A strong sense of nostalgia set the internet ablaze in the last two weeks as Mike Del Rosario’s Classic Pare Titos and Titas of Manila reached over 700,000 followers (as of this writing). The Classic Pare Titos and Titas of Manila on Facebook revisits shared memories from the 1980s and 1990s, with its followers making like elegists by writing in retrospect, dreamily, pouring forth their lamentations—or that is how a person with a romantic temperament would put it. Del Rosario is the founder of the “Let’s Eat Pare” Facebook page, which is dedicated mostly to food ordered in restaurants and is a venue where people share their foodie experiences at these establishments.
On the first night I became a Tito of Manila, I was a ball of feels! It was like “Throwback Thursday” all day, everyday. I was transported to an era to which I gaze with elegiac and nostalgic longing. The same elegiac and nostalgic longing you reserve for a particularly beloved relative who has departed from this life and with whom you were once closer than subatomic particles. Suffice it to say that I didn’t sleep at all that first night as a Tito of Manila. I wrote my articles while liking or commenting on one or another post or posting something or the other on that page myself.
The page spread like wildfire: It caught on so quickly that everybody was talking about it. It dominated my newsfeed to the point that it drowned everything else out—including the most virulent political posts. My newsfeed became an extension of the page.
So, I left the group because I felt I was missing out on other news because of it. Yet I am still a lurker Tito keeping tabs on that page through a dummy account I created just so I can indulge in this over-the-top guilty pleasure.
I find myself defensive as I write this article: I am only 30 years old—please get that right (I mean it). I am a millennial, by any standards. I now have a car, an expensive postpaid line, and bills enough to make my knees tremble and which keep me up at night.
However, from my early life to my tweens, I was all about the 1990s. My mother and I were regulars of the now defunct Shakey’s Greenbelt and the Tia Maria’s beside it. We would sometimes go to the Strumms above Shakey’s when my mom went to have a drink or two with her clients while I drank cola, and only cola.
Saturdays were spent in Virra Mall in Greenhills while she delivered items to clients and I waited for her at a computer rental shop or two. We used to go to Choc Full Of Nuts at the ground floor to buy Magnolia Chocolait in a bottle (a throwback item that should make a permanent return to grocery store shelves, if you ask me).
Finally, if I was a good boy (and I usually was), I would be rewarded with an action figure or two of my choice from Best Toys Shop or Nova Fontana, where I purchased my G.I.-Joes, X-Men, Spawn, Resident Evil and my Final Fantasy VIII action figures.
I spent my nights playing Super Famicom (Super Mario Kart, anyone?) and, eventually, the classic Playstation with which I spent one too many sleepless nights slamming virtual opponents Tekken, looting archeological sites in Tomb Raider 2, and shooting genetically enhanced zombies to oblivion in Resident Evil.
Sunday lunches at Max’s Greenbelt, where my mom and I would stroll around the lily pond while she smoked her après-lunch cigarette, or at Streetlife, or Racks in Glorietta—almost always with family. This would be followed by trips to Glico’s, Synergy, or Mini Zoo and Tetra Aquarium. My mom would be decked out in clothes purchased at Sari Sari Store while I wore either Osh Kosh B’Gosh, Peppers Pilipinas or Giordano.
There’s all my Tito cred right there, people. This is why I belong on that page after an ex-boss with whom I stayed good friends, Celee Oarde, jokingly accused me of being too young for the page.
Even throwback gadgets are prominently featured. My mother bought me my first mobile phone at the age of seven on 1994; a heavy, clunky Motorola analog mobile phone the size of a cordless phone, and a beeper from Powerpage. As GSM phones eventually made their way to the Philippine market, I had virtually every Nokia phone there was: 5110, 3210, 6150, 7110, 8210, 8810 and, eventually, 8850. I sold each one so I could buy the latest model. Eventually, the Nokia 8890 reached the Philippines and my mother swore to get it for me if I made the “top 1” in class. I studied harder than I ever did in my entire life and, yes, I got my heart’s desire.
This page speaks of an era when life seemed without consequence for me, no hands. I would brandish that phone like bling and spent weekends looking for textmates. I cringe at the memory but it was good times indeed. Oh, since these were the pre-unlitext days, I would shudder at the amount my postpaid line would rack up then. It almost cost as much as my monthly allowance!
The page wasn’t limited to gadgets and places. Even the KathNiel and JaDine of the 1990s trended on the page: Bobby Andrews and Angelu de Leon, Dingdong Dantes and Antoinette Taus and most famous of all, Judy Ann Santos and Wowie de Guzman. The page is filled with colorful commentary, experiences and other such posts that are 1980s and 1990s-related: Aquanet, Pagoda Cold Wave Lotion,
They don’t make things like they used to. This is the page’s appeal. It also makes for an interesting market study where businessmen can revive certain items for a nostalgic demographic. Yes, I am paging Magnolia: You will make a killing if you return Chocolait in a bottle—as per the original formulation. Please, we are begging you.
It also gives millennials a glimpse of the life their parents, uncles and aunts once lived and how much fun we used to have (and still have). Titos and Titas are not over the hill just because we are older: We are all about “hold my beer and watch this.”
Meanwhile, I am listening to the best of the 1990s: “Don’t Speak” by No Doubt, “Lovefool” by The Cardigans, “Stars” by Simply Red, and “Unbreak my Heart” by Toni Braxton. Shhhh. Have some respect for your elders, young ones. G