Noynoy, Jojo, Bongbong: Presidents with Clown-like Names are Getting Trendy

For the first time in Philippine history, we have the strong likelihood of having three presidents in a row (Noynoy Aquino, Jojo Binay, and Bongbong Marcos) that bear something similar. They all have repetitive nicknames that sound more like those of clowns than the stuff of legendary statesmen.


Many foreign visitors are actually surprised to discover meeting grown-ups in the Philippines with childish names. There are people who are called “Auntie Baby”, nick-named “girl” or “bhoy”, and even those with “Baby Richard” as the official name on their birth certificates/passports. Why do Filipinos adopt names that resemble those given to pets? Let’s dig deeper into what’s behind this peculiar Filipino naming convention.

Subscribe to our Substack community GRP Insider to receive by email our in-depth free weekly newsletter. Opt into a paid subscription and you'll get premium insider briefs and insights from us.
Subscribe to our Substack newsletter, GRP Insider!
Learn more

Why Filipinos Adopt Cute Funny-sounding Names

  1. Filipinos are comedians. By nature, Filipinos have a culture where sense of humor is an asset, and being serious/intellectual is looked down on. It’s no surprise that we are the laughing stock of Asia. Our neighbors don’t take us seriously. The frivolous and lighthearted nature of Filipinos permeates the entire society – from our noontime shows to politics. In fact, Philippine news is like one big entertaining comedy show that keeps us laughing. There’s no better way to reflect that national character than through our choice of names. So don’t wonder why our politics is filled with characters with names that resemble clowns and bozos – it’s all part of who we are.
  2. Filipinos love to be loved. Politics in the Philippines is all about being appealing and likable. Projecting an image of being adorable and sounding like you’re part of the family/masses are all part of the strategy to getting voted into power. Political winnability in the Philippines is not an appeal to reason but rather to emotions and often times the most appalling name-based non-sense: famous relative just died, last name is popular, or nickname produces good vibes. How much easier is it for a politician to get his/her crowd of cultic zombie followers to chant their names in rallies and slogans than through repetitive rhythmic names like “Noy Noy!”, “Jo Jo!”, “Bong Bong!”?
  3. Filipinos are inefficient. Filipino nick-naming convention is based on the vernacular, and reflects one more aspect of the people: inefficiency. As I said in my very first article here at GRP, Filipino/Tagalog is an inefficient language. It’s a language filled with syllabic repetition. Is there any other language in the world where you can have the same syllable repeating 4x in a simple sentence, like “Bababa na ba?” Foreigners can easily sense that we are a race of simpletons judging from our baby-sounding babble. Our words are filled with having to say things twice: lubaklubak, halohalo, lokoloko (is it because Pinoy coconuts just can’t get things in one repetition?).  It is interesting to note that private parts of the human anatomy are given the honor of this syllabic repetition (ti, pi, king, bol, kili)x2. Inefficient people will elect those who represent themselves – that’s the true essence of democracy – right?

What’s in a name?

In the Philippines, a good name is difficult to come by; and if you’re heir to a name that represents dignity and honor, consider yourself to be fortunate (the lucky few). In a country where one’s name can spell the difference between winning and losing, success and failure, getting a loan/job or not, it is important to choose our names and those of our children wisely, and preserve its sanctity/trust.

Africans like to name their children after words that have meaning: Marvelous, Radiance, Precious. Many young Filipino couples are starting to give their offspring unique meaningful names like Vida and Manna, in contrast to the past generation’s use of long old-fashioned Hispanic ones like Francisco and Felicidad. Naming practices evolve, and it looks like the Pinoy taste for winnable politician names is changing.

Digong Duterte was recently kidding around that he would risk his life dying to defend the Philippine isles in the Spratlys just to be remembered as a hero and have a fish named after him: the way we have “Lapu-lapu” in remembrance of the first defender of these islands. Names represent the deeds people come to be remembered by.

