Manang…. at 34

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.”

–Sophia Loren


6 thoughts on “Manang…. at 34

  1. Hi Bin!

    What can I say? I’m actually reading a book right now by Martha Bolton with the title “My Skin Used to Fit” , and it talks (with humor) about how women @ 40 (menopausal women) begins to feel old and ugly ha ha ha!

    I am not really sure I’m ready for old age myself, but definitely it’s one thing NOBODY can avoid. The irony is that it comes when we least expect it … when we’re still busy juggling house chores with motherhood, a career, and church service all at the same time.

    Nobody has called me “Manang” yet … “Ate” many times, “Ma’am” all the time. But the greatest thing is when someone finds out I have five kids and the eldest is 23 and I’m already 42 … and then they tell me I don’t look 42, makes me shine ha ha ha!

    Tips from me: let’s keep smiling; let’s take good care of ourselves – go to the parlor for a haircut or a foot spa or pedicure regularly; exercise (he he he :D); eat healthy; read good books and develop skills; maintain a healthy loving relationship with our spouses; take moments to relax and look inward; feed our spirit; and be the best we can ever be!

    Remember, age is just a number 😀

    Muah! ♥♥♥

  2. I had to laugh at this. I’ve always been called “Ate” by kabayans here who are sales persons at stores. I used to get irritated, “How can they bloody assume that I am automatically older than them?”

    But at work, no one believes that I am way beyond my 30’s already so that’s something to be happy about. 🙂

  3. It was very interesting to know the Philippines meaning for ‘Manang’. I am from Nepal and we have a very famous trekking destination called ‘Manang’ in the Himalayas of Annapurna. I was actually searching for the Himalayan Manang.

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