Last month, myself and seven other initiates participated in a sacred ceremony to receive our indigenous Filipino names. When I first began connecting with my Filipino ancestors, I remember feeling the grief of losing our old ways. Much has been lost because of colonization, capitalism and modern politics.
Most of the time, you can’t tell someone is Filipino by their name because most of our names are Spanish or even English after the American colonization of the Philippines. When my daughter was born, I wanted to give her an indigenous Filipino name but it was hard to find one that made sense.
Thankfully, there is movement of coming back to our roots and remembering who we are and who our ancestors were. I’m grateful for the Hilot Binabaylan / Filipino pagan priests Apu Adman Aghama and Alvin Lasquety Sentin of the Center for Philippine Traditional Indigenous Spiritual Beliefs and Practices who performed this divination and ceremony.
During the ceremony, each of us learned which diwata (Indigenous filipino god or goddess) stood up to “claim” us or declare their connection/ affinity with us. The diwata then gave us our indigenous name.
Praise to the diwatang (Filipino indigenous god) Ampu Nagsalad of the Pala’wan tribe who stood up to claim me. This diwatang is a powerful creator god who is also called the Weaver as he wove the world together. Respect to the sovereignty and power seated in Ampu Nagsalad and respect and honor to the Pala’wan tribe for continuing his legacy.
Ampu Nagsalad gave me my indigenous name, which is Gat Puno Magtanggol. Gat is an honorary title of someone committed to goodness. It could also be translated to “initiate.” Gat Puno together can mean community leader or chieftan. Magtanggol is a badass name that means fierce protector/ defender.
The Filipino priest translated my indigenous name Gat Puno Magtanggol to be “Ruler and Defender of the Light to Mankind.”
It’s been about a month and I’m still receiving the bigness of my name while embracing it with so much gratitude and heart. Awesomely, a tattoo that I had recently inked for my Filipino ancestors included a basket weave pattern (shown above), so I feel that I already remembered by connection to my diwatang. <3
After receiving our indigenous names, we took oaths to the diwatas who claimed us and acknowledged that we are manifestations of our diwatas, a truth we carry in our hearts. What a joyous surrender to be in service of these ones who carry so much goodness.
Big love and gratitude to my mother Ruth, my aunties Noelle and Anna and my husband Phil who were my sacred witnesses. Salamat gid… My heart is very full.