Sunday, November 22, 2009

What's In a Name?

Names have power.

Naming things has power - for better or for worse.

Names can be changed in order to remove or increase power.

Names are identity.

I personally love my name, in all its Filipino-ness, 274th in popularity, Simon & Garfunkel ode-inspired, and significance.

In its Latin root, it means "the way for the blind," and interestingly, Saint Cecilia is the patron saint of music and musicians.  In the Catholic tradition, she was sainted because she continued singing to god as she died in his name.

Coming from a very Catholic family, I had to ask my parents why they decided to name me Cecilia.  According to my mom, when she was growing up, there was a picture of a Saint playing the piano in her house, and she really liked it.  Apparently, the same picture was in their dentist's office as well.  She later found that it was a painting of Saint Cecilia.
St. Cecilia by John Melhuish Strudwick

My dad's family moved to Santa Cecilia Village, in Las Piñas, Philippines, after he graduated from college.  It's such a small town, it wasn't really labeled on Google Maps.  However, from street names like Rhapsody and Cantata, it was clear where the village was located.
What cute street names!

To add to the history of my name, my paternal grandfather was hired as a driver for a single, wealthy Los Angeleno named Cecilia Botiller.  Though I don't know much about her, with Google and, I learned that she was born on November 22, 1898, and passed on December 17, 1990.  I feel like I have a vague memory of meeting her, and I remember feeling a great appreciation for her, as she helped my grandfather get his footing in the States and helped move my dad's family over from the Philippines.

Though it's completely unrelated, I was fascinated to learn recently that a "cecaelia" is a mythical creature that is half human and half tentacles like an octopus or squid - much like Ursula from Disney's "The Little Mermaid."

Today, November 22nd, is Saint Cecilia's Feast Day.

Though I'm not Catholic or religious necessarily, I wish you all a lovely St. Cecilia Day, full of life, good food, love, and music.


  1. Hello Cecilia. Was your grandfather's name Ricardo? Cecilia was my grandmother's cousin. I used to visit her in the 1970's with my young daughter when she lived in Montecito. She had a very sweet cook whose name I can't now remember. Thank you for the memories & getting my curiosity piqued. Elinor

  2. Elinor! Yes! My grandfather was Ricardo! He passed away in 1999.
    I've emailed my parents to ask about the name of the cook. That's amazing that we have a connection! I feel eternally grateful to your grandmother's cousin :)

  3. Hi Elinor! The cook's name is Christina, and I guess she's still living in L.A. :)

  4. Hi Cecilia. Wow. I love so-called coincidences. I'm very grateful to make myself more in tune with them. I was just googling Cousin Cecilia's name & here you are. I love your site. I'm 62 & not very computer savvy tho I am curious hence.....We have much in common. I love the ocean & live about a mile - as the crow flies - from it. I lived on Kaua'i. My younger daughter lives outside of Boston. I just visited her & her little family a couple of weeks ago. Thanks for responding. I can't remember what profile I used. So I hope you get this. If you want my phone # let me know.
    Aloha, Elinor

  5. Hi Elinor!
    That's pretty neat that your daughter lives near Boston. Where exactly is she?
    Please feel free to email me at
    :) I'm glad that you found me!

  6. hello cecilia
    i am related to cecilia botiller. she is my great aunt on my dad's side. frank was her brother and he is my grand father. would love to correspond with you regarding the botiller family.


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