Legazpi City, the Philippines
November 23 and 25, 2015
My unusual name – both given (Aniano) and family (Poliquit) – had always been a matter of curiosity. In a stroke of serendipity, I found the origin of my first name in Cairo where St. Anianus was regarded as Egypt’s first Christian convert. Four years prior, I thought I was about to crack the mystery of my uncommon surname’s origin and meaning in a trip to Bicol.
Ligñon Hill, an ancient volcanic cone within the city of Legazpi, had been developed into a seismology observatory and a park. For some reason, the restaurants and zipline atop the hill were closed on the day of our visit. My squad and I spent the time exploring deserted outdoor attractions and came across a relief map of Albay. A familiar name jumped at me – Poliqui Bay, a tiny arm of the wider Albay Gulf.
Poliqui was one final letter short of my surname, Poliquit. The similarity was too uncanny to charge it to mere coincidence, especially since my father’s family hailed from Leyte, just a couple of provinces south of Albay. The odds were that the names came from the same language or shared a common origin. Alas, the map offered nothing further than place names. I asked our host about the bay and she could only answer with a shrug. Not even Google, the treasure trove of online information, turned up any relevant result. Poliqui Bay gave me more questions than it gave answers.
Nonetheless, it was a pleasant surprise to see my last name – well, almost – written on something other than my ID. Perhaps one day I would learn of its etymology. I had wanted to see the bay, at least, but the viewing deck showed only as far as the northern shore of Albay Gulf. The summit was a vantage point, though, for plane spotting as Legazpi Airport was built at the foot of the hill.
Two days later, I would switch places with the view. On the tarmac before boarding our flight out, I cast my gaze on Ligñon Hill one last time. The origin of a name could give history to one’s identity. My discovery of Poliqui Bay at the hill’s summit was just a tease. At best, it indicated that my ancestors were native of this side of the country. A glimpse of the roots of my family tree was enough by then.