“Ai (my nickname), go bless lola (grandmother).” Mano po or blessing your elders is a Filipino tradition that shows respect for someone older than you. It involves bowing the head, taking the hand of the elder, and placing it on your forehead. It may look strange if you’re unfamiliar with the practice, but in reality, you’re asking your elder for his/her blessing. The elder may respond, “God bless you.”
Photo from flickr by Mommysaurus75
Filipino children today still bless their elders to show respect. It is done when the elder is seen for the first time during the day. There is no age limit. You normally bless the ones two generations or more older than you. Mano po is usually practiced on family and close friends. These people are your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, godparents and family friends. A child usually blesses people around their parents age or older. Even an adult in their 30′s or more still bless people older than them. Young children are initially directed by their parents when to bless until they learn to do it on their own.
Photo from flickr by aSIMULAtor
It is still a common practice in Philippines and some Filipinos in the United States still practice it. Mark and I still bless his parents. My family on the other hand, stopped doing it years ago. The lack of practice created some awkwardness when we returned to Philippines. An act so normal and natural seemed so strange. I was unsure when to do it. I was afraid they would judge me and say I was a bad Filipina. Luckily, many elders expected it and already had their hand out.
What strange cultural practices have you observed?