Filipino Culture: Showing Respect to Elders
The Philippines, like other Asian countries, show their respect to the elder population by gestures and by the words they use before the person's name. Being younger than someone and calling them by their first name is considered impolite and an act of rudeness. If you've been to the Philippines, you've probably noticed Filipinos addressing anyone older than them by using a word before the person's first name.
One of these words mainly used for showing respect in the Philippines, or even in a Filipino household outside of the country are the words po and opo. Both basically means "yes" in a respectful way rather than just saying oo or yes.
For a better understanding on how to use po and opo or what's the difference between po and opo are the examples below.
Po is used to show respect when speaking or called by someone older or a person with authority. Also use po when saying salamat or thank you.
- If you are called by someone older than you, let's say your mom, dad, uncle, auntie, or an elderly neighbor for example, "Jasmin! Jasmin!" A Filipino child would answer "Po?" which is a polite way of saying "Yes?" or "Bakit po?" which means "Why?" politely. Po is used when answering the 5 W questions such as why, when, who, which and what or when answering a yes or no question from someone older. "Jasmin, have you seen your brother?" Saying "Hindi" means "No." To answer politely using po is "Hindi po." Adding po when answering yes or no portrays respect.
Opo is used to answer questions that has something to do with actions.
- "Have you eaten? It's already lunch time." Answering with "Oo" means "Yes" but answering "Opo," is the polite way.
But aside from using po and opo, there are also other ways Filipinos show respect when speaking to someone older than they are or when speaking to the elderly.
Ate - this is used to show respect to older siblings in the family. The younger Filipino siblings would address or call their older female siblings ate. If there is more than one older female sibling, the younger ones would call the older siblings "ate____(name).
Example: The youngest, 12 years old, relating to her mom about the fun she had with her two older sisters would say, "Mom! I went to the town fiesta with ate Jasmine and ate Hope."
Ate is also used to show respect to older cousins just like the way it is used to address an older sister.
The Daddy - Although some Filipinos who are living a substantial life call their parents dad and mom, there are still quite a few names for daddy for showing respect. Itay, tatay, and papa all means dad and is used by the siblings to call or address their dad.
In cases of step-fathers, still, they are shown respect by being address as itay, tatay, papa, or daddy followed by their first names or just simply tatay, itay or papa. An example would be a young boy addressing his stepdad as, "Tatay Manny" or "Papa Manny."
The Mommy - Just like with dads, substantial families or those who really are wealthy are usually addressed as mom or mommy. And then another percentage of Filipino siblings addressed their moms as inay, nanay or mama.
And in cases of having step-mothers, it is pretty much like with the step-fathers because Filipino kids addressed their stepmoms by calling them mom and then their first name such as, "Mommy Julie" or "Mama Julie."
Auntie or tita - Filipino used either of these two to address their aunt. But there's also cases where Filipinos prefer calling their step-mothers tita.
Tita is also used to show respect to people outside of the family. I am an example of this myself. I address my mom's co-worker and friend as tita, like "Tita Fhil" just for example. Another example was, I went home one day with a friend, and she addressed my mom as "tita."
Uncle or tito - Children or siblings used this to address their parents brother. There's a bit of difference thou between uncle and tito thou they refer to the same respect given to one's dad or mom's brother.
Example: A 14-year-old would mostly use the word uncle to address his dad or mom's brother whose age is closer to his parents, say the uncle is 50 years old. But if there's a small age gap, say the mom of this 14-year-old kid has a brother 22 years of age. The 14-year-old would rather prefer calling his mother's younger brother as tito.
Lola and lolo - means grandma (lola) and grandpa (lolo) in Filipino language. This is how siblings address their Filipino grandparents.
What About Other People?
Filipino children also show respect to other people outside of the family. Here are some other names that are used to address these people.
Ninang and ninong - ninang which means godmother and ninong that means godfather is used by Filipino kids to address their godparents. Filipinos don't call their godparents by their first names. Instead, they use ninang and ninong. Examples would be, "I went to ninang and to ninong and they gave me presents."
Mang - Children and younger adults used "mang" added before the name as a sign of respect to males older than them in their town or neighborhood or to anyone as long as they know the first name.
Aleng - Use before the first name of an older female given that you know the name as a sign of respect. If not, ale is simply used if the name is unknown to address a stranger. Ale is pronounced ah-le. The female counterpart of mang. Examples of using aleng in Filipino are below:
- I saw aleng Mae and Mang John as I walked home from school. They are new in the neighborhood.
- Aleng Mae owns a mini grocery store on 24th street.