Column: What’s in a name

‘Nobody can say they have the same story as me and that’s what makes my name meaningful.’


Jannelle Everett

“My dad’s great-grandfather was a German who immigrated to America during the early 1900s.”

My name is long, complicated and confusing, but that’s what I like about it. Jannelle Allison Alcantara Everett shows the story which led up to my siblings and me. My ethnicity, religion and the strong unit of my family are all represented on my birth certificate. A lot of people can say that their names have meanings, but only I can have pride for my own.

My mom named all her kids with a few things in mind. She believes my father is the head of the household. So his name, which starts with a J, is the base of my siblings and I’s first name, the J in Justine, Jethro, and Jannelle.. My middle name went by the same rules. The A in Anne, Aaron, and Allison is because my mom’s name starts with an A representing her as the neck and shoulders to support my father.

Our names were also chosen based on their meanings. My sister’s name, Justine, means fair and righteous, my brother’s name, Jethro, is the name of Moses’s brother in the bible and my name means God is merciful. So wherever we go, we show our faith.  Justine’s middle name, Anne, means favor or grace, Jethro’s middle name, Aaron, means exalted, which is also biblical, and

Allison also means truth, derived from the Greek goddess of truth Aletheia.   

In the Philippines, your mom’s maiden name is your middle name, and your first name is two words. So technically, my first name is Jannelle Allison. When I moved to America, Allison became my first middle name and Alcantara became my second. When hearing the name Alcantara, one would assume I am Latina which might not make sense, seeing as I’m Filipino. The Philippines was colonized by Spain in 1512, which explains the common words between Tagalog, the primary language spoken there, and Spanish.

In our family tree, Alcantara can be traced down to my great-grandfather on my mom’s side. My grandmother described him as the best father she could have received. He was a man of God, faithful to his wife and worked hard to provide for his family. He was a businessman through and through, always the employer and never the employee. He owned a successful store in the Philippines that made enough money to afford private schools, nannies and maids. The traits of negotiation and business savvy were even passed down to my mom.

Everett tells the story of my dad’s side of the family. The name tends to spur questions in people. When reading it on paper, teachers and classmates picture a blonde, blue-eyed tall girl. That’s because my dad’s great-grandfather was a German who immigrated to America during the early 1900s. Originally, he was named Ewort, but the name was changed when he immigrated. He was an American soldier when he met my great-great-grandmother. He was on deployment in the Philippines and had a fiery yet fleeting romance. After having a child with her, he left without a word. My great-great-grandmother tore all she knew about him in anger, leaving our family tree missing a branch.

Although my name reveals the story of the family that came before me, it still leaves me with questions, some of which might never be answered. However, knowing all these stories about me makes me feel proud to be who I am. Nobody can say they have the same story as me and that’s what makes my name meaningful.