Update: Last February , 2018 the City of Cebu honored the composer, Vicente Rubi for his Contribution to Music. Ludivina Rubi Najarro, his lone surviving child received the award.

Tita Luding Rubi Pleños with Ka Bino Guerrero

Kasadya Ning Takna-a (“How Joyful Is This Season”) is a classic Christmas Carol and my favorite Filipino Christmas Carol. I still remember the lyrics by heart because I used to sing this upbeat Christmas song as a little girl while caroling with my friends in Cebu.



Listen to Kasadya ni Takna-a on Spotify.

classic Filipino carol


Kasadya ning taknaa
Dapit sa kahimayaan
Mao’y atong makita
Ang panagway’ng masanglagon
Bulahan ug bulahan
Ang tagbalay nga giawitan
Awit nga halangdonon ug sa tanang Pasko

Repeat Preface
Bag-ong tuig
Bag-ong kinabuhi
Duyogan ‘ta sa atong gebati
Atong awiton aron sa kalipay
kita makaangkon!

Awit nga halangdonon ug sa tanang Pasko magmalipayon

I am sure the song is more familiar to you if sang as Ang Pasko ay Sumapit, a popular Filipino Christmas Carol and the Tagalog adaptation of the 1933 Cebuano carol. Ang Pasko ay Sumapit first hit the airwaves when I was a teenager but I was horrified to hear my favorite carol sang in a different accent and beat. It’s not the same., I cried inside. I don’t hear the rondalla introduction of the song. It sounds horrible. I thought. The heavy (maragsa) accent that added vigor and festiveness was just not there in the Tagalog version. I’m sure if you heard the Tagalog version, you would appreciate Ang Pasko ay Sumapit but I first heard it sung in Visayan!

Listen to this:

For me, Ang Pasko ay Sumapit is NOTHING compared to the joyfulness of the carol if sang in Visayan. The closest Tagalog version that follows true to the original version is the one sang by the Mabuhay Singers. Even the meaning of the lyrics are different.

But what makes the song even pathetic is the composer was paid a measly price for the Tagalog version. Here is the story of the Cebuano composer, Vicente Rubi.

A gentle Cebuano composer Vicente Rubi jotted down the notes of this daygon (carol) for a Christmas festival that year. Mariano Vestil, another Cebuano, wrote the lyrics. Forgotten Today, carolers in Cebu still sing the lilting beat and lyrics that the now-barely-remembered Rubi and Vestil blended 70 years ago. Bulahan ang tagbalay nga giawitan (“Blessed the homes that carolers sing to”). ….”It’s the supremest of ironies in a country that boasts of the longest celebration of Christmas,” Jullie Yap Daza wrote in the Times Journal in 1978. “But not a trace of effort has been made to attribute the beloved carol Ang Pasko Ay Sumapit to its author, Vicente D. Rubi.” By then, Rubi was an old impoverished widower, confined in a Cebu hospital. His carol had been hijacked by a recording company for 150 pesos.

Cebuanos recall the frail old man would shuffle to teach carolers, at his gate, how to sing his carol right. “Nong Inting” died in 1980, denied “what is due him in royalties,” now Manila Standard editor Yap-Daza wrote. This is raw exploitation. Today’s jargon calls that “Intellectual Property Rights” theft.

I heard Kasadya Ning Takna-a sang a few years ago and nearly choked in tears at the thought of Vicente Rubi never being paid royalties by that greedy recording company. Whenever I listen to Ang Pasko ay Sumapit, not only do I feel strange hearing it sung in a different tone but I feel history should give more credit to Vicente Rubi.

Bagong tuig, bagong kinabuhi, the Cebuano original, and its Tagalog adaptation, proclaim. It echoes the Advent cry of Isaiah: “Break the fetters of injustice … and break every yoke/ Then, will your light break forth as the morning.”

Where is the justice due Vicente Rubi?

Though more than 70 years have lapsed and royalties are way past the 50 year mark, I will honor Vicente Rubi in this blog for all the world to know him as the composer of Ang Pasko ay Sumapit, the Tagalog version of Kasadya Ning Takna-a.

One day, I hope a music producer will come out with the Kasadya Ning Takna-a , the original daygon version. Hopefully, this forgotten Cebuano Carol will once again claim its rightful place in Philippine music.

How joyful is this season if we remember Vicente Rubi.

What is your favorite Christmas song?

The 2019 #BalanceforBetter campaign runs all year long. It doesn’t end on International Women’s Day.

