The word “‘tita” means ”auntie” in Filipino. It is a term of endearment and, more importantly, respect, in the Philippines (See “Filipino Family Kinship“).
I don’t have a problem with it until … it happened to me.
I’m at that age where I’m buying anything anti-ageing.
Calling me “tita” is instantly-ageing.
If you must, you can call me “ate” (older sister). I can handle that: I might even like it.
To get on my good side, just call me by my Christian name: Angelina. (Oh wait, that’s someone else’s name.)
The point is, whatever you do, just don’t call me tita.
How do you know if you’ve become a tita? There are a couple of really funny and feel-good blogs about Tita-hood here and here: 17 Reasons Why Tita-hood is Gonna Be The Best Time of Your Life.
To me, it’s a brutal reality check. Marcus Rivera explained it this way:
“It is not about age. It’s about how you carry yourself as an older woman. If you’re skinny and fashionable, you’re called by your name or at worst, ate,” he said.
“If you are rotund (me), dress like a librarian (me) and look like you haven’t exercised for years (also me), you are a tita!”
So now I’m not just old. I’m also fat.
Whoever said they are ageing gracefully is lying. I want to be petulant forever. I want everyone to blame my youth when I don’t pay bills on time. I want to wear short skirts and stay up all night eating fried chicken.
But while I’m here, I must apologise. I want to say sorry to all the women I have prematurely called tita and all the men I’ve prematurely called tito. None of you deserve the pain, which I now call my karma.
We can fix this. Here are my new rules:
Rule #1. Blood relations are exempt. If you are related to my mom or dad, calling you tita is genuinely a term of endearment. You know I love you, right? All this nonsense doesn’t apply if there’s an inheritance at stake.
Rule #2. If you’re reading this and I call you tita but you would rather I call you ate or by your first name, I will gladly do so.
Rule #3. If you want us to maintain the status quo, that’s fine by me, too.
Rule #4. If you’re reading this and you’ve called me tita in the past and we are NOT related or I didn’t specifically ask you to call me tita, just call me ate or by my first name.
Rule #5. If we are related and I am your auntie, proceed as normal. Your inheritance is at stake.
Now that’s out in the open, I feel so much better.
But wait, I think I still need some Xanax. My nephew’s daughter just called me … lola.
* Lola means “granny” in Filipino.
Photo credit: Google images of actress Qiu Yuen as the landlady in “Kung Fu Hustle”.