby” — or at least, it feels that way.  Each region has their own version of these nicknames, often reserved for the youngest of the siblings, regardless of how phonetically distant their formal names are.  These uniquely Filipino defaults are “Boboy”, “Nonoy”, “Totoy”, “Inday”, “Ineng”, “Neneng”, among many.

In conversations I’ve had over the years over my family history, it is very common for relatives to forget real names.  I am stuck with an “Inkong This” or “Mamay That” to work with.  So in the service of those who will walk down the same path I did, here are traditional Filipino nicknames and their likely equivalents.  Help us enrich the database — send us a comment or email!

Nickname Possible “Real” Name
Aldo Romualdo
Amparing Amparo
Ani Bayani
Asyong Nicasio
Bani Bayani
Belay Isabel
Beloy Isabelo
Beriong Silverio
Berta Alberta, Edilberta, Gilberta, Roberta, Umberta … ends with “berta”
Berto Alberto, Edilberto, Gilberto, Roberto, Umberto … ends with “berto”
Binday Brigida
Caching Escolastica
Caloy Carlo, Carlos
Carding Ricardo
Caring Caridad
Chato Rosario
Choleng Soledad
Concha, Conchita Concepcion
Cora Corazon
Cordiya Concordia
Coring Socorro
Dadang, Daday Abelarda, Armida, Brigida, Candida, Leonarda … ends with “da”
Dadô Conrado, Diosdado
Ditas Merceditas
Dodong, Doy Abelardo, Brigido, Diosdado, Leonardo … ends with “do”
Dolpo Rodolfo
Doray Dolores, Isadora, Teodora
Encar Encarnacion
Felicing Felicisima
Gardo Edgardo
Genya Eugenia
Goryo, Goying, Goyito Gregorio
Igno Benigno
Iking Enrique
Imâ, May Felicisima, Geronima, Guillerma, Zosima … ends with “ma”
Imô, Moy Felicisimo, Geronimo, Guillermo, Zosimo … ends with “mo”
Ingga Dominga
Inggo Domingo
Inyang Herminia
Inyong Herminio
Ipê Felipe
Ipyon Concepcion
Isang Felisa
Juaning Juan
Juling Julio
Kadyô Leocadio
Kanor Nicanor
Karyô Macario
Kikay Francisca
Kikô Francisco
Kulas Nicolas
Kulasa Nicolasa
Lando Orlando
Leno Eleno
Libay Ligaya
Lina Angelina, Marcelina, Paulina … ends with “lina”
Lino Angelino, Marcelino, Paulino … ends with “lino”
Lito Angelito, Carmelito, Joselito, Paulito … ends with “lito”
Lumen Iluminada
Lupe, Lupita Guadalupe
Maning Manuel
Manoy Manolo, Manuel
Maring Maria
Mena Filomena
Menggay Carmen
Mila, Milagring Milagros
Miyong Romeo
Monang Ramona
Monching, Moning Ramon
Munding Edmundo
Nanding, Nando Ferdinand, Fernando
Nanoy Mariano
Narding, Nardo Leonardo
Nena Elena, Josefina, Juana, Magdalena
Nora Nicanora
Pacing, Pacita Paz
Panggoy Josefa
Pasya Bonifacia
Pepe, Peping, Pepito, Pepoy Jose, Felipe, Rafael
Pina, Pinang, Pining Agrifina, Josefina … ends with “fina”
Piyang Sofia
Ponso Alfonso
Puring Pura
Quitong Paquito
Roging Rogelia
Sebya Eusebia
Sebyo Eusebio
Silya Cecilia
Simâ Felicisima
Simô Maximo
Sinang Rosalina
Sintô Jacinto
Sisa Francisca
Sita Carmencita, Rosita. Teresita … ends with “cita” or “sita”
Siyon Asuncion
Soleng Soledad
Tasing Anastacia
Tasyô Anastacio
Tatô Liberato, Renato
Tentay Vicenta
Tentoy Vicente
Teray Sotera
Teroy Sotero, Teodoro
Tidad Trinidad
Tinang Agustina, Cristina, Florentina, Valentina .. ends with “tina”
Tinong Agustino, Cristino, Florentino, Valentin, Valentino … ends with “tin” or “tino”
Tita Carmencita, Lolita … ends with “ita”
Titing Vicente
Tiyago Santiago
Tolome Bartolome
Tonyo Antonio
Totoy Carmencito, Umberto … ends with “to”
Toyang Antonia, Victoria … ends with an “ia”
Trining Trinidad
Tuning Antonio
Udoy Mariano
Urbing Urbana, Urbano
Yano Cipriano, Emiliano … ends with “iano”

Thanks to the very special contributions of Jim Kurt Ereño!

