There is this nice and wonderful gesture in the Philippines that I’d like to share with you all. It’s called “bless” or “mano po”. A gesture where the younger shows respect to the elder.
I was introduced to this gesture already many years ago in my hometown Warendorf, Germany at some of my Filipino friends’ home. Way before I even met Arthur and have visited the Philippines.
In order to greet and show respect to the elder, the younger takes the elder’s hand and let the fingers (near the knuckles) touch their forehead. As simple as that.
I notice here in the Philippines, when people greet each other, they don’t hug, nor give kisses on the cheeks. For strangers or acquaintances it’s the hand shake. But for families and relatives the “mano” is used as a greeting gesture.
This gesture is practised all over the Philippines by the old and the young. Parents or elder family members bless the younger family members. And adults bless people that are older than them in order to express their respect. Every day, when the kids come home from school I “bless” them.
The “bless/mano po” originated from the Catholic Church. “Mano” is the Spanish word for hand. When you hear the word “bless”, you right away might think of a priest’s blessing. In this case though, it is all about showing respect to the elder. You give permission to the elder to give you their blessing.
I have to admit, I’ve already been in a few awkward situations where a hand was extended towards me, and I, naturally, took it to shake it. But instead, I was obviously expected to “mano” that person.
This way of greeting each other is very different to what I’m used to, but I like it. It’s a nice way of showing respect to another.