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9 Pinoys Share What It's Like To Have The Same Name As A Famous Person

Hear from Gloria Arroyo, Noli de Castro, Jennifer Lopez, and more.
PHOTO: (LEFT) Instagram/sunshinecruz718, (RIGHT) Sunshine Cruz

Earlier, we shared the story of multimedia producer and Instagrammer Kris Aquino—who just happens to have the same name as THE PHILIPPINES' QUEEN OF ALL MEDIA, NBD. We figured there must be more stories out there from other people who have the same name as famous personalities, so we asked around and, naturally, hit comedy gold. Read on, have a good laugh, and try not to give that friend of yours named Jennifer Lopez such a hard time from here on out.

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Donna Chan-Cruz, a financial advisor and certified investment solicitor, was free from "Kapag Tumibok ang Puso" jokes…until she got married.


"On one of my business trips to Cebu, I jammed with a band at Harolds Hotel's roofdeck bar. Since the locals didn't know me, I didn't care much about performing and possibly messing up onstage. The crew asked for my name and as expected, they laughed when they learned what it was.

The next night, the bar was full since it was a Friday. The restaurant staff announced that 'Donna Cruz' would be playing next for the guests. My friends just laughed about it and we didn't realize how serious the situation was until we saw the crowd cheer in excitement. The ladies next to our table, while getting their phones ready to take a video, exclaimed, 'Hala! Naa si Donna Cruz diri!' ('Oh! Donna Cruz is here!') Some even transferred to tables nearer to the stage.

The staff member who made the announcement then approached us and, sounding worried, said, 'Ma'am, usabon na lang nato imo pangalan unya ha kay nag-expect gyud sila nga si Donna Cruz. Basin masuko sila.' (‘Ma'am, let's change your name later because they are expecting that it will really be Donna Cruz. They might get mad.')

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Next thing we heard was this announcement: 'Sadly, Ms. Donna needs to go to her hotel room to rest. She regrets not being able to sing for you guys tonight.' The crowd said a collective 'Aaaaayyyy' in a frustrated tone.

I later went onstage and performed using the name 'Belle.'"


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Alma Moreno, an assistant manager working in the food and beverage industry in Singapore, claims she is the real Alma Moreno—she was given her name a year before the actress hit it big under that screen name.


"My siblings and I all have names starting with the letter A: Alex, Alan, and Alma. I was born in 1974, while Alma Moreno the actress—whose real name is Venesa Lacsamana—shot to fame in 1975. When we found out about her, our family was amazed that there was a person with a name same as mine since my parents didn't derive my name from any famous personality's.

As far as I can recall since I was a child, I've been teased about my name. It would be uncommon for me if I don’t come across any person asking me if my name is real. Some would call me 'Ness,' and some guys would even quip that they are 'Rudy Fernandez' or 'Joey Marquez.'

The funniest thing that ever happened to me in relation to my name was when my grade school teacher introduced herself on our first day in school as 'Lorna Tolentino.' Our celebrity namesakes had the same man in their lives: Rudy Fernandez! All the people in the classroom shrieked at the discovery."


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Even if his last name is missing one "n," John Lenon, a medical student, can't escape the Beatle connection.

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"My parents intentionally named me 'John' at birth after the Beatle, and being named 'John Lenon' has its perks for sure! It's a great conversation-starter and it helps me make a good first impression.

However, there are some who don't believe me when I tell them my name. Like this one time when I was ordering food over the phone, the lady asked for my name and when I said it was John Lenon, she snickered and hung up the phone! I think she thought I was a prank caller or something. Needless to say, I went hungry that day.

Sometimes, when I have to call food delivery companies or make restaurant reservations over the phone, I just give them another name like 'Carlo' or 'Mark' so they wouldn't think I was fooling around."


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Sunshine Cruz, a special education teacher, still gets asked about Cesar Montano even in California where she is now based.


"The most memorable experience I've suffered because of my name happened during my college graduation. I was anxious to go because I knew that my batchmates would laugh at my name once I was called onstage.

At the graduation ceremony, the college dean was calling us one at a time. I broke out in a cold sweat. My knees were trembling, too. When my name was called, I heard a lot of 'OH,' 'WOW,' and 'HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!' Can you imagine how embarrassed I was when it was over? I thought I was the only one who had a celebrity name at that school. To my surprise, another student was called and her name was...'JENNIFER LOPEZ!' I was relieved because the attention was diverted to her.

When I got to the States, I thought all the 'Sunshine Cruz' jokes would be over. But whenever my Filipino colleagues here learn about my name, they can't help but ask me about Cesar Montano and if I have a new movie coming up."

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Jennifer Lopez-Alba, a financial analyst, can't escape the amusement and embarrassment that having the same name as one of entertainment’s biggest names brings. (And in case you were wondering, she is not the same Jennifer Lopez mentioned in the prior account.)


"The first time I saw Jennifer Lopez's name in a movie poster in a newspaper, I thought of cutting it out and showing it off at school. I was ecstatic that my namesake was a Hollywood actress—until she became way too famous.

