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Famous Filipino Pamahiin

Filipinos are known to have a lot of superstitious beliefs or old wives’ tales. In Tagalog, these are called “pamahiin”.  These pamahiin may be traced back to as early as pre-colonialism period, but as the Philippines has since become a melting pot of different cultures brought about by migrant Chinese, Bombay, and Americans, different beliefs from different cultures have also been adapted by the locals. 
Famous Filipino Pamahiin

Famous Filipino Pamahiin

Filipinos have a set of pamahiin for almost every occasion or event in their lives - weddings, baptisms, pregnancy... you name it. We have listed some of the most practiced pamahiin below and see if any of these sounds familiar to you.


There is no way the bride can fit her wedding gown prior to the wedding because doing so might result to the wedding not pushing through. 

The bride and the groom are not supposed to see each other starting on the night before the wedding until they see each other on the altar to ensure that the wedding will take place as planned. 

Siblings must not hold their weddings on the same year to avoid bad marriage or “sukob” from happening to either one of the pairs. 

If the is successful in stepping on her groom’s shoes just as they were pronounced by the officiating minister as husband and wife, it will give her the upper hand in their marriage. 

The bride should not wear anything with pearls on it because pearl symbolizes tears and it might result to an unhappy wife in a marriage. 

The candles that are used as symbols during the wedding rites should stay lighted until the end of the ceremony. If a flame dies, it will also mean early death to either of the couple who is closest to that candle. 

Receiving a chamber pot or “arinola” as a wedding gift brings good luck to the newly-married couple. 

Pregnancy and Childbirth

If a pregnant woman sees a fruit in a tree and craves for it, that fruit-bearing tree will eventually wither. To restore the tree’s life, the husband should pee on it. 

If the pregnant woman steps on her husband and crosses over him while he is lying down, the husband will be the one to experience the morning sickness and cravings of his wife. 

Anyone who is visiting or staying in a house where a pregnant woman lives should avoid sitting or standing by the door as it will result to a difficult childbirth for the pregnant woman. 

The Filipino mythical creature called Manananggal, a blood-sucking and human-eating witch, supposedly loves to victimize pregnant women. 

A pregnant woman with a pointed belly is believed to be carrying a baby boy while a round belly means she is having a baby girl. 
The mother’s placenta that comes out during her delivery should be buried in a place that will not expose it to the rain so that the baby will not fall into any kind of serious illness. 

Child Care 

The baby’s physical attributes and mannerisms are a result of the mother’s cravings while she was still pregnant. 

A baby with two cowlicks will grow up to be a very naughty child. 

A baby who was fed with a female pig’s genitalia (regardless of whether it is a sow or gilt) will grow up to be a very talkative child. 

Someone who is deemed as smart should cut the baby’s hair for the first time so that the baby will also grow up to be a smart child. 

Placing books under the baby’s pillow will help her develop a love for learning. 

A baby should not kiss stuffed animals because it will delay her speech. 

A baby should not be given compliments especially by people that are unfamiliar to her because it will make her get sick. The Filipinos call this “usog”. According to an article published by GMA News, this belief is known to have originated from the Spanish “mal de ojo” (evil eye hex) where a person will feel extreme pain on the part of his/her body where you give him/her a sharp stare. 

A baby should not be taken to long trips until he/she has been baptized. 


A moth that visits a wake is believed to be the soul of the deceased. 

The bereaved family cannot bathe in the same house where the wake is held. 

If the person did not a die a natural death, a chick is placed on top of the coffin along with some rice grains. It is believed that when the chick starts pecking on the grains, the person responsible for the death is just within the area. 

A candle is lit up beside the coffin to serve as the guiding light for the soul of the deceased as it traverses to the afterlife. 

The deceased’s favorite things are placed in the coffin so that he will no longer have a reason to come back to this world. 

New Year's Day

Someone who wears clothes with polka dot design on New Year’s Day will receive endless good fortune.

Jumping on New Year’s Eve just as the clock strikes twelve guarantees a chance of growing taller within the year.

Creating noise on New Year’s Eve will drive away bad luck for the whole year. The louder the noise, the better. The source of noise can be just about anything – honking the car, blasting the latest pop music on the stereo, banging your cooking pans, and even toy trumpets. 

Everyday Life

If three people are having their photo taken, the person in the middle is likely to die first. 

If a person is going out and a black cat crosses his/her path, it will bring bad luck. 

Sweeping the floor at night is believed to drive away good fortune. 

In interior design, a mirror should not be facing a door as it will bring bad luck to the whole household. 

A woman who loves to sing while cooking will be married to a widower. 

If a person leaves the dining table while there is still someone eating, the latter will not be able to marry (if still single). 

The solar eclipse brings bad fortune. 

People with moles on the soles of their feet are born travelers. 

These are only some of the most-practiced pamahiin. There are still hundreds more that have not been listed. Needless to say, Filipinos are very superstitious. However, most of today’s generation are clueless on these beliefs and because this is the age of the information superhighway, they rely more on facts and scientific explanations than old wives' tales.

How about you? Do you still practice any superstitious beliefs in your culture? Share it with us!

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