In a country where name-recall is key to winning in elections, many of our bills in congress have to do with changing the names of buildings, roads, and towns (mostly a total waste of legislative time). But just look at how changing the national gateway from MIA to NAIA and putting one’s faces/names on Filipino peso bills cemented the hold of the Yellow camp on this nation.  And they even have the audacity to rename EDSA to “Cory Aquino Ave.”

Well, we may have politicians with easy-to-recall clown-like names that will propel them to win in national elections, but what we really need are leaders with more than just superficial assets that come with funny names. We need a leader with character and vision, one who will model incorruptibility and competence, one who will leave us with a true and lasting legacy. Our youth need an inspiration. And someday, future generations of Filipinos will be naming their children after that great person in his/her honor.

Sad to say, as for now, after 30 years of the Yellow cult’s “democratic legacy,” I don’t think anyone will be calling their newborn babe “Noynoy.” Better luck next time Cory.

17 Replies to “Noynoy, Jojo, Bongbong: Presidents with Clown-like Names are Getting Trendy”

  1. These pathetic “pet” nicknames are just a cheesy attempt by these oligarchs/elitists to appear down-to-earth and one of the people. What’s worse is when celebrities (or businesses) pair the first or last syllables of the partners’ first name to endear them to the public. For example, “Al-Dub” for Alden and Yaya Dub, or, “Dong-Yan” for Dingdong Dantes and Marian Rivera. I suspect these stupid nicknames had something to do with the equally stupid and lazy habits that Failipinos picked up from using that stupid “Tag-lish” language.

      1. Zaxx,

        The Failippines as a nation is already doomed. I don’t think it will matter if Chinese names becomes trendy someday, since Failipinos don’t give a shit–one way or another–about their own country and each other—as long as they can continue to imagine their “Pinoy Pride” in their heads and be allowed to emulate the aristocratic lifestyle of the country’s elites.


      2. Aeta,

        >> The Failippines as a nation is already doomed.

        The Philippines is about the only country in the world named after its colonizer – king Philip II.

        From the name of the country alone – you can already tell that its inhabitants are designed to be led by foreigners.

        Yes, we have come to accept our fate – we are eventually doomed to serve Chinese who have technically become citizens of this country. By all intents and purposes, we are headed to become a Chinese province.

        If you recall, no one has heeded your call to boycott Chinese goods, Mega malls, and fast food restaurants. It only goes to show that Pinoys are happy and content with their new-found “Chinoy pride.” And nobody gives a damn as long as it feeds the Pinoy “lifestyle of the rich and famous.”

        And as long as NAIA stays open as an EXIT door for the best and brightest Pinoys to escape and become remittance-pumping machines, our doom won’t be as bad as North Korea’s.

        1. zaxx,

          That’s fine. I’ve already resigned myself to the inevitable that it’s only a matter of time before Failipinos pledge their allegiance to China and make Chinese their national language. Now I’m just waiting for that moment to look into our people’s faces and see them squirm in pain, at the thought of having Mao Zedong declared as their national hero instead of Jose Rizal.

          You know what else. I will take every chance I get to rub it in in our fellow “Fliptard’s” faces, as I torture their mind not only of the ‘what ifs,’ but also of the ‘what will,’ because they have sold out their nation, their people, and their souls for an opportunity to realize their aristocratic arrogance and selfishness.

          Now I’m just in for the ride of a lifetime to watch the final ‘transformation’ take place. You better start thinking of a new title for the Failippines and Failipinos. These titles will soon become obsolete. As for me, I’m taking the “Slow Boat to China,” and probably make a few detours along the way and see how things are coming along. How about you?


        2. Aeta, yeah we pretty much know where this country is headed. It’s just how we get there that’s keeping me tuned in on the bozo/zombie action and carnage taking place in this medieval arena – an interesting comedy show which brings at least some entertainment value (in fairness).