The campaign theme provides a unified direction to guide and galvanize continuous collective action, with #BalanceforBetter activity reinforced and amplified all year.

Balance drives a better working world. Let’s all help create a #BalanceforBetter

How does one create a gender-balanced world?

Balance is not a women’s issue, it’s a business issue. The race is on for the gender-balanced boardroom, a gender-balanced government, gender-balanced media coverage, a gender-balance of employees, more gender-balance in wealth, gender-balanced sports coverage …

Gender balance is essential for economies and communities to thrive.

The average gender gap in ASEAN labor force is at 19 percent which reflects a gap in labor force participation “between man and women as well as inadequate and unequal access of women to economic opportunities and work conditions favorable to woman.” 

Fewer women than men are present in the ASEAN labor market. It will take many years before balance is achieved even in our ASEAN region. These challenges have to be hurdled first. Some of these challenges are as follows:

1.The female labour force participation rate is persistently lower across all ASEAN countries.

2. Persistent gender skill gap and gender wage gap. More women are employed in lower skilled and lower paying jobs than men, resulting in a persistent and high gender wage gap

3. The majority of women are employed in vulnerable jobs with limited access to benefits and social protection.

4. Gender gaps in education have been declining but educational attainment of women continues to lag behind that of men.

5. Large numbers of highly-educated women remain unemployed.

Institutional barriers

6. Continued presence of gender discriminatory customary laws in certain ASEAN countries. All ASEAN countries provide constitutional equality between men and women.

7. Limited effectiveness of gender mainstreaming.

8. Due to cultural norms women are disadvantaged in acquiring land and assets and this is mirrored in discriminatory laws.

9. Women contribute substantially to economic welfare through large amounts of unpaid work, such as child-rearing and household tasks, which often remains unseen and unaccounted for in national income

10. Lack of clarity in key labour laws relating to equal remuneration, discrimination and maternity benefits contributes to women’s relative weaker position in the labour market.

While these challenges are work in action, I can do my part in helping close the digital divide between the digitally skilled and unskilled women. There are many opportunities for women in technology. The ASEAN  ICT Masterplan  of 2020 , ” brings ASEAN towards a digitally enabled economy and women should prepare themselves with the knowledge to work at home.

Individually, we’re one drop but together we’re an ocean. We need to commit to a “gender parity mindset” through progressive action. With the global activism for women’s equality fuelled by movements like #MeToo#TimesUp and more – there is a strong global momentum striving for gender parity. So let’s all collaborate to accelerate gender parity, so our collective action powers equality worldwide.

Select the one area that you commit to specifically concentrate on to press for progress for gender parity in your own sphere of influence. I will continue to press for progress and challenge stereotypes and bias:

  • question assumptions about women
  • challenge statements that limit women
  • always use inclusive language
  • work to remove barriers to women’s progress
  • buy from retailers who position women in positive ways

womens day

I’ve just taken action to help accelerate gender parity.

womens day

My concern is the blatant display of disrespect, disregard, and utter lack of awareness and understanding of human rights, moreso those of women, by no less than the President and other powerful men in government. What is enraging is that instead of celebrating the role of women in leadership positions and diverse voices that give meaning to a democracy, we are slowly witnessing women being shamed, their voices being silenced, and the culture of toxic masculinity permeating the very institutions that should demonstrate—and from which we should demand—the utmost respect for women and every individual.

“In today’s digital world we can’t afford to leave anyone behind. We need to press for progress for the better of each one of us” says Julie_Teigland. Let’s do this.

Make a difference, think globally and act locally! Make everyday International Women’s Day. Do your bit to ensure that the future for our girls is bright, equal, safe and rewarding. International Women’s Day is not country, group or organisation specific. This  day belongs to all groups collectively everywhere. So together, let’s all Press for Progress.

(I first wrote divorce in the Philippines , seven years ago. This is updated in the light of the divorce bill being deliberated at the Plenary in the coming weeks)

divorce philippines

Believe it or not! The Philippines is now the only country without Divorce that has not legalized divorce. There is Vatican but it is not really a country.

In 2011, Gabriela refiled a controversial bill to legalize divorce in the country. Known as House Bill No. 1799 (An Act Introducing Divorce in the Philippines), which listed down five grounds for the filing of a petition for divorce. This year, a consolidated  bill  seeking to allow divorce in the Philippines has hurdled the House committee level and may be up for deliberation at the plenary in a week. The proposed  bill titled An Act Instituting Divorce and Absolute Dissolution of Marriage in the Philippines”, substituted House Bills 116, 1062, 2380 and 6027.

