Saturday, May 26, 2007


Caveat Lector (let the reader beware): This is an Ego-boosting blogpost.

This blogpost is prompted by the message of Gibbs Cadiz asking for a link-up and telling me he's also Gilbert. I hope this blogpost will serve as a clarion call to the Gilberts of the world in uniting to make ourselves felt and known.

Gilbert is of French-Germanic origin which means bright promise or pledge. Variations: Guilbert, Gilberto, Hilbert.

First, a little history of how I got to be named so. When it came time for me to be baptized, a little discussion ensued. Mama: I want this baby named Leo or Leon after his father, Napoleon. (Lola's voice-over: The parish priest won't allow animal names for baptism!) Papa (thinking to himself): I want him to be my junior! Some relative (probably my religious aunt): According to the almanaque, the baby was born on the feast day of St. Martin of Tours so his name should be Martin! (imagine me now if named Martin Tan) Mama (2nd attempt): Since I was born in Luzon, Napoleon in Visayas, and the baby in Mindanao, let's call him Luzvimindo! (Again, imagine me now if named Luzvimindo Tan) Lola: He looks like a Gilbert to me! And that's final! And so with Gilbert, baptized I was. Was I glad I wasn't born in 1982 otherwise, I would have been named Rambo (Rambo Tan!) by starstruck parents.

I first became aware of the first of my many tukayo (namesake) at age 6 while exploring the plastic globe given to me by an aunt. I found Gilbert Islands in the Pacific.

In high school, I discovered the priest- detective Father Brown books written by Gilbert Keith Chesterton. This tukayo's wit was enviable: "My country, right or wrong," is a thing that no patriot would think of saying except in a desperate case. It is like saying, "My mother, drunk or sober." I think this tukayo was my first inspiration to become a writer-journalist.
Then in college, I read to smithereens the small book of Gilbert Highet, The Art of Teaching. "These are not books, lumps of lifeless paper, but minds alive on the shelves. By taking down one of these volumes and opening it, one can call into range the voice of a man far distant in time and space, and hear him speaking to us, mind to mind, heart to heart." His book planted the teaching seed in my heart.

In the 80s, a tukayo, Gilbert O'Sullivan topped the worldwide charts with his Alone Again Naturally. This song remains one of my personal faves:

In a little while from now
If I’m not feeling any less sour
I promise myself to treat myself
And visit a nearby tower
And climbing to the top will throw myself off
In an effort to make it clear to who
Ever what it’s like when you’re shattered
Left standing in the lurch at a church
Where people saying: "My God, that’s tough
She's stood him up"
No point in us remaining
We may as well go home as I did on my own
Alone again, naturally

To think that only yesterday
I was cheerful, bright and gay
Looking forward to well wouldn’t do
The role I was about to play
But as if to knock me down, reality came around
And without so much as a mere touch
Cut me into little pieces, leaving me to doubt
Talk about God and His mercy or if He really does exist
Why did He desert me in my hour of need
I truly am indeed Alone again, naturally

It seems to me that there are more hearts
broken in the world that can’t be mended left unattended
What do we do? What do we do?

Alone again, naturally
Now looking back over the years and whatever else that appears
I remember I cried when my father died
Never wishing to hide the tears
And at sixty-five years old, my mother, God rest her soul,
Couldn’t understand why the only man she had ever loved had been taken
Leaving her to start with a heart so badly broken
Despite encouragement from me, no words were ever spoken
And when she passed away I cried and cried all day
Alone again, naturally, Alone again, naturally.

If you've read somewhere that if all the issues of National Geographic Magazine are stacked in one place on earth, that would tilt/change the Earth's axis, then you have Gilbert Grosvenor, its editor in chief to blame. :-)

Of course, let's not forget the devastating Hurricane Gilbert, recorded in history as the second most intense Atlantic hurricane next to Hurricane Wilma.
Then there's Gilbert the Great, a children's book by Jane Clarke about a smiling shark that looks like a cartoon character in Nemo/Shark's Tale.
And the early film of Johnny Depp, What's Eating Gilbert Grape?
And lastly, a Hollywood hotel named Gilbert:


gibbs cadiz said...

wow, exhaustive research! bravo! :)

gilbert yap tan said...

Thanks tukayo for inspiring this blogpost. :)

rolly said...

buti na lang hindi ka naging Luzvimindo. Parng pinilit na Luzviminda, no?

It's nice knowing what your name means and who your tukayos are. Unfortunately, I can't do the same wioth my name. Ubos ang tatlong araw sa paglagay ng kapangalan ko. Rolando is a dime a dozen ata dito sa Pilipinas.

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