Buena mano is a Spanish phrase that literally means “good hand.” In Philippine business practice, the phrase means the first sale of the day, which is believed to bring good luck to the business. The meaning of the phrase is flexible, however; it can refer either to the transaction itself or to the first paying customer of the day.
Few of us know the precise mythology of buena mano, but most of us instinctively subscribe to the practice anyway. One of the quaint rituals we perform in homage to this belief is patting our goods with the money we received from our first sale of the day. We do it in the belief that the ritual will make our goods fly off the shelves for the rest of the day and give us handsome profits.
Although its exact origin is obscure, the custom was undoubtedly brought to our shores by Spanish colonizers. They not only converted us to Roman Catholicism but also immersed us in Hispanic manners, customs, and habits for a period of nearly 400 years.
Whatever its true origins, buena mano is something many Filipinos take very seriously. This is why as customers, we always make it a point to ask for a discount if we think that ours is the first transaction of the day. We expect that if we are indeed the buena mano for the day, our requests will most likely be granted—and much more enthusiastically at that!
This article was originally published in the June 2008 issue of Entrepreneur Philippines.