Spouses have the option to file for an absolute divorce, a legal separation, or annulment of marriage under the proposed bill. Section 3 paragraph 2 of the bill states that the government should assure that the divorce shall be inexpensive and its process, efficient.

The grounds for absolute divorce under Section 5 of the bill are limited to the following:

  1. Physical violence or grossly abusive conduct directed against the petitioner, a common child or a child of the petitioner;
  2. Physical violence or moral pressure to compel the petitioner to change religious or political affiliation;
  3. Attempt of respondent to corrupt or induce the petitioner, a common child or child of petitioner to engage in prostitution;
  4. Imprisonment of respondent for more than six years, even if pardoned;
  5. Drug addiction or habitual alcoholism or chronic gambling on the part of respondent;
  6. Respondent’s homosexuality
  7. Bigamous marriage contracted by respondent
  8. Marital infidelity or perversion or having a child with another person other than spouse during marriage, except upon mutual agreement;
  9. Attempt against the life of the petitioner, common child or child of petitioner
  10. Abandonment by petitioner or by respondent without justifiable cause for more than one year.

My stand on divorce

I am for divorce. Let me elaborate.

I wrote about annulment in the Philippines 12 years ago. The comments from readers exposed me to the sad reality of abusive spouses. I understood the reasons of failed marriages of close friends and relatives but it was only in my blog and through emails, that I understood the abusive relationships in some marriages. My heart reaches out to women crying out for help, one of which told me:

Being trapped for 18 years (1992-present) as single parent but status married, I hate our laws, as a woman, as a wife, having been abused. I was a battered wife for four years until i decided to run away for my life. My home is not safe anymore, my basic right to life was violated for four years (1988-1992) by someone supposed to protect me. Annulment law is a milking cow for lawyers, a law only for the elite, a privilege to those who can afford, a law for sale, another human rights violation. For those battered women who cant afford, the law shouts for you to wait for death, no escape, we are doomed.
Being battered and unprotected is one thing I hate being born Filipina. I was already scammed and I cannot even appeal cause 15 days has lapsed. Money cannot be made in 15 days for a single parent with two children whose education is priority. Decision notice did not even warn me I have to beat 15 days.

It is for this reason that the bill was filed, “for women in abusive marital relationships, the need for a divorce law is real. It is high time that we give Filipino couples, especially the women, this option,” said Gabriela Representatives Luzviminda Ilagan and Emerenciana De Jesus in the bill’s explanatory note.

An abusive relationship is one reason why I support the divorce bill.

The abuse can be verbal, physical or psychological. One in five women experienced some form of physical violence .

In 2013, the government’s National Statistics Office carried out its latest National Demographic and Health Survey. It found that one in five women aged between 15 and 49 had experienced some form of physical violence, and one in four emotional, physical, or sexual violence from their husbands. Of course, these statistics are most likely a fraction of what is actually happening, since only 30 percent of women said they sought assistance after suffering abuse, falling to just 4 percent when pregnant. But there does appear to be an upwards trend of reporting crime to the police; from 1997 to 2013, the number of cases of violence against women reported rose by more than 500 percent. Granted, these cut across economic status, but statistics continually show that the impacts of a failed marriage or a violent spouse, and the inability to properly separate from such a relationship, often fall harder on poorer women.

Do you think the spouse who inflict these abuse ever change? Most never do and the only way for abusive spouses to change is to undergo therapy.

A divorced mother from the USA told me that “the culture and values of a society have to change. There has to be equal respect and rights given to men and women. This has to be more important than “protecting the sanctity of marriage”. As fas as I am concerned, if a partner (man OR woman) abuses the other, THE SANCTITY OF THEIR MARRIAGE HAVE ALREADY BEEN VIOLATED.”

divorce philippines

Divorce Law is a start

If the divorce bill is passed, well and good but it does not stop there.

Instituting divorce law is a start. Changes need to start within the family system and our culture.

1. As parents, we teach our children not by words but with our actions. Abusive spouses will pass on their habits to their children when they witness physical, sexual, economic, verbal or psychological violence. As parents, our children have to know that Violence against women in any form is a crime.

2. Women have to change – they have to be brave enough to leave their husbands and make it in on their own, believe in their own strengths and ability to live and support themselves and their children.

3. Men have to change. If a man feels entitled to treat his wife and children as property or human beings who should be under his control, then he needs to be thrown in jail if he acts accordingly.

4. Most importantly, we all have to change, women trapped in these relationships are isolated – some physically, financially, socially, others just emotionally (that is why there are accomplished career women who are in these relationships).

