You are here

Mano po (Filipino Tradition)

Greetings between people of various ages of different nationalities may take the form of a buss on the cheek or both, or a tip of the hat or a slap on the buttocks or a nod of the head. Filipinos do these greetings as well but what differentiates them from the others is the way they show respect to elders or to relatives or plain kindred spirit.

How do they do this? In a tradition called pagmamano (or taking the hand and kissing it or placing it on one's forehead). When a young boy or girl greets an older person, kisses it and whispers, "Mano po, ltay" or "Mano po, Tiya Conching" or plain, "Mano po'. The person who gives his/her hand usually replies, "Thank you" or "Salamat, hijo" or name of the person taking the hand. Other times, the person to whom respect is shown merely smiles and blesses the person by making an abbreviated sign of the cross or by laying his hand on the person's head.

Men of the cloth, or older relatives or people in authority are usually the subject of this "Mano po" tradition. The idea of a child taking the hand of this older person (usually priests or government officials) is to bequeath the person with some of the blessings or grace or holiness associated with the older person. This should scare those whose hands are being requested for a "Mano po". But indeed, there's logic for this wholesome tradition.

In a gesture of magnanimity or generosity, the older person or the one in authority who is conceived as a repository of wisdom, must share or let go a bit of his wisdom or wholeness to someone so young and so tender in years. Filipinos have always looked up to the older generation or to the elders. They seek counsel from them in times of crisis or in times of need. The "elders" in a religious or quasi-religious community have this tacit responsibility of taking care of their flock. When children of these members in this community meet these elders, they naturally request for their elders' hands and do a "Mano po".

In the Philippines, where there's a fiesta almost every week in the countryside or a gathering by the nearby sari-sari (variety) store, it is not uncommon to see children or young adults ever running towards these elders in the community and taking their hand to show respect or recognition of their presence. Or during the Christmas season which is the longest festivity in the country as well as in the world (from December 16 to January 6 officially, that is, because even much earlier, Christmas carols are being aired or played relentlessly over the radio), children visit their favorite uncles and aunts, grandparents, and godparents (these are a dime a dozen) and start their propitious visit with kissing the hands their elders with a loud "Mano po" followed by a shy "Maligayang Pasko!" (Merry Christmas). By the way, even "old" children visit their older relatives with this "Mano po", half-expecting to be handed a gaily wrapped package or a handful of paper envelopes containing some cash.

Some foreigners who have witnessed this ritual only shake their heads in amusement, if not, in admiration. After all, who would not want to be the subject of such touching gesture? Even old Scrooge will melt in his heart of hearts. There is no pressure, though, or obligation to give back something. The subject may return this gesture by simply remarking, "Thank you" or "Bless you', at the same time flashing a warm smile or a gentle pat on the back of the one kissing his/her hand.

Text from : Filipino cultural symbols, expressions, and brands. (2015). Makati City: Brown Movement for Cultural Advancement.


Copyright © 2011-2023. National Library of the Philippines
Powered by : Drupal