P is for the Philippines

I grew up attending the same church congregation as one of the most amazing Filipino moms in all of Arizona, and true to her nature, she was eager to help when I asked for her time to get some answers and directions about what I should know about their beautiful country.  Not only is Mitzi an incredibly selfless woman, she is also an accomplished author, teacher, and a true professional in the topic of her country’s language and culture! It was such a privilege to be able to have such a well-versed source, and family friend, to point me to some interesting facts and topics.

With all my dreaming of traveling overseas to visit the island nation, I thought I had built up some pretty good expectations of the things I might witness in their hospitable land. Buuuuut when I started reading things like “monkey-eating eagle”, “Noche Buena”, and “Mano po” in the answers Mitzi sent to my questions, I realized that I am way undereducated in my fantasies, and it was such a privilege to get some things straight.

If you missed anything this month, don’t worry. I’ll throw in a few details or links throughout this to help you out too, because no matter how you use this information with your children, they are going to LOVE it. Honestly, the best part of what I learn happens as I try to simplify and enjoy it with my son. And this month, everything from the Philippines has had his stamp of approval so far! I mean, I did just mention monkey-eating eagles, right?

AND LOOK AT THIS VIEW BELOW! It’s really incredible, isn’t it?!

Photo by James Connolly on Unsplash


So why not just start with re-mentioning the most straight-forward, yet eyebrow-raising name in the animal kingdom?

If you missed out earlier this month, the Philippine Eagle is from, well, the Philippines; and is often called the Monkey-eating eagle because, well, it eats monkeys! There! You’re all caught up!

Just kidding! There is so much more to these beautiful animals. If you didn’t guess by the name – “monkey-eating eagles” – these bad boys are huge, measuring in at a wingspan of about 6 feet wide! They are the largest species of eagles on the planet, and in my opinion, the cutest too. Check out my Monkey-Eating Eagle Activity to learn more about these awesome predators and even see a video of them in action!

But the most important thing to tell your kids, after all the fun stuff, is that these birds are endangered. Maybe you don’t live in a place where you will ever get an opportunity to see one in person, but there is still so much you and your little ones can do! Talk to them about what ideas they have for helping animals, who cannot survive with so many humans or natural predators around. I mean, where could a 6-foot eagle hide anyways?! What can we do to make it easier for these animals? You might be surprised at the brilliance that shines out of your child’s helpful little heart. You can always prod them with ideas of recycling. Recycling is an especially great chore for young toddlers just starting to help around the house! Pop tabs from soda cans, and cereal box tabs are other fun recyclable tasks that can see a more tangible reward!

Special Jobs.

Many countries have unique forms of transportation, and in the Philippines you might expect to find yourself traveling with the aid of a Jeepney driver! These drivers take kids to school, adults to work, and common people to anywhere else that might be on their route. Mitzi shares, “Jeepney is the most popular means of [public transportation]. They are known for their crowded seating and kitsch decorations which have become an ubiquitous symbol of Philippine culture and art.” You can see an example of such a Jeepney in the featured image on this post!

Maybe you’re thinking, mmm that’s great, but I want my child to aspire to be a doctor or teacher or something, and just talk about those types of careers. The reality of the world right now though, is that most people can’t even begin to hope to accomplish such a feat as becoming a doctor. You know who represents the face of a nation though? In the Philippines, it’s the Jeepney drivers! It’s the men and the women that have the least gratuitous jobs, yet help tons of people every day. Read Jhaira Grace Huervana’s personal thoughts on the respect she has for her father’s career as a Jeepney driver. I love what she had to say! So yes, inspire your children to reach for the stars, but also let them know about all the other important jobs that make the world go round too!

I think of the quote, “I was raised to respect the janitor the same as the CEO.” The Philippines not only believes this, but has absolutely integrated this level of respect into their culture with a beautiful tradition called “mano po” that you can learn about by clicking here. This is the kind of respect that makes people into leaders and such a great thing to show and start in our homes.

Traditional Games.

Mitzi listed a few traditional games to me, such as patintero, piko, and tumba preso. Whatever I try though, I need to be able to sort of involve my bouncy little ball of a son, who currently likes to jump over everything. So luksong tinik looked like the perfect option after some further research and explanation of how each game is played. Whether your child is just gaining interest in climbing rocks and pumping their legs for a big (or little) jump, or they’re heading to a middle school basketball practice this weekend, this Filipino game really is easy to keep a group of kids entertained and exercised anywhere at zero cost! All you need is something to jump over. Traditionally, a willing pair of friends or parents sits in as the thing to be jumped over. But if that sounds risky, you can pick up a stick and just play like it’s reverse limbo instead! This is wonderful physical activity for any kiddo, and easily tapered to fit any skill level.

