People who are knowledgeable about science, especially biology, know that the characteristics of a woman’s child depend on the characteristics the child acquired from his parents or from the relatives of his parents (family history) and the development of the child. Some Filipinos from the places away from the cities (bario) believe that pregnant women should be taken care of very well and she should avoid falls. This is actually a good practice but they have different reason from the others. While people who have been educated or those who live in the cities believe in this because they want to avoid premature labor and misconception or abortion, people from the barios believe that they should not let a pregnant woman fall because she might deliver a baby with cleft lip, cleft palate, or cleft lip and palate.
When a woman gives birth to a child, the abdominal cord will be cut from the baby and the placenta will also be removed by the healthcare providers from the mother. Usually, after checking if the placenta that was taken from the mother is intact, it will be thrown because the help it can give to the baby is no longer needed. In the Philippines, there is this old belief that until now, some of the Filipino people still believe in and do. The family will ask for the placenta of the child from the delivery room and burry it near a tree so that the child will be guarded and will not be or give a big problem in the family.
Scientifically, to naturally bear twins during pregnancy, a family history of having twins in the family must be present in either the female (mother) or the male’s (father) part. Some families want to have twins and some do not. In the Philippines, old people believe that a pregnant woman who is fond of eating twin bananas will probably have twin babies. Though Filipinos are aware with science (biology), they tend to believe the older people about this because they grew up with this kind of orientation, especially those who are living or once lived in a place away from the cities.
People gather ideas based on known and read studies, their observation, and others’ observation. In the Philippines, there are beliefs about pregnancy a lot of years ago that were passed on from generation to generation. Though Filipinos are now very educated and oriented with technology, there are still some ideas from the past that are still used. Ultrasounds are widely used but before the pregnant woman submit herself for it, people will be guessing the gender of the baby. They say, if a pregnant woman is beautiful and blooming during pregnancy, she will have a female child; otherwise, it will be a male. If her abdomen is rounded, it will be a girl and if it is pointed, the baby she is bearing is a boy.
During parties, people are used to have something on the table to be shared by many. In the Philippines, people are fond of preparing a lot of foods. During birthday parties, cakes will always be appreciated. Aside from cakes, there is this something that will always be prepared and considered as most important from all the foods that are set. Rice noodles or pastas should be present in birthday parties of people in different ages. These are long, and since Filipinos are into symbolisms and superstitious beliefs, they believe that having these on table to be shared will give the celebrant long life.
It is very common for Filipinos to leave the Philippines to live and work abroad. A balikbayan is a filipino who is returning to the Philippines from living or working abroad. A balikbayan box is a box of items sent by the balikbayan to their family in the Philippines. The box can be sent or it can be brought by the sender when they themselves return to the Philippines.
Balikbayan boxes can be filled with almost anything but it is usually filled with items that cannot be found in the Philippines or items that may be too expensive for the average person to buy in the Philippines. Common items found in balikbayan boxes include: clothes, shoes, chocolate, nuts, vitamins, basketballs, coffee and tea, magazines, shampoo/conditioner, soap, body lotion, etc.
When having meals such as dinner in a Filipino’s house, after knocking at the door and making someone open it for you, it’s better to let them tell you to get in first before you finally go inside the house. Unlike other people from other countries, one has to wait to be told to sit before he can, except if that someone is one of the family members, a relative, or a very close friend. That’s a way to show respect to the owner of the house. During mealtime, it is part of the tradition to pray before eating. Those who stay in the visited house should give the signal first like telling the visitors to take their meal before choosing and getting foods from the table.
There is a close family tie among Filipino families. Long time ago, every family lives with a couple, their children, the parents of the couple, and sometimes, with the siblings of the couple. These days, that is still acceptable though some of the families already learned to live in their own. Because most people can already live independently from their other family members and can only have their partner in life and children to live with them, but are still very oriented with the custom of staying close to the family where they came from, they adopt the idea of making a ‘compound’. A ‘compound’ is a large piece of land separated from other people from the neighborhood through gates or walls and have more than one house inside. The houses inside the walls of the huge piece of land that were separated from the others are owned by different families from the same origin.
Filipinos value marriage so much that being a separated man or woman is often viewed negatively by the public.
Pamamanhikan – Before marriage, the guy’s parents seek the approval of the girl’s parents for marriage with their daughter.
When you are having a meeting with your Chinese associates, always address them by titles. i.e. Director Wu, Chairman Chen. If you don’t know somebody yet, just start with “xian sheng” or “xiao jie,” which means Mister or Miss/Mrs in Chinese. It is very important to keep in mind someone’s family name, which comes before the first name of a Chinese person. ( As in “Yao Ming”,“Yao” is the family name.)
When you are in China or taking meals with Chinese, please don’t mind if all the people at the same table share same dishes by using their own chopsticks, without common chopsticks or spoon. Some people may also offer you food to show their hospitality, but by using their own chopsticks. It is not sanitary to some extent, but it is Chinese style of sharing food.