Maligayang bagong Taon (Happy New Years in Tagalog) from the Filipino Mental Health Initiative!

Written by: Nancy Chen, member of FMHI

For many of us, preparing for a New Year is a time of reflection on the past year’s events, accomplishments and challenges.  It is also a time of introspection about the hopes for the upcoming year.  The Filipino Mental Health Initiative (FMHI) would like to express much gratitude and appreciation for the opportunity to reach the Filipino community as well as surrounding communities.

FMHI is one of 9 mental health initiatives funded from the Mental Health Services Act in 2010 through  Behavioral Health and Recovery Services Office of Diversity and Equity. FMHI seeks to improve the well-being of Filipinos in San Mateo County by reducing stigma associated with mental health issues, increasing access to services, empowering the community to advocate for their mental health, and supporting wellness and recovery.  FMHI collaborates with county staff, community partners, consumers/family members, and community stakeholders to ensure that culturally appropriate services are available to Filipino residents.

The Filipino Mental Health Initiative (FMHI) has received support from various collaborations in 2017, wrapping the year up with three successful community events: 1) Philz Coffee Suicide Prevention Outreach event, 2) Philz Coffee Mental Health Poetry Slam, and 3)Immigrant Rights and Health Forum.  These events were made possible due to the support and collaboration with Supervisor David Canepa’s office, Philz Coffee, and St. Andrew Catholic Church’s Social Justice Ministry. 

In continued efforts to increase cultural awareness, below are some common Bisperas ng Bagong Toan (New Year’s Eve in Tagalog) Filipino traditions to welcome a prosperous New Year: 

  • The Philippines is predominately Catholic and New Year’s Day is considered a holy day of obligation. Many attend church to celebrate the new beginnings and reannounce commitments to the faith.
  • Media Noche (“midnight”) also known as Noche Buena (“the Good Night”) is the celebratory dinner shared with close family and friends to ring in the New Year. Pancit or long noodles are a staple as they represent good health and long life.  Eggs are eaten as a symbol of new life.  Sticky rice delicacies like biko or puto symbolize stronger family bonds.  Twelve round fruits, each signifies a month of the year, are served such as grapes, oranges, clementines, pomelo, cantaloupe, as the round shape symbolizes luck and fortune.
  • Dressing in polka dot patterns also symbolizes luck and prosperity. Pockets are filled with round coins and coins are left on top of tables and in drawers. 
  • Not spending money on New Year’s day represents that your wallet will continued to filled throughout the year.
  • Loud noises in the form of loud music, firecrackers, whistles, car horns, etc. are believed to drive away bad spirits.
  • Houses are cleaned prior to New Year’s and never cleaned on New Year’s Day as that is believed to sweep away the good fortune. Keeping windows, doors and cabinets open as the clock strikes midnight allows good energy and fortune to come into the house.
  • Jumping at the stroke of midnight for kids and adult is believed to help them grow taller and a sign of good luck.

Maligayang bagong Taon (Happy New Years in Tagalog) from the Filipino Mental Health Initiative!!!

For more information about FMHI visit their website here or contact Stephanie Balon and Christie Morales, FMHI Co-Chairs, at


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