4 Things You Should Know About Mother's Day In The Philippines

Four Things Every Filipino Should Know About Mother's Day In The Philippines

With Mother’s Day in the Philippines around the corner, we began to wonder if there were any special Filipino traditions we should know about. So we did a little digging and discovered some interesting things about this special holiday.

Read on to learn about Mother’s Day in the Philippines. You might find a few ideas on how you can incorporate Filipino traditions into your Mother’s Day celebration wherever you are in the world!

1) When is Mother's Day in the Philippines?

Since the 1920s until the last few decades, Mother's Day in the Philippines was traditionally celebrated on the first Monday of December.

Currently, everyone in the Philippines celebrates Mother's Day on the second Sunday of May.

What's interesting is that, legally, it's still supposed to be in December. True to form for Filipino politics, there was a lot of drama and back and forth when deciding the actual date for Mother's Day

A Filipino mother & daughter hugging tightly.

Former President Ferdinand Marcos signed a proclamation in 1980 declaring the first Monday of December to be both Mother's Day and Father's Day. Then, the next president Cory Aquino changed the date to align with the American tradition of having Mother's Day on the second Sunday of May, and Father's Day to be the third Sunday of June.

BUT THEN, the dates were changed back to the first Monday of December under former President Joseph Estrada in 1998. There hasn't been a new proclamation since, so legally, Mother's Day is still supposed to be in December.

Because the Philippines is made up of such a diverse mix of global cultures, including the heavy influence of American culture following American colonialism, Mother's Day now falls on the same day as the United States and Canada.

2) Carnations are the traditional flower for Mother's Day in the Philippines

Carnations are typically associated with mothers because they are symbols of "purity, sweetness, and endurance".

This isn't just the case in the Philippines but is also a tradition around the world. In Japan, carnations are traditionally the most popular Mother's Day gifts, and have also been popular with moms in the USA.

In the old days, school children used to wear "cadena de amor" (pink carnations) on their chests in honor of Mother's Day. If your mother was no longer with you, then you would wear white carnations to show respect to those who've passed.

A closeup of pink carnations (aka cadena de amor) which are the traditional flower for mother's day in the Philippines.

These days, with the large number of Filipinos living abroad, it's not uncommon for people to order fresh bouquets online and have them delivered to their moms and relatives in the Philippines. Just do a quick Google search and plenty of online floral delivery services will come up!  

Are you trying to get into the good graces of a Filipino mom, whether your mum or your partner's? Pick up or have delivered a bouquet of carnations (ideally pinks or reds) for Mother's Day.

To really impress her, you could gift a pair of these Carnation Earrings which were made by artisans in the Philippines using fine threads of gold and silver!

3) Mother's Day in the Philippines is for the whole family.

Like in most cultures out there, mothers are the rock and center of the home. And this is the same in the Philippines. Over here, mothers are given the title of "ilaw ng tahanan", meaning "light of the house" in Filipino.

Filipino culture recognizes the warmth, generosity, and shining guidance that mothers bring to the family. Isn't that just the perfect way to describe your mom?!

Four generations of Filipino women wave to the camera with joyful smiles.

In the Philippines, the family unit is ultra important and close-knit, even moreso than in North America.

Mother's Day isn't just to celebrate moms — it's a full-on celebration to show respect and gratitude to your grandmothers, aunts, cousins, and other women in the family who are also mothers.

So if you want to bring Filipino tradition to your household, make sure to pay your respects to all of your lolas, ninangs, and titas (grandmothers, godmothers, and aunts), too. If you want extra points, get them all a bouquet of carnations! 

4) Filipinos take their celebrations seriously, including Mother’s Day in the Philippines

In case you didn't already get the gist, let us hammer it in: Mother's Day in the Philippines is a BIG deal. Filipinos take their celebrations seriously, and we mean seriously.

For example, we were in Manila one year during Valentine's Day, and the number of people I saw with elaborate bouquets and giant stuffed teddy bears was shocking. There were also ridiculously long lineups at the MRT stations (Manila Metro Rail Transit system) with anxious, last-minute boyfriends waiting to purchase fresh flowers and chocolates for their partners.

That goes to show that showing up empty handed during a holiday, especially Mother's Day, is NOT an option. So don't do it.

A feast of Filipino dishes spread out on a table featuring Pinoy barbecue, paella, kare-kare, pansit, and more.

How Mother's Day itself is celebrated in the Philippines is pretty similar as in North America. There's chocolates and flowers and various gifts to pamper mom.

While a lot of Filipinos are opting more and more to eat out, most families still celebrate at home. And you can bet the traditional Filipino party foods like pancit, sinigang, and various forms of fried chicken are sure to make an appearance!

Where to buy Mother’s Day gifts for your Filipino Mom In North America & outside of the Philippines

A pair of Filipino gold filigree earrings designed to mimic carnation flowers.

Filipino jewelry inspired by your Nanay's favorite flower a gift that'll last many seasons. Shop your Mother's Day gifts from the Philippine Floral Jewelry collection.

Wherever you are in the world, you can make your mom (and mother figures) feel at home the same way she has all your life. A gift, made in the Philippines, can keep close the comforting memories of the motherland.

If nanay grew up in the Philippines, a sampaguita necklace could remind her of warm afternoons in the family garden. This one, even looks like garland of sampaguita buds you might buy on the way to church with Lola.
A pair of Philippine gold & pearl earrings set upon a capiz shell box.
Philippine pearls are some of the best in the world. There are perfectly imperfect baroque South Sea pearls or pristine freshwater pearls to complement your Nanay. Shop your Mother's Day gifts from the Philippine Pearl Jewelry collection.

On the other hand, maybe you have fond memories of Nanay sitting in front of her vanity table, putting on her favorite pair of pearl earrings. In which case, you might be looking for something more timeless and classic. Like a hoop of pearls!

Philippine pearls are an elegant gift for those you love, and quite symbolic too. They’re a reminder that despite life’s challenges, we can make something beautiful of it. Does that remind you of a mother figure in your life?

Visit our Mother’s Day Filipino Gift Shop to find something special for your Nanay!

Gelaine Santiago

Gelaine Santiago

Gelaine is a social entrepreneur, an online storyteller, and a passionate advocate for diversity and ethics in business. She’s the co-founder of Cambio & Co., an e-commerce fashion company working with Filipino artisans to celebrate Filipino craftsmanship, culture, and heritage. Gelaine is also one of the founders of Sinta & Co., the world’s first conscious Filipino wedding boutique. She was named one of RBC’s Top 25 Canadian Immigrants of 2019. Find her on Instagram @gelainesantiago and www.gelainesantiago.co


  • Benj Bensing

    Very informative. Thanks for sharing.

  • Wayne Gangl

    Great article. I happen to be blessed with a wonderful Phil lady. Married forever..wonderful mom. We live in Phil..got to make it a special day for her. I am also Canadian too. Alberta..thanks eh…

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