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Geez, why are people calling me ‘Tita’?

By MONIQUE TODA, The Philippine STAR Published Jan 16, 2021 4:00 pm

There is all this focus on headspace as we sit at home waiting for the pandemic to end. My thoughts swing from one extreme to another. One moment I think profoundly on my purpose and existence in life and in the next, I think of putting a cute necktie on my Chihuahua. My mind is full of both very useful and very useless stuff. Lately, I’ve been thinking about the passing of time.

We all age, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we age internally. Life experience is a gauge. You’re wiser and you know it. You’ve lived long enough to understand certain truths or outcomes. It’s supposedly about aging gracefully and all that.

To be honest, I think some of us are mentally stuck in our youth and get shocked when we (or our friends) act older than we think we are. I always question myself. Do people still say “disco”? Why do others automatically say “po” or “Ma’am” to me? Aren’t we the same age? Is my age a giveaway when I automatically clap and snap my fingers when I dance? Why do I say “parlor” and not “salon”? These are signs, or shall I say, red flags to indicate that one has become a tita. If you are still in self-denial, read on and get a reality check to see if you have the mark of a tita.

The social media posts of titas are very posed and album-style. Usually, all are lined up, left to right, on a sofa in a luxurious living room or in front of a dining table. Double or triple rows are allowed. Everyone has their perfect face on and there is no room for spontaneity. There’s at least one designated “stylist” of the photo. Sometimes it’s me.

Happy hour starts at 3 p.m. right after a long lunch with the ladies. You think you are a lush in your twenties? Let me introduce you to some of the titas who drink. It may just be wine or the popular cocktails of their youth, like the Screwdriver, Mai Tai, Margarita, or Cosmopolitan that they consume, but titas will drink loads of it. They buy crates of their preferred wines and champagnes. During this lockdown, alcohol has become as essential as toilet paper.

I can’t believe that when I was a teenager, I actually would go out partying with friends carrying only one item: a charcoal black eyeliner that was in the pocket of my very tight jeans. I think I fancied myself as a rock star or something. I didn’t bring a bag. This will never do now. My bag is as heavy as a maleta. A tita has her house in her bag. There are the two cellphones, charger, power bank, full makeup kit good for a professional makeup artist, a pharmacy with at least 10 types of medicines, a really big wallet, mirror, brush, and I could go on and on. A tita is a grown-up girl scout who is always ready.

Titas can do a trick better than most entertainers in a circus and that is to put on lipstick perfectly without the need of a mirror. Ever heard of the “10,000 hours” rule coined by Malcolm Gladwell in his bestseller Outliers? Once you have done something for that amount of time or more, you become a master. Yes, titas are masters when it comes to this essential no-mirror lipstick act. Applause not needed.

Hand fans or abanicos are fashionable, especially now (thank you, Monchet the Fan Man), but it has always been a staple in every tita’s bag. Call it fashion-forward or a solution for hot flashes; the fan is a tita thing!

Since titas are the queens of their domains, they expect the same queenly treatment outside their homes. They are doñas. A warning to all wait staff in restaurants: be attentive and quick. Zero in on cues to provide prompt and efficient service. Waiters should also be adept at taking the left-to-right photos of the titas for posting on Facebook and Instagram. Astuteness will be rewarded by big tips and a warm “Thank you, ha.”

When getting together with friends, especially from school, titas can get very loud. They revert back to high school behavior when together. The voices become louder, there is reminiscing with matching screaming and laughter.

In the end, it is about acceptance. We can’t forever be the cool kids we used to be. Tita or not, it is actually wonderful to have lived life. There is a certain knowing and confidence that isn’t found in youth.

A few years ago I had my Velada, an Assumption silver-anniversary reunion with a program, and there were nonstop get-togethers. Meeting up with old friends who shared your teenage years was super-fun but also super-noisy. This is why titas get a private room in restaurants.

Titas are “pustura” and would never step out of the house unkempt. Nowadays, people are so casual. Shorts and slippers are considered by titas as “pambahay.” A mark of a tita is someone who is put-together and matchy-matchy, down to the sunglasses and mani-pedi.

The language of titas is so distinct. Phrases and words are a giveaway. Titas say “chat,” “blouse” (not top!), “bagets,” “foxy lady,” “maong” (not denim!), “groovy,” “sapatilla,” “party line,” “LQ,” “DI,” “MU,” “court,” “Buendia,” and even “Shoemart”! “Baduy” is the most used and has many degrees of meaning. There’s so much more tita lingo that can fill up a mini-dictionary.

In the end, it is about acceptance. We can’t forever be the cool kids we used to be. That place will always be taken over by the next generation and the next. Tita or not, it is actually wonderful to have lived life. There is a certain knowing and confidence that isn’t found in youth.

It is normal to wish to be young again, but do you really want to be that insecure, beautiful and sexy girl? Well, maybe yes, but my point is, life goes on and clinging to the past is a waste of time. There are more precious, intangible gifts that aging brings. What’s important is to not lose our youthful exuberance and not take ourselves too seriously.