Respect and language among the Warays
In most countries in the world, younger siblings in the family just call the elder ones by the latter’s names. If the firstborn’s name is George, then all his younger brothers and sisters will call him that. This, to most Filipinos, is a sign of disrespect. We do not do that in our country as younger children in our families address their elder siblings as ate or kuya, making us unbeatable when it comes to exhibiting respect for elder siblings in the family.
This commendable Filipino trait is even more vibrant among the Warays where the words ate and kuya have numerous equivalents that could be used to address specific siblings in case they are many. Should there be, say, nine children in the family and they are all males, then the eldest, instead of calling him kuya, which is Tagalog, may be addressed by all his younger brothers as Dodoy. If his nickname is Obang, then his younger siblings would have to call him Dodoy Obang.
The next brother would not be called the same, but would have another name that, again, is equivalent to the word kuya. He may be addressed as Babay instead of Dodoy or kuya. If his nickname is Abes, then all his younger siblings will have to call him Babay Abes. But Obang, being older, will just call him Abes without that Babay anymore.
Mano is a common equivalent Waray word for kuya. The next brother in line may then be addressed by this title. If his nickname is Orly, then all his younger brothers would have to call him Mano Orly. But Obang and Abes, being older than him, of course, will simply call him Orly without using the word Mano anymore.
The titles Dodoy, Babay, and Mano may not be used for the next brother in the row. He may be given the title, Mamoy. If his nickname is Mando, he will have to be called Mamoy Mando by all his younger brothers. Obang, Abes, and Orly, however, will just call him Mando for being older than him, and are not obliged to use the title Mamoy anymore.
The next brother in the list need not be addressed as Dodoy, Babay, Mano, or Mamoy. He may be addressed as Nonoy. If his nickname is Paking, then all his younger brothers are obliged to call him Nonoy Paking, the equivalent of Kuya Paking. But his elder brothers Obang, Abes, Orly, and Mando, of course, do not have to address him as Nonoy since they are older than him.
Another Waray word for kuya is Inko. This is not quite common, but among the ancient Warays, particularly in the countryside, this address for an older brother used to be popular. So if the next brother’s nickname is Juan, all his remaining younger brothers will have to call him Inko Juan. But the rest of his elder siblings need not address him that way.
Well, the next brother in line only has one younger sibling, yet he still needs to be addressed as an older brother. The above titles need not be used for him. He may be addressed as Manoy. If his nickname is Segun, then his younger brother will have to call him, Manoy Segun. Obang down to Juan need not address him as such for being older than him, though. They will have to simply call him, Segun.
See how respectful the Warays are while using their rich language in the family? While the Tagalogs are singling out the use of kuya for all older siblings at home, the Warays use a particular title for each of them in a show of maximum respect.
By: Doms Pagliawan
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