Filipino culture, the use of body language and hand gestures are very common in daily communication. If you’re an expat living in the Philippines, you would want to familiarize yourself with these common gestures to avoid any misunderstanding.

Like any other culture, the Philippines prides itself of customs and traditions that can be classified as something that is truly Filipino. 

Here are some unique traditions that embody the local beliefs and values inculcated through the centuries.  

Mano or Pagmamano

Practiced as a sign of respect to elders, pagmamano is one of the oldest and most notable Filipino tradition there is. Mano” is the Spanish word for “hand,” while “po” is a Filipino term used as a sign of respect. It is done by taking the hand of the elder and gently tapping it to one’s forehead while saying “mano po.”

Kamayan

Filipinos love to eat and when the food is especially sumptuous, they eat kamayan-style. From the Filipino word kamay or hand, kamayan is the traditional way of dining using one’s bare hands. 

Bayanihan

Although not as evident as it was before, bayanihan truly captures the strong sense of community Filipinos have and is usually exemplified through helping a neighbor transfer houses. Traditionally, bayanihan meant your neighbors literally carrying your entire kubo (native nipa hut) to your new home location.  

Harana

The traditional Filipino courtship is unique and an extremely long process and one way to “woo” a girl is through doing a harana or serenading. With his friends in tow, the guy goes to the girl’s house (usually at night) and sings classic kundiman or folk love songs to her until she opens her window and invites him inside her house. 

Pamamanhikan

Once the panliligaw (courtship) stage has been surpassed, all the possible harana (serenade) has been sung, and the couple finally gets together, next comes the pamamanhikan. Well, if the couple decides to marry, that is. Pamamanhikan is the formal act of a guy asking the girl’s family for her hand in marriage. It usually involves the guy’s family bringing over gifts and discussing the couple’s plans for marriage.

Pag Titig (Silent Look)

Usually, when Filipino parents give this fiery-eyes-silent-look to their child, it automatically means that the child should stop whatever he/she is doing. This is one way of Filipino parents to warn or control their children in public without negatively catching many people’s attention.

Lip Pointing

Instead of lifting a hand or finger or arm, which uses unnecessary energy, Filipinos sometimes use their pouting lips to point at a certain object or direction instead. Many foreigners find this funny and confusing, but this gesture is very common and unique to Filipinos. When you see a Filipino do this, don’t confuse it with an invite for a kiss!

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