17 Comments leave one →
  1. Henry Strzalkowski permalink
    20 December 2010 11:23

    I am curious about how the word “boy” became a nickname. Obviously, being an English word, we must assume that it came about during American occupation. I have a suspicious feeling that it was used by a colonizer who really didn’t care about the subject’s identity and it was used denoting subservience just as the Spaniard would call for his “muchacho.”
    I am Filipino (mestizo) and have always been fascinated by the dynamic of “East meets West.”

    • Mona Magno-Veluz permalink
      2 February 2011 19:16

      My grandparents named a child “”Boy” and another “Baby” — both born in the 1940s. I wish I could ask them what they were thinking. :)

  2. 2 September 2011 23:24

    This posting has provided me with a lot of clarity on this topic. Prior to reading it I was befuddled by the origins & proliferation of nicknames inherent to Filipino families. Many of my attempts at genealogical research have fallen short due to my family members’ recollections of only the ancestor’s nickname. That said, it’s a bit difficult to comb through records/documentation with only a “Tita” or “Boy” or “Lina” as a lead. It’s frustrating but it’s so rewarding when you do discover a ancestor/relative. Some people don’t have the patience to trace their trees but thankfully I find it a fun challenge. Your website is a great resource.

    • Mona permalink
      2 September 2011 23:40

      Thanks for the kind words, CL! I feel as you do when I get vague pet names instead of the ones you can find in documentation. Drop me a line if a nickname stumps you. Perhaps I can help. :)

  3. Mariejoe Dulnuan permalink
    23 January 2012 11:16

    i remember a story i read when the mother of President Dwight Eisenhower hated the nicknames used for his two older sons; hence, when President Eisenhower was born, his mother named him Dwight; true, there is no nickname for Dwight; but then later through the years, President Eisenhower was called Ike for short.
    as per the stories told by my elders, nicknames were used because of so many reasons; i have an ancestor who usually changes his name because he does not like to be caught by the Spaniards like Valeriano Guillit who changed his name to Bohaw Bilit meaning an eagle bird; others changed their names because of their kind of occupation especially in cattle breeding or enterprise or when they have to marry a woman they met on their way in some places they go like my great great grandfather Ahosan also called Acusan or Ogues ; or when they became leaders of the community like Pablo Carino who was called as Pilay or Maumao or Dirut…this Pablo Carino or Calinjo is the ancestor of the Baguio-Tublay-La Trinidad Carinos…

  4. pane permalink
    5 April 2012 02:36

    no maria? lol

    • Mona permalink*
      6 April 2012 10:26

      You have a valid point! While Maria is often used as a prefix in the names of females or a second name for males, it can also stand alone. Adding the nickname “Maring”. :)

  5. 8 June 2012 06:03

    Kindly add these, too:

    Tasing = Anastacia
    Micay = Micaela
    Pina = Josefina
    Caring = Caridad
    Trining = Trinidad
    Panggoy = Josefa
    Concha = Concepcion
    Choleng = Soledad

    I’m so glad I found your blog!

    • Mona permalink*
      13 June 2012 08:00

      Thanks for the contributions, Kurt!

  6. 27 August 2012 12:38

    More nicknames:

    Enyo = Eugenio
    Banday = Bernarda
    Nano = Flaviano
    Mado = Amado
    Menang = Filomena
    Pedring = Pedro
    Apin = Serafin
    Bebang = Genoveva
    Pepe = Jose
    Tansay = Constancia
    Neneng = Leonila

  7. manaloto permalink
    18 December 2012 02:02

    Bayang = Maria
    Enchong = Lorenzo
    Ising = Feliza
    Kitang = Francisca
    Mading = Miguel
    Setas = Nicetas

  8. Rosita Soriano permalink
    26 October 2018 22:53

    What would be Menteng and Enteng?

  9. Darby Allen permalink
    23 April 2020 21:32

    I have a friend called Fern; short for Fernando. Fern is a girl’s name in the UK!

  10. Jordan Senechal permalink
    8 October 2020 15:29

    What about Ezequiel, Pilar, Marisol, Raul, and Nieves?

  11. 10 April 2021 02:15

    these nicknames were SO helpful! thank you.


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