Friday, February 28, 2014


The late Chamorro singer from Saipan, Frank "Bokonggo" Pangelinan

For years I knew that the surname Pangelinan came from three men on Guam identified in the list of soldiers from Pampanga in the 1700s.  But for all those years I never knew what Pangelinan meant in the Pampanga language.  The Spaniards spelled local names in a variety of ways, in both the Marianas and the Philippines, so Pangelinan (the present Chamorro way) and Pangilinan (the Pampanga way) are just two versions of the same name.

To this day, there are Pangilinans in Pampanga and one of them moved to Guam more recently and became a household name, Mark Pangilinan the businessman.

Just a few days ago, I asked a dedicated advocate of the Pampanga culture and language, Satcheil Macasias Amamangpang, what Pangilinan meant in his language.

He directed me to a Spanish dictionary of words from Pampanga, Diego Bergaño's Vocabulario de la Lengua Pampanga en Romance (1860).  There we find that pangilin means to abstain from something.  Pangilinan (notice the suffix -an, which we also have in Chamorro, meaning the "place of" or "time of" some action or object) was the day of abstaining or the thing itself which was avoided.  Eventually, pangilinan came to refer to abstinence from certain foods for religious reasons, such as the Lenten abstinence.

Connected with this idea of avoiding certain things is the idea of remaining pure, sanctified; free from human contact.  Pangilinan, thus,  is thought of as  "He who is not to be touched by human hands or seen by the human eye."

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