July 22, 2016

Understanding Filipinos through Body Language

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  • In 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. Here are a few common forms of non-verbal communication and what they mean in the Philippines.

    1. Mano or Pagmamano


    (Photo credit: thinkingwithb.blogspot.com)


    “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.” This is usually done by someone younger to show respect to the elders and as a way of accepting a blessing from them. Mano is also unofficially called “bless” by some Filipinos.


    2. Lip Pointing


    (Photo credit: becomingfilipino.com)


    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!


    3. Nodding and raising eyebrows with a smile


    (Screenshot from “Rex Navarrete Teaches Us How To Spot Pinoys Anywhere In The World“)


    This is one way of how Filipinos greet each other in a casual and quick way, acknowledging that you saw that person. This gesture is sometimes followed with a friendly tap in the shoulder if they are within reach.


    4. Arms extended while lowering the head


    (Screenshot from “Rex Navarrete Teaches Us How To Spot Pinoys Anywhere In The World“)


    These gestures are commonly done when passing in front of two people talking to each other or crossing a room when someone’s watching a TV. Followed by an “excuse me,” this gesture is seen as a sign of courtesy and respect.


    5. Drawing a rectangular or square shape in the air using the hands


    (Screenshot from “Rex Navarrete Teaches Us How To Spot Pinoys Anywhere In The World“)


    This is commonly done by the Filipinos in restaurants when asking for the menu or bill. To get the waiter’s attention, Filipinos tend to make a square shape in the air with their hands high in the air to ask for the menu and a rectangular shape for the bill.


    6. Silent looks


    (Photo credit: keyword-suggestions.com)


    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.


    Source: Youtube; insights-philippines.de; mymovetothephilippines.com; hagonoy-bahay-kubo.blogspot.com

    Recent Comments


    a month ago

    never mind all true

    10 months ago

    that’s true i mean some body language

    10 months ago


    10 months ago

    well observed. all are true

    one year ago

    I really enjoyed the time taken to explain and understand Philippines gestures as they are a huge part of being respectful. There are many others that seem to be missing when it comes to gestures. The thumb and index finger out while the other three bent in and placing your chin in between the thumb and index finger is a way to express. I am amazing or you are pretty or handsome. This with a wink or smile and wink will of course be returned at times with giggles.

    3 years ago
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