Call him Kuya

Main Piece

So these are “birth order titles”. Names for the oldest, second oldest, and third oldest, and the titles are different by gender. There are roles attached, so the first born is called Kuya (male) or Ate (female), and they are supposed to lead the family. They are the back-up mom and dad. This was slapped into us– if you didn’t use the titles, you were severely punished. The second borns are the back-ups to the Kuya and Ate, called Diko and Diche (male and female respectively). Third born is Sanko and Sanse, for boy and girl. So most Filipinos have known of and do the Kuya and Ate, but only what they call real Tagalogs (regional group) do the other titles. I was the third born, called Sanko. The other children don’t get titles.

Background/Context: My informant and father told this to me. He is Filipino, born in the Philippines. He comes from a large, close family.

The Philippines is a very family-oriented country. I have seen how major of a role these titles have played in their roles with each other. I think this reinforces a hierarchy among them, but also a sense of loyalty and responsibilty.