COMMENT: A Crazy Acronym

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­GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 13 February) — Citing BOI (Board of Investment) Southern Mindanao chief Engr. Gil Dureza during a forum in Davao City on February 11, MindaNews on the same date reported that “15 companies … have so far expressed their intention to invest in the Davao Region and SOCCSKSARGEN areas.”

The two areas compose BOI-Southern Mindanao. Davao Region is Region XI (Southeastern Mindanao) composed of Davao City, Davao del Sur, Davao Occidental, Davao del Norte, and Compostela Valley; and SOCCSKSARGEN is Region XII (Southwestern Mindanao) composed of the provinces of (North) Cotabato, Sarangani, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, and the cities of Cotabato and General Santos.

Most of the investors, local and foreign companies, are engaged in “manufacturing, real estate, and agriculture”. Twelve of the 15 companies have made inquiries in the Davao Region.

How does Southern Mindanao stand nationwide in terms of investment in 2015?

Total investments in the Philippines: In 2015, the BOI registered 358 projects approved worth P366.742 billion in investments, or an increase by 3.38 percent as compared P354.557 billion for 295 projects in the Philippines in 2014. Of the approved 2015 investments, 83.8 percent were projects registered by local companies valued at P307.235 billion while the 16.2 percent were by foreign companies at P59.507 billion.

In Southern Mindanao: Of the P366.742 billion national total, only P13 billion was from BOI-Southern Mindanao – a mere 3.55 percent.

The good news elicits serious questions. If Regions XI and XII only got a 3.55 percent trickle of investments nationwide in 2015, how much of the P366.742 billion spilled to the other regions outside of the Metro Manila-Subic-Clark-Calabarzon (Cavite-Laguna-Batagas-Rizal Zone) industrial belt? Like political power, is it not time to disperse investment away from the Capital Region?

Now here’s what’s amusing. It is not about investment but crazy acronym.

What is acronym?  

As defined by Webster: Acronym is a word (as NATO, radar, or snafu) formed from the initial letters of letters of each of the successive or major parts of a compound term; or, an abbreviation formed from initial letters. [NATONorth Atlantic Treaty Organiztion; radarradio detecting and ranging; snafusituation normal all fucked up (fouled up)].

Acronyms are commonly used today; they make present day writing and speech cryptic and unwieldy by compacting long compound terms. For instance, instead of Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, ARMM saves space, time and breath; so do BaSulTa for Basilan-Sulu-Tawi-Tawi; GMA for Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo; FDR for Franklin Delano Roosevelt; or MiMaRoPa for Mindoro-Masbate-Romblon-Palawan (Region IV-B), etc.

Many business names are better known by their acronyms like banks (PNB, DBP, BPI), electric cooperatives (Socoteco, Magelco, Cotelco), etc. Some geographical names are acronyms like Aleosan in Cotabato, derived from Alimodian, Leon and San Miguel – three towns in Iloilo from where most of the settlers there came from. Some Christians named with acronyms may not be admitted by St. Peter into Heaven.

Acronyms so commonly and regularly used and accepted by standard dictionaries are readily understood without reference to their mother compound terms; but, when new and unfamiliar, they have first to be introduced or they would be unintelligible.

What is the crazy acronym in the MindaNews report above? SOCCSKSARGEN! This is a regional name derived from “South Cotabato, (North) Cotabato, Cotabato City, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos City”.

Here’s the history of the acronym. Originally, it was SOCSARGEN (or, Socsargen as used in some business names like Socsargen County Hospital in General Santos City) — for South Cotabato, Sarangani and General Santos City. It was not a regional acronym but that of a business organization; the three were still under Region XI. When Sultan Kudarat joined Region XI, the acronym became SOCSKSARGEN. That was crazy. The insertion of “SK” made it hard to be pronounced.

When Region XII was reorganized after the establishment of the ARMM, Lanao Norte was attached to Region X (Northern Mindanao). Only Cotabato and Cotabato City were left in Region XII (then Central Mindanao) with Maguidnao and Lanao Sur having been removed earlier. South Cotabato, Sarangani, General Santos City and Sultan Kudarat were detached from Region XI to reconstitute Region XII — Southwestern Mindanao as geographically situated; Region XI, the Southeastern Mindanao.

The reconstituted Region XII made the acronym crazier. One “C” was inserted between “SOC” and “SK” for Cotabato and Cotabato City. SOCCSKSARGEN is more difficult to pronounce than SOCSKSARGEN, very much more indistinct than SOCSARGEN?

Whose idea was it to make SOCCSKSARGEN the official the regional identity of Region XII we don’t know. But it makes no sense.

First, SOCSARGEN, a perfect acronym, was for a business organization. Businessmen from Sultan Kudarat could have joined the organization without inserting “SK”. When Muslims were admitted into the Young Men’s Christian Association in Cotabato City, “M” was not inserted to make the acronym “YMCMA”.

Second, Region XII is a political unit. When it was reconstituted, SOCSARGEN, the business organization was on its way out if not defunct. Why twice-corrupt the original business name to perpetuate it as Region XII’s identity?

Third, “Southwestern Mindanao” is a very appropriate identity of Region XII. As Region XI is also called “Davao Region” being the original un-divided Davao, Region XII can be named “Cotabato Region”, as the undivided Empire Province of Cotabato minus Maguindanao.

How can an acronym be formed out of “South Cotabato, Sarangani, General Santos City, Sultan Kudarat, Cotabato and Cotabato City”– one more sensible and easier to pronounce than the present?

How about this? To the original “SocSarGen” add “SukCoCoc” or just “SuCoCo”. Hence, “SocSarGenSukCoCoc” or “SocSarGenSuCoCo”. Either has all the initial syllables of the names in series and is easier to pronounce. But it is too long; typical acronyms don’t exceed four syllables. We are amused but not selling it.

We are not aware of an acronym for “Davao del Sur, Davao City, Davao Oriental, Davao del Norte and Compostela”. Are people in Region XI less bright than those in Region XII? Or, have they more sense? But how about this: “DasDacDoDanCom”? We are amused but not proposing it.

It will not be a surprise if some would call us “crazy” instead of SOCCSKSARGEN which is widely used in the national and online media. Why not just go with the tide? However, we prefer Region XII or Cotabato Region or Southwestern Mindanao. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Patricio P. Diaz was former editor of the Mindanao Cross in Cotabato City and later the Mindanao Kris. The Titus Brandsma Media Center honored Mr. Diaz with a Lifetime Achievement Award)






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