I know I told parts of this story before but will tell it again since some of my memory recently seems to be fading and I want to make sure I write it again and again for my children, grandchildren and theirs.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, this story is all part of a larger picture of the Punzalan Project and the CHamoru Roots Genealogy Project that was brewing and yearning to be unleashed.

I would have never thought to be so engaged and passionate about genealogy. The more I learn, the more my love grows for it. I also never thought about being some kind of activist until someone called me out. My early days of activism probably stems as far back as when I was about 12 years old, from the discontentment of the name my parents gave me.

During the infant days of my parents, they were given their mother's surname as their middle name. My mom is Rosita Leon Guerrero Cruz. Her mom was a Leon Guerrero: Rosa Salas Leon Guerrero My dad is Eustaquio Anderson Punzalan. His mother was an Anderson: Antonia Pereda Anderson. This was the CHamoru custom at the time for people to carry their mother’s surname as their middle name. As for my siblings and me, almost all of us, except one of my sisters, were given middle names that did not contain our mother's Cruz maiden surname.  I was not happy at all, that my middle name was Timothy. I didn’t want to be a Timothy. I wanted to be known as a Cruz from my mother’s lineage. The CHamoru custom for naming children had changed; at least within my family and for my generation.

At the age of 14, I was preparing myself to become eligble to work and earn extra income the following year at age 15. In order to work I needed to have a social security card. As I was completing the application form, I felt it was the perfect opportunity to change my name. I don't even recall an option for my parents to sign the form to validate the info or consent to submission.  So, I changed my middle name to Cruz within the SSN application.  🤫😬

When my social security card arrived, my mother was furious 😡with me. She scolded me that Cruz was not my middle name. I naturally took defense. I responded to her that because she was a Cruz, I am a Cruz too.  I know my mother had a hard time handling me growing up. 🙏🏼😂 She did teach me the difference and boundaries between being right and being disrespectful. And of course, she always had the final say. Also, it still was not my legal name. She knew the implications of the error on my social security card, I didn't. Anyways, I had to apply for a correction to my name on the social security card.  But I did work with a couple of organizations that had Bernard Cruz Punzalan as my employee and payroll name. 👍🏼  Then, I later joined the Army and gave them my legal name, but also included my alias name too. LOL.

My father tucked away our SSN stubs in his briefcase of important documents. I recently came across it so it was the impetus for writing about this again. What a wonderful time capsule he maintained and an opportunity to reflect!

Both genealogy projects have taught me to listen and cherish the value of my name. It is rooted with family history and valued by my parents. I was named after and in honor of my paternal grandfather, Bernardo del Mundo Punzalan. My middle name, Timothy, is in honor of the Priest who married my parents. Both are also CHamoru cultural practices. One could also argue that I would not have existed without any of them. In fact, my wife named our youngest son after and in honor of me. Oh Saina, we have come full circle!

My wife Josephine Marie Manibusan too. It turns out she was named after both her paternal grandmother, Josefina Borja Taitano, and her maternal grandmother Maria Leon Guerrero Garrido.

I have also learned you can’t edit a blank page. You have to write it first! Spelling and grammar don’t count in the beginning. Just do it! How did your parents name you or what stories are tied to your name?

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