Tuesday, June 22, 2010



It would be a vain enterprise if we would try to contend Filipino philosophy with that of the megalithic brain works of the western philosophers who are obviously diverse and idealistic from our own. Filipinos are engrossed with the scruples of the heart than that of the brain.

You can easily pick a Filipino out of the many by working on the cistern of his emotions – his heart level. And in the same line of argument, a Filipino can be facilely scoped-up among the radically contrastive showcases of value systems around the world by his profound reverence towards elders.

One time, when I happened to step on the frolic and bustling planes of Manila, somebody close-at-heart quoted me that somewhere in Europe, in a particular country, a young child or the youngsters can just pop the name of their elders without the use of venerable salutation; as uncle and auntie, say for example. This mannerism extends perhaps even to the parents – without being reprimanded. Filipinos by world view are non-dualistic, as asserted by Leonardo Mercado.

There is this highly peculiar intimacy of the subject and the known; of the nature and of man; of God and the creatures; of the superiors and the subordinates. Responsibility, by virtue of escalation, lies respectively among the different age group of the family members.

Say, the younger assumes lighter responsibility that of the elder; the elder than of the eldest, and although the parents. However, the youngest assumes the responsibility of the elder as he matures. The youngest and the younger in the family must meticulously observe the proper gestures towards their elders for them not to be reprimanded or be censured. Among the customary gestures inhibited by Filipinos besides the generic po and opo, is the habit of kissing the hand, or as verbally broached by the Filipinos as “Mano Po.” This stuff will be given attention by the proceeding discussions as a one of a kind “specimen” chosen by me.

Etymology and Development

Mano certainly got its spark from the Spanish invaders who sacked the Philippine archipelago for a rich span of four hundred years.

Mano laterally means hand and the proceeding po is a communal parlance denoting a universal Filipino notion of respect. This po almost appears in every Filipino major and sub-languages, and so therefore common, seems stereotypical already. The act of graceful bowing and, more often than not, followed by taking one’s hand and politely kissing it, is a highly formal gesture displayed in western cultures. This is highly carried on especially during visits, engagements and soirées. This doesn’t preclude the Spanish culture that obviously repacked it and laid it down to Filipinos. This is then clear that the development of mano po runs from the pioneering generation down to this contemporary period.


Mano Po is animated by verbal and bodily movements circumscribed by two parties. The one gives or lays his hand, and the later bends a bit foreword, receives the hand and snootily place it just in the midpoint of the forehead. Strictly, it is always the right hand that is given and received. The later must receive it also by the same hand. He must come closer so that the older person will not stretch to much his arms. Consequently, kissing (the hand) seems tenable only to the less conservative western cultures. To the Filipinos, with respect to evolution of mechanism and other probable legends, this takes a formal shift by placing it on the forehead instead. The grown-up in the family or the group usually take the stance of being “kissed” and the younger do the “kissing.”

Character and Basic Notions

Their are various leeway in expressing one’s respect toward the elders, but it seems mano po used to flag the façade of the Filipinos’ standard of respect. Besides the fact that respect is a universal binding moral imperative that beacons to every individual, this further exhibits diverse aesthetic forms; like the one of a kind Mano Po of the Filipinos. This gesture, however, is tainted with a quasi-superstitious belief rampant in every Filipino ideal. That’s why others are quite reluctant to perform or yield-on to such ritual especially the elders, for the belief that their advance age will be hailed and aggravated by doing so. In other words, the frequent laying of hands on the forehead would hasten one’s senescence or old appearance. Another peculiar annotation to mano po is the belief that this would mount the multiplication of gray hairs especially to the old people with evidently graying hairs.

Mano Po by belonging is compartmentalized to the elders or the old people. Following, that once a person inaugurates such act, he is that old enough to be called. Unfortunately, by conscious instinct no body wants to appear old or at least old adults. Mano po runs from the lay or secular highways down to the altar of the religious personalities. Filipinos used to capture the notion that it seems part of the package for the consecrated hands of priests to be kissed, with the sense of exceptional reverence than the common people around. This is so with two viable reasons ahead: for the godly respect due him and the belief that upon performance they themselves (the people) ask for or anticipate for a blessing from the priest, or in the other way around, without further willing by the priest a blessing will by itself just descend from on high. Consequently, they believe they would share the grace with the priest.


Filipinos, if scrutinized form a distant perspective, flowers a sublime upbringing despite being last-in-the-line economic and political achiever compared to other countries. Mano Po, as I consider it, is the first-of-the-line embodiment of a Filipino’s stupendous regard to their fellows. Asserts Leonardo Mercado that Filipinos are rather person oriented than idea oriented. Respect envelops this character, which consequently prompts domino effects on the other lauded Filipino values; such as the overwhelming hospitality, respect for life (by the mean time showcases the delegalization of abortion), respect for mother nature (except for those who utterly disregard their natural duties) and respect for superiors.

It accounts a lot of calories in other denomination to sketch-out their line of respect, but for Filipinos, just a “mano po” talks a lot about him as being a Filipino. To mention my personal identity as also a Filipino, this gesture, which is in danger of trite regard and extinction, is a systematic operating procedure at home. During my childhood years, my mother would (would kick my ass, excuse me) give me a pinch if I would forget to perform mano po during elder visitation or the other way around. That one, that simple, chronicles a lot of me – how am I raised and how am I raising my self.


No comments:

Post a Comment