By Dr Jaime C. Laya
Surnames starting with “Dima” could be ancient, inherited from a pre-Hispanic ancestor known for a certain attribute or named after a desired trait. A 17th-century lady with the surname Dimaandál, for example, is an ancestress of the Escuderos of Villa Escudero. The archaic Tagalog word andál means to push and dimaandál would mean cannot be pushed around, a toughie.
The name could also date from 1849 when government required locals, with certain exceptions, to pick a permanent surname. Our ancestors had been so casual that siblings’ apellidos were sometimes different not only from those of their parents but also from each other’s. Tax collectors and the policía must have been at their wits’ end.
Government issued a Catálogo of possible surnames including (page 39) about 80 starting with dima meaning “cannot.” The page must have been dispatched to Batangas where surnames with that prefix abound.
Some suggestions were probably rejected outright, e.g., dimaaliw (sourpuss), dimasalitâ and dimáquibô (tight-lipped), dimapíguilpíguil (uncontrollable), and dimatyís (dimatiís, unbearable). The idea must have inspired others, however, and there is many a surname prefixed with dima not in the Catálogo.
Some surnames have Tagalog roots still in everyday use.
Dimaanó comes from “anó” meaning “what” or “whatever” and the surname would connote invincibility, imperviousness to harm. Dimaculañgan is rooted in kulang or wanting, and suggests alertness, cannot be shortchanged or cheated. Dimagibâ means cannot be demolished, while Dimarucut is based on dukot and means cannot be fished out of a tight container or cannot be caught. Tibág is flatten or raze and someone characterized Dimatibág cannot be harmed. Una is first, so Dimáunahán means cannot be outrun or outdone, a champion.
Many archaic Tagalog words survive in Batangas surnames.
Dimayacyác is from yacyác and means cannot be beaten or trounced in a fight. Dimasupil’s root could be supî (to chop with an axe or machete) and dimasupil would mean invincible or unstoppable.
Ilig is to shake awake so Dimailig (literally a sound sleeper) is unshakable, determined, or single-minded. Suay means dissuade and Dimasuay would be understood as hardheaded. Liuat or liwat is to transfer from one container to another, as in pouring water into or from a jar. Dimaliuat or Dimaliwat therefore suggests permanence and firmness or, alternatively, obstinacy and stubbornness. Dimapilis’ root is pilis meaning to twist or turn around, and with dima- the word would mean cannot be reversed, dissuaded, or hoodwinked. Dimajutoc could be from hotoc or bend (as in a branch heavy with fruit), and the surname would denote firmness and strength.
Buyû is to goad or bait and a Dimabuyû would be level-headed and cannot be provoked into some ill-advised decision or into wronging another.
Gilá refers to the swaying or unsteady movement of a banca and Dimagilá would mean steady or balanced.
Ala is rancid or spoiled (in the context of food) and Dimaala denotes permanence, calmness, and reliability.
Miss Dimalapitan (Miss Unapproachable) is probably neither banker nor politician.
Notes: (a) Governor General Narciso Claveria y Zaldúa decreed the rationalization of family names and issued the Catálogo Alfabético de Apellidos (Manila, 1849) as source of surnames; (b) One of José Rizal’s pseudonyms was Dímasaláng, meaning cannot be touched (noli me tángere!); and (c) A good reference for archaic Tagalog is P. Juan de Noceda y P. Pedro de Sanlucar, Vocabulario de la Lengua Tagala, a Tagalog-Spanish vocabulary first published in 1860. The book was edited and the Spanish definitions and explanations translated to Tagalog by Virgilio S. Almario, Elvin R. Ebreo, and Anna Maria M. Yglopaz (Manila: Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino, 2013).
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