Filipino mothers are notorious for their weird traditions, superstitions, and parenting ideas. I spent a lot of my childhood believing that a lot of these traditions and superstitions were 100% completely normal and that they were things all my friends’ parents did as well.
As I aged out of my teenage years and left home for college, my eyes were opened to just how many of my friends had no idea what I was talking about when I asked where the tabo was.
So, here are 10 signs you were raised by a Filipino Mother. And yes, I do carry on some of the traditions and superstitions with my own kids, much to my husband’s dismay.
1. Filipino moms did the duck face first.
Long before the duck face took over social media, Filipino moms were using it to point their kids in the direction of whatever item they wanted. It was common practice in my home growing up for my mom to simply say ‘pshhh’ to get my attention and then point with her lips to whatever she needed me to bring her.
2. Filipino moms ALWAYS have snacks.
My family loved to take road trips and there was never a road trip I went on where there wasn’t a variety of snacks and drinks to choose from. For 10 years of my life, I was an only child, yet there would still be at least three bags of chips, some cookies, crackers, and a number of other things in the back of our minivan. When my sister joined the party, the snack bag probably doubled in size. I can’t remember a road trip where we went hungry.
3. Vicks vapor rub can cure ANYTHING.
If you know the comedian Jo Koy, he sums up this theory of Filipino moms best. He tells the story of how his Filipino mom told him to rub Vicks on his feet when he had pneumonia and that the pneumonia will come out through his feet. My mom never took it quite that far but there were definitely copious amounts of Vicks vapor rub in our home for anytime illness struck.
4. Filipino moms measure water to rice ratios with their middle fingers.
In most households when making rice for a meal, you put a set amount of dry rice and water into a pot and cook it over a stove top or in a rice cooker. In Filipino households, scoops of rice are placed into a rice cooker bowl and water is added until it comes to the first line of their middle finger. I taught my husband this method when he asked how I made rice and his rice turned out very wet and watery. I’m convinced that this method only works for those of us with the Filipino blood running through our veins.
5. When Filipino moms get to talking with other Filipinos, plan to be there through AT LEAST three or four goodbyes.
As a child, I have very vivid memories of being told to put my coat on so we could leave…only to be standing there half an hour later while my mom talked. Usually after the fourth round of ‘okay, we’re going!‘, we actually did leave.
6. While eating: left hand fork, right hand spoon, scoop together and eat.
One of the first things I learned as a child was how to properly eat with a fork and spoon. Most kids learn how to pierce their food with their fork or scoop their cereal with a spoon, but not me. I learned how to push my food onto my spoon with the back of my fork and how to properly mix my food together.
7. New Year’s Eve.
There’s so much I could say about this one, but I’ll leave it at this: 12 round fruits; all the doors, cabinets, and drawers open; all the lights on; money on your person; jumping up and down; gas tanks full; and flour, sugar, and rice containers full. These are all things that need to be completed on New Years Eve in order to have a bountiful and healthy new year.
8. Filipino moms have a superstition for everything.
Don’t put your purse on the floor because you’ll be poor. Wear polka dots to ring in the new year because round shapes symbolize prosperity. If someone leaves while people are eating, all plates need to be turned 180 degrees to ensure the person will make it to their destination. You must have noodles on your birthday for long life. If someone is still eating at the table, you cannot clear the dishes until they are finished, or they’ll be single forever. Don’t walk over someone or else they won’t grow. If the palms of your hands are itchy, money is coming your way.
You’ll never be far enough away to not hear her screaming ‘hoy‘ to get your attention.
10. Understanding Filipino moms requires some mind reading abilities.
“Can you get the thing from the thing and bring it to me?” Yes mom, I can definitely bring your glasses downstairs for you. You’re welcome.
Are you a Filipino kid? What would you add to this list? Does your family have any weird traditions that you carried on from your childhood?
*This post was originally written in 2018