Filipino Values in Sibling Heirarchy

Filipino values within the "relationship cluster" focuses on relationships within the family, among extended relations, and within the immediate social and political millieu.

Filipinos value family loyalty and treat their elders with respect and deference. Among the Tagalog community, saying "Po" and "Opo" when talking to the elderly is taught to the very young. Respect for elders is embedded in the Tagalog language.

Taking an older person's hand and putting it on one's head before leaving the house and on coming back to ask for a blessing, is one way of showing respect.

Aside from this, Tagalog folks address their elders with honorific titles depicting the older folk's order in the family birth calendar.

Honorific Titles
The eldest among the siblings are addressed with "Ate" and "Kuya". The origin of these honorific titles are Chinese. The Chinese word for elder brother is "ko" and "a" modifies the word to mean "kin". Likewise, "Ate" is from "chi" and preceded by "a", this becomes "achi". In fact, this is how the Kapampangan (a major language in Central Luzon, not Tagalog) says Ate.

In some Tagalog regions and other parts of the north, the second eldest is called "diko" for males and "ditse" for females. In Chinese, "di" means "second". In some places, others pronounce this as "dete""Sangko"means third in the heirarchy of birth. In Chinese, "sang" is "three" in the ordinal count.

Some stops here, but others go on to define their siblings accordingly. Thus, "sitse" for elder fourth sister and "siko" for elder fourth brother (Chinese "si", four) if another one comes along. As for the youngest, the Tagalog addresses them as "Totoy" for little boy, which in Chinese means "foolish son"; and "Nene" for little girl or "dull one" in Chinese. Totoy can become "utoy", "ato", "atoy", "toy", "toytoy", and "Nene" can be "ineng," "neng", or "nini"

Sibling respect is rooted in Filipino homes. In many instances, the eldest among siblings is consulted regarding pressing family matters, and next to the parents, has a major part in decision making. Filipino values dictate that the younger defer to the older, unless the older passes the responsibility to another sibling.

Establishing Rapport with Others
In many areas in the Tagalog region, the use of these titles is not confined to the family members, but extends to others who can be anonymous or complete strangers. In any informal setting, the use of Ate and Kuya to address strangers immediately breaks the ice that allows for a polite exchange of information. In a sense, Ate and Kuya applies to anybody that is accorded honor and respect even if they are not necessarily older.

Curiously, this applies to other honorific titles as well. A young Filipino talking to a stranger who may or may not be older, will use a title that is more or less apt to that person's perceived age. For example, individuals who seem to be middle aged will be addressed as Tita (aunt), while older ladies are Nanay (mother) and gentlemen, Tatay (father). In the more remote Tagalog provinces, other titles can be heard, that is, "Kaka", mostly used to address an aunt or uncle or an older neighbor, who may or may not be a relative.

Other titles from other regions in the Philippines have become part of the Filipino vocabulary and used in the same way as the common Tagalog honorifics. Example of this is the Ilocano Manong for all males not necessarily older, and Manang, for females.

Within the community, respect is accorded those in authority by referring to them according to their jobs. So a Barangay Captain is always addressed as "Kapitan" (captain) and a counselor, "Konsehal".

Many older people in the neigborhood are not directly addressed using their first names, rather, their first names are preceded by either "Mang", short cut for "Mama" (man) or Ale, (woman). "Ka" is also used to refer to people, so Andres Marasigan will probably be called "Mang Andoy or Ka Andoy" and Marina Santos will probably be addressed to as "Aleng Mameng or Kakang Mameng." 

Other Filipino values exemplify how Filipinos should behave in a community. Among these, the value of "fear of losing face" or Hiya come to the fore, as members of close knit communities keep themselves up to date on current, juicy events in the neighborhood.

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