“Oh, the things they tell you!” – Superstitions and unusual beliefs

I was on the phone with my mother-in-law yesterday and I told her that I would be bringing the twins to the pedia later to have their cold and cough checked. She immediately said to keep her posted and to not let the twins drink cold water. My antennae twitched a little bit at that last one, as it sometimes does when I encounter traditional beliefs that can possibly be myths.

So later on I asked our pedia if it’s true that the kids shouldn’t drink cold water while they’re sick. No, she very definitely said. In fact, in cases like sore throat, cold water can even be helpful and soothing. And it makes sense, right, because what causes the common cold is the common cold virus, and not cold weather or cold drinks or whatever.

O, ano pa?” my pedia asked me after she finished explaining, clasping her hands in front of her and all but saying, “okay let’s demolish these myths one by one once and for all.” And that’s one of the many things I like about her—her willingness to answer our questions lengthily no matter how seemingly insignificant they may be (and if it’s health-related nothing is insignificant anyway).

Of course, I didn’t monopolize all of her time by thinking up one question after another, and not a lot of things were coming to mind at the moment anyway. I just asked if it’s true that we shouldn’t give the twins baths when they have a fever. And her answer is yes, and no. While the fever is raging, a bath can be really uncomfortable to the skin. But sometimes there are short spells when the fever would abate, then a bath won’t be at all amiss.

When the twins were born, and even while I was pregnant, a lot of these superstitions or traditional practices came out of the woodwork. People tell you all sorts of stuff. They mean well, of course, and I’m grateful they care enough to give advice. One has to be discerning, though, and my usual reaction to such advice is usually polite acknowledgment, while mentally saying to myself, “I wonder if there’s a scientific rationale for that?” I did a lot of Googling, and the usual answer is no, there isn’t.

some possible reactions to superstitions: a) polite dedma, b) ha ha that's funny, and c) the heck did you just say?

some possible reactions to superstitions: A) polite dedma, B) ha ha that’s funny, and C) the heck did you just say?

Some of the beliefs/advice I’ve heard:

  • You can tell if a baby’s hungry or not by feeling the top of her head (bumbunan). If it’s soft or there’s a little depression, then baby is hungry. I don’t know if there’s science behind this, but actually, when babies are hungry usually they would bloody well let you know about it, and they wouldn’t care about the state of their bumbunan. Exceptions are early hunger cues on newborns, which new mothers really have to know about. Here’s a helpful graphic on that.
  • You have to cut their hair and/or eyelashes so it would grow back lush and healthy. Cutting up my tiny babies’ eyelashes were a definite no-no to me, and I repeatedly told my mother that. But of course she went ahead and did it anyway. She did one twin first, and when she got to the other she only managed to do the lashes in one eye. Today, there’s no difference in the eyelashes of either eye so yeah, that particular belief is pretty much shot down.
  • When baby’s having the hiccups, place a tiny damp spool of thread on her forehead. I’m sorry, what? I couldn’t understand the connection, but it seemed harmless enough so I would just watch when my mother or mother-in-law would pull out a couple of strands of lampin, moisten it and place it on baby’s forehead. When the twins’ Ninang Abby came to visit, her version was moistened cotton wad instead of thread, and she had an explanation: the coldness of the water would distract the baby, which would somehow cause the hiccups to stop. Aha, at least that sort of makes sense! Parang pag sa adults, ginugulat. But sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, right?
  • Masama daw pag umiiyak sa hapon, patahanin na agad. Duh, as if ayaw ko naman patahanin kahit anong oras umiyak diba?
  • Makokomang/masasakang/masasarat ang ilong pag blah-blah-blah. Fill in the blanks, there are a lot of versions. The nose thing sometimes irks me, but I’d just say okay lang yan, kahit matangos or pango pa yan! Hay, Filipinos and their traditional concepts of beauty…

Again, things like these I usually just take with a grain of salt. Especially if it’s purely superstition because there’s a spiritual aspect to that. Your actions should be guided by faith and your relationship with God, and not about certain practices. Some people say, “wala namang masama/walang mawawala pag sinunod niyo.” My reaction is, yes, something suffered. Your faith.

We even ignored the classic sukob superstition! My sister and I got married the same year. There was also a death in the family in the same year (which happened before both weddings). Today, my sister and I are happily married and happily raising our babies.

So yes, listening to advice is good, but we should always be discerning and in a position to make our own informed decision.

How about you, what are the some of the more unusual traditional practices or superstitions have you heard? Do you follow? Ignore? Or maybe have proven some to be true?


55 thoughts on ““Oh, the things they tell you!” – Superstitions and unusual beliefs

    • sometimes I just let them do it para walang isyu, but when it involves something that involves a lot of bother to do and I don’t believe in it naman, tumatanggi talaga ako. isyu minsan pero basta ayoko 🙂


  1. When I gave to my two kids, my mom has tons of superstition beliefs that I didn’t follow. The list goes on and on. I only tell her, whats the use of me being a nurse if I don’t know what is good for me or not? But I told her in a nice way.


