They are facets but they are all me. I answer to them all.
I used to hate my name. I got teased for it a lot because a famous namesake is a Pinay actress known for her stupidity. Although I found the jokes quite funny (Ordering a BigMac at Mcdonalds, she was asked “for here?” She answered, “No. For Vandolph.”) but I always ended up the butt of it, too.
I think I was in high school when, after admitting my loathing for it, I asked my mom if could change my name. But then she told me, “Don’t you know that ‘Alma’ means ‘soul’ in Spanish?” That was my redemption. Many years later, my didi in yoga told me that ‘Alma’ means ‘soul’ in Sanskrit as well. It helped when I learned of a family myth: my great grandmother may have been Indian, one of many who settled in Ilocos back in the early 1900s. My father’s clan can’t tell for sure because she was ostracized after her husband died unexpectedly. Defeated, she disappeared, leaving behind her son and the mystery of her roots and mine.
A few years ago, my Hungarian teacher, Lazlo Nemes, asked me if I knew what ‘Alma’ meant in his mother tongue. Armed with both Spanish and Sanskrit meanings, I bravely said yes. But to my surprise — and to his amusement — he said succintly: ‘apple’.
From ‘soul’ to ‘apple’. It bothered me at first, but then I realized it wasn’t so bad. At the very core of me, my soul. Sometimes, in this confusing, noisy and fast-paced world, I have to dig deep to find solace within myself. So, it’s apt. It’s all good.