The proposal to institutionalize a safer way of greeting and gesture of friendship hurdled committee approval in the House of Representatives.
The House Committee on Basic Education and Culture unanimously approved House Bill 7333 that seeks to institutionalize a “new Filipino gesture of goodwill, praise, and respect” that is safe amid the continued onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new gesture of friendship will be used as an alternative to handshaking during the COVID-19 period.
Committee approval came swiftly after various government agencies, including the Department of Health and Department of Education, endorsed its passage.
Authored by Marikina City Rep. Bayani F. Fernando, HB 7333 or the proposed Bating Filipino Law introduces a new way of greeting by “the simple act of gracefully laying the palm of the right hand over the center of the chest with simultaneous slight head nod, closed eyes or looking down, and a happy Filipino smile.”
Fernando failed to show up during the committee deliberation on the bill but Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez represented Fernando, saying that he is all out for the approval of the measure.
Committee chairman and Pasig City Rep. Roman Romulo said a House resolution with similar provisions and also written by Fernando has been adopted by the House.
Representing the DoH, Dr. Norilyn Evangelita said the introduction of the “new way of cultural greeting which is an alternative to handshake” is welcomed by the DoH.
Evangelista said this will help “break the chain of COVID-19 transmission.”
Deputy Speaker and Sorsogon Rep. Evelina Escudero said the National Commission for Culture and the Arts submitted a position paper in support of the measure but with one amendment – changing the title to Bating Filipino para sa Kalusugan.
In filing the bill, Fernando underscored the need to institutionalize the new gesture as the country faces the the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fernando explained that while handshaking has been the internationally accepted gesture of friendship, trust, and respect that dates back during the 5th Century B.C., current health standards require an alternative to such display of camaraderie.
“However, the medical profession has established that the traditional, well-meaning, and innocent gesture of handshake transmits communicable diseases and is a risk to one’s health,” he said.
The former Marikina City mayor explained that the newly introduced gesture which calls or the lacing of hand over the chest “is a universal gesture of good faith coming from the heart.”
He added that “the nod conveys respect and humility while closing the eyes or looking down signifies trust on the person” met.