Saturday, July 14, 2012

What's In A Name?

When my parents were younger (perhaps in their early twenties, I don't remember exactly anymore), they changed their names into Indonesian names officially. So in their original birth certificates, both of them had Chinese names. I know that Dad chose his own first name and surname because he had told us about it a few times and his siblings also used the same surname. Not sure who picked Mom's Indonesian names, though, but Mom has an Indonesian first name, middle name, and surname.

After I was born, my Dad registered my birth and told the official the name he and my Mom had chosen for me, but for some weird reason they didn't put my Dad's (Indo) surname in my birth certificate. The same thing happened to my brother. We're not the only victims, though, because I know so many of my schoolmates and also my brother's schoolmates who don't have any surnames. Our parents did give us middle names, so the middle names stayed in our birth certificate, but some of my schoolmates whose parents didn't give any middle names had only their first names written in their birth certificate.



A funny thing happened when I first applied for a passport back in 2000. In order to apply for a passport, we had to submit our parents' papers, including their birth certificates. When I received my passport, I realized that they had put my Dad's (Indo) surname. Probably because in many other countries, surname is such an important thing. 

I remember being called by Ms. (Dad's surname) at the airport in Singapore instead of being called Ms. Amel and I was surprised 'coz I had never used that surname before, so it sounded strange to me. FYI in Indo, normally they call people by their first names, though they'd add the word Mrs. or Mr. for older people or when you need to be polite. And in schools these days sometimes the single female teachers are called Ms. (First name) as well.

In Indonesia when a couple gets married, very rarely does anyone change their names officially so that they use their spouse's surname, although sometimes on some occasions the wife will be called as Mrs. X (for example) --- sometimes this happens when someone invites you to a wedding and on the envelope it'll be written: Mr. and Mrs. X.

Anyway, that's why when I moved to Finland with my residence permit, all my legal paperwork here has my Dad's surname on it, even though it's not written in my birth certificate. I did want to take R2's surname at some point, but it would be such a hassle 'coz then I'd have to change my bank card, ID card, passport, so I haven't done it (I know R2 doesn't mind, either).



glitter-graphics.com

I once daydreamed about tracking my ancestors and being able to draw a huge family tree, though it would be very hard to do, because I'm not sure in the old days everything was recorded well enough in the registry office (case in point: my Mom's elder siblings don't know their exact birth dates 'coz my grandparents didn't register their births right away). Besides, my Dad's dad came to Indo from mainland China, whereas my Mom's dad came to Indo from Singapore (dunno if he originated from mainland China as well or if he was born there already), but both my grandmas were born in Indonesia already, though I have no idea about their own parents.

A few weeks ago I watched a TV show about Kim Cattrall's effort to track down her ancestors and it made me daydream of my own ancestors. Who were they? Where did they come from? I may not be able to find out anything about them, but at least I can daydream. :-D Maybe one of them was a sailor who loved adventures. Maybe another one was a kungfu master/mistress (after all, Mom's dad was a medicine man) ha ha ha hahhhhh...Maybe another one was a tofu maker hi hi...ahem...OK, enough daydreaming for now... 



glitter-graphics.com

10 comments:

  1. I'm lucky to have a few relatives on both sides of my family who are very interested in genealogy, so I know and have access to quite a lot of information about my heritage. Since you don't have anyone doing the work for you, you could always become the family genealogist and do some research. :)

    It can involve finding original documents, though, which could be difficult considering your location, language, etc. In other words, it might be way more work than you're willing to do! Out of curiosity, I googled "Chinese genealogy," and found this site. It has some interesting information on the migration path of people from various Chinese provinces. Can't speak to the accuracy of the info, but it's pretty interesting. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. THANKS for the link, Elena. The only "family tree" anyone ever did was when Dad wrote down all the names and birth dates of his siblings and his siblings children including ours ha ha ha ha...but it was made into a list.

      Finding original documents is the problem here. I don't even know the full names of my grandpas. Come to think of it, I don't even remember my Dad's mother's full name. I only remember Mom's mom's full name 'coz she lived with us for years. I should go ask about their names at least before anyone forgets or loses the original documents he he...

      Delete
  2. Do you have chinese name, Amel?? I don't have it only Juliana. That's it :D My brother too...but when he married, his MIL gave him a chinese name hi hi hi... My mother told me that :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, not officially, but when I was younger Dad used to tell me of the Chinese name that grandpa gave me a Chinese name, but I've never really used it.

      Oh, your bro's MIL gave him a Chinese name? That's nice. :-D

      Delete
  3. Fascinating! I never knew any of this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I thought that not many people would know about this. That was also what prompted me to write this post. :-D

      Delete
  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I remember how happy you were to attach your hubby's surname so that in your passport, you don't repeat your first name twice ha ha...Funny, though, why the Indo government didn't add your Dad's last name in your passport? Because some friends of mine experienced the same thing - in their passports, they have their Dad's surnames though they don't have it in their birth certificate. Weird stuff!

      Ohhhh...interesting if you can tell your ancestors just from the last name. Unfortunately I never really got to know my Dad's dad 'coz he passed away when his youngest son was still small. I met my Mom's dad a few times when I was a toddler, but he died when I was young, too.

      Delete
  5. awesome piece of information, I had come to know about your website from my friend srini, hyd, i have read all seven posts of yours by now, and let me tell you, your blog gives the best and the most interesting information. This is just the kind of information that i had been looking for, once again hats off to you! Thanks a ton once again, Regards, muslim boy names

    ReplyDelete