The game is played best with a group of people. Two children, or adults, sit on the ground facing each other, soles of their feet pushed together. This is the first level. Everyone who is able to jump (or step) over the legs laid flat on the ground, gets to progress to the second level, where they have to jump over the feet raised one on top of the other. In level three, the hands are placed above the feet, and then every level finds a way to make the others jump higher and higher over the bridge. Watch these kids give a demonstration of this super easy game that you can play anywhere!

Holiday Celebrations.

If you know me well, you know that I would rather set up my Christmas tree than go trick-or-treating on Halloween. I’ve also been known to leave it up almost just as long after the holiday has ended! For example, it’s almost April, but the chalkboard in my entryway still has a Christmas scripture written across it. I just love Christmas. And so do Filipinos.

Imagine how I felt when Mitzi explained, “Filipinos start Christmas songs and decorations as early as September (when the month ends in -ber-) and end January 6 in celebration of the Three Kings. Children go caroling house to house and [expect] to receive money from the owner of the house [where] they sang carols.” It was like I’d found my people! (I’ll keep you all posted on whether this helps me win any sort of battle to set up my tree in September later this year.)

They also practice something called “Noche Buena”, in which families have a midnight meal together. It feels to me like New Years, but in celebration of the Christmas events the next morning will bring. As much as I love Christmas bedtime is sacred time in this sleep-deprived house, so I probably won’t be trying this any time soon. If you decide to celebrate into late hours of the evening and serve up a Filipino national dish for Christmas this year though, I would love to see and hear about it!! You can check out the recipe for the traditional Chicken Adobo right here.

Let’s Connect

As always, I hope that you and your family can use this information and the activity ideas this month to open your hearts and perspectives to every corner of the world, and every type of people! Sign up below to get monthly freebies, updates on where else in the world is discussed, and opportunities to share your own cultural experiences and styles! You can also scroll down to the bottom of this page to follow along and see what’s happening on my social media accounts!

Mano Po

Last month I got together with some friends to celebrate THE one and only, Galentine’s Day! Picture Leslie Knope saying, “If you look inside your bags you will find a few things. A bouquet of hand crocheted flower pens, a mosaic portrait of each of you made from the crushed bottles of your favorite diet soda and a personalized 5,000-word essay of why you are all so awesome.” That’s basically what we happened, just talking and exchanging gifts into absurd hours of the night (my bedtime is a strict 8:00pm, y’all). It was awesome. And at one point, I overheard a conversation across the room going something like this:

Friend 1: Yeah, it’s something they do in the Philippines.

Friend 2: Wait, really. I’m so confused. Why do they do this?

Friend 1: I don’t know exactly, but it’s some sort of greeting, I think, and they put their hand on the other person’s head.

I basically felt like Hermione Granger, and looking back realize I’m weird, but I got so excited because I had JUST been reading up on this Filipino tradition!

Now, this discussion I eavesdropped on was clear across the room with about 10 other people between us, and I just blurted out, “Oh, you’re talking about mano po!” And then proceeded to share why I knew what it was and all that.

It’s such a unique and important tradition that I thought it seemed like the perfect way to introduce the Philippines and really try to paint the best picture I can of what I know of their cultural heritage.

What is it?

It’s super simple. When you greet an elder in the Philippines, you take their hand, bow slightly, and press their hand to your forehead. In Tagalog (and Spanish, which have a lot of similarities) “mano” means “hand”, and then “po” is a respectful term used when addressing elders, like “sir” or “ma’am” in English. It’s gender neutral though, so it doesn’t change.

I went through a dozen different videos on Youtube to see if I could find a good illustration of this tradition for you, and I just kept coming back to this funny family, and the very first video result when I searched “mano po”. This video will probably get some giggles from your kids while also doing a great job of explaining the many ways people practice mano po in the Philippines!

Mano Po in Your Home

In America, this might be a little weird to practice, so how do you really take this lesson home and apply it in your home. I think that’s easy to answer in a few questions.

How are you teaching your children to show respect within their families and communities? Watch the video above and ask your children what words they can use to address people respectfully (sir, ma’am, Mister, Mrs., Coach, Officer, etc.). This was so important in my family growing up, and it has definitely shaped the way I view certain adults (more adultier adults than myself at this point) in my life.

You can also bring attention to the other kind gestures done towards elders in the start of the video. Ask your kids if there are things that they should do when an elderly person is with them. Should they give up their seat, offer to lift things, or maybe bigger kids could link arms when walking with grandma/grandpa?

Teach your kids to respect all people wherever you live. Remind your children to thank the bus driver, and to ask the cashier how their day is. When a manual laborer comes to your house (roofer, plumber, pest control), ask your children to kindly take a bottle of water with you out to the workers. Building this respect for people now will lead to a career of compassionate service, loyal teammates and employees, and respect from other leaders.

What other traditions do you have in your family that show respect? How do you speak to people you respect? I would love to hear all about it in the comments!

Also, if you enjoyed learning about mano po, please sign up for my newsletter to gain more resources and access to my growing vault of free printables!