Terms of Endearment
Hearing me called “nanay” was music to my ears. It evoked the “proper” emotions in the same way an expletive said in Filipino hits its mark. These days, it’s simply “Nans” and the father is “Tats”. But it still feels good.
My husband and I have come to call each other by these terms of endearment as well. The children have pet names for each other, too. These pet names seem to indicate special connections.
My mother and her siblings had pet names for each other. Ateng became Tengot, Bing became Telbot, Ichay became China and Toyang became Mokya!
For some reason, my mother’s twin brother named Artemio took on the name Jack as he worked for a company named Jackbilt,
My mom was called Mama by all my cousins and we called her younger sister Mommy.
The youngest sister was called Ninang by all the nieces and nephews. They were addressed by their own cousins as Ate, Diche or Sanse. And when visiting, “po”,“opo” and “pag-amen” or kissing the hand (actually touching the elder’s hand on one’s forehead) upon arriving were SOP.
First name basis
Aunts on my father’s side were different— unique actually, as I have not yet come across a Filipino family where nephews and nieces are on a first name basis with aunts. With a few exceptions, we addressed my father’s sisters as Pin (Josefina), Cel (Celia), Nini [pronounced Nigh-nee] (Sylvia) who was also called “Tita Mama” and Chooch (Paz).
My grandmother whom we called “Mang” was always adamant about being answered with “po” and “opo” because she said she was not a stranger to us and did not need that formality.
After my mother’s siblings migrated, I came to spend more time in Pasay, where we lived in a big compound which used to be a picnic area, with plenty of trees and swimming holes.
I always wondered why we called our elders by their first names in this wonderland where we were asked “¿Que pasa?” or “¿Me quieres?” (to which we were expected to reply, “Si, desde la tierra hasta el cielo”). It seemed like a different world altogether! As a child, I did not give this much thought.
Music to the ears
Today, I am amused by this. My grandmother and my aunts did not have to assert authority over us and allowed us to address them with names that were actually terms of endearment, a right bestowed only on loved ones. (I find it so ironic that those who use the title “Honorable” are now accused of plunder!)
To be called by our names or pet names is an affirmation, an acknowledgment that we hold a precious place in the caller’s heart. In the same way, when we call our help “Ate Leni” or our drivers “Kuya Badong”, we show them that they have a place in our lives. Notice how waiters respond when you call them by name. Doing so has no additional cost and not only do we make them feel better, we get better service too! To hear one’s name being called is music to the ears!Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.