Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Why are we so obsessed with titles? (some wedding jitters)

A day after my sister's debut party, I was again busy for the wedding of my cousin. And boy, no one told me how hard it was to be the program coordinator, emcee, and best man at the same time!

The affair went well -- except for some incidents which almost made me lose my temper that day. You see, some of the primary sponsors (ninongs and ninangs) are police officials. So, being the program coordinator (15 minutes before the actual wedding), I called out the sponsors for them to get in the line for us to proceed with the wedding procession immediately.

In the list, the police officials have their official designation at the start of their names, the most common of which is the title "Police Superintendent." Since I was unsure of the ranks of all these officials (i.e. colonel, general) and I did not want to sound clunky and too formal if I address most of them with the term "Police Superintendent," I began referring to them as either "Mr." or "Ms."

One lady reacted when I addressed someone with that. "Col. XXX 'yan, hindi mister," snorted the woman, whom I later learned as also a police official, although of lower rank. (The colonel whom I addressed as mister, by the way, did not react)

I could have retorted back at the lady, saying something like, "Sorry, thanks for informing that he is a colonel, but isn't he a guy? Addressing him as a "miss" instead would sound silly, right?" But fortunately, I did not.

I told the incident two days later to my cousin. Well, at least, she sounded sorry for me. But I was surprised when my cousin -- who is currently training to be a member of the police force, -- said: "Intindihin mo na lang. Police character iyon eh. Hindi talaga papayag iyon na tatawagin lang silang mister o miss. Naghirap iyon para makuha iyong ranggo eh."

What followed was a long discussion alright (no, we didn't end up angry at each other), but in sum I reacted that it was not my fault that they have to train hard to become part of the police force and therefore giving them the right to be arrogant and feel superior towards civilians like me. What, should I now know the ranks and police designation of every effing member of the police I know and address them with such?

What's with us Filipinos and our obsession with titles? Do we really need to impose upon everyone the title we have? Is this a sociocultural thing we need to impress upon others of the achievements we made or a validation of how high (or low) we are on the social scale?

What about me? Should I tell everyone that they need to refer to me as "Bryant, the journalist" or whatever position I hold in PJR Reports?

Haay, before I go on a full discussion of the subject here (which I think deserves another post), here's a link on my photo album to my cousin's wedding.


luthien said...

had my fair share of arrogant "titled" pinoys. for years (before my hiatus) i've put up with those incompetent nincompoops in the government who would berate me if i addressed them as mister or miss ____ instead of dr. ______, PhD, MA, MBA, so on and so forth. how the hell would i know if they really did earn na their PhDs? to be safe, as a rule, use mister or miss, di ba? i know nagpakahirap silang i-earn yun (right now i'm trying to earn mine) but it's not a ticket to be a scumbag and belittle other human beings who don't care a fig for such titles. sobrang nakakabanas sila (empty naman ang heads) kaya nilayasan ko na sila. hehe. taray ng lolah!

bryant said...

Haha, Luthien. you're funny as always. Yeah, I know how hard it is to earn a title as honorific as a "General" or a "Doctor". But does this mean they have the right to be arrogant to other people? At saka you're not naman degrading them if you address them as either Miss or Mister, di ba?

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