10 Signs You Were Raised By A Filipino Mom

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. 

9. If you ever get separated from your Filipino mom, just listen for the ‘Hoy!’. 

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

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Jess Graefe
I'm a wife, foster mama, dog lover, amateur chef, instagram fanatic, starbucks addict, nurse turned photographer. I grew up in the Northern Virginia area and moved to Oklahoma to attend Oklahoma Christian University in 2008. I married my ruggedly-handsome high school sweetheart in 2014, started my own photography business in 2015, and opened our home for foster kiddos in 2016. I enjoy baking, loving on my fur babies, Thunder games, traveling, and date nights with my husband! I am so excited to share the ups and downs, highs and lows, heartbreaks and victories of foster parenting with you all. While we don’t yet have any permanent kiddos of our own, we are so blessed to be able to provide a home for children that need one and to talk about that process here.


  1. When I married into my husband’s Persian family, I entered a whole new world of traditions and “superstitions.” Some seemed odd at first, but now make perfect sense, like celebrating New Year’s (Nowrouz) on the first day of Spring. Others are similar to what you have mentioned, like when a person is going on a long journey, the family is supposed to eat noodle soup (Ashe Reshteh) to symbolize the long and winding road that will bring them back home again. As a person of middle-American heritage, we did not really have any distinctive traditions in my family beyond Easter and Christmas activities, so these kinds of cultural traditions were so interesting to me, and fun to keep going. After watching “This Is Us” and seeing the Pearson family’s traditions, I started thinking that my own family needs to come up with some distinctive rituals. Fun post!

  2. Filipino parties are always the most fun!! It didn’t matter where the party was or who the party was with you could always count on seeing this there: all the shoes at the front door, kids running around, a room full of teenaged girls talking about boys, teenaged boys in another room playing PS or Gamecube, lolas and lolos in the living room, aunties sitting around the dinner table gossiping OR playing cards while gossiping, tipsy uncles playing the guitar either in the garage or the backyard while singing Hotel California, a whole buffet big enough to feed the whole neighborhood, magic mic on the tv (usually being hogged by that one auntie or uncle who sings the same 3 songs at every party over and over again till they get a 100% score). I also remember being a kid at the parties and my mom would try to shove a lumpia in my hand every time she’d see me because she knew I wasn’t going eat no matter how many times I told her I would and at the end of the party (if I wasn’t KOd by then) I’d ask what my mother “to go’d” because I was hungry…. Now my cousins/ friends are those aunties! LOL time sure flies

  3. Omg, this is so true, especially about the New Years’, Vapo rub/green oil, listening for a ‘hoy’ whenever you get lost and the truest out of all of them, and the mind-reading. I’ll be sitting somewhere with her and she’ll tell me to get the thing, okay, so probably her reading glasses. Also, sometimes she would be helpful and point with her lips. Anyways, true representation of Filipina moms.


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