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Beliefs and Superstitions in the Philippines and the Truth about Them

Updated on November 1, 2017
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Zett is a student living in the humble island of Cebu within the colorful archipelago of Philippines. He is currently pursuing his dreams.

The Philippines is one of the few countries in the world where superstitions exist despite the high progress in science and technology. For instance, you would find children of young ages eagerly jumping in the hopes of getting tall. Some of us even hear elders scolding youngsters who are planning to take a bath in the fear of them losing a cup of blood.

Though some of the superstitions are very convincing, there are also those which sounds unlikely that we often make jokes out of them. But no matter what kind of superstition it is, we always tend to ask ourselves, “Is it true?”

Do you know any Philippine superstitions?

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Superstition 1: Sleeping With A Wet Hair Can Cause Blindness.

Bed at Night (Photo by Quin Stevenson on Unsplash)
Bed at Night (Photo by Quin Stevenson on Unsplash)

The Truth: Blindness can either be caused by the genes or by accident. In other words, a person can either "inherit" blindness from his parents or "acquire" it from an accident. And sleeping with a wet hair does not fit in any of the two causes. So if you have any fear of losing your eyesight by taking a shower at night, throw those fears away. Your eyes are perfectly fine!

Reference: Uratex - Myth or Fact: Showering When Sleepy Impairs Eyesight

Superstition 2: Taking a Bath at Night Can Cause Low Blood Pressure.

The Truth: Low blood pressure can be caused by several factors including your diet and your environment. For instance, some people might experience a low blood pressure after every meal due to the shortage of blood. No worries, this sudden drop in your blood pressure is normal as most of the blood flow is directed to the stomach and intestines during these times. And bathing at any time of the day can also affect your blood pressure.

Taking a Shower (Photo by Karla Alexander on Unsplash)
Taking a Shower (Photo by Karla Alexander on Unsplash)

According to Junji Takano, a Japanese health researcher, any individual taking a bath can experience a sudden rise in their blood pressure followed by an immediate drop – which in turn caused the low blood pressure. Normally, blood pressure returns to normal sometime after. However, for those who have a high blood pressure, a different scenario plays: “a difficulty in returning the blood pressure to normal”. This, in turn, can cause a series of risks such as brain anemia, heart attack, stroke, and in worst cases, death.

Bathing indeed can give you a low blood pressure, but it’s not something to be scared of unless you have hypertension.

Reference: Pyro-energen - Dangers of Low Blood Pressure or Hypotension

Superstition 3: Eating a Lot of Peanuts Makes You Intelligent.

Nuts (Photo by Peppe Ragusa on Unsplash)
Nuts (Photo by Peppe Ragusa on Unsplash)

The Truth: Apparently, peanuts do make you smarter!

Peanuts are a common variety of nuts in the Philippines which contain Vitamin E. And Vitamin E is an essential component in cognitive functions. Thus, eating them can heighten your thinking, perceiving, reasoning, and judgment. Peanuts also give you least risks in the decline of the mentioned mental processes. Consuming peanuts can likewise reduce your chance of getting arrhythmia, heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases.

Reference: Reader's Digest - Brain Food: Foods That Can Make You Smarter

Superstition 4: Eating Longevity Noodles ("Pansit") Can Increase Your Lifespan.

The Truth: Longevity noodles, which are served in the Philippines during birthdays and town festivals, originated from the old tradition of the Chinese. According to one account of the Chinese culture, the longevity noodles have been associated with the length of one’s life due to the noodles' length being long. Another account, however, gives an interesting story.

Longevity Noodles Being Sold at the Street (Photo by James Sutton on Unsplash)
Longevity Noodles Being Sold at the Street (Photo by James Sutton on Unsplash)

Based on a Chinese myth, Han Dynasty Emperor Wu Di made a joke regarding the relation of one’s face and to one’s lifespan. Since then, most people of the old China believes people with long faces live longer than those who don’t. Moreover, the Chinese word for face, mian, sounds similar to the Chinese word for noodles. People then associate longevity to noodles which produced today’s longevity noodles or pansit in terms of Philippine recognition of the food.

The judgment? It’s a definite no. Longevity noodles do not offer extra years to your life.

Reference: Paste Magazine - Happy Birthday, Longevity Noodles

Superstition 5: Sweeping at Night Means Sweeping Away Fortune.

The Truth: The superstition can be traced back from two sources: in Europe around the middles ages and in India during the times of Lodhi Dynasty.

The superstition, according to the Europe origins, is very common wherein a similar belief existed during the Middle Ages. This belief tells you that sweeping the dust on your neighbor’s front doors will also sweep away their good luck. The superstition has also been intensified due to the historical events involving witches and witchcraft. Alice Kyteler, the first woman to be accused of witchcraft in Ireland, was suspected to have “robbed her neighbors’ money and fortune by sweeping the dust in front of their doors.”

Wooden Broom and Sweeping (Photo by Jessica Furtney on Unsplash)
Wooden Broom and Sweeping (Photo by Jessica Furtney on Unsplash)

The Indian origin, on the other hand, revolves on a myth which starts on a Hindu merchant, who trades spices and precious stones, arrives home from countless travels, bringing along tons dust with him. His wife, who is obsessed with cleanliness, starts sweeping and mopping at night in the hopes of finishing the task early. Elders would often advise her to quit the practice of sweeping at night, but the advice was left unnoticed. As a result, she swept away two bags containing a diamond and a precious Middle Eastern spice. Naturally, her husband’s business went down, making their family poor.

Out from the two accounts, we can clearly see that sweeping at night does not bring misfortunes. However, it is advisable not to since you might lose something precious in the dark.

References:

Good Luck Symbols - Broom and Sweeping Superstitions

Stories of World - Sweep Floor at Night and Invite Misfortune - Is This Ill Omen For Real?

The Ultimate Truth

We tend to say that superstitions are a thing of the past, without even looking at their value. Surely, most superstitions are out of imagination and combined with a sense of exaggerations. However, they did contribute much to our lives as we have learned unexpected things from them. Some might have used them to boost their confidence, throw away personal fears, and avoid negative decisions. And so, try to take a note or a two, of how superstitions have changed the way you live right now.

© 2017 Zett Noir Cromwell

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    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 7 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      You reminded me of some of the things our old folks would tell us.

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