“Tita” (auntie), whether used as a prefix to the name of your actual Tita or tita figure, or as an adjective that connotes inclinations towards tita interests, has always been a neutral term of endearment. Not once have I heard it been used as an attack — because why would anyone attack anybody for enjoying brunch and essential oils? It just doesn’t make sense. There will always be that one person though, and usually it’s someone you don’t know, who would use your tita-hood against you without provocation or cause.
It happened the other day. I was introduced to a young woman who asked me about my recent trip to Singapore. She was going to visit next month; her first time. “How was it? Did you get to explore? Any suggestions?” she asked. I struggled with my answer, so I tried to get a vibe on her and what she might be interested in.
“Go to Ikea!” That’s what I went with.
“Yes, OMG!” another girl said.
“Try the meatballs!” a third girl exclaimed.
We were all so happy to have found some common ground.
The young woman cringed, “Really?? A furniture store?? You guys are so tita.” She said it so plainly, without a tinge of irony. Not even an obligatory “Charot!” at the end.
Let me tell you, the air grew thick with Enraged Tita Energy. I could almost see it rising from their expensive flats, enveloping their Harlan & Holden-clad bodies, and radiating from their nicely highlighted heads of hair. Immediately I thought, FIRST OF ALL, IKEA IS NOT A FURNITURE STORE, IT’S A LIFESTYLE PLAYGROUND. But I never spoke it. Everyone was silent for about 30 seconds — 30 whole seconds that felt like an eternity.
How do we react to this? It was an unprecedented moment in tita history. Usually, it’s a badge of honor to have tita inclinations. We carry it with pride and sling it around like an expensive handbag, casually slipping it into conversations to elicit the response: “HAHAHA YOU ARE SO TITA!” To which we usually proudly nod and think to ourselves, Why, yes, yes I am, in that English aristocrat voice we titas imagine we have. I’d like more cream and jam for my scones, please. And perhaps some mentholatum for my shoulder, it’s been bloody killing me for days!
It was the first time I, and probably the rest of the other girls, have ever been called a tita in lowercase, like it was such an uncool way to be, an adjective reserved for the boring ladies who like growing plants and seeing their bathroom tiles gleam with hospital-grade cleanliness. Wait a minute, I’m that “boring” lady and I take pride in my thoroughly disinfected home.
I’m pretty sure the poor girl didn’t mean to offend, but we were offended. We were so offended that we started getting defensive about our taste in travel attractions.
“Look, I got two great quality bath mats for P300. In Manila it would be double that price and those don’t even have grip!” That’s what I broke the silence with.
“I still have my Tisken toiletries holder from my old dorm — it’s four years old and it’s still stuck to my banyo!” another said.
“I’m probably more of a tita than all of you guys. Last time we went, I got the kids matching blankets and they love them so much!” the third girl shared.
Not gonna lie, we kind of proved her point. We are titas, and we will to stand up to anyone who, even in the slightest of ways, tries to judge us for liking what we like.
Then again, being a tita comprises only fraction of who we are. For all we know, the one mom among us might enjoy listening to Swedish death metal on her way to work. Oh wait, that’s me when the Grab driver is chatty.
If we’re going to unpack the incident, it was probably the stereotyping that got to us, the abrupt dismissal of our opinions just because the first thing we said vaguely put us under a certain category. There really is no moral to this story, except maybe try not to label people, especially ones you just met. Wait for them to say it. Titas would not miss a chance to announce themselves to the world, anyway. We just want to do it in a self-deprecating fashion so grand and fabulous, it would rob everyone else of the chance to poke fun at our Fitbits.
Glad to get that off my chest. Now, shall we take our multivitamins and put our sleep masks on? It’s bloody 10 p.m.!
Illustration by ANA CARISSA BAUTISTA