Milan Miguel da Rocha Holmes

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I like to smile really big for the camera. Meet my "Mama" and "Dadika"
(Christmas 2000)

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I must have been a really good boy this year,
'cuz look at all these presents!
(Christmas 2000)

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This is my grandpa, but everyone else calls him Lionel Rocha Holmes.
I'm going to be even bigger than grandpa, someday.
This picture was taken in February or March 2001, I forgot exactly when.

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Fun at the beach - Bodega Bay, CA - July 2001

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You can call me "farmer John"

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Watch out for that waterfall, Dadika!!

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April 2002

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April 2002

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Father's Day, 16 July 2002

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This is my little sister, Natália
15 Aug 2002

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From left to right:
Dadika, Mama, Natália, me, and Baba who came all the way from Slovakia!
15 Aug 2002

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Godmother Jeannie & kids
9 Nov 2002

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10 December 2002

This next picture is when I was just a little guy.

7 November 1998 (2 days old)

Born on Thursday, 5 November 1998 at 2:39am, in Sacramento, California, at Kaiser Hospital (Morse Ave.), our little boy entered the world. While mommy was being attended to by the doctor in the delivery room, daddy got to hold Milanko for the first time. He weighed 8lbs, 7.4 ounces (3.835 kilos), and was 20.5 inches long. With puffy cheeks and angelic face, it was then that daddy fell in love at first sight. For the next 15 or 20 minutes, daddy held Milanko in his arms while Milanko looked at him and listened to every word. Did he recognize daddy's voice?

During the next hours in the early morning, daddy never let Milanko out of his sight. Finally, he was given to mommy in her recovery room to stay there the rest of the night and daddy left the hospital, arriving home at 6:45am.

He was given the name of Milan Miguel da Rocha Holmes. For the story of why these names were chosen, read on. The following story was written the night of his birth from 9:45pm to 12:45am and sent to family members and friends. Don't forget to sign Milanko's guest book (bottom of this page):

Dear family & friends,

As promised, I will explain the reasons behind the choice of names for our son. Though it breaks from the tradition here (having more than 3 names), I think you'll come to like his name, which follows the Portuguese tradition of many names - both given and surnames.

First of all, Jana insisted our baby have a given name that is Slovak. I never disagreed, and in fact, before she ever told me what we should name him, if it was a boy, I thought it would be nice to name him after Jana's father, Milan Cupka. Jana's brother is also named Milan Cupka. So we were always in agreement from the start, though others thought I should name him after me. (Cupka is properly pronounced in Slovak as "CHOOP-kuh" because it has the "hachek" above the C, and a woman gets the "-ová" suffix making her "Cupková.")

We also picked out the names in case it was a girl (we never wanted to know the baby's sex, even though we were practically sure it was a boy), but since we constantly referred to him as our "Milanko" (the diminutive of Milan), I had a hard time remembering our choice for a girl, which was "Simona." There is no need to explain our reasons for that name since it's a moot point now.

In any case, I didn't want a Slovak name that would cause problems in any way in the U.S. Names that require accent marks and are not obvious in how they are pronounced to English speakers would always be a problem for a young boy. Of course, nothing is wrong with those names in the country where they're from, but since we live in the U.S., this was one of the most important factors. For instance, Jana is hard for everyone to pronounce and so I didn't want that to happen here.

Milan is pronounced in English as


It's not like the city of Milan, Italy which is accented on the 2nd syllable, I think.

I have no idea of the origin of this name, but will someday find it out. In any case, it's popular in Slovakia.

Since our little "Milanko" will grow up learning both the Slovak and English language (probably not Portuguese since I can't speak it myself), I wanted him to have a Slovak name and not have the problem I have there with Doug/Douglas which has no equivalent. I ended up telling some people my name is Filip (Phillip, actually - my real middle name) and Jana's paternal grandmother ("Starka") likes to call me "Filip." Jana's maternal grandmother ("Babicka") just calls me her "zloty" (gold one). :-)

Everyone knows of my pride in my Portuguese heritage and so the Portuguese amongst you will completely understand why the other names were chosen.

First of all, you should know that Jana has no middle name, nor do her parents or ancestors, since it's just not a tradition there, though is in some families there - just not hers. For this reason, I talked Jana into using her maiden name as if her middle name, so she goes by "Jana Cupkova Holmes" on things like her checking account and Social Security Card. As far as Jana was concerned, he could just be Milan Holmes - and that will be what he calls himself, like I call myself Doug Holmes.

But as everyone knows, in the U.S. it's normal to have a second given name and I didn't want to miss my chance at giving Milanko a piece of his Portuguese heritage, since Holmes doesn't do that, even though it has its origins in Portugal and not England, as one usually assumes.

For those who didn't know it, my grandfather's original name in Portugal was Manuel Joaquim Leal da Rocha Homem. So Homem is the origin of his choice of HOLMES in the U.S. (to better fit in). Homem is pronounced in English as OM-meng (pretty close to that). But Americans would never know the H is silent! So for that reason, I would never consider switching my name back to HOMEM and I agree with my grandfather that here in the U.S. it made good sense to change it. When my grandfather died in 1972, in the city of his birth (Angra, Terceira, Azores Islands, Portugal), his name was recorded as "Manuel Rocha Holmes." So in the end, even in Portugal, he became Holmes.

Back to the reasons for Miguel as the second given name. There are several of them. At first, I was satisfied that he would be "Milan Miguel Holmes" which follows the standard 3 names here. Jana said I could choose anything I wanted because she got her Slovak first name already.

Now my problem was to come up with a name that sounded good in the middle. I wasn't totally set on Miguel and I was considering other possibilities which represented my other ancestors from Germany and Hungary, too. But none of them meant so much to me as my Portuguese side, since I never knew those people - to name just one reason.

