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

by Gelaine Santiago May 09, 2018

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

With Mother's Day around the corner, we began to wonder what Mother's Day is like in the Philippines and 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 the four things you should know about Mother's Day in the Philippines, and how you can incorporate your own Filipino traditions into your Mother's Day celebrations! 

1) Technically, Mother's Day in the Philippines is in December.

Since the 1920's until the last few decades, Mother's Day was traditionally celebrated on the first Monday of December. Although no one really does that anymore, what's most interesting is that, legally, it's still supposed to be.

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. 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.


A mother with her child in the Philippines

But because the Philippines is made up of such a diverse mix of global cultures and with the heavy influence of American culture following American colonialism, everyone in the Philippines continues to celebrate Mother's Day on the second Sunday of May, and Father's Day on the third Sunday of June.

2) Carnations are the traditional Mother's Day Flower.

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, schoolchildren used to wear 'cadena de amor' (pink carnations) on their chests in honour of Mother's Day. If your mother was no longer with you, then you would wear white carnations to show respect to those who have passed. 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 a bouquet of carnations (ideally pinks or reds) for Mother's Day, or have them delivered to her.

A single pink carnation for Mother's Day in the Philippines

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

Like in most cultures out there, mothers are the rock and center of the home. And this is no exception in the Philippines.  Over here, mothers are given the title of "ilaw ng tahanan", meaning "light of the house" in Filipino to recognize the warmth, generosity, and shining guidance that mothers bring to the family. Isn't that just the perfect way to describe your mom??!

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

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.

Serve mom a delicious Filipino breakfast for Mother's Day

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's version of the metro) 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.  

How Mother's Day itself is celebrated in the Philippines is pretty similar as in North America, with 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!

You may even see some halo-halo on the menu. In which case, we're always down to celebrate anything Filipino-style!


Happy Mother's Day to all you fabulous moms out there! What are some traditions your family does for Mother's Day?


Gelaine Santiago
Gelaine Santiago


Gelaine is co-founder of Cambio & Co. – a brand on a mission to change how business is done and how people shop. Cambio & Co. showcases contemporary, conscious fashion made with Filipino soul - all designed and handcrafted in the Philippines by talented Filipino artisans. Gelaine is a proud Filipina-Chinese-Canadian living in Toronto, writing and learning about Filipino culture, travel, and conscious living. Find her on Twitter @gelaineyyy.

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