  2. A lot! One of which is, eat twin bananas so you can have twins! My gosh, I ate na yata all the twin bananas in the world, wala naman akong naging kambal! hehe.. I do listen but I don’t follow hehe..:)


  3. I feel you! sabi ng mother-in-law ko dati bawal daw ilabad ang baby pag hindi pa nagbibinyagan. So paano if wala kami budget for binyag until 2 years old ng baby so hindi siya lalabas? Haha. Ang weird kasi nila sa mga pamahiin then if you do not follow them masama ka. but to think na some of the beliefs are really harmful din sa baby.


    • we are fortunate enough that even though my mother-in-law or my mother might mention some of those superstitions, they still recognize that we’re the ones with the final say. and if they take offense, dedma na lang, he he. we do what we do because we want what’s best for our kids.


  4. my MIL is also superstitious. good thing my hubby and mom isn’t, kaya walang makulit. lol! besides it’s still up to us, as parents, kung susundin or not. but just like you, lagi ko iniisip ang scientific rationale. lol!


    • weird naman kasi talaga nung iba ano? although I also acknowledge that there are traditional wisdom that really work. like yung mga advice on what plants/herbs to use as medicine, generally I give more credence to those


  5. Nung baby pa, pag nausog daw, dapat lagyan ng laway yung baby. Germs kaya! But we believe in God and don’t any anting-anting or bracelet pang avoid ng usog. Or lipstick sa noo????


    • kadiri yung laway, ayoko ha ha! pati yata ako naranasan ko yun nung maliit ako. wala pa namang nag-attempt with my twins. dati sa province nakikita ko yung matatanda walang abiso bigla na lang hahaplos with laway sa mga baby! eeee! 😀


  6. When I gave birth, I knew the superstitions weren’t true because I studied nursing, and in school they really teach us that those are not true. But my mother-in-law was “Oooh, don’t do this and that, bawal yan or yun” haha


  7. Hahaha. I have a similar post about superstitions. I got that a lot from my mom and even my neighbors. My mom’s, I could respect. Often, I would not do anything about it but if I think it’s not too much to do then I would just politely follow her. She is aware that I am more science-based though – if there’s no scientific explanation behind it, then it’s just hoax. Those from the neighbors I find annoying. They’re clearly unsolicited advice that I don’t want to hear. I love it when they see me going against tradition. Hahaha!

    Nice picture, by the way, and funny caption. Hahaha.


  8. My hubby and I took care of our babies talaga without any elders telling us what to do as in pedia lang talaga ako natuto. And like you, I haven’t heard these superstitions from her. Sometimes imbento talaga sila pero still, it won’t hurt to ask.


  9. My mother knows even before pa that I don’t believe in something unless it’s backed-up by science or if there’s a real good reason behind it. I listen, but I don’t always follow. 🙂


  10. I’ve never heard of those superstitions before! I did hear a lot though when I was pregnant. I would just acknowledge them but never followed that they’d say. Good thing my mom and in-laws aren’t that superstitious, if they were we’d be in a lot of disagreements.


  11. Your pedia sounds very nice hehe 🙂 I hear so many superstitious stuffs also about what to do and what not to do. If it sounds illogical, I’d usually google it for affirmation that I’m right and what was said to me was wrong. 🙂


  12. Hahahah! I agree. Once I was told wag daw mag gupit ng kuko sa gabi? Why? I can’t understand anong connection ng pag gupit ng kuko sa gabi? Hehehe. I just told my boyfriend na kung bakit ayaw ng mom nia gupitan sa gabi is because those who said that had a poor eyesight so they can’t see well kapag ginupitan ng kuko sa gabi hahahah. Make sense right? Hayy..


  13. Hahaha! I can totally relate. I have three kids already (the eldest is turning 13), so I’ve had my fair share of superstitions thrown at me over the years. My mom is especially fond of them but I just let her talk and usually ignore the advice if it’s only based on superstition. I decide for my own child of course. 🙂


  14. I feel you… I was also told nonsensical beliefs but I didn’t follow them. I stuck to what I knew or what I thought was probable and based my decisions more scientifically. The thread and “lalawayan” beliefs are just some that I strongly disagree with. It is hard though when there are relatives that have these beliefs so to be respectful I would listen but ultimately I would follow my instincts and they caught on.


  15. When I gave birth, my parents in law assist us in taking care of our baby, naglagay sila ng mga bawang at asin sa isang container and they placed it in front of our gate. I let them na lang baka kasi ma hurt pag pinaalis ko. hehe…The lists of those pamahiin are endless talaga. It is up to us na lang if maniniwala tayo or hindi. For me, I will always believe God! yun na…:-D


    • napa-imagine tuloy ako ng movie plot, in which your parents-in-law were legendary vampire slayers pala and you didn’t know, and they were safeguarding your baby because there were a lot of creatures out to take revenge, he he


  16. Oh my, I think I have been through all those mentioned superstitious beliefs because my mother and grandmother were very strict in making sure I follow them but the beauty of starting one’s own family is that we get to decide on our own.


  17. Pingback: Twins on Hyperlapse: Yoga Session | adventures in ever after

  18. hahahaha I so can relate! Pati yng wag pahahalikin sa baby na mas bata kasi baka sumabay dun magsalita.. duh! ahahahah

    But sometimes you know, nasasambit ko na hindi masama kung sundin or wala din mawawala. 🙂


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