Building & Renovating

7 Pinoy Building Superstitions You Might Have Heard Of

Do you still believe in these traditional pamahiin?

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Filipinos are a superstitious bunch. Most of us follow pamahiin (superstitions) on many occasions, be it a wedding, a funeral, or even a simple house blessing or party. But the superstitions that are heeded the most are those that pertain to buying or building a house, which is one of the most important stages in our lives. Here are some of the more popular ones—will you play it safe and heed all of them?


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Don’t buy a house that is tumbok.

Have you ever wondered why a house located at a dead end or at the end of a T-junction has a hard time getting rented or sold? This is what you call the tumbok house; and the belief is related to Feng Shui, as it is believed that the qi or energy that goes through this type of road is so strong, and if it lands straight on your house, you could suffer some spiritual “damage.” Homeowners stuck with this type of house often cheat it by offsetting their gate and main entrance to one side, avoiding the tumbok or direct hit.

Avoid building a room over a septic tank.

You’ve probably heard an elderly person recommending not building a house over a septic tank, as the pamahiin is that you are living over your own grave. There is a logical, more sanitary reason as well—if servicemen have to access the septic tank for maintenance or draining, a manhole will have to be built within the room or home, and opening it will release noxious fumes and all sorts of nasty, unhealthy germs.

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Skip the 13th floor.

The number 13 has always been considered an unlucky or evil number; some say it stems from Judas being Jesus’ 13th disciple and traitor, and there is even a known phobia of the number 13—triskaidekaphobia.

With our superstitious culture, you’ll find it rare to encounter an actual condo or building with a 13th floor, or a Unit 13. Most building owners have their 13th floors skipped, going straight to the 14th floor, or have the 13th level closed off to the general public as a utility floor. Unit or house numbers that are listed as the 13th are re-numbered as “12A” or “12B.”

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Choose a lucky house number.

Lucky and unlucky house numbers differ per belief—be it numerology, Feng Shui, or others (for a primer on this, click here). Some consider four to be unlucky, others say 8 or 19 are lucky. One homeowner we know got stuck with a supposedly unlucky number, so she just posted her surname on the front gate. 

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Make sure your doors don’t face each other.

Another construction and design-related belief is that you should not position doors to face each other. One hack you can do when the building or space you are renovating gives you no choice but to locate a door right in front of another, is to offset one door by a few centimeters, just so it is not directly in front of the other.


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Your main door should not face a flight of stairs.

Another related belief is that your main door should not lead straight to a stairway. This belief is also possibly rooted in Feng Shui, wherein the main door is considered “The Mouth of Chi,” which absorbs all the good energy. If a stairwell is located right in front of this “mouth,” it is believed all the good energy will go straight up to the second floor, leaving the lower level without good chi.


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Bring in a container each of salt, sugar, and rice when you move in.

The belief is that when you bring in these three food essentials on the first day that you move into a new home, your pantry will be fully stocked for as long as you live there. Another related pamahiin (that is also practiced around the world) is bringing in a new broom and a loaf of bread when you move in—the broom will sweep away bad luck, and the bread will keep hunger at bay.

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