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Body Language - Filipino Gestures and Their Meaning

Updated on September 30, 2019
Meaning of Filipino gestures and body language
Meaning of Filipino gestures and body language | Source

Understanding Filipinos by learning the language just doesn't end there. Body language, hand gestures and facial expressions are pretty much used in a day to day basis and it's like a code waiting to be cracked. Although it may appear so common, it can still cause confusion or misinterpretation to those that aren't familiar with these body language and hand gestures used by Filipinos.

The following Filipino gestures are so common that you will see one or few of these if you set foot in the Philippines. Not only you'll want to familiarize yourself with these to decode and understand Filipino gestures your peers used but it's something worth knowing as well to put in use.

The Index Finger

A Filipino hand gesture sending the non-verbal message of 'You're in trouble,' or 'You're a dead meat,' or the Filipino 'Lagot ka!' but without saying a word. This is done with the index finger of either hand as you move your finger back and forth. Whether you say 'Lagot' or 'Lagot ka!' or not while doing this hand signal, it sends out the same meaning - You're in trouble.

A gesture that chances are you'll see amongst kids when one did something that could get her/him in trouble and the other one witnessing it.

You're in trouble!
You're in trouble! | Source

Lagot ka!

You're in trouble!

Lip Pointing

A gesture that can easily be mistaken for a kiss, but it's not. Filipinos got the habit of pointing not with the fingers but with the lips. Asking one where an item is or where someone is for example, pointing with the lips is more likely the answer one will get rather than saying 'It's right there on the table' or 'She's there in the kitchen.' Also the farther the lips are stretched out, means the farther the item is or someone.

Lip pointing isn't only done in response to a question being asked. It is also used to get someone's attention over something after making an eye contact. A good example is sitting in a lobby with your spouse. You saw a man doing some tricks with his dog in the parking lot. Wanting to share it with your wife, you made an eye contact with her and did the lip pointing in the direction of the dog and his owner.

Follow the direction of the lips - Right there.
Follow the direction of the lips - Right there. | Source

Mouth Open

A mouth open just like this doesn't mean the person is surprised or shocked or want her mouth to be checked. This Filipino gesture means the person didn't quite understand or didn't hear what was said and a mouth open is the non-verbal way of asking 'What did you say?'


Bill Please

This is one Filipino hand gesture to put up yor sleeve next time you eat out with friends and ready to pay your bill. Raise your hand and make an eye contact with a waiter when he or she's looking your way and make this rectagular sign in the air with both hands. This will let the staff know you're asking for the bill without you saying a word disturbing the other diners.

Bill please.
Bill please. | Source

Good Looking

The non-verbal way of saying 'Handsome,' or 'Good looking' is this Filipino hand gesture. The ladies can use this too of course and that means 'I am beautiful' or 'Good looking.'

I am good looking.
I am good looking. | Source

Peace Sign

The popular peace sign. This v sign made by the index and the middle finger as a sign of 'peace' is one hand gesture that you're most likely familiar with seeing it done in photos.

A hand gesture you can put in use just in case you want to apologize for unintentionally putting someone in trouble or telling on someone by showing him or her the peace sign until you get the chance to speak to the person and apologize by words.



A hand gesture that can be easily confused to mean 'ok' as this hand sign means so in some countries. Well, it is used as well to mean just the same by some Filipinos. But this sign made by the thumb and the index finger creating a zero mostly means 'money.' Pera. Kwarta. Datung. Anda (slang). This hand gesture will say it for you.

Money. Pera.
Money. Pera. | Source

Thumbs Up

A hand gesture commonly seen used amongst Filipinos as well is the 'thumbs up.' Thumbs up is pretty much used just the same. A thumbs up is given to mean good, alright, ok, or to indicate acknowledgement or approval.

That employee who did good, the kid who behaved himself and your wife who cooked the perfect Filipino dish, let them know they did good by giving them this hand gesture.


The 'Mano Po'

Pagmamano or mano is the Filipino gesture of taking the back of the hand of an elderly or an older relative such as an uncle or an aunt, and placing it up the forehead, a gesture of giving respect. You can initiate this but the older relative can also just touch your forehead with the back of their hand and say 'Bless you.'

Mano po.
Mano po. | Source

The 'I Don't Know' Expression

This Filipino facial expression makes it on the list, thanks to my mom who used this a lot. It may look like I was about to cry or sob in the photo but it means something else. Doing this facial expression accompanied by a swift bow together with a furrowed forehead means 'I don't know.' It could also mean disapproval.

I don't know.
I don't know. | Source

Do you know any of these Filipino gestures?

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