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Why I'm Proud To Be 'Manang'

One girl shares why being conservative can be cool.

"Ang manang mo talaga." I've been told this so many times that I've lost count. People have branded me as manang because I am 30 years old and still a virgin; I have a self-imposed curfew, which is 12 midnight; I'm not one to engage in casual flings or one-night-stands; I'm a homebody and rarely go out; I don't drink if I'm driving (should one even do otherwise?); and I don't dare wear skimpy clothes.

So yes, I'm a manang. And, I don't regret or mind being one.

With our generation having a rather nonchalant attitude toward sex, I like the fact that I belong to a fairly small group of cool conservatives. It appeals to my slightly rebellious, non-conformist side. Which is why sometimes I get pissed off whenever someone tells me that I'm such a manang. I especially get upset when they imply that I'm a loser by virtue of being old-fashioned and "unadventurous," or when there's an underlying hint of self-pity in their tone.

I want to tell them, "Don't pity me because I'm manang and proud of it!"

Besides, my being one has its advantages, most especially when it comes to my love life. Guys, at least those I know and have observed, have a tendency to gravitate toward conservative girls. And, most likely, these guys who like conservative girls are the type you'll bring home to your parents. 

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In fact, one of my guy friends once told me that girls who are "wild" will probably have a hard time pinning down a guy for a serious relationship. "That's because they're viewed as pang-fling lang," he said, "whereas girls like you are girlfriend material." I'd like to think that this is true, since my boyfriend told me that he wouldn't have gone for me had I been a wild child.

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Lest you think that I'm some big old bore, allow me to clarify: I do know how to have fun. I drink, I like to party every once in a while. It's just that I take things (especially alcohol) in moderation. 

 That may sound boring—and, probably, to a certain extent it's true—but the short-term and long-term benefits are definitely worth it!

You'd be surprised to know that almost all of my friends are pretty much my opposite—they like to party, they don't think twice about hooking up with a stranger, they're heavy drinkers, and they're definitely more fearless and more adventurous than I am. But the most wonderful thing about them is that they've never tried to change me and have accepted and loved me, in spite of my manang-ness.

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Because of them and my boyfriend, I realized that, whether I'm manang or not, as long as I'm being true to myself, then I'm okay.

I used to be insecure and defensive about the fact that I'm manang. I felt as if I were a lesser person because of my inhibitions. But when I see other people screw up big time, or get caught in sticky situations I wouldn't know how to deal with, I think to myself (and I say this with no hint of self-righteousness whatsoever): "Buti na lang at manang ako." Finally, after years of doubting myself and wishing I were more sophisticated, more worldly, more uninhibited, I've accepted and embraced who I am: a conservative girl.

This story originally appeared in Cosmopolitan magazine, June 2010. 

* Minor edits have been made by editors