As a Filipino living abroad, there are some things your non-Pinoy friends will just never get about your culture — you know, those little things that help to make the Philippines what it is. So if you’re daydreaming of long days spent lazing on palm-fringed beaches, you’ll definitely relate to these 7 Filipino quirks and traditions!

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1. You miss the white sands of home

Back home, weekends and holidays mean lazing on white-sand beaches and dipping your toes in the crystal-clear waters. It’s made even more special when you’re with family and friends, enjoying a picnic of freshly grilled meat and seafood, ice-cold drinks and sweet, ripe mangoes. Sure beats the murky Mediterranean!

2. Pasalubong are part of your shopping spree

Souvenir shopping isn’t just for you, it’s for your loved ones back home as well. Each pasalubong, or souvenir, is hand-picked then carefully packed into a balikbayan box and shipped to the Philippines. During December, millions of these boxes arrive on people’s doorsteps, shipped from far-flung Filipinos across the globe.

3. You wear pambahay at home

You might dress up to the nines when you’re out and about, but when you’re back home the dress code is strictly sloppy – tattered old shirt, jogging pants and slippers. Anything old, loose and comfy will do — never mind if it looks ghastly, just as long as it makes you feel relaxed.

4. You have sawsawan for every dish

You have a sawsawan (dip) for every dish. Mang tomas (pork liver sauce) is for crisp, juicy lechon (suckling pig), while bagoong alamang (salt-fermented shrimp paste) is for kare-kare (oxtail stew). There’s also patis (fish sauce), suka (vinegar), soy sauce spritzed with calamansi (Philippine lemon) and banana ketchup, of course!

5. Celebrations are made for a handaan…

Food is central to your life and you celebrate every occasion with a handaan, or feast. This doesn’t mean enough food for a banquet – it just means getting together with friends and family to celebrate everything: birthdays, anniversaries, christenings, getting a new house, getting a new job… or even leaving your old job!

…and a spot of karaoke!

When all the eating and chatter has died down, it’s time for… karaoke, of course! Your love for singing stems from watching endless singing contests on TV and you still dream of becoming a famous singer one day. It doesn’t matter how good or bad it all sounds, as long as you’re having the time of your life!

6. You have pamahiin, no matter how far-fetched

You still believe in pamahiin, or superstitious beliefs, however implausible. Don’t go straight home after a wake or the spirit of the dead will follow you. Don’t clear the table if someone hasn’t finished eating or that person may never marry. And don’t let siblings get married in the same year or one of the marriages will be doomed to fail!

7. Christmas starts in September!

The Philippines has the longest Christmas run-up in the world and it’s never too early to get out your Christmas decorations and start hanging them around the house! Carols can be heard from September onwards, as you start planning your Nochebuena (Christmas Eve dinner) and gift list. Well, it’s good to be prepared!

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