Chinese New Year in the Philippines

Lunar New Year 2017 started on Saturday, January 28

In the Philippines, a Tsinoy is a Filipino of Chinese heritage. It is a combination of “Tsino” meaning Chinese and the slang word “Pinoy” meaning Filipino. (The term Intsik has fallen out of favor.)

There has been a significant Chinese presence in the Philippines even before the Spaniards arrived in the 15th century. Chinese Filipinos currently number close to five million, making up five percent of the Philippine population.

Chinese Filipinos celebrate the Lunar New Year in January or February. The government has designated it a special non-working day.


The food most fondly looked forward to during Chinese New Year in the Philippines is tikoy, a treat made from sticky rice. You can buy it from stores only at this time of the year (January and February) but don’t forget that you have to cook it first before eating!


Red is considered the luckiest color and everyone tries to dress in it and have red things all around. Children expect to receive fresh peso bills inside bright red envelopes on which are written Chinese characters. They are called hong bao in Mandarin or ang pao in Hokkien, the language used by Chinese Filipinos.

Chinese Dragon Dance. Notice how the body is propped up with poles.


There is a parade of dancing lions or a dragon in the Binondo district of Manila (the primary Chinatown) and even in a few other cities in the Philippines where there is a sizable Chinese presence.

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Filipina Nannies / Babysitters

You must make a few things clear to the Filipina who will be taking care of your child.

Filipina workers aim to please and are good at following their employers’ instructions. But you have to bear in mind that what you consider common sense may not be so common in their culture.

For example, corporal punishment is an accepted way of disciplining children in the Philippines. Although most Filipinos may express objection to bugbog, which is heavy beating with the use of fists, you will see TV commercials on Philippine TV featuring mothers who proudly state that their kids are well-behaved because Pinalo ko sila (I spanked them).

You must make it clear to the babysitter that you won’t tolerate casual physical punishment like spanking (palo) or pinching (kurot).

Kurot is not an affectionate type of pinching. It involves digging into the child’s flesh with the tips of one’s fingers and even with fingernails. It is very painful and leaves red marks on the skin. It is usually done to the arms, legs and ears.

Palo is hitting with either an open palm or a stick. The hand usually strikes the arms, the face and the buttocks. Stick-like objects are frequently used on the buttocks and legs. Belts are also used by Filipino parents, but are unlikely to be used by your Filipina babysitters. Just to be safe, don’t leave any belts lying around.
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Pasigin, Filipino Dance

Watch a video of the Pasigin dance!

The word pasigin likely refers to a type of fishnet. The movements of this dance resemble those of fishermen scooping after schools of fish.

The Lord’s Prayer in Cebuano

Cebuano is language of the Philippines that’s very distinct from Tagalog. It is spoken by around 20 million people.

When Filipinos refer to a language as Bisaya, they usually mean Cebuano, although there are other Visayan languages such as Hiligaynon (Ilonggo).

This is the Lord’s Prayer in Cebuano with English translation below the Binisaya.

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Kuratsa Dance

The Spanish-influenced Kuratsa or Curacha was once a very popular dance in different parts of the Philippines, particularly in the Visayas region.

It is a traditional Filipino courtship dance.

Filipina Maids

The Tagalog word for ‘maid’ is katulong, which literally means ‘helper.’ (The Tagalog word for ‘help’ is tulong.) In the Philippines, live-in maids are common among the upper classes and are considered part of the family.

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