Wednesday, January 4, 2012


So, you thought you knew us pretty well.  

But the names we go by in this community probably aren't the ones by which you know us.

In the Filipino economy, titles of respect are very important.  It was challenging enough for me to get used to the 'Ma'am/Sir' titles when we moved to the American South, titles I didn't grow up with, but the Filipinos take it to a whole 'nother level of respectfulness!  

So, Amy and Elise are aka "Ate" (Ahtay) which is simply a title of respect for females who are older than you.  So neighbor kids, church kids, and ahem...yes you, Michael, should call them "Ate" too.

Michael's alias is "Kuya" (Cooyah) which is a title of respect to boys/men older than you.  So some of his younger friends know him as 'Kuya Michael.'  He also gets called 'Hey, Joe!' by unfamiliar, cheeky kids and teen boys who seem to call all American guys "Joe."  Michael just smiles and waves.

I am known to the street kids as "Tita Barbara," a title meaning 'Auntie.'  I hear it at our gate, as I walk down the street, and sometimes by children I don't even know!

Mark is called "Sir Mark" by the Filipinos he works with.  Seriously.  It's the proper way to show him respect.  I always knew he was my knight in shining armor, and now he's finally properly titled! But I'm afraid we don't use the title at home...yet.

And when Mark and I are out together, we are addressed with a joint name: "Ma'amsir"  or occasionally "Sirma'am" but both spoken as one word as in, "Good afternoon, Ma'amsir!"

And we answer to them all.

A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches
Proverbs 22:1

Have you been given any unusual names?


OliveTree said...

We have those titles here in Turkey, too: Big Sister, Big Brother, Aunt, Uncle, and a million terms of endearment too.

In El Salvador, we use the titles Don and Dona with first names for older persons. All my other Latin friends find this hilarious.

Anonymous said...

keeping working on the "Sir" at home ... :-)

us5 said...

yessir. or should it be yes m'lord? ;)

us5 said...

Olive Tree...i have an El Salvadorian neighbor...maybe i should try "Dona" with her! :)

Choate Family said...

I get "Mommy Joanna" in Pijin and "Vava Joann" in Lavukaleve. One day, I was even referred to as "Tutua" or grandmother, a title I'm not quite ready to accept yet!

us5 said...

'grandmother'!?!?!? sorry, Vava Joann...but you've got a lot of years before qualifying. :lol: i guess they just wanted to show you extreme respect. ;D