          I doubt anyone is squirming in pain – the resilient zombies are pretty happy with everything Chinese allegiance brings.

          I actually like the name Philippines – Philip being one of my favorite characters in the story book of all time, and Philips being a great electronics brand name. But if you want to change the name, it’s not far from impossible. Our neighbors Ceylon, Burma, and Formosa have all updated their names to Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Taiwan, respectively. Although I find their former names to be classier and better sounding.

          Here are a few candidate alternative names for Philippines I can think of off the top of my head now: Corazonia, Benignus, Zombanana (that way visitors know what to expect).

  2. Filipinos have a lot of immaturity, in them. Naming their children is one of them. I see some names as: “Boy”; Pilarita (small Pilar, in Spanish); Junior; etc…

    It is good that my name, “Toro”, would not be a those childish names. Otherwise, I would be called: “Hyden Toro Toro”. The name meaning is not good.

    Anyway, what is in a name?

  3. Digong Duterte was recently kidding around that he would risk his life dying to defend the Philippine isles in the Spratlys just to be remembered as a hero and have a fish named after him: the way we have “Lapu-lapu” in remembrance of the first defender of these islands. Names represent the deeds people come to be remembered by.

    Good for Digong because when he speak, people remember him for what he wanted to be known for. And I noticed that his jokes are more like “parinig”. Just recently, as it is already campaign season, I was told by certain neighbors about their encounter with Grace-Chiz and Mar-Leni campaign but apparently this is all they got to tell me. That Grace is not that tall, Chiz is artistahin and Mar is, uh, yeah, campaigning. And one was even thrilled to have selfie photo with poging Zubiri and said he has a very pretty wife.

    It’s a given that most of our electorate are starstruck ignoramuses but here’s an easy way for them to be a wise voter. If they recall a candidate because they have an easy to remember name and if when they see them all they could think of are the candidates looks or how they entertain them that means those people aren’t worth voting.

    Same thing when they see their ad campaign. Mostly the campaign ads has nothing in it but what the people wanted to have not how they can achieve what they wanted. Candidates focus on giving empty promises like “trabaho, pabahay, mababang presyo ng bilihin, labanan ang korupsyon, etc.” because voters are not focusing on how to get there. Like for example, if people wanted corruption to stop, then the first thing they should be looking out for are platforms for cleaning up the government with process like speeding up FOI bill and giving COA the power not just to investigate but to forward legal cases of officials who waste funds, use it for dummy projects or fabricated records. Even those who got their pork without necessary projects to support. A bill should also be passed on suspending a government official at once when he has court hearings on graft and corruption.

    Wisening up can’t be done without changing unhelpful traditional ways.

    1. I willing to admit that in a past life I was one of those starstruck ignoramuses -> willing to support a candidate just because I got to shake hands with him.

      To all zombies, take it from a former zombie: The TRUTH shall set you free.

      1. My first time to vote I was disillusioned. See, vote buying is rampant in our old town. Mom’s friend happens to be one of the campaign managers of these Mayoral-VP candidates and they expected the family to support and campaign for their candidates. Campaign was always like MMFF, throwing posters, shirts and candies, and voters are really funny because it’s like they themselves belong to the candidates’ party list. You’ll find this neighborhood or baranggay belongs to this candidate and the next one to the other. And the people will go to the campaign for free meals and freebies and to earn money for recruiting more supporters for their candidates. They don’t need to think and look at what these candidates can offer beyond providing for their personal needs or interest. Every election their only option is who to support, make sure to collect more voters for that guy to make him win. If he wins, you win too not for any good reason other than you can go to that candidate to ask for what you need and you know he’ll give it to you because you help him win. Anyway, maliit na tulong lang naman kailangan mo and in return you give your promise to that candidate that you’ll again draw a crowd for him in the next election. Do our government officials crooks to begin with or Pinoys created the crooks that will govern them?

