Kuya vs. Manong
Today I had an interesting conversation about the whole “kuya” and “manong” thing. Notice how we Filipinos tend to address vendors, the janitors, photocopy people, etcetera like this? I never gave it much thought before but today, I accompanied a visiting teacher from New York around Greenhills and I addressed many of the guards and sellers as kuya (or ate when applicable). She asked me what kuya meant and if it was a Filipino word for excuse me or something like that.
Over the course of our conversation I came to realize that I prefer using kuya/ate over manong/manang nowadays. In a way, I kinda feel like its a more respectful way of addressing people in the service industry. When I said that, my friend said that she resonated with that and asked what perhaps, would make someone a manong or a kuya versus a sir. She said something about how although there is no caste system here such as that in India, there still is that kind of a divide. Maybe not with regards to the mingling of people and whatnot, but there was still that separation. Eventually as we talked I realized that often times, it all boils down to the fact that when those in the service industry often have limited access to education. It kind of made me realize how much I take things for granted. For example, I would love more than anything to buy a new iMac but majority of Filipinos have to rely on internet cafes to really have access. I’m sure they’d be more than thrilled to receive even a very old used pc desktop and here I am complaining about my old laptop.
Random realizations today.