The Power of Names


In the original article attributed Manila, My Manila to Carlos Celdran. It was an error on my part, sorry about that. The blog Manila, My Manila actually belongs to Lorimer. Again, Lorimer sorry about that.

I also mistakenly identified My Everyday Manila as being Manila, My Manila and belonging to Carlos Celdran. The blog actually belongs to Ed at everdisturbed.com. Sorry about that as well.

Again to both blog owners and Carlos Celdran my apologies for the mistake.


Neil Gaiman has a story about a boy who encounters the Russian witch called Baba Yaga. As in all tales of fantasy, the boy is on a quest of sort and in order to finish the quest he has to seek the aid of a supernatural being. In most fairy tales, our protagonist encounters a benevolent being, a helpful being, a grateful being who helps those who shows them kindness and who voluntarily help them. Unfortunately, there are also beings that are not so benevolent, scheming and not so inclined to help. In such cases, the Hero of the story has to resort to other means of gaining their help. One-way is to best them in a match, another is trick them into doing the service, and do some service for them. Unless of course you have some power over them. And that power makes you temporarily the Pope of Greenwich Village, to paraphrase a Mickey Rourke movie. In Neil Gaiman’s story, the hero knew the true name of Baba Yaga and threatened to use it. In the realm of Fantasy, the true name is a precious commodity. If one’s enemy knew about it might lead to one’s doom.

Yesterday, while doing some blog hopping I encountered an interesting development in one of the blogs. I blog hop because I want to get informed, read on the different views about the story, and in a sense get entertained when things get a little bit lively. Yesterday’s discourse by the commentators at blog of Manuel L Quezon III (MLQIII) was interesting and entertaining. But not because it was about politics, for it is ninety nine percent of the time it is. And not because it was about Arroyo. But because of what Carlos Celdran of Walk This Way remarked about the use of aliases. Check the comments and note the exchange between Carlos and the other commentators. Some of the commentators reacted to Carlos statement about people using Nome de guerre or Nome de plumes in the comments or even in blogs. A number of the reactions were defensive, while one was circumspective.

Why do people use aliases when they blog or comment?


A lot of people are not comfortable given out their name in cyberspace and for good reason one could the target of any known and unknown form of harassments, from spams to the use of one’s name in a number of not-so-noble deeds or endeavors. Nobody likes to be bombarded by useless mail or be on the mailing list of those who find joy in donkeys in coitus. Still there are ways to safeguard oneself.


Always a justifiable concern is always self-preservation. Ever since the lady of Orduvai Valley learned to climb the tree upon the approach of huge carnivores or super predators man, we, have always had this instinct to survive. And it has served a lot of us well. It pays to be prudent who knows what may be behind the corner. Still there are ways to safeguard oneself.

Hide their Identity/Gender(?)

Others would like to use alias to hide something. Perhaps they occupy a sensitive position and it would be unwise to reveal it. For others, they might feel this Nome de plume or Nome de guerre (take your pick) would be more suitable or marketable for their purpose. Still there are others who conceal their name to conceal their purpose in commenting, it could be good, bad or just plain trivial. One cannot argue against those reasons.

Doing it for the Sake of Doing It

Still others just do it because they feel like doing it. It is fun and empowering. One rarely gets the chance to use a name one feels he or she should have. A chance to be called a favorite character from book, film, or cartoon - like Gandalf or Darth Vader. A chance to put one’s image in a word like Brown Sepia. One can even use the name a word or group of words one felt one deserve, like Charles007 or AlphaMale2000. You know just doing because it can be done.

Aliases, pseudonyms, and Nome de blog should be an interesting side-study in blogging.

And one has to respect the decision taken by the Aragorn67 or Vendetta9 or DimasalangXXIV.

Me? I decided to use my nickname and my full name, which can easily be accessed - just check the static page named about Juned, because I feel these are my ideas and my comments. As such, they must be acknowledge by their father. And I did take and I am still taking precautions. At least that is my choice.

12 Responses to “The Power of Names”

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  1. Apr6

    The Bystander

    Said this at 11:38am:

    Hi Juned, good day!

    This is my first time to visit your blog. Nice posts and nice template.

    I agree substantially to what you wrote above. I only took exception to Carlos Celdran’s statement because to me it was just illogical (non sequitur), or unfair to say the least. But then again, it’s his opinion and I cannot deny him that.

    When a person uses aliases for privacy, security, or for trivial reasons, I don’t think that should generally be taken against his/her opinions. Of course, if a person’s “opinions” are wanting in form and substance or out only to destroy another’s reputation without any basis, then that’s when you draw the line.

    I may sound defensive here but how else should I oppose Mr. Celdran’s claim?

  2. Apr6

    Pol SJS

    Said this at 12:05pm:

    Hi Mr/Ms Bars,

    Came over from MLQ3’s blog, passing by, to drop a take on issue re anoni-Blogging, hindi ko na ipinost,

    Carlosceldran said,
    “… I feel no need to hide behind some vague alias. I just believe that opinions that are given under an alias is just as valid as graffiti written on a public rest room wall.”

    Those are very good points on a very bloggingly significant issue!!! Can any body please pitch-in a couple of points to balance two sides of this issue? Upcoming is iBlog2 Summit at UP. To be or not to be an anonymous blogger, is a mind-blogging question for millions of live-birth-certified flesh and bone, beautiful, beautifully minded, human beings…people … persons …

    (+ my further take on it:

    …who cyber-populate the cyber-world like disembodied cyber-beings floating in cyber-limbo.

    Blogging involves the medium, blogspot, host/moderator, message, messenger/name/alias,
    Blogging is a fusion of these elements. Each post on the blog is a unique act/incidence/event in the creative process of virtual community building.

    The interplay, dynamics, synthesis, formations and transformations of/with/among various elements and processes in the cyberworld has a tendency to be as random, unpredictable, complex and uncontrollable as the universe in which we exist.

    Bloggers behave differently in different blogs/setting/…; use different id’s/names/, adapt split/dual/multiple personalities, … there is joy, there is danger;… opportunity and pitfalls …”

    Any way I settled to thinking about which is a more important issue: On Anonymous Blogging or On Blogging Anonymous (Blogaholic Anonymous) see ‘Cretin’s post near bottom of Ricky Carandang Reports blog http://www.rickycarandang.com/?p=69.

    So to answer ur survey, I’m a very new, weeks old, as a blogger, i’m in IT ind. but on the net, not much into blogging. Walking, commuting, kuwentong kanto/barbero/jeep/bus/newsstand/bangketa/rally/isaw/toma tao-tao … pare …. el-IT-ista dating ng blog sa Pinas… OFW ok lang … kaya ok message ni ‘cretin’ …

    Itong March first time to try creating a blogsite, these basically explains why i’m sort of reaching out to send a MESSAGE to many …http://juan-dela-cruz.blogspot.com/ ;http://icbcp.blogspot.com/
    mahalaga kasi di lang komento/kuwento sa blog sa mga matitinding probema usapang solution Citizen’s Initiative

    OK salamat, may tindahan din kaibigan ko,parang trad blog site, ok dating ng blog mo, keep it up


  3. Apr6

    Manuel L. Quezon III » New York Times pokes President

    Said this at 3:37pm:

    […] Now What, Cat? explains that her policy when it comes to links, is to link only to positive links. Newsstand explains his policy when it comes to comments. baratillo books cinema @cubao looks at commenters and the names they use. […]

  4. Apr6


    Said this at 8:54pm:

    (”Pseudonymus anonymus,” quite a striking net handle, i think…complete with genus and species…)

    carlos celdran may have scored a good point there. as one named “John” said:

    “…common sense tells us that when we know that we will be held accountable for what we say, we are more careful to be both accurate and truthful. Under the cloak of anonymity, anyone is much more likely to fall into speculation, exaggeration, or outright falsehood.”


    however, rick shera from New Zealand presented in his paper “Don’t I Know You? — Anonymity on the Net” these legitimate reasons for concealing identity:

    1. It is important…to highlight the fact that anonymity or pseudonymity is not just the recourse of those “with something [sinister] to hide”. There are many and varied reasons why someone might want to conceal their identity. The right to do so has been implicitly recognised in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states:

    No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

    …Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

    2. In one of the leading US cases, America Online, Inc., one of the world’s largest connectors of people to the internet, argued in its amicus brief:

    The extensive use of screen names and other online pseudonyms is critical to the development of the Internet as a vehicle for individual expression. Users may wish to speak anonymously online for a variety of reasons: to criticize the activities of public officials or corporations without fear of retaliation, to “blow the whistle” on an employer who is engaging in unlawful or otherwise improper activity, to voice unpopular opinions on topical issues, to avoid harassment or even stalking by other online users, or to obtain advice or counseling on difficult problems or medical conditions. See, e.g., ACLU v. Reno, 929 F. Supp. 824, 849(E.D. Pa. 1996) (“Anonymity is important to Internet users who seek to access sensitive information . . . .”), aff’d, 521 U.S. 844 (1997).

