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Amâ and baby Maia

December 3rd, 2005 6 comments

My wife Bambit posted in her blog a photo of my baby Maia and myself in an animated conversation. In our dialogue, my baby calls me Amâ (pronounced in tagalog phonetics with a “maragsa”, having emphasis on the last syllable with a glottal stop). Although at the moment, my baby is only able to pronounce the ending of the word, mâ. In the same way, my baby calls her mom, nâ, short for Inâ (with the same pronunciation).

When we decided that our baby should call us Amâ and Inâ instead of the usual parental titles, many were delighted while other friends couldn’t hide their bewilderment. In good faith they worry that we might be making the life of our baby miserable by not using the ordinary parental address like Daddy or Mommy or Papa and Mama. They say our baby might be alienated and will find it difficult to interact with other children later on. Other people simply find the words weird.

I don’t see any problem about my baby calling me Amâ and Inâ to her mom. We decided to use it as an affirmation of my cultural heritage and a living legacy of my roots. By birth I am a Mindanawan having a Moro ancestry by my mother’s Maranaw lineage. Almost all tribes of the Bangsamoro uses Amâ and Inâ in addressing parents and even to grandparents. My baby is growing in a place and environment far from the land of my birth and somehow one thing that will mark her identity and tie her to her roots and ancestry besides our tarsilah (traditional genealogical history), is by calling us Amâ and Inâ.

If some people find it weird, that’s their problem not ours. We will be the proudest of parents when the time comes when our daughter is the one explaining to people why she calls her parents Amâ and Inâ.

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