*number 2-4 was shared to me by a divorced Filipino in the USA

Marriage will not be taken lightly if there is a divorce law. The law is there to help spouses trapped in abusive relationships and when the marriage is beyond repair. What happens if your child witness the abusive spouse hitting their parent? The child will believe it is alright to be stuck in a marriage where abuse is alright. The child in turn, will carry this on in their future relationships.

I believe my friend when she said that “the most important persons in this situation are the children. In any decision you make, always choose the one that is best for them.”

Voice out your opinions on the Divorce Bill.

The good news is this is the first time a Divorce Bill reaches House Plenary for deliberation.

If you feel that the divorce bill is important to you, show your support for it. If you are against it, then voice your opinion as well.  Think about the benefits and consequences carefully. Think about how you, someone you know, or even how your own children will be affected by the bill if it becomes law.

Click the thumbnails below

“An Act Providing for Absolute Divorce and Dissolution of Marriage” (Images via https://twitter.com/VinceNonatoINQ )

Photo: from localwin.com and “I can has divorce?” by Nick Schweitzer, c/o Flickr. Some Rights Reserved

Where to Seek Help: Domestic Abuse & Violence Against Women in the Philippines

Today March 8 is International Women’s Day

I will be bold and campaign against violence and …

  • educate youth about positive relationships
  • challenge those who justify perpetrators and blame victims
  • donate to groups fighting abuse
  • speak out against the silence of violence
  • be vigilant and report violence
  • campaign for the prevention of violence
  • abstain from all violence, physical and otherwise
  • volunteer your help at a local charity
  • recognize coercive control and redress it

Today, I will share my campaign for the prevention and how to seek help for those suffering from domestic abuse and  violence against women here in my own country, the Philippines




HOTLINE FOR DOMESTIC ABUSE is +632-922-5235 or +632-926-7744
Women’s Crisis Center
3F ER-Trauma Extension
Annex Building of the East Avenue Medical Center in Diliman , Quezon City

Electronic violence: Map reports of violence. Submit reports on electronic violence against women at ph. takebackthetech.net

More help numbers to contact :

Department of Social Welfare and Development
(02)931-8101 to 07 or your local social welfare office

NBI Violence Against Women and Children’s Desk (02) 523-8231 to 38 or 525-6028

Philippine National Police
723-0401 to 20 or your local police

 Here in the Philippines, one in five Filipino women aged 15-49 has experienced physical violence since age 15. There is more. One in seven women who were married experienced physical violence by their husband. Three in five women who experienced physical or sexual violence reported experiencing depression, anxiety, and anger.

If you know an abused friend or relative or if you yourself are abused, please be empowered. Read on. Contact numbers to seek help below the entry.


“You provoked me”, the wife-beater smugly said.

“It is still no reason to hit me” protested the wife.

domestic abuse This is a common conversation that occurs between the wife beater and the abused woman. Wife beaters have a specific pattern that can be seen early in a relationship.

Abusive men often are highly romantic, sweet and protective early in their relationships. They lavish their women gifts during courtship. For them, women are trophies to be won over and objects to possess, and not people to enter equal partnerships with.

This cycle of domestic abuse can be broken if women know how to empower themselves. The  law, Republic Act (RA) 9262 “Anti-Violence Against Women and Children (VAWC) is not against men. It is against men who treat their women as property.

The following is a true story of how RA 9262 is working for a battered wife, a close friend who narrated the following events to me (names and certain situations changed):

Maria, a businesswoman has been a battered wife for 15 years. She’s married to a successful engineer who is soft-spoken and a Sto. Nino devotee. Who would have imagined that she silently suffered from physical and verbal abuse all these years? I would have never thought and even her own family. Her sister knew of her predicament just recently and got referred to GABRIELA, the same women’s group that lobbied for the law to be passed. GABRIELA, in turn advised her to help Maria file for a protection order. But Maria would hear none of it.

Nooo. It was my fault anyway.

How embarrassing.

What will the neighbors think?

I’m a failure.

I can still take it.

Maria coined a lot of excuses.

The battered wife thought that the law will never work but she promised her sister that if her husband resumes his abusive behavior, she will consider the filing of criminal charges.

Everything was nice and dandy for almost a year until her husband succumbed to work-related pressures. That night , he drank way too many beers and just threw a fist at Maria’s head without provocation.

