Filipino Culture


Primary Author
Chara Scroope,
  • How one greets is determined by the age and relationship of the people.
  • When greeting strangers, a soft handshake accompanied with a smile is common among men. Among women, a smile and a hand wave is the usual greeting.
  • Close friends and family may accompany a handshake with a pat on the back. Females may hug and kiss to greet each other.
  • Typically, people greet each other by saying, ‘kumusta kayo’ (‘how are you?’ in Tagalog).
  • If the person you are greeting is older than you but within the same generation, it is expected that you will refer to that person as 'kuya' for males and 'ate' for females. These terms do not have translations into English.


The common gesture used to greet is known as ‘mano’, often referred to as ‘bless’ in English. Mano is performed as a sign of respect towards elders and as a way of accepting a blessing from the elder. It is usually done towards those who are older by two generations or more. For example, a niece will perform the mano gesture to her aunt. Similar to kissing a hand, the person offering a mano will bow towards the offered hand and press their forehead on the hand. Sometimes they will ask ‘mano po’ to the elder in order to ask permission to perform the gesture. It is usually performed when visiting an elder or upon entering a house or gathering. Although the mano gesture is still widely used, some Filipinos have replaced the gesture with the ‘beso-beso’ (a cheek to cheek kiss).

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