Then I got to the point of deciding the middle name would be Portuguese. I wanted it to be a name that one of my ancestors used. I have hundreds of ancestors that I can prove since the records of Portuguese are so old, representing just about every possible name in Portugal (well, not really.....since there are some very uncommon and "strange" ones, too). Some of my favorite Portuguese names seem very strange to Americans, eg.,   Belchior, Domingos, Jacinto, etc. So I didn't want a name which would sound strange to people.

As I was doing research one day, I noticed that on my direct paternal line, going all the way back as far as that is presently known, my oldest ancestor was named Miguel. For those who don't know, this translates to Michael in English. I have always liked the name Miguel, anyway, so I started thinking that maybe this was a good choice, but hadn't committed to it yet. Only as time passed did I realize it was my favorite one because it goes so well as "Milan Miguel."

The reasoning included the fact that I want our son to be aware of his Portuguese ancestry and mother country, just like I want him to have this awareness for his Slovak ancestry. And in case you didn't know it, I am  18.75% Slovak myself. So it's not just for Jana's sake that I wanted him to have a Slovak name. Thinking about it, since I am partly Slovak and Jana is 100% Slovak, our son is more Slovak than anything else - another good reason to give him a Slovak first name.

I envision that if he were to someday travel to Portugal, he might like to use his 2nd given name, Miguel, so that people would easily recognize the name and realize he belongs to and is part of the Portuguese culture. He might never want to do this, but I'll certainly make sure he does travel to Portugal someday with me and not limit his travel to just Slovakia to meet his maternal relatives.

I have little doubt he'll be fluent in Slovak long before I am. :-) (If I ever am...) The only reason I don't say he'll know Portuguese is that since I can't speak it in the home as I do English and Slovak (well, I try to speak Slovak so that I can someday converse properly with Jana's parents) I can't expect him to learn something as a child that he won't hear. Maybe he'll take Portuguese language lessons.

I think I have fully explained my reason to name him Miguel. The final thing is to show how to pronouce it properly

Miguel = mee-GELL

Finally we come to "da Rocha" which isn't really a middle name, but in Portuguese is one of the surnames. In our family's case, Rocha was the more important surname. My grandfather was referred to as "Senhor Rocha" by his acquaintences, as reported to me by our cousin Jose Leal Armas, resident of the same city where my grandfather was born - Angra. And maybe my father told me the same thing - I forget.

As many of you know, I identify myself as "Doug da Rocha Holmes" when I write genealogy articles about Portugal and when exchanging email with people of Portuguese descent. There are a couple reasons for this. First of all, my father started doing this as "Lionel Rocha Holmes" (LRH) in his quarterly newsletter called "O Progresso" though his legal name is "Lionel Joseph Holmes." I liked this way of telling people of our connection with Portugal (since HOLMES certainly doesn't tell someone that). So I was in the same situation and wanted people to know I'm also Portuguese and not "Doug Holmes" the mysterious Englishman who writes about Portuguese genealogy, for some reason. :-)

And as I got more and more into Portuguese genealogy, it seems very logical I would carry on the name that we've used in Portugal for many generations, "Rocha Homem." Since I am not using Homem, at least I could use Rocha. And the reason for "da" Rocha is simply that it rolls off the tongue nicely (I think) when as "Doug da Rocha" (never "Douglas da Rocha" since the syllables in "Douglas" detract from the nice sound in "Doug da Rocha"). I think "Doug Rocha Holmes" doesn't have the same nice sound. Though "Douglas Rocha Holmes" is better.

The "da" is not necessary in Portugal, since it's just a prefix  which means "of" and is normally left out in such things as telephone book listings, etc, but I wanted it for the nice sound it gives, as stated above.

I decided to give our son not just a middle name that is Portuguese, but return to our original surname, somewhat, and reintroduce the ROCHA name. Rocha identifies our family as being from the island of Terceira, to a person very familiar with Portuguese genealogy in the Azores Islands. Though Rocha is found in all the islands of the Azores, Terceira is by far the main place, and most likely the origin for the relatively few in number found in the other islands. Of course, on the mainland of Portugal, Rocha is also a common name and is the origin of the Rocha name on Terceira.

For those of you who never heard of the surname ROCHA, there are two ways to properly pronounce it. I prefer the easy one which is when you roll the R (like in Spanish words) and make it sound like


In English, we usually don't roll the R but make it sound like


The most common way to pronouce this name is not the one I like, but I can't change the fact that it sounds like HHHAW-shuh

The R is "aspirated" sounding like H (which gets rolled) giving a rough, gutteral sound like a person clearing his throat to spit. -)

Finally, this leaves us with the full name of Milan Miguel da Rocha Holmes. He could use just "Miguel da Rocha" in Portugal, if he chose to, and would seem as if a native there. He can use just Milan, like a native of Slovakia. The only thing that just doesn't fit into Slovakia or Portugal is HOLMES, but I can't do much about that, and since he'll live in the U.S., there is little reason to try, anyway!

So I hope you found this very long message at least somewhat interesting. It took me three hours to write. And it is now just a tiny part of the legacy I will leave for our new born son.

A very proud father,

Douglas Phillip Holmes
aka - Doug da Rocha Holmes
Sacramento, California, U.S.A.

ps- I'll let you know when we have a picture on our website. I'll probably take some tomorrow with my digital camera so I don't have to wait to develop it.

pps- As of this minute, Milan is just 22 hours old. A good percentage of his life thus far was spent by me composing this message for the past 3 hours! -)

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See a photo of mommy making her favorite crafts:

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