Maria saw stars spinning as the blow hit her. Steadying herself, she stood up and ran out of the house. Her husband repeatedly hit her in the arms as she vainly struggled to set free from his hold. In her hurry, she forgot to bring money and her cellphone. She also left her teenage daughter. In desperation, Maria dashed to the barangay office to file a complaint. She remembered RA 9262. Immediately after hearing her complaint, three barangay tanods accompanied her to the house.

“They responded to my plea” she thought.

The barangay tanods negotiated with the husband to allow Maria to enter the house peacefully and get her things.

The next day , she filed for a Barangay Protection Order (BPO) and got it within the hour. Maria went to the East Medical Center earlier and acquired a medico -legal certification which she showed to the barangay captain.

The BPO was served to the husband. Enraged, “How dare she do this to me? How dare she destroy my good name?

Fearing the wrath of her husband, Maria worried for her future safety. That’s when she decided to file for Temporary Protection Order (TPO). Maria was accompanied by a barangay worker to the Women’s Assistance Desk at the Police Station where the policewoman (in civilian clothes) prepared her statement. She was told to reproduce 10 copies of the complaint, together with the medico-legal findings, the BPO, the barangay blotter and submit it to the Fiscal’s office.

Would you believe it? She was granted her TPO within the day.

Together with a court order, law enforcers visited their conjugal home and ordered the husband to pack up his things and leave the house. After being reassured that her husband already left peacefully, only then did Maria re-enter her home.

Criminal proceedings will follow suit. The protection orders are not a guarantee that Maria will be safe but it will be a deterrent for the husband. Violation of the TPO is punishable with a fine ranging from Five Thousand Pesos (P5,000.00) to Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) and/or imprisonment of six (6) months.

Aside from physical abuse, the law also protects women from , psychological or emotional, sexual violence and economic abuse.

domestic abuseSo battered or abused women, married or single, don’t despair. Be empowered. There is hope. My friend , Cathy recently wrote a column on Are you a Rihanna? She relates that batterers do not look like batterers at all. So don’t be fooled. Cathy has more to say on domestic violence:

The road to this “empowerment” however, is long and narrow. Often the battered spouse takes the abuse for many years before she finally wakes up. There is the cycle of violence to grapple with. As Nina put it so aptly : “Batterers do not look like batterers. They are often very charming and look like they can do no harm.” In her case, she said that often, after her husband would abuse her, he would transform into the sweetest, most apologetic person in the world. “I thought then that since he was sorry with my love would be enough able to change him .  Rihanna issue with her. “It’s a vicious cycle, and after a while, the battered wife or partner begins to feel like she deserves the beating, and so she continues to believe him and take him back after every apology. It’s like an addiction of sorts.”

There continues to be a very strong stigma attached to domestic abuse in this country. Either the women refuse to speak up because of “hiya” or because they feel they have no place to go and are more often than not, financially dependent on the abuser. Other family members may refuse to step into the problem because they feel it is not in their place to do so. Other women are told by elders who know no better, “just bear it, he will change.” Martyrdom is not a virtue especially if you have children who see the violent acts taking place. Violence should have no room in any family, and it must never be tolerated. As one other battered friend who had found the courage to break out of the cycle once told me, ““What will your ““hiya” do, if the violence escalates and one day all that is left is a lifeless you?” If you find yourself in this situation or know of someone who is, speak up for yourself or speak out for your loved ones.

This also holds true even for unmarried couples. Speak Out Against Domestic Violence!. Under the Republic Act (RA) 9262 ““Anti-Violence Against Women and Children , the victim need not be the one who applies for the protection order. There are roughly 20 victims in one day. Domestic violence is not limited to one social class. Many of the unreported cases belong to women belonging in the upper class of society. The figures could be higher than 20 victims a day.

Violence against women in any form is a crime. But you are not at fault. You did not cause the abuse to occur. You are not alone. Break the silence.

There are laws to protect you. Get help now.

Where to get Help

HOTLINE FOR ABUSED WOMEN is +632-922-5235 or +632-926-7744
Donations in cash and kind are welcome at the Women’s Crisis Center, 3F ER-Trauma Extension, Annex Building of the East Avenue Medical Center in Diliman , Quezon City
In Manila, call these numbers to ask for help:

Department of Social Welfare and Development
(02)931-8101 to 07 or your local social welfare office

NBI Violence Against Women and Children’s Desk (02) 523-8231 to 38 or 525-6028

Philippine National Police
723-0401 to 20 or your local police

PNP-Women and Children Protection Center
410-3213 or your local barangay women and children’s desk


Download The Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act of 2004 (Republic Act No. 9262) and other Resources

Republic Act (R.A.) 9262: Law for the Protection of Women and Children

    • Even if skeptical of the law or afraid of your abusive partner, be prepared for a



Here are valuable resources from Atty Bing Guanzon and Atty. Adrian Sison:



Judge Rebecca Mariano issued a Temporary Protection Order on May 4, 2005, the first Protection Order to be issued under the Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act of 2004 or Republic Act No. 9262.

