Guide To Some Filipino Gestures

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Generally Filipinos are cautious of their actions and how they relay a message, it may be verbal or non-verbal. Since Filipinos are known to give value to self-respect and “pakikisama” (togetherness) this is to avoid conflict and misunderstanding with others.

Here are some gestures which will help you understand better the Filipino people.

PAGMAMANO (BLESS)

In the Philippines, the respect for elders is a custom preserved from generation to generation. This gesture is giving honour or highest respect to the elders. You ask for the hand of the elder holding it then, gently touch it to your forehead while bowing your head usually saying “mano po” (bless). The elder would then reply saying “pagpalain ka”(bless you).

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Photo from Jeff Valerio
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LOWERING THE HEAD AND EXTENDING THE ARMS DOWNWARD

When their are people having a conversation and you are about to pass in between them or pass by them, you don’t need to interrupt their conversation by saying “excuse me” or “ pardon me”, all you have to do is lower down your head and extend your arms downward. It is understood that you show respect or being polite to the people who are conversing without interrupting them.

POUTING LIPS

When you are asking for directions or you are looking for something and the person Pouts his/her lip (Nguso) that means his/she is pointing you to the direction you were asking or the thing you are looking for, don’t be alarmed he/she is not asking for a kiss.

NODDING WITH A SMILE

This is another way of greeting friends or acquaintances in a casual manner. Whenever you meet your colleague along the way or pass by him/her nodding and giving a smile is acknowledging their presence.

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Photo from Upslash

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HANDSHAKING


The handshake is a common gesture in other countries and it is a default gesture for Filipinos when you are introduced to someone. It is usually the one being introduced who initiates the handshake. In some cases, men wait for women to extend or offer their hand to have a handshake.

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Photo from Upslash

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MOUTH OPEN

You would usually open your month wide when your dentist instructs or when you get surprised. Well for Filipinos it would mean the dont understand or did not hear what you are saying, meaning What did you say? in a non-verbal manner.

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Photo from Upslash

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