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17 Common Filipino Superstitions You Need to Know

Precy enjoys helping others learn to speak and appreciate the Filipino and Ilocano language. She also writes about Filipino culture.

There are a number of popular superstitions in the Philippines!

There are a number of popular superstitions in the Philippines!

Superstition in the Philippines

The Philippines is not only a country comprised of over seven thousand islands of beaches waiting to be discovered and tropical fruits to challenge your taste buds. It is also rich in culture, and this includes the many superstitions that are still a regular part of Filipino life.

As a kid, I heard about many of these superstitions in classes from grade school through college. These beliefs can also be regularly heard from elders and parents whenever a child does something that could lead to negative results.

There are some similarities between common Filipino superstitions and superstitions found in other countries or cultures (e.g., a cat crossing the street being a sign of bad luck), but there are also many that are very unique. I have included all of the Filipino superstitions I can think of in this article and hope you enjoy!

1. Bad Luck Awaits When You Sweep at Dusk

One of the superstitions I grew up hearing from my mom and grandmother is that it brings bad luck to sweep at dusk. Sweeping the inside of the house at this particular time of day is like sending away any oncoming luck.

This superstition also incorporates New Year's Day. I heard from my dad a few times that it brings bad luck to sweep or clean the house on New Year's Day. As New Year brings fortune and good luck, sweeping would be sending away any current of forthcoming good fortune that was on its way for the year. This means that all the house cleaning and sweeping should be done before the new year.

Sweeping at dusk is believed to bring bad luck.

Sweeping at dusk is believed to bring bad luck.

2. Resting Your Chin in Your Hands Brings Bad Luck

You might want to think twice before resting your chin on the palm of your hand—especially with both hands.The Filipino word for this posture is kalumbaba, and it is viewed as bad luck. If you're into superstitions, you do not want to place your hands in this way—even if you're having a bad day!

Kalumbaba—resting the chin on the palm of the hand—is said to be malas, or bad luck.

Kalumbaba—resting the chin on the palm of the hand—is said to be malas, or bad luck.

3. Can You Predict a Baby's Gender?

There is a Filipino superstition for expectant mothers who want to know the gender of their unborn child. It is said that a pregnant woman with a round-shaped tummy will have a baby girl, while a pregnant woman with a pointy tummy will have a baby boy.

What's your baby's gender?

What's your baby's gender?

4. A Utensil Can Be Used to Tell a Visitor's Gender

Dropping a utensil could mean an unexpected visitor. Is it a man or a woman that will show up unannounced at your front door? Well, that depends whether you dropped a fork or a spoon. Dropping a fork means a male visitor will be arriving, while a spoon indicates a female visitor.

5. Single Forever?

Who knew cleaning could have an impact on someone's potential for marriage? Clearing plates off a table after a meal while a single or unmarried member of the family isn't yet finished eating could mean that individual may never be married.

a-list-of-philippine-superstitions

6. Dreams of Teeth Falling Out Are Bad Luck

Dreaming of a tooth (or teeth) falling out is viewed as a sign of bad luck. According to this superstition, if you dream about teeth falling out, you should bite hard on your pillow (or on a branch of any living plant) to oppose whatever the meaning of the bad dream is.

7. A Black Cat Crossing the Street Is Bad Luck

This is a common one across many cultures. A black cat crossing the street is considered a sign of bad luck or of danger ahead.

a-list-of-philippine-superstitions

8. Let Your Hair Dry to Avoid Blindness

Sleeping with damp or wet hair is believed to cause blindness. So, you better dry your hair if you can't wait for it to dry by itself before going to bed.

It is also said that sleeping with damp or wet hair can cause gray hairs to appear at an early age.

a-list-of-philippine-superstitions

9. Ears Can Tell How Long You'll Live

Another superstition is that having long ears is a sign that a person will have a long life. No one can attest to this—except for those lucky ones with long ears!

a-list-of-philippine-superstitions

10. Moles as a Sign of Being Outdoorsy

It is said that a person who has a mole on their feet prefers to be outdoors. In my experience, it can also be a sign of the total opposite! I had a mole on my right heel, but I am a homebody and would much rather stay inside the house than go out.

11. Cats Can Save Your Life

Do you have a fish bone stuck in your throat? According to this superstition, allowing a cat to scratch your throat will remedy this situation. If you don't have a cat, it is also said that people born suhi (Filipino for breech birth) are also capable of removing fish bones by massaging the throat area.

a-list-of-philippine-superstitions

12. Moles as a Sign of Laziness

A mole on the back is a sign of laziness in the Philippines. It is believed that people with this mole are more likely to take too much time sleeping or that they prefer lying around. There are other superstitions associated with the location of a mole on the body, but this is the one I hear about most.

a-list-of-philippine-superstitions

13. Jump High to Gain Height

A superstition that is still pretty much a part ofFilipino New Year's Eve holiday tradition is the belief that jumping on New Year's Eve will make a person grow taller.

a-list-of-philippine-superstitions

14. Planting on an Empty Stomach Isn't Good

Planting root crops on an empty stomach is said to cause the plants to grow poorly. You don't want your crops not to grow, so this superstition is a reminder to fill up your tummy before digging soil for planting these plants. You want a good harvest don't you?

a-list-of-philippine-superstitions

15. Smile and Sing to Reduce Bitterness

When cooking with bitter melon, it is said that one should smile and think happy thoughts. Doing so will lessen the bitterness of the dish. Similarly, being sad, irritable or mad while cooking will make the dish more bitter tasting.

Smiling while cooking with this ingredient could improve your final dish!

Smiling while cooking with this ingredient could improve your final dish!

16. Wear Your Shirt Inside Out to Get Back on Track

It is said one should wear his/her shirt or clothes inside out when they think they are being tricked by unseen creatures that are trying to mislead passerby. Wearing the shirt inside out will get one back on the right track of the road.

a-list-of-philippine-superstitions

17. Respect the Mound Dweller

This superstition can come in handy if you are passing a mound that could be inhabited by a goblin. It says that in order to avoid being punished by a goblin—known as nuno—one should utter a word of excuse.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Comments

Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on May 17, 2012:

Voted awesome. Thanks for the great superstitions from the Philippines.

precy anza (author) from USA on May 04, 2012:

It had been carried over from generations from our ancestors long before the Spaniards introduced Catholicism into the country. And so even after the religion was introduced, the superstitions are still very much around.:)

Mr. Happy from Toronto, Canada on May 04, 2012:

I have a question ... How do these superstitions fall in place with the fact that from what I know, Catholicism is a strong belief in the Philippines?

precy anza (author) from USA on May 04, 2012:

Thanks Mr. Happy. ^-^' Glad someone found it as a fun read :) I would be making this a long list as I think of more to add.

Mr. Happy from Toronto, Canada on May 04, 2012:

I found this interesting and a fun read. Cheers!