Manang is a Filipino word for a mature woman, older lady. As a sign of respect, the young ones call the ‘elderly’ women Manang. In the Philippines, it is not uncommon for families to teach younger siblings to call their elder sisters Manang. It resonates respect for the elderly. In some cases, it can also be used negatively for women who wear extra long skirts matched with long sleeves (if you get my picture)- as in, you are too manang!. it is also used to replace the more formal Ma’am for women who don’t look matronly. In other words, those who look ordinary looking and are older are called Manang.
Just this morning, I was called Manang by a teller boy who must be 10 years younger. It was the second time to be called that- one with a nanny in Danielle’s ballet school a week or two ago and then today. Because in our family, I was called by my nickname, not by the word Manang or its equivalent in tagalog- Ate, I find it surprising to be called exactly that. My parents wanted to erase the generation gap and thought that not teaching my younger siblings would make all of us equal. Well- they were right in that aspect and it never was an issue not to be called by a respectful prefix. However, to be called by the outside world (i.e. the younger strangers) as Manang for the first time in my entire life is another thing.
After Danielle and I visited the bank, I looked at myself in a mirror (which I rarely do) and began to scrutinized my face. I couldn’t believe that I would be called – an old ordinary looking woman! I still couldn’t accept the fact that in my early thirties I am beginning to look ( at least in the eyes of the teller boy and the yaya/nanny) as old and ordinary looking. I don’t mind being called as ordinary looking but to be seen as old! I thought all along that to be labeled as old would be very trivial- but I was wrong. I am really old- and it’s beginning to show- and I was hurt!
After nursing my bruised ego and coming into terms with reality, I remembered how I always say to myself that the most beautiful people are those who with the passing of the years and with wrinkles to show still remain beautiful because of the life they have lived.
Now that I remembered…. I am no longer irked by the teller boy nor the yaya… I’m actually laughing at myself as I am typing these words! So— to aging, “bah, hambug!”
Oh, before I end, here’s a beautiful quote I saw in the internet:
“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.”