Understanding The Filipino 'Tita'

Woman drinking wine | © Bruce Mars/Pexels
Woman drinking wine | © Bruce Mars/Pexels
Photo of Ronica Valdeavilla
Writer17 February 2018

In a country where there are close family ties, reunions and gatherings are inevitable all year round in the Philippines. In some cases, there are also Filipino families who live together with their distant relatives such as their grandparents, uncles, and aunts – known as ‘tita’ in Filipino.

The Filipino ‘tita’ then vs now

Screengrab from Momzillas movie trailer | © Star Cinema

Before, the definition of a ‘tita’ simply referred to one’s aunt – either on one’s mother’s or father’s side of the family. In the Philippine context, the definition was also extended to include female friends, co-workers, or colleagues of one’s parents. And, sometimes, one would also call a saleslady, female vendor or bystander as ‘tita’ or ‘ate’ (which directly translates to older female sibling in Filipino) to address them properly without asking for their names.

Now, the definition has further evolved as young female professionals – either in their early 20s or early 30s – have begun to consider themselves as ‘titas’ even when they don’t have an immediate nephew or niece. They identify themselves as such because they behave like or closely resemble the prevailing characteristics of middle-class aunts in the Philippines, who are properly dressed at all times, prefer to go on lunch dates with their girlfriends or amigas, and are usually those who bring a large, signature bag where their essentials could easily fit inside.

Characteristics of a Filipino ‘Tita’

While one might not yet have a nibling (a gender-neutral term to refer to a child of one’s sibling), you may call yourself a ‘tita’ should you exhibit either some or all of these characteristics:

Your bag is filled with essentials

Woman carrying LV bag | © Snapwire/Pexels

Your bag must at all times contain your must-haves. These would include a hand sanitiser and/or wet wipes, a tissue, a bag holder, a shopping bag, an umbrella, and sometimes even medicines or ointments. And because you always have these things ready, friends turn to you for their emergency needs.

You prefer wine night over parties

For a Filipino ‘tita’, bar parties sound like a crowded night where you’ll just end up tired and exhausted. You prefer to have a wine night instead with your girlfriends or amigas.

Catch-up dates with girlfriends are a must

Woman having breakfast with a friend | © rawpixel.com/Pexels

You always want to be in the loop on the latest chika (Filipino slang word for gossip), events and happenings – whether in politics or show business. And, of course, asking your girlfriends for advice on personal matters should always be included in the conversation!

Drinks only tea or coffee

Pouring tea into the cup | © rawpixel.com/Pexels

When on a date with your girlfriends, you only opt to drink either tea or coffee. When it comes to choosing your coffee drink, you know the difference between espresso and brewed coffee and you know the kind of roast you actually like. At home, you always have a pack of your favourite Japanese green tea box that you’d like to drink at any time of the day.

Loves quiet music

One of the reasons why you would shy away from restaurant bars or pubs is because of their loud music. You long to have conversations with your girlfriends so places with quiet music (or no music at all) are highly preferred.

Grocery shopping excites you

Woman shopping at a grocery store | © kc0uvb/Pixabay

Just like most middle-class aunts who always find themselves in the nearby supermarket to find out the latest promotions and new products to try, visiting your local grocery store excites you!

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