MANILA – Though we live in a world that thrives on technological advances and new forms of staying connected, a large segment of society actually enjoys looking back at a simpler time in their lives. It's easy to say that people tend to look at their childhood or the time that they were growing up as better than current times, but a couple of recent social media phenomena have been pushing the nostalgia train even more than usual.
At the start of the week of November 13, in the midst of the ASEAN Summit, a group labeled “Classic Pare® Titos and Titas of Manila” began gaining traction on Facebook. Be it boredom due to the ASEAN holiday, outright nostalgia, or simple amusement at the posts recalling things from the 70s to early 90s, by November 20, the group had reached a staggering 468,194 members and still growing.
If your Facebook news feed was not dominated by posts from “Titos and Titas,” then you are likely a millennial, you've turned off notifications from the group, or unsubscribed altogether due to the large amount of traffic that the page has been generating.
Posts have been varied, ranging from celebrities, icons, or music of yesteryear, toys and games, gadgets, or even expressions that were the in thing back in the day, or even places that people hung out in and frequented during their younger days. The turnover has been frantic to say the least, and members have been adding more “titos” and “titas” seemingly by the hundreds at a frenetic pace. It's even gotten to the point that some of the celebrities and icons from decades past have been added to the group to be acknowledged by the growing community there.
Aside from the numbers and the throwback element, what is fascinating about this group has been the fact that more often than not, the posts have been crowdsourcing, immediately getting giddy and funny reactions from its members.
A picture of a box-type Mitsubishi Lancer from 1982 can instantly unleash a flood of happy memories from those whose families owned one, people whose first experience driving was behind the wheel of the same model, or those who were just fascinated that that particular make and model was once “THE” car of choice around Metro Manila. Another post featuring the car freshener brand “Going Steady” (long out of production already) or a photo of former child performer Josephine “Banig” Roberto before she even appeared on The Arsenio Hall Show in 1989 reaped similar wild reactions of happiness.
A simple post asking who their favorite New Wave artists were: Tears for Fears, Duran Duran, or Spandau Ballet, easily got a minimum of 200 responses. Photos of the old Manila C.O.D. Department Store's Christmas display or of Virra Mall during its 80s heyday, or even of the old Rizal Theater before it gave way to what is now Makati Shangri-la, easily generate thumbs up, the “wow” emoji, or the even more emotional “heart” emoji signifying love.
In fact, some of the titos and titas have been so caught up in the black hole that the page has become that they are now trying to organize an old school EB (or “eye ball”) among its members to bring the page to the real world. Some have even pointed out that a significant number among its members might not even qualify to be real “titos” and “titas” because they're too young and haven't gone through even half of the experiences that are being discussed in the group.
Over on another Facebook page, View on the 3rd, Jojo Bailon has been gathering memories from an impressive archive and posting them on social media. Though its followers are not quite as rabid as those on “Titos and Titas,” View on the 3rd features classic ads from as far back as the 1960s, concert performances from the 1980s, and even the first ever Metro Manila Popular Music Festival (or Metropop) in 1978, complete with a rousing performance of the now-classic “Kay Ganda ng Ating Musika” composed by Ryan Cayabyab and interpreted by Hajji Alejandro.
Classic ads such as Elizabeth Ramsey's Superwheel commercial from 1978, a Juicy Fruit gum ad from 1991, and even the first Knorr Real Chinese Soup ad featuring Jose Mari Chan's “There are Chinese soups” jingle from 1988 are here. Even the first Philippine ad to earn a citation from the Clio Awards in 1970, the J. Walter Thompson Philippines “Zoom Zoom Super Shell” ad, are on the page.
According to Mr. Bailon, there is a long story behind his massive archive, going back to his father's habit of recording ads and TV shows. He himself acquired his dad's habit since he had no time to watch TV on weekdays, so he'd record the shows and ads to watch them on weekends. The result is a treasure trove of Philippine nostalgia that goes back more than four decades.
Nostalgia may be lost on millennials, and even those who lived through the 1970s to 1990s may not want to relive too much of the past. Who can say if the “Titos and Titos of Manila” Facebook group eventually peters out or that View on the 3rd runs out of old clips to post? Beyond the old photos of Phoebe Cates and the cast of Dawson's Creek or even screenshots of Contra on the original Nintendo Family Computer, the essence of these two pages can best be summarized in two words: good vibes. If only for a few weeks, days, or hours, these pages can consume people's social media feeds instead of the hatred and negativity associated with political posts and the sad state of the world today, that can't be all bad, can it?