Sunday, January 31, 2010

Uncle Anks

I have an uncle, from my mother’s side, living in Cuyapo, Philippines, my hometown. His name is Nemesio; he goes by the nickname Mesiong, which is just a shorter version of his official name. He has another nickname, but I will not get into that. His nephews, nieces, great nephews, and great nieces, including myself, call him Uncle Mesiong. The Filipinos have the propensity to shorten names, as nicknames and for ease. So instead of calling him “Uncle Mesiong” many have shortened it to “Uncs” or in the local vernacular and spelling “Anks”, still pronounced the same. Well, Filipinos, in this case his nephews and nieces, respectful as they are, do not want others to think they are being disrespectful when they hear them refer to him as Anks. It may sound impolite because they may think that they are just calling him by a nickname without the respectful designation of “uncle.”

In the Filipino culture, you can’t just call a person by his name unless he is a colleague of about the same age. There are designations or titles for every one (whether it’s a relative, someone older or younger, etc.). I have had personal issues with older Filipino co-workers in previous jobs because I would have to address them with the proper designation in front of their name because if you don't, it may be wrongly perceived as being disrespectful. Anyway, back to my uncle --- so what do all his nephews, nieces, great nephews, and great nieces, including myself, call him instead – Uncle Anks. Even acquaintances not related to him call him by this name.

I relate this story because during my visit to Cuyapo this past December, Uncle Anks turned 78 years old. He is spritely, and he is still in decent health even thru all the hardship he has endured living in the Philippines. I was honored to give him a party to celebrate his birthday while I was there in Cuyapo.

My older siblings and my cousins recount many stories in the past about my uncle being a strict disciplinarian and all of them being fearful of him. My older siblings and cousins on my mother’s side stayed at my maternal grandparents’ house while going to middle and high school in Cuyapo because their house was in town. My uncle was living in the same household. Our house, as well as our cousins’ house, were outside of town. They say he has changed. I don’t have any memory of him being a mean uncle. He is easy going; everyone jokes around him and he jokes back.

The following are few pictures from his birthday party:

His birthday cake.

My Uncle by his birthday cake.

With his wife and son.

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