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Updated: May 5, 2021

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and as a proud, first-generation, Filipino-American female, I will be sharing some stories and information about the Philippine culture and my American upbringing.

In the Philippine culture, when Filipino children come up to their parents or grandparents, you may not see the children greeting them with a hug or a kiss. When arriving home or seeing them, children (even adult children) will take the elder’s hand and place the back of it to their forehead. This gesture of respect is called “pagmamano.” This is also usually done to someone a person of the religious order such as a priest.

When completing this gesture, usually it is also accompanied by saying “Mano, po.” “Mano” means ‘hand’ in Spanish and “po,” a particle in the Filipino language used to express respect (like “Sir” or “Ma’am” here in the United States). This respectful action is as if to receive the elder’s blessing, to which they would normally reply, “God bless you.” Pagmamano is like the Filipino counterpart to Japan’s bowing and Spain’s double cheek kiss.

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