The ‘Titas of Manila’

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Alice Bustos-Orosa

Alice Bustos-Orosa

As many readers might have heard, there have been very interesting tweets mimicking often-uttered lines by everyday dads, moms, uncles and aunts. From these, our favorite has got to be the “Titas of Manila”—the perfect parody of the prevalent social culture among middle-class aunts in Manila and seemingly of urban centers throughout the archipelago.

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“Tita” is a term of endearment we all call our aunts or pseudo-aunts—that long list of our mom’s friends or friends of the family who we find uncomfortable to call “ma’am” or “Mrs. So and So.”

Often, the term tita though is a perfect moniker for the aunt who is at least in her midlife or senior years, generally well dressed, coiffed and pampered at the salon, and loves lunch dates with girlfriends she calls her “kumares” or “amigas.”

In the tweets, Tita is portrayed as someone who “removes glasses, stares into space, strokes her shawl and ponders life.” She also “places unused paper napkins from restaurants in handbag,” “is handed a flyer for Megaworld condominiums upon entering the mall,” “has her mouth hang wide open while applying eyeliner,” and “sings ‘Ama Namin’ in mass with eyes closed.” Does she sound familiar to you? For sure, you must have met one at the café, mall or at early morning mass.

Well, here are some more adorable tweets about the “Titas of Manila”—lines we all associate with that favorite aunt who often meddles in our lives.

“Kelan ka ba ikakasal? May boyfriend ka na ba?”
“Anak, I’ll just go to the palengke.” (Heads straight to the Salcedo weekend market).
“You remember Carlo, Tito Jaime’s son? He’s single, a doctor. Pakasalan mo.”
“Wag ka mag-paitim, papangit ka.”
“Alam mo yung waistline ko nung dalaga ako—23 inches.”
“Kiss your Tita Menchie.” (Not related to her).
(At a restaurant in Tagaytay). “Para tayongnasa abroad no?”
“What do you want me to buy you in Hong Kong?”
“He’s gay? Sayang na bata.”
“Hija, eat this para long life.” (Puts birthday noodles on your plate).
(During lunch with kumares). “Let’s order something light lang! Busog pa ko eh!” (Orders kare-kare).
“Is it Cohen-friendly?”
“Tumataba ka na.”

As my nieces and nephews scrolled through the tweets over dinner, they couldn’t help but chuckle and point to my older sister, Patricia as the epitome of “Titas of Manila.”

Oddly enough, the reference to her being one wasn’t even taken offensively, as the sketches portray her in amusing ways. Like so many of her friends in their 50s, my sister loves lunch dates with her amigas, manicures at the spa, brandishes pashminas in her bag, and fans herself crazy even in air-conditioned rooms.

Perhaps the parody of “Titas of Manila” simply reflects the strong affinity we all share with our extended families. Such a close kinship remains a unique and admirable trait among Filipino families—a trait we all hope endures through the next decades.

After all, the Tita we all love to tease has the best intentions for us at heart—often wanting to see their nieces and nephews married off, pampered, and successful. To grow up with a loving aunt and pseudo-aunts is something we all ought to regard as a blessing.

In many instances, the Tita stands in as a surrogate mom and confidante to our many secrets. And if you’re at all lucky, be grateful to have at least one Tita who meddles in your life, who brings you pasalubong from her trips, and in vain, will attempt to play matchmaker between you and her best friend’s eligible son or daughter.

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1 Comment

  1. Ebel Mendoza-Dela Cruz on

    @IA Dela Cruz and @AI Dela Cruz: Girls, this article was written by your Tita Alice, younger sister of Tita Susan (the lawyer, remember?). She’s ka-batch of Tita Jollie in school, but is closer to Tita Gina.
    EXACTLY!!! WELL-WRITTEN ARTICLE, Alice! Kudos!