So, you’re a Filipino?

By Henrylito D. Tacio


OF COURSE, you are called a Filipino if you are born in the Philippines.  But what if you are living already in a foreign land? Or, if one of your parents is not a Filipino and you reside in the United States or Australia or Europe?  The question is: How will you know if you are really a Filipino — or still having some traits of a Filipino?

Recently, I received an e-mail listing some characteristics which are truly Filipinos.  So, how will you know that you are a Filipino?  “Let me count the ways,” to quote the words of Elizabeth Barrett Browning.  You are a Filipino, if…


You point with your lips when asked where something or someone is; the farther the person or object, the longer you stretch your lips.  You nod upwards to greet someone.  You have to kiss your relative on the cheek as soon as you enter the room.  You turn around when you hear somebody say “pssst.” 

You bow low, put your hands together and point them in a direction you are walking, to pass between other people who are conversing.  You smile for no reason.  You scratch your head when you don’t know the answer.


You are afraid to go to bed with your hair wet.   You sash your feet before going to bed.  You always carry a handkerchief for blowing your nose.

At home, you a “barrel man” and when you lift up the barrel the wooden man shows something big and hard (of course you know what I mean)!  You have a “Last Supper” quilt tacked on your dining room wall.  You have a “Weapons of Moroland” shield for a wall decoration.  You have carabao or big fork and spoon woodcarvings in your house.


You have an altar or a shrine in your living room.  You have an out-of-tune piano, which no one in the family ever learned to play.  Your sister has a “walking doll” that’s still new even though it was bought 15 years ago, because your mother kept it in the china cabinet and never let your sister play with it.

You cover your carpeted floors with plastic liners; ditto your mattress and sofa.  You have a “tabo” (dipper) and a pail in your bathroom; also a pumice stone (“panghilod”) for scrubbing. 


That’s not all.  You have a rice dispenser.  You also own a turbo boiler.  You own one of those fiber optic flower lamps.  In addition, you own a lamp with oil that drips down the strings.  You have capiz shells chandeliers, lamps, or placemats.  You bought a karaoke system before the stereo


When eating, you put your foot up on your chair and rest your elbow on your knee.   You dip fruit in salt before eating it.  You eat using hands and you have it down to a technique.  You eat avocado with milk and sugar.  You eat rice with spaghetti.  You enjoy “pansit” and “pan de sal” sandwiches; also ice cream and bread sandwiches. 


You prefer “instant” to brewed coffee and powdered dairy creamer to fresh milk or cream.  You use your fingers to measure the water when cooking rice.

You dip bread in your morning coffee. You peel a “siopao” before eating it.  You use a fork and spoon in a Chinese restaurant and wipe your plate and utensils with napkins before using them.  You can cut your meat with your spoon.  Everything you eat is sautéed in garlic, onions and tomatoes.  You can eat supper for breakfast.

You have “toyo” (soy sauce) circles on your tablecloths.   You try to eject food particles from between your teeth by pressing your tongue against them and making a peculiar noise like “tshick,” “tshick,” or “pphht.”  You have bottles of “toyo,” “patis,” vinegar, chilies-in-vinegar, and banana ketchup on your cabinet.   


At restaurant, you order combo meals like “tapsilog,” “tosilog,” or “longsilog.”  Likewise, you order a “soft drink” instead of a “soda.”  You instinctively grab a toothpick after each meal.  You never eat the last morsel of food on the table.  When you ask for the check, you draw a rectangle with your index fingers.


Filipinos have very “colorful” if not unique words.  You say “comfort room” (which oftentimes are not comfortable) instead of “bathroom.”  You say “for take out” instead of “to go.”  You say “open” or “close” the light.  You ask for a “pentel pen” or a “ballpen” instead of just “pen.”

You asked for “Colgate” instead of “toothpaste.”  You refer to the refrigerator as the “ref” or “pridyider.”  You say “kodakan” instead of take a picture. You say “Ha” instead of “What?”  You say “Hoy” get someone attention.  You answer when someone yells “Hoy.”

You know what “chocolate meant.” You say “he” when you mean “she” and vice versa.   You say “array” instead of “ouch.”  Your sneeze sounds like “ahh-ching” instead of “ahh-choo.”  You say “brown-out” instead of “black-out.”

When attending a party, you arrive one to two hours late – and you think it’s normal.  You have a car horn that can make three or more different sounds.  You have a crucifix or rosary dangling from your car’s rear-view mirror.  You have crocheted car-seat covers.  You decorate your car’s rear window with stuffed animals.  You have an air freshener in your car.  You make the Sign of the Cross when you pass by a Catholic church, and only a Catholic church.

It’s a different story when you are traveling by air.   At the airport, you are standing next to eight big boxes.  You lug a life-size Santo Niño statue aboard the airplane.  You make the Sign of the Cross before take-offs and landings.  You bring “baon” to eat between in-flight meals.

You collect items from hotels or restaurants “for souvenir.”  You go to a department store and try to bargain the prices.  You use an umbrella for shade on hot summer days.  You have a “dirty kitchen” in the backyard or garage in addition to your regular one.

Now, let me ask you:  Are you really a Filipino?


For comments, write me at


One response to “So, you’re a Filipino?

  1. Thanks for the wonderful list . . . You made my day! You are very good.

    I promise. . . i will regularly visit your blogs. God bless.

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