"No bare feet." 11 things you absolutely know to be true if you grew up with a Filipino mum.

Growing up, some things are common to all mums.

Clean your room. Do your homework. Eat your greens.

But there’s a whole slew of very specific traits and experiences reserved for those of us who grew up with Filipino mums.

Filipino or not, here are a bunch of lies all mums have definitely told. Post continues below.

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The only logical explanation can be that these traits lie dormant within all Filipino women, just waiting for a child to enter their life. And if this happens then we, their children, get to experience these traits our entire lives, and not just as youngins. I’m 25 and my mum still does point number 1 every time I see her.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but for now pop on your tsinelas and join me for a stroll down memory lane. (Oh, and if you can, go tell your Mum you love her. Seriously.)

1. The top of your head is reserved for the Sniss.

I’m coining the term “snissing” for that sniff/kiss that all Filipino mums do. You know, the thing where they simultaneously kiss and sniff the top of your head all in one motion? And if you’re freshly showered you might even get an impressed “Bango!” to congratulate you for smelling clean.

2. The Last Supper is a mandatory house decoration.

There’s an unspoken rule amongst all Filipinos that your home must contain at least one depiction of The Last Supper. My Mum’s not even religious and we have one.


It’s cross-stitched. Someone put a lot of time into this bad boy. Image: Supplied. 

3. Your bare feet have never* touched the floor.

*an exaggeration, obviously.

The fact that Filipinos wear slippers (tsinelas) indoors is usually a shock to non-Filipino folk. I have a theory that our fine friends in Hollywood have inadvertently led audiences to believe that all Asian cultures remove their shoes before entering the house. But I digress.

Nothing jolts your body into action like the dulcet tones of your mother screaming “Mag tsinelas ka!” ("Wear your slippers!”) after spotting you with bare feet inside the house. 


As a child it just felt like another thing to get in trouble for, but as an adult I’m 100% on board. The threat posed by stray Lego on the floor is basically non-existent, and I never have to walk on cold tiles. Even my Australian boyfriend has seen the light.

4. Pointing with your lips is entirely acceptable.

Hands full? No problemo. Just pout repeatedly in the general direction of the thing you want, then shout when the person you’re talking to doesn’t understand what you mean! (Just kidding... Filipino mums will point with their lips regardless of whether their hands are free).

5. You’re expected to be part psychic.

Communicating with your Filipino mum can sometimes feel like a game of charades. She’ll start a perfectly simple sentence, for example: “Anak, bring me the… ano…” (which roughly translates to “My child, bring me the… um…”)

You’ll spend the next two to three minutes listing any possible thing she could want, and she will, without fail, do these three things: 1) Repeat “Ano...”, 2) Provide no further information about what she wants, and 3) Become increasingly frustrated that you don’t know what she means. All you can do is strap in and wait until she remembers the word for what she wants.

6. Leaving the house requires a prepared statement.

Fill in the blanks below, and you’ll be ready to say goodbye to your Filipino mother:

Bye Mum, I’m going to (location) with (friend/s*) to partake in (activity). We’ll be getting there by (mode of transport**), and we will come home by (mode of transport**). I’ll be home at (time) and I’ll call you when I get there.


Image: Supplied.  

*For extra trust points, make sure to mention some notable achievements of the people you’ll be spending time with. For example: “I’m going with Pamela. You know her, she ranked #1 in Year 12 Extension Maths?”

**If the mode of transport is by car, you must disclose who is driving.

7. Everyone is family. Literally.

You know, like that “aunty” who, as it turns out, is actually just your mum’s mate’s cousin’s sister-in-law? The sheer amount of people that Filipinos consider family is obviously a beautiful thing, but there are so many names to remember.


8. When visiting the Philippines, your luggage can only ever be 50% full.

Because your Mum needs the other 50% to fill with non-perishables (mostly Spam), old clothes, and other random supplies to give to your family who still live there. This is, of course, on top of the multiple Balikbayan Boxes she’ll send throughout the year.

Ours are currently half full. Image: Supplied. 

9. Your mum definitely has a favourite child, and it’s her youngest.

She won’t bother with this “I love you all equally!” nonsense because the bunso (youngest) child is always the clear favourite, and can apparently do no wrong. I’m not bitter, honest.

10. No party is complete without karaoke.

I know this is a pretty pervasive stereotype about Filipino people, but in my lived experience holy hell do Filipino mums love karaoke. 


There must be some rogue strand of DNA in all Filipinos that brings us joy whenever we hear shoddy electric keyboard covers of top 40 hits. And if by some chance you love karaoke too, don’t hold on to the microphone too tightly - because rest assured, mum has punched in the numbers and all her favourites are already queued up.

11. All you need to cook rice perfectly is a middle finger.

Because somehow if you rest your middle finger on top of the rice and the water reaches the first knuckle, your rice will be cooked to perfection - regardless of the shape and size of the vessel you’re cooking in. It’s basically witchcraft.

Poifect *chef’s kiss* Image: Supplied. 


And as a bonus, 

12. Lights don’t get turned on and off, they get opened and closed.

After hearing it consistently my whole life, as far as I’m concerned, the phrase “Open the light” is grammatically correct and I won’t hear otherwise.

Can you relate? Let us know in the comments below. 

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