Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Coded Blue

Left to right. Me, Antonio, Lucio, Benjamin and Josefina. Carmencita was not born yet when photo was taken. 

My late mother was very organized and a neat freak.  She made it a point that we had our own chair and plate and she devised a clever way that we would know which ones were ours.  She color coded them!

She assigned to each one of us, her six children, a color and she did not do it randomly for some of us. She had a reason for the color she chose and it was related to our name and the saint from whom we were named after.

Way back in the fifties, the Catholic Church in the Philippines required that infants who were baptized be named after a saint or our Blessed mother. As a result there was a proliferation of names consisting of Maria and then followed by the place where the Blessed Mother appeared.  For example my complete name is really Maria Lourdes and my sister Maria Josefina.  I dropped the Maria which is shortened as Ma. because a cousin of mine read it as Mrs. not Ma. due to my mother's terrible handwriting.  As a young child I did not want to be mistaken to be married. When I was in high school,  one of the sisters at the school I attended said I should have not done that since Lourdes is a place in France not a name of the Blessed Mother, Mary.  It was like I was named after the city of Manila or Malabon, my hometown.

Here is the list of my brothers and sisters, from the eldest to the youngest, and the color assigned to each one.

Maria Josefina - green
Maria Lourdes (me) - blue
Antonio - brown
Benjamin Jr. - red
Lucio - yellow
Carmencita - pink

The eldest, Josefina, has a name that is an acronym of our two grandmothers, Josefa and Rufina.  Josefa is the feminine form of Jose or Joseph.  She would not have had to attach Maria to her name if she was named Josefa because St. Joseph was a saint.  Josefina, an acronym, was not acceptable so she had to have Maria with it.  Her passport actually has Maria as her first name. She was assigned green because those who have devotions to St. Joseph wore green colored dresses when they attended mass.

I, Maria Lourdes, was named after Our Lady of Lourdes.  Those who have devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes wore white dresses with a blue sash when they go to Mass as a form of their devotion.  Thus I was assigned the color blue.

Antonio was named after St. Anthony who belonged to a monastery where the monks wore brown cassocks.  Again devotees to this saint wore brown dresses when they went to mass and my brother was assigned the brown color.

I really do not know why my other two brothers Benjamin and Lucio were assigned red and yellow respectively and our youngest sibling Carmencita, pink. Neither brothers were named after saints. Benjamin was named after my father and Lucio after my grandfather. I wonder if they stopped requiring that infants be named after saints when they were baptized or my mother ran out of names of saints to whom Catholics in the Philippines show their devotions to by wearing color coded dresses. Carmencita must have been assigned pink since she was the youngest girl.

I remember the chairs were shaped like half circles and they were made of plastic weaving.  They provided lots of color to our living room when we took them out to sit on to watch TV.  Our plates were also made of colored plastic.  I remember I was very embarrassed eating from mine since I broke part of it. One advantage of having color coded plates I could think of was they prevented us from catching colds and other infectious diseases from one another.

The color coding approach actually worked.  We did not fight over chairs and plates since we have our own color coded ones. Right now when I think of the fact I was coded blue was that a sign of things to come?

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