House of Representatives

As pandemic rages, House OKs bill on ‘safe’ Filipino way of greeting

Mara Cepeda
As pandemic rages, House OKs bill on ‘safe’ Filipino way of greeting

'BATING FILIPINO.' Marikina City 1st District Representative Bayani Fernando demonstrates the "Bating Filipino."

Screenshot courtesy of Fernando's Facebook page

Under the proposed measure, Filipinos are supposed to greet others by placing the palm of their right hand on the center of their chest while lowering their head

The House of Representatives has passed a bill that would institutionalize a “new and safe” way for Filipinos to greet each other while the coronavirus pandemic continues to grip the country. 

On Tuesday night, January 19, a total of 212 legislators voted in favor of House Bill (HB) No. 8149 or the proposed Bating Filipino Para sa Kalusugan Act on 3rd and final reading. 

Only one legislator opposed the measure while one abstained from the vote. 

Under the bill primarily authored by Marikina 1st District Representative Bayani “BF” Fernando, Filipinos would be expected to greet others by “gracefully” laying the palm of their right hand over the center of their chest while simultaneously lowering their head. 

Their eyes must either be closed or cast down.

HB 8149 argues that because the state is expected to promote the health and well-being of every citizen, then it should “set standards of social contact such as a safe and proper gesture to express and convey respect, goodwill, or praise among persons.”

Fernando earlier said this new way of greeting would help prevent Filipinos from shaking the hands of others. It’s seen as another means to promote physical distancing amid the COVID-19 crisis. 

The bill, however, would not impose any punishment on those who would not use the new gesture. 

Legislators passed the Bating Filipino bill as COVID-19 cases in the country breached half a million, and as the government continues to secure enough supplies of vaccines for all citizens.

As of Tuesday, January 19, COVID-19 has claimed 9,909 lives.while 465,988 people have recovered from the disease. –

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at or tweet @maracepeda.