It really didn’t came up to me until a friend of mine posted her new generation banknote and asked, Why does PNOY uses the middle initial S over the rightful C, given Cory, her mother as “Cojuangco”? Not to let my self pondering, I’ve done some net search and found this very direct answer.
Why not use Benigno C Aquino III instead of Benigno S. Aquino III?
It is personal choice.
The Shorter Answer:
It is Benigno Simeon Aquino III (Benigno S. Aquino III) because he is the third with that name. There is no one else is named “Benigno Cojuangco Aquino” (Benigno C. Aquino) so there is no need to even use a suffix to differentiate his name from his father and grandfather. So its either “Benigno S. Aquino III” or just “Benigno C. Aquino”, but he prefers “Benigno S. Aquino III”.
The Longer Answer:
In the Philippines, it is the custom to use the mother’s maiden name as the middle initial, and President Aquino knows this. That is how we do it in the Philippines, but not in other countries like the USA.
However, his grandfather and father who had the same name did not use thier mother’s maiden name as a middle initial either. The grandfather wrote his name as “Benigno S. Aquino” even if his mother’s maiden name is “Quiambao”. Many government officials like him during that time wrote their name without including the mother’s maiden name (Manuel L. Quezon, José P. Laurel, etc.). Ninoy was “Benigno S. Aquino, Jr.” The style all three Benigno’s use is very common in the USA.
Benigno Simeon Aquino, Sr.
Benigno Simeon Aquino, Jr. (Ninoy)
Benigno Simeon Aquino III (Noynoy)
Lastly, Noynoy says: “If you use C., I’m the first.” (There is no one else named Benigno Cojuangco Aquino)
The (original) purpose of the suffix is to separate your name from your father/grandfather when you have exactly the same name. In the Philippines, children cannot really have the exact same name as their fathers because we always include our mother’s maiden name, but we use the suffixes anyway. (Family is more important to us than “traditional” usage.)
Parallel US example:
John Fitzgerald Kennedy
John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Jr. (Exact same name = suffix used)
George Herbert Walker Bush
George Walker Bush (Not exactly same name = no need for suffix)
Plus Ninoy (indirectly) told Noynoy to write his name as “Benigno S. Aquino III” when he wrote his 1973 letter to him.