My sister and I always said “when we’re parents, we’re not going to be like mom and dad”. But the more and more we parent the more and more we’re morphing into them! 😂
Filipinos are INCREDIBLY superstitious people. My husband and I are both first generation Americans, which means our families immigrated from the Philippines to live in the US.
Growing up, our moms told us stories – maybe to scare us or because they for real believed in it. Now that I am an adult that can make inferences and I have some sort of logic, I don’t really believe in these superstitions/traditions/folklore or pass these off as truth to my kids. My kids know the myths/stories and we kind of sort of still practice them in our family… ya know… cuz you don’t want to be the relative that didn't listen to your Lola (Grandma) and something happens..
Here are some beliefs/folklore/traditions that we totally believe in and some we think are outrageous but practice it any way JUST IN CASE!
Filipino Baby/Parenting Beliefs
Birthmarks. Birthmarks are considered lucky in the Filipino culture but there are different beliefs when it comes to the location of the birthmark. For example, if you have a birth mark or mole anywhere on your head that means you’re incredibly intelligent. A birthmark on your foot means you’re indecisive and you need constant change. A birthmark on your palm means you’re good with money. There are a ton of beliefs of your attitude, temperament, luck, and intelligence when it comes to the location of a birthmark on your body.
My mom told me a story of a Tita (Auntie) who got a mole on her head removed. She said after her mole got removed “she got stupid”. Lol. Mom. 😂
Hair. There are a BUNCH of beliefs when it comes hair.
You cannot cut the baby’s hair until their first birthday. If you cut it sooner, then your baby will have bad hair for the rest of their life. If you cut the baby’s hair before their first birthday you will be cutting their life short. 😳
Isaac at 10 months old.
Pick a person who you admire or who you want your baby to turn out to be like. If the person who gives your baby their first haircut is intelligent, your baby will be intelligent too. You want your baby to be a good leader? Get someone with good leadership skills to give your babe their first cut. Hey Usain Bolt, can you cut my sons hair, please?
Once you cut the baby’s hair, you need to put the pieces of their first haircut in books so your baby can grow up to be smart.
When I was in middle school I had to look something up in the dictionary and the encyclopedia and as I was flipping through the pages, alllllll this hair fell out of the books. I was so confused.
Cowlicks. Its said that if a child has two or more cowlicks then they will grow up to be stubborn. My oldest has two cowlicks. Yes, he does test me. every. single. day. (but he’s also five, so.........)
Keeping the Umbilical Cord. My mom kept our umbilical cords. I kept the umbilical cords of all three boys. My sister in law, my friends, my cousins, and my aunts – we all kept it. We have no idea why, we just did because our Nanay’s and Lola’s (Moms and Grandma’s) told us to. I googled the answer and it’s because its lucky. But other cultures believe that you keep it because it’s the thing that connected mom and baby. That’s kind of beautiful if you think about it. But have you ever seen a dried umbilical cord stump? It looks like a giant booger. And that’s not very beautiful....
Other Filipino Beliefs
Eating Pancit. Have you ever tried pancit (pahn-SIT)? Have you ever been to a Filipino birthday party? No? Find some Filipino friends and get them to invite you to a bday party. Don’t have any Filipino friends? Find a Filipino person and casually mention how you haven’t eaten yet and they’ll invite you to eat. We eat pancit on birthdays, holidays, special events, parties, because the noodles are looooong and whoever eats them will have a looooooong life.
Sukob (Soo-KOHB). You cannot marry in the same year as your sibling because it will bring bad luck to the marriage. If you get married, you need to choose a date where the numbers end in an upward stroke like 0, 5, or 8 because that means your marriage will be successful. Also if you get married on a date ending with 0 or 8, your marriage will last for eternity since these numbers are infinite.
Shokoy (Sho-KOI). A shokoy is a mermaid. Not like, Ariel, but a scary mermaid that will drag you under water to be its aquatic prisoner. I am a married adult, with a house payment, three kids, my own car, and insurance and my parents still FORBID me to swim at night. Pools are okay. Open water, rivers, or lakes are a NO GO. They don’t want me to risk being dragged away by a shokoy to my watery demise and leaving my family behind.
My mom said she had a friend in college who went swimming at night who disappeared in the water because of a shokoy. Not a shark or any other marine animal. She didn’t just lose contact with mom and forgot to tell her she came back. Mom, to this day, is convicied it’s a shokoy. LOL Mom. <3
Dwuende. These are little creatures… kind of like elves or goblins. They live in the forest, either underground, in an invisible little house, or something resembling a termite mound. They can either provide you with good fortune or bad luck. If you’re ever hiking and you walk off the path into the brush, you have to say “tabi-tabi po” (tah-BEE tah-BEE poh) to excuse yourself for walking on their house.
My mom said my cousin walked to through the woods to use the bathroom. She said she didn’t “tabi-tabi po” and squatted by a tree and her lady parts became so swollen she had to go to the ER. It wasn’t mosquitos. It wasn’t poison ivy. Mom said it was the dwuende. So, tabi-tabi po, people.
PS - I totally make Caleb tabi-tabi po if we’re out and he pees on a tree. LOL
Pointing. Have you ever noticed that Filipinos point with their lips? They do it when their hands are empty or full. They point with their lips when they are eating, reading, or drinking. There’s an art to it. There’s eye contact, head movements, eyebrow raising, neck movements, how wide or narrow the eyes are, the severity of the lip point. So we don’t point with our fingers because it’s rude and you can use words to convey your message.
When I would visit the Philippines with my fam and we would hang with our cousins, my sister and I would point to something (a tree, or a mountain, or an animal LOL). Our cousins would make us bite our finger (to reverse the bad luck?). Maybe because they didn’t want to upset the dwuende? Maybe cuz we were rude? I don’t even know. We bit our finger without knowing the actual reason since we were technically on “their turf”.
Apparently us Filipinos are terrified of having bad luck, not being intelligent, or dying early. Have you noticed anything with these beliefs? It’s all about long life, good luck, and intelligence!
Check out this HILARIOUS rap of Filipino mythical creatures.
Another video about the art that is "lip pointing"
Have your heard of any of these old wives tales/folklores/traditions?
I’d love to hear some of your family beliefs in the comments below!