Say “NO” to violence against women. Sign up at www.saynotoviolence.org.

Photo via Flickr

Quote for the day:

‘Whatever you give a woman, she’s going to multiply. If you give her sperm, she’ll give you a baby.

If you give her a house, she’ll give you a home. If you give her groceries, she’ll give you a meal.

If you give her a smile, she’ll give you her heart. She multiplies and enlarges what is given to her.

So – if you give her any crap, you will receive a ton of shit.’

My good friend, Cathy emailed me that wonderful quote today. In turn, I shared it to my women friends and they all had a laugh.


When I showed this to my hubby, he laughed along with me.

It’s true we should not struggle with our feelings. When we are mad, no need to deny it. Why do we work so hard to deny our emotions especially concerning other people? They are only feelings.

But we don’t have to let our feelings control our behavior. We don’t have to act on each feeling that passes through us. We do not need to indulge in inappropriate behavior.

So when your someone gives you a load of crap, it helps to talk about your feelings with someone you trust. Sometimes you need to bring your feelings to the person who is triggering it. But the most important person we need to tell is ourselves. If we allow our feelings to pass through us, accept them, and release them, we shall know what to do next.

Maybe you won’t need to throw a ton of shit after all.

Every now and then, I get bombarded with text messages from wives asking for my advice on their marital woes. The thing is I am not a counselor and I can only speak for myself. The fact that the person on the other end is a stranger makes it difficult for me to reply back with any sort of friendly advice.

You know the most common text messages I receive are :


The Other Woman

      or suspicions of the latter because of questionable text messages caught in their husband’s cellphone.

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned

2. Tired of changing their husband’s dysfunctional habits or attitude.

It’s not that simple to say leave thy husband especially if one promised to love and honor till death do us part (except abusive behavior because I don’t believe a wife should be a punching bag). I can’t blame these women because I too was once caught in trying to save my husband from despair. Simply said, my life’s focus was on changing my husband instead of myself. Of course, I didn’t know better. I thought being a martyr was the way to go instead of being true to myself, the feisty and bitchy me.

Rather than focusing on my husband, I reinvented myself.

love yourself

Many of us have gone so numb and discounted our feelings so completely that we have gotten out of touch with our needs in relationships. And this is true for all kinds of relationships. We can learn to distinguish whose company we enjoy, whether we’re talking about friends, business acquaintances, dates or spouses. What do we do?

1. We all need to interact with people we might prefer to avoid but we don’t have to force ourselves through long-term or intimate relationships with these people.

2. We are free to choose friends, dates and spouses. We are free to choose how much time we spend with those people we can’t always choose to be around, such as relatives.

3. We can decide how much we want to spend our days and hours. We’re not enslaved. We’re not trapped. And not one of us is without options.

If you look over at my About Me Page, you will see the journey I’ve travelled and continue to take. I changed a significant portion of my routine and lifestyle. I lost weight, maintained a healthier lifestyle, initiated a grief advocacy, expanded my online business and started blogging. I focused on changing myself instead of my husband. The change encompassed a couple of years and which still evolves to this present day.

We may not see our options clearly. Although we may have to struggle through shame and learn to own our power, we can learn to spend our valuable hours and days with the people we enjoy and choose to be with.

If I had a way, I want to share this prayer that I often say to myself.

God, help me value my time and life.

Help me place value on how I feel being around certain people

Guide me as I learn to develop healthy, intimate, sharing relationships with people.

Help me give myself the freedom to experiment, explore and learn who I am and who I can be in my relationships.

We don’t have to be relationship martyrs. Love yourself first.

The end result is a loving and healthy relationship.

my husband and myself

written by Toni Tiu, as originally published at , “Tita of Manila” Mode: ON!, Philippine Online Chronicles

Being a Tita has never been this “in.”

