Asia & Australia

Religion Influences Filipino Names


“Others get their names from famous Muslim figures,” said Lidasan.

By Rexcel Sorza, IOL Correspondent

MANILA, May 4, 2006 ( – Filipinos have succumbed to Western influence as evidenced by the rise of fast-food chains as well as the popularity of foreign brands and labels.

But when it comes down to naming one’s child many Filipinos resort to their religions.

Pedro delos Santos has two sons; Mark and Matthew.

“It must be the religious in me that made me and my wife choose the names of saints to be the names of our boys,” he told

“I want them to be good when they grow up the way the saints did,” added the 28-year-old father.

Roman Catholics make up around 80.9% of the country’s estimated 89,5 million population, according to the CIA facts book.


Amirah Ali Lidasan, the leader of the Suara Bangsamoro (United Voice of Bangsamoro) Muslim group, believes the same goes true for Muslims.

She said the names Muslims in the Philippines give their children are mostly “based on Arabic names found in the holy book, Qur`an, or in Hadith, and most importantly from the 99 names of Allah, s.w.t.”

Her name stands as a case in point.

“My grandfather is Amir which means leader in Arabic. My grandmother is Aminah (honest). My parents combined the two names,” she told IOL.

Amirah also means princess in Arabic.

“Others get their names from famous Muslim figures,” she added.

Farouk Bakil, a native of Sulu, concurred.

“I think the Moros (Muslims of Mindanao) are aware of the names that they are giving their children,” he told IOL.

“Islam tells the ummah to name their children with meanings related to Allah s.w.t.”

His name means the just in Arabic.

He maintains that “before the arrival of Ferdinand Magellan in 1521, almost all inhabitants of the Philippine Islands were Muslims. The present-day Manila was under the Sultanate of Sulu.”

“So,” he explains, “the names of the Muslims in the islands were adopted from the Arab traders who were on mission route from the Middle-East sailing to the southern Philippines.”

According to the CIA facts book, Muslim make up some five percent of the populace.

The mineral-rich southern region of Mindanao, the birthplace of Islam in the Philippines, is home to about 5 million Muslims.