Showing respect: The Filipino Way

I would like to start this section of my blog by talking about three most common ways of how Filipinos show respect for others.As a father raising a four-month old daughter in a foreign country, it is my ardent hope that I can teach her all these Filipino values and practices.


A little girl doing pagmamano
A little girl doing pagmamano

Pagmamano is the most common gesture of showing respect to elderly. It is done by asking for the hand of the elderly and let it gently touch your forehead while bowing and saying “Mano po” which literally means ” Your hand, please”. In return, the elderly blesses you by saying “Kaawaan ka ng Diyos” (God bless you). Elderly refers to parents, grandparents, godparents, parents of friends or colleagues, and cousins who are at least 10 years older than you.  We do the pagmamano when we arrive home or when we leave the house; or whenever we meet an elderly like at the mall, market, or at the church. During Christmas time (and birthdays), children flock to their godparents to do the pagmamano because they will not only receive blessings but also wonderful gifts. When visiting the Philippines, foreigners are not expected to do pagmamano but imagine their fondness, hospitality, and love for you multiplied ten times if you practice it, too.

Po and Opo

We use ‘po’ to show respect to the person we’re talking to. It is the equivalent of ‘kha’ and ‘krab’ in Thai except that ‘po’  is used by both genders. For instance, saying “Magandang umaga” (Good morning) sound okay but it would have been better if you said ” Maganda umaga po“. It’s like saying “Sawasdee kha/krab” which is better than just saying “Sawasdee”.
Opo” is a polite way of saying “oo” which is a very casual way of saying ‘yes’.If you travel in the Southern Tagalog region, you will hear people saying ‘ho’ and ‘oho’ instead of ‘po and ‘opo’. Don’t worry, they mean the same thing.


 Kuya is used for someone old enough to be your big brother while Ate is for someone who is old enough to be your big sister. In Northern Philippines where I come from, we used ‘Manong’ and ‘Manang’ instead of Kuya and Ate. In addition, the Manongs and Manangs address the younger ones (both genders) as ‘Ading’ as a form of endearment.

Kuya Alex = ‘Big Brother’ Alex
Ate Cathy = ‘Big Sister’ Cathy

Manong Michael = ‘Big Brother’ Michael
Manang Susan = ‘Big Sister’ Susan
Ading Tom = ‘Little Brother’ Tom
Ading Jane = ‘Little sister’ Jane