“Tita” is what you call your Mom’s sister, your Dad’s female co-workers, basically any lady who’s a generation above you. But now, Tita is more than just a title or a term of endearment. It’s a mindset, a lifestyle, one that’s not reserved only for those in their late 30s or early 40s. I recall when being a Tita made you cringe as that meant you were truly much older than most folks in the room. That’s why I was surprised seeing my 30-year-old friend brand herself “Tita” on Instagram, sharing a picture of her wine glass as she stayed home Friday night at her condo. “Tita mode. Staying in for the night,” she captioned. Being called “Tita” may still make some cringe, but because so many women are embracing being a Tita and loving Titas, the cringe can be accompanied by a little joy. 

The Twitter account “Titas of Manila” hilariously captures Tita-isms and Tita behavior.

titas of manila

@TitasofManila Jun 1

(sees pamangkin wearing makeup) Wow artista!!


@TitasofManila May 14

* lines up at French Baker in Megamall for 50% discount on bread *


@TitasofManila May 13

*sees chubby pamangkin * Ay, napabayaan ka sa kusina, no? *kurot sa tiyan*


@TitasofManila Apr 16

You know the daughter of your Tita Susan graduated cum laude and she’s working in London now tapos ang gwapo pa ng asawa na mabait pa!

This is very much the typical Filipino Tita. From blatantly asking you about your weight gain to repeatedly asking you during family reunions when you will get married, this Twitter account captures the many Tita lines that irritate nieces and nephews everywhere. But it also captures the behavior and quirks that make Titas endearing such as not being able to resist eating butong pakwan or trying to figure out how to spring clean her collection of Fit-Flops. The personification of being a Tita is so endearing and amusing at the same time.

Buzzfeed has even published an article called 20 Signs You’re the Tita of Your Group. Funny signs include “You’re way too exhausted after a day out with friends.” (accompanied by an image of a body part with Salon Pas) and “You have a bag full of things your friends might need in case of emergency.” That is SO Tita.

Embracing Tita-ness

I’m in my late 30s, but even then I don’t feel like a Tita. However, three moments in the past month made me realize I was very much a Tita.

Incident Number 1. My officemate was complaining about a really bad headache. “You want to drink medicine?,” I asked her. “Sige, you have?,” she asked. I reached into my kikay kit and pulled out a banig of headache medicine. “O there, you get as much as you want,” I advised her. In the past, this behavior would be called being a Girl Scout. Now it’s being a Tita.

Incident Number 2. Air-conditioning in the meeting room dies. It is really hot. I reach for my bag and take out my pamaypay and begin fanning myself furiously. I realized I was the only one in the room doing that and slowly put down my fan. Abaniko in my bag? So Tita. But hey, at least I didn’t have to suffer the heat in silence.

Incident Number 3. My husband and son got me a present for Mother’s Day. Upon opening the box, I saw it was a pashmina. I LOVED it. As I wrapped the beautiful red pashmina around my shoulders, I also realized that I felt very much like a Tita at that moment. (That moment also made me realize that one can’t have enough pashminas. I want one in basic black and another in navy blue, please.)

shawls-14458_640Shawls in all colors? Call your Tita! This can be her happy place!

Being a Tita has never been this “in” because of how social media has helped make Tita-isms endearing. It’s a good thing. In Filipino culture, a Tita can be our second Mom or a mentor. Titas may have their irritating moments, but for the most part they’re really just looking out for us. When they tease you about your weight gain, they sincerely want you to be more conscious about your health. When they ask about your marriage plans, they sincerely want you to fall in love and find that “forever” of yours. In or not, at the very least, you can always count on the Tita of your group to have food in her bag.

Image via benjaminivanlamiagratitudine.blogspot.com

Mom, you never taught us how to say “Po” and “Opo”, complained my two daughters. I felt guilty. Did it reflect badly on my parenting skill?

Saying “Po” and “Opo” is foreign to me. (In Filipino if some phrases or sentences ends in “po”, “opo”, “oho”, “ho” or has these words, it only means that you do have a high respect or you are very polite to the person your talking to.) I choke on the words. Not that I am rude but being raised in Cebu during my formative years, those Filipino polite words are non-existent in the Cebuano vocabulary.

I often wondered why my parents didn’t teach us either. They spoke in Tagalog. I guess it was because we lived in Cebu and they didn’t want to confuse us with the dialect.

As much as I’d like to attribute every aspect of our submissive nature to the Spaniards, the word “po” ” actually traces way back to our Pre-Hispanic roots. It comes from the Malay word “Pupo”, a sort of verbal equivalent of the Thai greeting and sign of respect that involves joining one’s open palms together. Words, signs, and gestures of respect towards elders and superiors are in fact quite common in Asia; from the Japanese, to the Koreans, to the Vietnamese.” I asked one of my friends who is used to saying “po” and she said that  “growing up, the word “po” was never drilled into my head. It was almost as if I learned it through osmosis, like it was just a fact of life, along the lines of hamog or binat. I belonged to a different generation, of course; a generation that still played outdoors every afternoon, back when habulang base, patintero, and piko actually existed in real life and not just in textbooks.”

