I’m Japanese and my husband is Chinese, but I have several friends who are Filipino, which is why I decided to write a Filipino heroine for Narrow Escape. However, I had to do lots of research, especially for the character names.
I had a hard time coming up with the name of the Filipino drug gang in the book, but there are several real-life Filipino gangs who just use initials for their names. So I picked the phrase, laki sa layaw, which means “pampered while still young” in Tagalog (a Filipino dialect), and shortened it to the gang name, LSL. The phrase seemed appropriate for a young, tough, attitude-saturated gang of drug dealers.
I don’t actually know the meaning of Arissa’s last name, Tiong, but I liked it because it was easy to read and pronounce (sort of) for non-Filipino readers. :) Some of the Filipino surnames are really long and complicated to pronounce for an American like me!
Charity’s uncle is Johnny Capuno, is a captain in the LSL gang. I chose Johnny’s last name, Capuno, because it means “fellow leader” in Tagalog.
The Tiongs’ neighbor is Mrs. Tabil, and if you read the scene, you’ll find that the meaning of her last name is very appropriate. Tabil means “talkative” in Tagalog. :)
Nene, which Arissa uses often when speaking to her niece, Charity, is a term of endearment for young girls.
Now, aren’t you glad I didn’t pick something like Tukodlangit for Arissa’s last name? LOLOL
Do any of you come from a family with a neat ethnic name?
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