Navigating Filipino Funeral Traditions

February 15, 2024

A Guide to Understanding and Respecting Cultural Practices

In every culture, the rituals surrounding funerals and mourning are deeply ingrained. They serve as a way to honor the departed and provide comfort to the grieving. Within the rich tapestry of global funeral customs, Filipino funeral traditions stand out for their unique blend of religious, familial, and communal practices. For those unfamiliar with these customs, attending a Filipino funeral may feel unfamiliar, but understanding and respecting these traditions is key to offering support and showing solidarity with the bereaved family.


At Coastal Funeral Center, where we serve a diverse community, we recognize the importance of cultural sensitivity in funeral services. In this blog post, we aim to shed light on Filipino funeral traditions, offering insights into what to expect and how to respectfully navigate these ceremonies with confidence and reverence.


Overview of Filipino Funeral Traditions

Filipino funeral customs are usually deeply rooted in Catholicism, a legacy of centuries of Spanish colonization. However, they also incorporate elements from pre-colonial indigenous beliefs and Chinese traditions, resulting in a unique blend of religious and cultural practices.


1. Extended Wake

One of the most distinctive features of Filipino funerals is the extended wake, which typically lasts for several days, sometimes even up to a week or more. During this period, the deceased is laid in an open casket at their home or a funeral parlor, surrounded by loving family members and friends. Visitors pay their respects, offer condolences, and pray for the soul of the departed.


2. Prayer and Rituals

Prayer plays a central role in Filipino funeral rites. Catholic prayers, including the Rosary and novenas, are recited throughout the wake. These practices provide spiritual comfort to the deceased and their loved ones.

Rosary beads as a Filipino Funeral Tradition

3. Food and Hospitality

Hospitality is a hallmark of Filipino culture, even in times of mourning. Relatives and friends of the bereaved often bring food and refreshments to share with visitors during the wake. This gesture of generosity serves not only to nourish the guests but also to foster a sense of community and support during a difficult time.


Many families have used the reception room at Coastal Funeral Center following the service to have a time of fellowship.


4. Funeral Mass and Burial

The funeral culminates in a Mass, where prayers are offered. After the Mass, the deceased is brought to the cemetery for burial. Filipino burial customs vary depending on regional and familial traditions. They may include final prayers, the sprinkling of holy water, and the placing of flowers or other offerings on the grave.


Etiquette for Attending a Filipino Funeral

If you are attending a Filipino funeral for the first time, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the customs and etiquette observed during these ceremonies. Here are some tips to help you navigate the experience respectfully:


1. Dress Conservatively

Filipino funerals are solemn occasions, so dress modestly and conservatively out of respect for the deceased and their family. Dark-colored clothing is typically preferred, with black being the most traditional choice. For more suggestions on funeral attire, read “What to Wear to a Funeral.”


2. Offer Condolences

When offering condolences to the bereaved family, a simple “I’m sorry for your loss” or “Condolences” is appropriate. You may also offer prayers or words of comfort if you feel comfortable doing so.


3. Participate in Prayers and Rituals

If you are Catholic or comfortable participating in religious rituals, feel free to join in the prayers and rituals conducted during the wake and funeral Mass. However, if you are not religious, it is also acceptable to observe quietly and respectfully.


4. Bring Food or Offer Assistance

If you are close to the family or community, consider bringing food or offering assistance to help ease their burden during the funeral preparations. This gesture of kindness and support will be greatly appreciated.


5. Respect Cultural Customs

Above all, respect the cultural customs and traditions observed during the funeral. Avoid any behavior that may be considered disrespectful or inappropriate, such as loud talking, cell phone noise, or inappropriate attire.



Filipino funeral traditions are deeply rooted in faith, family, and community. They reflect the cultural values and beliefs of the Filipino people. By understanding and respecting these customs, we can honor the memory of the departed and provide comfort and support to their loved ones during their time of grief.


At Coastal Funeral Center, we provide culturally sensitive funeral services that honor the diverse traditions of our community. Whether you are planning a funeral for a loved one or attending a funeral as a guest, we are here to assist you every step of the way.


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About Coastal Funeral Center

At Coastal Funeral Center, we are committed to being dedicated guardians of family and community, while holding on to the legacy we established as a family-owned funeral home. Originally A.M Gamby Funeral Home, Coastal Funeral Center joined Green Hills Memorial Park in 2018 to better serve the community of the South Bay and Palos Verdes Peninsula. During this transition, we expanded our services as an all-inclusive facility and built on the successes of Green Hills Memorial Park. We’re proud of our legacy of personal service and our deep roots in the community, which we’ve been part of for more than 80 years. We provide customized funeral service options that meet your financial needs and honor your loved one like the beautiful individual they were. To learn more, visit

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