    As one commentator has explained, anonymity not only allows speakers to experiment with unconventional or unpopular ideas without fear of ridicule or retaliation, but also “promises to make public debate in cyberspace less hierarchical and discriminatory than real world debate to the extent that it disguises status indicators such as race, class, gender, ethnicity and age which allow elite speakers to dominate real-world discourse.” Silencing John Doe, 49 Duke L.J. at 896.

    3. To that list we can add another reason which is relevant to netsafety - the ability to interact anonymously/pseudonymously can be used to protect children. If a child is able to interact with others anonymously or behind the safety of a pseudonym then there must be less chance of persons that they come into contact with associating their online presence with the real world presence - with the potential physical peril that that can bring. Perhaps this mechanism might be a useful one for educators in netsafety to consider if they have not already done so.

    4. Indeed, it is not too difficult to imagine the internet being populated with pseudo identities to such an extent that the distinctions between pseudonymous contact and identified contact might become meaningless.

    5. Of course the very pseudonymity that could assist in limiting the amount of personal information that children make available when they go online will also assist a potential predator in hiding not only their age but also possibly their sex.


    nevertheless, one with malicious intent will always think that “with anonymity comes great power”…on the net, most especially.

  5. Apr6


    Said this at 11:13pm:

    great post. you’ve pretty much summarized, if not all, then most of the rationales for cyberaliases. personally, i find my own nom de blog more suitable for my purposes than my real name. also, i get a kick out of playing the role.

    i like carlos celdran and read his blog often, but i have to respectfully disagree with him on this one.

    or maybe not. who knows what gems of wisdom lie buried in graffiti written on restroom walls? :)

  6. Apr7


    Said this at 12:48am:

    Just a minor correction. The boy in Neil Gaiman’s story you are referring to did not encounter a “Russian” witch but a hag in Faerie land named Baba Yaga. Also, it is not the boy but his “mentor”, Dr. Occult, who knows the true name of Baba Yaga which enabled the latter to rescue the boy from the hag by threatening her to tell all the creatures in Faerie her true name which will then diminish her powers to the potency of a common crab grass. You can find all these in Neil Gaiman’s Tim Hunter series titled The Books of Magic.

    Perhaps a more vivid dramatization on power of names will be Miyazaki’s Spirited Away where the child heroine, Chihiro, is enslaved by the witch by taking all but one calligraphic character from her printed name.

  7. Apr7


    Said this at 7:40am:

    Thanks. Each of us made a choice as regards names and as long as at the personallevel one is satisfied with it then it should be OK. I have always believed that ideas or opinions posted stand or fall on its own merit.

    Pol SJS and Baycas,
    Wow! interesting statements on the use and purpose of names. I guess it is true that nome de blog ( for lack of a better term) has its uses.

    I too am a regular reader and visitor to Carlos Celdran’s blogs. I like and respect his stand on this issue and I also recognise the need for people to use pseudonyms, it is a choice really how effective or how good a blogger or commentator you want to be its up to you. A friend of mine once told me in the Interent what you write/say stays on Net/ It is your idea and how you project your idea that defines you on Net.

    You are right about Tim Hunter. My apologies. Was it in the Book of Magic? I mixed it up with another Gaiman story with Baba Yaga in it . The story was “The Hunt”. I forgot the actual number of the comic book but it is part of a sub-series in The Sandman. Now it is available as a tradepaperback called The Sandman Fables and Reflections. Several od my favourite Sandman Tales are included in this collection and they include Thermidor, Three Septembers and a January, August, The Hunt, The Parliament of Rooks, and Ramadan.

    Miyazaki’s Spirited Away would be a nice example of the power of names or even Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea Novels.

  8. Apr7


    Said this at 2:06pm:

    so demosthenes, are you really a 14 year old female supergenius?

  9. Apr8


    Said this at 3:38am:

    sorry, micketymoc. just her megalomaniac older brother.

  10. Apr9


    Said this at 11:17pm:

    hi there.

    just a correction. the url of the blog “manila, my manila” is http://manila_my_manila.blogspot.com/

  11. Apr10


    Said this at 8:24am:

    Hi Ed,

    Thank you for the information. I made the corrections to the article. And sorry for the error it is all my fault.

  12. Nov9


    Said this at 11:36pm:


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Hi! Welcome to baratillo @ cubao an eclectic blog shoppe. My name is Juned Sonido. At present home for me is along Harvard Street Cubao, Quezon City, Republic of the Philippines, South East Asia,Earth. More information about me . If you find the commentaries here interesting or would like to know of any item for sale you can subscribe to the (i)Entries RSS, (ii)Comments RSS of this blog or (iii)subscribe by email.

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