Only in Asian culture (or so I’m told) do we have titles for Older Sister and Older Brother and, in some cases, there is even a specific title for First Older Brother, Second Older Brother, etcetera, etcetera. I think we Filipinos got the practice from the Chinese. Ate, the word we use to address or refer to an older sister is similar to the Chinese Achi (oh, please don’t ask which particular Chinese language Achi comes from — I have no idea).
My brother and I were raised in that tradition. He called me Ate and still does. When he got married, his wife called me Ate too. No such thing in Speedy’s family where all the siblings address each other by the first name irrespective of age.
When Alex was born… oh, wait, even before that… When I got pregnant with Alex, we prepared Sam for the arrival of a baby brother/sister by telling her she would soon be an Ate. Then, we raised Alex to call her Ate. What was so surprising was that Sam invented her own “title” for Alex — she called her Bulex, a contraction of bulilit (small) and Alex. It was so darn amusing that we — Speedy, me, my mother, my brother and even my in-laws — picked up the word and started using the nickname Bulex. But only for a while. By the time Alex started school at two-and-a-half years old, she was Alex and she’s still Alex to this very day.
The thing is, much later, probably around the time that Sam was 10 and Alex was 8, Alex stopped caller Sam Ate. It was a time when Sam was fast growing up to adolescence and Alex was still very much a child. They stopped sharing common interests, were constantly fighting and started referring to each other in the third person. When complaining to me, for instance, Alex would refer to Sam as She or Her, never as Ate. They didn’t even use each other’s names.
Then, Alex ditched childhood, caught up with adolescence and, once again, they shared a lot of things in common (for those of you with children who fight constantly, it’s possible that it might only be a phase). But never again did Alex call Sam Ate.
In a way, it’s a good thing. I’ve come to realize that AGE does not — SHOULD NOT — entitle anyone to special or additional privileges. In fact, it’s so damn feudal as it follows the tradition that Older Children deserve more. You know, much like the Eldest Son being entitled to inherit the lion’s share of the family’s properties, an so on, and so forth. The reasoning that these special titles for older siblings is a sign of respect is a little screwed too. Every sibling deserves respect, irrespective of age and order of birth.
So, Alex doesn’t call Sam Ate anymore. And Sam has long since stopped calling her Bulex. But they do have terms of endearment for one another — terms so unique that, for a while, only they understood.
It started about a year or two ago. Sam started calling Alex “Pangs” and Alex called her “Babs”. Pangs is short for pangit (ugly) and Babs is short for baboy (pig). These days, they call each other Babs. :roll: