The House of Representatives passed on final reading the “Bating Filipino” bill proposing to institutionalize a new gesture of greeting and friendship that may be part of the public health and safety protocols as the country continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Authored by Marikina City Rep. Bayani Fernando, House Bill 8149 or the Bating Filipino Act received 212 “yes” votes against the lone “no” and single abstention.
Even before the bill’s approval in the Lower House, Fernando has started to campaign for the public to adopt the new way of showing friendship, respect and goodwill to each other.
“In this pandemic, humanity should have learned to do away with the hazards of handshakes. The “high 5”, the fist bump and the practice of non-contact Bating Pilipino” which is in every movement expresses sincere greeting, respect, praise and trust,” said Fernando.
The former Marikina City mayor authored HB 8149 which has gained bipartisan support in the Lower House.
Fernando described the Bating Pilipino as a “humble and respectful way of greeting” especially when done “with grace” and with “our best very Filipino smile.”
With or without pandemic, there is a need to institutionalize this “safer way of greeting and gesture of friendship”, Fernando stressed.
The House Committee on Basic Education and Culture strongly endorsed passage of the measure as it swiftly approved it during a panel meeting last month.
Fernando said the Bating Pilipino is simply done by “an 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.”
The Department of Health, represented in the committee hearing by Dr. Norilyn Evangelista, 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.”
Fernando explained that while handshaking has been the internationally accepted gesture of friendship, trust and respect that dates back during the 5th Century BC, 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.