When I got to college, Jennifer Lopez was making huge waves in Hollywood. Every person who got to know my real name would turn to me and ask if I, too, was an actress, dancer, and singer. (Unfortunately, I’m far from being any of those three.) Even my history professor, who was close to his retirement age, knew her! Some people would even call me JLo for short. Despite usually sitting at the back of the class and not being particularly social and having few close friends, I was famous.

In fact, when I graduated and my name was called on stage, I was as popular as the summa cum laudes because I was among those who got the loudest cheers from the crowd—most of whom didn't even know me personally!"


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Gloria "Giselle" Arroyo, a vice president for marketing for a local vodka brand, has been on the receiving end of GMA jokes her whole professional life.


"Sharing a name with a famous politician has been a source of amusement and corny jokes for over half my life. Everyone's favorite joke, by far, is that my middle initial, which is "N," stands for 'Nacapagal.' (It doesn't).

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Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was president when I entered the workforce, so I decided to start using my nickname "Giselle" professionally, just to make things easier. One of my first jobs was in sales, and I could not afford to have cold calls go south because the client thought I was just a prankster.

Getting called over any PA system is a bit embarrassing because of the excitement it causes. I eventually figured out that since people have short attention spans, I can just wait for them to go back to their phones, then calmly walk up to the window and discreetly identify myself.

While having my name comes with a few minor annoyances, it does have some advantages. Most importantly, I can use it as a tool to help new people I meet remember me when I want them to. After all, who can forget meeting the Gloria Arroyo who sells vodka for a living?"


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Noli de Castro, Jr., a revenuer for the Bureau of Internal Revenue, was named after his father, not the news anchor and former vice president of the Philippines—but of course that doesn't stop the jokes from coming.


"I am a 'junior,' so my father was already named Noli de Castro when I was born. On the other hand, the former Philippine vice president’s real name is Manuel de Castro, Jr.—NOT Noli. I’ve learned to whip out this piece of trivia whenever the name issue is brought up in conversation.

Back in the sixth grade, we had this recognition program three days before graduation where I was to receive an academic excellence award. When they called me up onstage, the kids cheered for me much louder than they did for the other awardees. This triggered stage fright in me, and I ended up walking fast past the awarding committee onstage and straight towards the other end of the stage where the awardees should exit. One of the teachers had to run after me to tell me that I had to get my award. Obviously, the kids continued laughing after seeing what had happened.

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Still panicky, I went back up the stage, took the award, and again walked fast towards the exit—this time forgetting to take a bow before exiting.

When the actual graduation ceremony rolled around three days later, I ended up frowning from start to end because I was trying not to get bothered by the same situation—which by the way, happened again. So all graduation pictures I have from that day show me frowning, not happy."


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Rochelle Pangilinan, an administrative assistant now based in Canada, has been hounded by "SexBomb" jokes since the dance group hit it big in the mid-2000s.


"My parents named me such because my three older siblings all had names starting with 'Ro' or 'Rho,' so Rochelle was an obvious choice. Growing up, I've always loved my name, and I thought, with my not-so-common surname, it made me unique.

In the mid-2000s, however, a certain member of the SexBomb Girls with the same name became wildly popular, and I realized my name wasn't as unique as I thought it was. At the time, I worked at a call center, and my colleagues would alleviate high-pressure situations by calling me 'SexBomb' within earshot of everyone else. In internal trainings or meetings where I had to introduce myself to team members, I would say my full name and then take a dramatic pause to emphasize, 'Yes, that is my real name,' and it always elicited laughs.

This became my schtick, so to speak, even when I resigned from the call center and moved on to other things. Whenever I found myself in a new group where I had to introduce myself, I would use this schtick to break the ice, and it has always worked like magic.

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Of course, until I moved to Toronto, Canada. Here, I am just another immigrant with a hard-to-pronounce name. I must say, I do miss the Philippines where everyone knows my name."


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Despite the bad publicity that surrounded her namesake at the start, Maricar Reyes-Bitana, a stay-at-home mom and online English teacher, didn’t get any jabs about her name at all. Now, however, she feels that they are more alike than ever.


"When the news about Hayden Kho and Maricar Reyes went viral, no one teased me or made me feel ashamed for having the name same as her. Maybe it's because I am older than her, and I was already using my husband's last name by the time she became famous. Maybe it's also because the people around me know me well. They knew my religious convictions, so they were very respectful of me. Also, most of the friends surrounding me are born-again Christians, so they understood.

Maricar the actress' response to the Hayden Kho issue was admirable. It produced less harm to her name. I regarded it as a better way to remain dignified.

The interesting part came when she renewed her mind and accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. That's when people started telling me, 'You're Maricar Reyes!' or 'Wow, artista!'

I'm glad Maricar the actress made a decision that would change the viewer's mind about her and her past for the better. Now, we are both born-again Christians attending Victory Christian Fellowship, and we are both married to husbands who love music. Now, I can say we are more similar."

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