Everyday Traditions in the Philippines

Business Cultural Notes
Nipa huts
Nipa Huts, Evening. Fernando Amorsolo, 1951

The Tagalog word for habit is kinaugalian, which is related to the word kaugalian (customs or traditions).  The root word for both terms is ugali (roughly equivalent to “character,” but also connotes how one was raised in the process).  Ugaliin is another Tagalog term that stems from the same root, but has a positive connotation that means “exhorting someone into developing a positive habit.”

Filipino traditions, or kaugalian, include the use of  “po” or “opo” when talking to older people or siblings as a show of respect; pagmamano, i.e., taking the right-hand of an elder onto one’s forehead as a form of respectful greeting; and the use of “ate” or “kuya” for older sisters or brothers, respectively.

In terms of everyday activities, habitual practices include: families eating together during mealtimes;  going to church together as a family on Sundays; praying together before an altar (in some areas of the Philippines they have the orasyon, which takes place at 6 p.m.); and doing recreational activities together with family and friends, such as watching television, movies, or going out for dinner or lunch. 

In Filipino culture, eating is basically a social activity where members of the family and invited friends or relatives take part in a meal, usually where a big variety of foods is served.  The Tagalog term for this is salu-salo (sharing or partaking of the food together).

In expressing habitual activities in Tagalog, one could use repetition of words, or the use of terms such as tuwingkapag, or madalas.

Some of the Tagalog expressions that signify habitual activities are:

  • araw-araw (daily)
  • gabi-gabi (nightly
  • lagi-lagi (oftentimes)
  • tuwi-tuwina (every time)
  • tuwing (each time)
  • madalas (often)
  • kapag (if + verb)
  • kadalasan (usually)

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