Celebrating ‘National Siblings Day’ (April 10, 2023)
By Jerick Alegarbes
Not everyone who grew up in a household had experienced living with a sibling. But for those who do or did, having a sibling can be either annoying or enjoyable among other things. Today we celebrate “National Siblings Day“. A sibling can be described as someone who you grew up with and has the same parents as you. But a sibling doesn’t have to be related to you by blood. It can be your stepsister, stepbrother, a very close friend, or even someone who you have spent time with long enough for you to consider them as family. The bond that you share with a sibling can be something unlike no other.
National Siblings Day was made possible by Claudia Evart of the Siblings Day Foundation (https://www.siblingsday.org/). She founded this holiday back in 1995 after the untimely passing of both of her siblings. She has fond memories of them, and this day was a way for her to celebrate those memories with others who have experienced something similar. Since then, National Siblings Day became more popular throughout the United States, Canada, and other countries as well, and it became a celebration of siblings, former and current.
In some cultures, it is important to acknowledge your siblings by calling them using certain kinship terms. In the Filipino language, or ‘Tagalog’, we have a few terms that we often use to refer to or describe our siblings:
The first one is ‘Ate’ (ah-teh), or older sister. It is used by younger siblings to either show respect or to simply acknowledge that they are not in fact older than their other female sibling. It can also be used towards older women who are not your sibling, but someone who is a friend, colleague or neighbor out of respect. For example, you are with your older sister, and her name is Anna. As a younger sibling, you would refer to her as ‘Ate Anna’.
The second one is ‘Kuya’ (coo-yah) or ‘older brother’. It has the same use, but it is mainly for addressing older siblings and older males. In the case of addressing older males as kuya, it is a little more important to mind the gap in age. Although kinship terminology is important in Filipino culture, some older males might prefer to be called ‘manong’ or ‘tito’ instead to feel more respected.
For example, you are at a store and you acknowledge the clerk as an older male, but not old enough for you to call him ‘manong’ or ‘tito’. As a younger person, you would simply refer to him as ‘Kuya’.
Thirdly, the term that is associated with a younger sibling is ‘Ading’ (ah-ding), but it is not used directly towards younger siblings. Most of the time, kuyas and ates just refer to their younger siblings only by name.
Lastly, the term that is commonly used to describe the youngest sibling is ‘Bunso’ (boon-soh). Same with ‘Ading’, it is not used directly towards your youngest sibling, but it can be used to refer to them in third-person. For example, when a mother calls everyone for dinner, she would say to an older sibling ‘Tawagin mo na si bunso para makakain na tayo.’ (Please call Bunso so that we can eat.)
In the Philippines, these are the most common terms for kinship. But depending on the region, some Filipinos refer to their siblings as ‘kabsat’, ‘ditse’, ‘manoy’, ‘manay’, etc.
Regardless of whether you use these kinship terms or not, National Siblings Day brings importance to the people whom you have had the privilege of growing up with. It doesn’t matter if you are the youngest sibling or the oldest. What matters is that you get to cherish those memories with them as you get older. So if you have even just a little bit of time today, let your siblings know about this day and look back at those memories with them.
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