Filipinos are known for having large close-knit extended families and a full-sized reunion can include about 30 people at a minimum. Reunions only happen a few times a year and everyone knows it’s a rare time when you can catch up and bond with the family. Whether it’s someone’s birthday, Christmas, New Year, an anniversary, or any other occasion, make sure you anticipate these scenarios so you know what to expect when you attend one.
EVERYONE WILL BE LATE
The invitation says to arrive at this time but even beyond 30 minutes, you may probably not see anyone showing up yet. Are you in the wrong place? Of course not, and you are sure about it. We call it “Filipino time” and this is a popular custom among Filipino people when it comes to partying. However, don’t worry and be patient. Soon enough, everyone will slowly start coming in and the much-awaited fun is worth it. Don’t forget to offer ‘mano po’ (an “honoring-gesture” used in Filipino culture) as it is a way of requesting blessings from the elders! Traditional manners are always appreciated in a Filipino gathering.
You probably CAN’T REMEMBER ALL YOUR RELATIVES
It was mentioned earlier that 30 people could be the minimum attendees for a reunion. Some might even argue that it’s way more for a minimum. Regardless, it shows how large Filipino families are thus, comes the confusion with names and faces. In fact, your parents would often ask you to ask blessings from this random woman or man only to find out they’re an aunt or uncle. And other times, you will be asked why you are asking for blessings from them and you’ll have to introduce yourself. Sometimes all you need to mention is the name of your parents and they’ll remember you.
That’s why Filipino parents tend to be very descriptive when talking about relatives. Example: “Oh is that the cousin with the big eyes who quit nursing, became an engineer, worked in Qatar for a year but came back home last month because his girlfriend dumped him?” Although it sounds judgemental, it helps them remember relatives better.
Your TITOS AND TITAS WILL INTERROGATE you and your special someone more than the FBI does
Uncles and Aunties (Titos and Titas) are always curious about what’s going on in your life even to the extent of going too personal. They’ll ask about your studies/job, weight gain/loss (and yes, this is a normal topic among us), and love life many times. It can be kind of intrusive but it is always their normal way of catching up with you. They may have learned to use Facebook but, they are curious to hear from you personally and know what happened behind the scenes. They’re really good at getting information when talking with you or your cousins, and you’ll wonder why the FBI hasn’t offered them a job yet.
Bonus: If you bring your special someone, expect a CIA level of interrogation. However, this is because they care and that is why they want to know more about this person should they ever become a part of the family. It would be a good thing to give this person a heads up, especially if he or she is not of the same culture to prevent culture shock.
They will FEED YOU TOO MUCH
Gatherings like these are always overflowing with food. You will have the likes of lumpia, Lechon, barbeque, “pancit” (Philippine noodles), Filipino delicacies (traditional sweet foods) that everyone will enjoy eating. Aunts (Titas) may say you’ve gotten fat (and it is normal for them to say it, LOL) but will also tell you to eat more and forget your diet just for the night. They will initiate to fill your plate and insist that you finish it because you’d be throwing away blessings if you don’t. It’s their way of making sure you’re well-fed and, enjoying the spirit of hospitality is all that you could do. After all, lots of foods (could be your thing or not) always make an amazing Filipino party.
You’ll have too much fun, you WOULDN’T WANT TO LEAVE
You want to catch up with each other like everyone else does with family reunions but, KARAOKE and DANCE for fun will never be missed and most of the time the reason for an overnight party. These setups make Filipino family reunions super fun and unforgettable. Some may get drunk, get out of tune singing the karaoke, tumble while dancing but sure, everyone treats the moments as part of the fun. Oftentimes, you will find yourself saying goodbye only to keep extending your stay, and the next thing you realize you will still be with each other during the wee hours of the morning.
Looking at the calendar again to know when the next family reunion is? Host one if you really can’t wait and you can be very sure the family won’t hesitate to come over for some Karaoke and Dancing time again.