I remember a conversation between my aunt and dad. My aunt chastised my dad that we were impolite children just because we didn’t address her with a “po” and “opo”. I would have agreed with her but we spoke to her in English and it didn’t seem right to end each sentence with “po” and “opo”. At that time, I wasn’t too fluent in Tagalog (still not fluent but getting there) so how can I labeled rude or impolite?

Not saying “po” or “opo” does not hold value to me. I just wasn’t used to saying it. During my twenties, I tried to get into the habit of saying “po” and “opo” since I already lived in Manila and guess what? I ended up saying “po” and “opo” to the guards, the vendors, my peers, and just about anyone. I embarrassed myself even more.

It’s great that a majority of Filipinos still have words like “po” and “opo.” They’re unique, charming, and truly Filipino. But let’s save them for our mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, and grandparents; people who deserve our respect just by virtue of their existence. Because whenever we over-use these words, we’re only giving other people reason to disrespect us.

Most Filipinos may say “po” or “opo” but are they polite or courteous in the MRT?  The ““me first” mentality I see in queues drive me nuts. And don’t start me on the mad driving skills on Manila’s snarled highways.

A pet peeve of mine  is being called “Ma’am”. The first time someone addressed me as “Ma’am” was from a news reporter over nine years ago. Hearing “Ma’am” shocked me mainly because it meant I am OLD. I often cringe when I am being addressed as “Ma’am”. When I became a blogger and met new bloggers, I often requested them to just call me “Noemi”. A few bloggers still call me “Ma’am” which I don’t bother to correct sometimes because I also understand that maybe they are not comfortable calling me by my first name. I understand that our parents often teach us to respect our elders.

But really, why do I need to be called “Ma’am, Madam, Miss Noemi”?

In a reddit discussion, yeh-nah-yeh says “Australian culture values egalitarianism, that is every being equal. An average taxi driver would address the Prime Minister by first name or “mate”. It often results in better outcomes as ideas are judged for their quality not for the seniority of the person proposing them and junior people are free to question and criticise the work of older people leading to improvements.” That’s what I mean. In the internet, people should argue and discuss amiably without the nagging thought that this person has an honorific title.

noemidado small

Sylvia Claudio has a take on the penchant for titles:

The penchant for titles besets other cultures, but Filipinos take it to the extreme. At a recent international conference a Filipino participant put the title “Atty.” before his name. This prompted a Malaysian participant to ask me what that meant. My reply that this was an abbreviation for “Attorney” resulted in a long side explanation – much to the detriment to our appreciation of the attorney’s presentation. Later, my foreign colleagues were even more befuddled by a recitation of titles like “Engr.” (for engineer), and “Arch.” (for architect).

Though we should be proud of our professional attainment, titles do not happen in other countries. There is no “Atty” appended before a lawyer’s name in the United States. Claudio addes that “We are also a society where an atty., an arch., and an engr. may be the first person to have finished college in their entire family and tribe.” Pinoy culture, just like in most of Asia, value hierarchy and seniority.

title fetish

I agree with Claudio that “Our title fetish is indicative of the social inequality and resulting patronage that plague Philippine society. In a just society, it would not be difficult for anyone to become a lawyer, an architect, an engineer, a geologist, a ballerina, a soprano, social worker, and whatever else they should desire.”

As University of the Philippines professor Tet Maceda observes, senior professors and administrators were addressed by their first names. “Despite our increasing seniority we have not taken to calling ourselves “Ma’am.” There are, after all, many Filipinos who reject these titles. Maceda fondly remembers being answered on the phone with “Emer here” and not “President Emerlinda Roman here.”

Claudio adds that there is a proper use for titles such as President Aquino is called “Mr. President” . She adds that in a democracy, such honorifics should be reserved for the highest government positions.


It is one reason I use the monicker “momblogger” because it is a nickname that anyone can call me. I always believed in using my first name in social media accounts but almost everyone would call me “ma’am” . In 2007, I created my internet name as “momblogger” (well I am a mom plus a blogger) for people to address me in case they felt awkward calling me “Noemi” . How would I have known that it would also be my “personal brand” today?

Now that you know my pet peeve… just call me plain old …Noemi. Or if that bothers you, call me momblogger.