Many traditions in the Philippines culture go back 100’s of years. Filipino culture is a mixture of old Spanish Catholicism and indigenous filipino traditions. The synergy of such diverse traditions coming together is a testament of the strength and adaptability of the filipino people.
Giving is a big part of the tradition of Philippines culture. It’s a little different from other cultures. Filipinos are very attached to family. Here are a few examples:
Aguinaldo sa Pasko (Christmas gift) – During Christmas, everyone in the family is expecting to receive a gift from the family member with the higher income. Employers are expected to give bonuses to their employees. God father and god mothers (Ninong at Ninang) are expected to give gifts to godchildren. Everyone is happy on Christmas since everyone gets to share it with family and friends. We also gather during Christmas Eve. We dress up, make plenty of food and greet each other at 12 midnight.
Pasalubong – Pasalubong are gifts that you bring to family, friends and relatives from travelling somewhere. It can be food, souvenirs or clothes. They will always expect you to bring something when you arrive home.
Giving respect upon seeing or meeting elderly relatives – We are expected to show our greeting by bowing and placing the back of their hand on our forehead.. its called ”Mano”. It is to show respect to them.
Sharing and Preparing food and drinks – Upon arrival of the guests, Filipinos always ask if they have eaten regardless of the time of the day. For example, when the visitor arrives before lunch time, snacks are served. They might offer soda, juice,coffee, tea, biscuits or bread. While the guest is eating the snacks, the host is already preparing lunch.
New Year – When I was young we would wear polka dots to bring in the New Year. I’m not sure if other people still do it, but in my family, my grandma used to make us wear polka dots shirts in New Year’s Eve. We used to buy 13 fruits that have a circle shape and place it in the center of the table. We also gathered coins. We place the coins in pockets, in jars, in cups or whatever container will allow you to shake them and make noise. The noise of the coins and fireworks are to scare away evil spirits and eliminate bad luck. Some people turns their faucets on around the house a few minutes before New Year as it symbolizes wealth (it is originated by Chinese Feng Shui that filipinos believed in). Filipinos commonly celebrates New Years Eve with family members. We also make lots of food to serve in the table as it symbolizes abundance.
Putting chicken blood on the forehead during birthdays – This tradition is more practiced in provincial areas where people raise chickens. During birthdays, my father used to put fresh chicken blood in our forehead with the same chicken we are cooking for the celebration.
Not eating pork on Black Friday, Saturday – The Philippines population is mostly Catholic so people are religious. In Catholicsm, it is tradition to fast and not eating pork. Black Friday is the symbol day that Jesus died. We make sweet dishes to eat it with. Grilled food is also not encouraged on this day because people believed that it can cause some facial burns. Eating dried fish is also not good on Black Friday.
Occasions, Gatherings and Celebrations – During special occasions such as celebrations and gatherings where there is lots of food, it is common for the host to pack you food to take home with you. It is rude to refuse the offer so your only option is to take it when they hand you a bag of left over. Also your Filipino family waiting at home, will expect you to bring packed food from the Celebration you went into.