The Mano

“Respecting your elders is a very big thing in Filipino culture. There’s a tradition we do in Filipino culture where when you greet an older family member, you grab their hand and you put it up to your forehead. It’s called “the Mano” and it’s just a form of respect. It’s a respectful greeting for your elders. I did that to my older family members. The ones from slightly younger generations knew that I was American, so they were confused as to why I was doing that. But the older generation really cherishes it. They expect it. Before I went to visit my relatives in the Philippines, my dad, whose grandparents emigrated from the Philippines, told me that that was a custom. He told me about the Mano.”


As my informant said, the importance and continuation of this folklore in Filipino culture comes from the great respect they have for family and their elders. In addition to the surface level of using the Mano to demonstrate respect for their older relatives, the younger generations’ continued use of the Mano allows them to show their respect for the Filipino culture and traditions of the older generations. By keeping up customs that are held so dearly by the older generations, the younger generations acknowledge how important these customs are to the older generations in how they perceive of their culture. Continuing to use these customs is, in a way, a promise to the older generations that these customs will be kept going even after those generations are gone. That promise commits the younger generations to respect their elders in the long-term in a way that goes beyond the simple gesture of the younger relative putting the older relative’s hand to his forehead. Its use by members of the younger generation who did not grow up in the Philippines (in this case, my informant is a third generation American immigrant) speaks even further to that respect. Although not a custom a non-Filipinos would be familiar with or perform, visiting descendents of emigrants are still expected to, and do, use the Mano to demonstrate that their respect for their elders transcends their nationality and cultural upbringing.