        You’re right; truth shall set a person free. Pinoys though don’t seem to want to change anything. They are still willing to continue and be an active part of the ugly truths instead of freeing themselves from it.

        1. That’s how anything is done in PH to draw a crowd. Just advertise Free Snacks and you’re sure to get swarmed by the zombies.

          Not just in politics. We get a bunch of poor kids to come to daily vacation Bible school in a former church I was part of using freebies as bait.

          But the truth is – there’s no such thing as a free snack. You’ll give up something for it in the end. And as for personal salvation as defined by the Book, you pay your entire life for it.

  4. How hard is it to come up with a good name?

    A Japanese car company once hired a German to come over to Japan to think up a Good Brand Name for their new car model to be released in the American market.

    So the German guy flies to Japan for a week-long visit and checks into his hotel in the afternoon. His host then gives him a call and asks how his long trip was. But before saying goodbye, he asked the German to be ready with the name when they meet for dinner in the evening.

    The German in shock suddenly bursts out “Dat Suun?”

    The Japanese host then replied in amazement “Wow you are faster than we expected. That’s a very good name indeed!”

    (compliments of my good Chinoy batch-mate in high school)

  5. Sorry guys, I hardly reply in facebook so let me do here:

    La Misericordia Folksy mass appeal of kiddie Philippine names to the naive and gullible. How can a “child” possibly harm and steal from you? We love choosing children to lead us. Baby Asistio grins.

    ZX>>> Yup, how can you kill a cute defenseless chanak

    Anton Renovatio What a thought. Anyway how do russians say their names, the saudis, the chinese and to add the slovak? A name is a name and it’s important to politician for memory recall. Anyway no one will name their child as ” gong-gong”

    ZX>>> Yes gong-gong is flat out Not funny

    Carm Cam This is one thing we really shouldnt focus too much upon, asian have this repeating syllables that we use that western couldn’t understand, but they need to tolerate, no need to call stupidity for something like that. There are more pressing issues than names..

    ZX>>> Don’t you realize you are voting Poe, Marcos, Aquino etc. based on names. Zombies look at names not qualifications – and that is a PRESSING issue that needs to be corrected

    Bing Ng Hey we love saying our names twice because it sounds nice. Specially when its sound like a door bell or a car horn.

    ZX>> …twice… nice. are you a poet or something?

    Lagda Imperial tawag ni Obama kay Pnoy, nonoy. wahahaha! isip bata talaga si Pnoy nonoy abnoy kupal.

    ZX>> Cut him some slack man. At least he’s not filing libel charges at us

    Dominic Alfred Fuckino is not a bad name after all and I thank John Debrassey for that

    ZX>> Sounds Latino man. Good luck with that

    Renie Nuñez They are the same crocodile politicians..

    ZX>> And they are asking: Can we have you for dinner?

    Armando Palacios ang mga pangalang ganyan na tinatawag ng magulang e mga tawag sa mga spoiled brat na anak

    ZX>> Sorry, no spitting in Singapore

    Chie Lad Matches their names….

    ZX>> hmmmm … Bongbong doesn’t really act like a clown much though.

    Marvin Umbras Clowns, that’s for sure, bunch of door knockers not door bells.

    ZX>> make that the “highest paid” clowns in the country

    Jimmy Johnson Yeah, what is up with the stupid names? Bongbong? Is that someone that does double bongs?

    ZX>> That’s a good one man! Bravo

    Danny Tan never wanted to be old by name, coz they all still wanna get hold of being t-rex for money forever

    ZX>> ya maybe baby names can make one feel young forever

    Harenun Von Hoppus Thank goodness my parents and grandparents had adult sounding names.

    ZX>> Von Hoppus – classy name you got there

    Edgardo Roy Dolina …a nation of minions that is…

    ZX>> still need to watch the movie and escape this reality

    Jeffrey Turbolencia Ding dong u touch my tralala

    ZX>> OK time to dance now…

    Link to YouTube video

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.