Filipino people are known as settlers in many parts of the world. They are like the chameleon who easily adapts to different environments. They thrive to survive. Survival of the fittest is their banner.
The Republic of the Philippines was named to honor King Philip II of Spain in 1543. Filipinos are originally from the southern part of Asia. People from countries like China, India, the United States, and Spain married Filipinos resulting in a great deal of stock blending. 79 indigenous ethnic groups compose the Filipino people. According to the research, the last five hundred years of the eventful history of the country added an impact to the cultural blend of the Asian and Western populations. The colonial reign of the Spaniards in 1570-1898 as well as the Americans in 1903-1946, resulted in the expansion of Christian values, which gave an identity to every Filipino. And the interaction with other countries’ cultures, like the ones from China, India, Indonesia, and Malaysia, gave a specific Asian touch to the cultural heritage of the Philippines.
There are 175 estimated languages spoken in the Philippines. Almost all are classified as Malayo-Polynesian languages. Among those languages, there are 13 indigenous languages with nearly 1 million speakers.
For more than three centuries Spanish was the official language under Spain’s colonial rule. It was spoken by 60% of the population as either a first, second or third language in the early 20th century. However, the use of Spanish began to decline after the United States occupation in the early 1900s. In 1935 the Constitution of the Philippines named English and Spanish the official languages. In 1939 the Tagalog language was named the national language. The language was renamed “Pilipino” in 1959 and finally “Filipino” in 1973. The present Constitution names Filipino and English as joint official languages.
The Philippines is a country that has varied cultural influences. Most of these influences are results of previous colonization, deriving mainly from the culture of Spain and the United States. Despite all of these influences, the old Asian culture of Filipinos has been retained and is clearly seen in their way of life, beliefs, and customs. Wherever you go, Filipino culture is very evident and has largely been appreciated and even applauded in many parts of the world.
Music, Arts and Literature
Filipinos are very fond of music. They use various materials to create sound. They love performing dances (Tiniking and Carinosa) and group singing during festive celebrations. Settlers from Spain introduced to them a variety of musical instruments like the ukulele, trumpet, drums and violin. Most of their music is contemporary and they have also learned to write their own songs based on real-life events. People are also fond of folklore, which was influenced by the early church and Spanish literature. Jose Rizal, the country’s national hero, is famous for his literature and novels inspired by the independence story of the country
The majority of Filipino people practice the Christian religion. Spain highly influenced the people to the extent that the Philippines became one of the two predominantly Christian nations in the Asia Pacific, the other being East Timor. Christianity is the religion of about 80% of the Philippine population (mostly Catholics) while Islam is the religion of 11%, and other religions and beliefs comprise 9% of the rest of the population.
Christmas is one of the most loved celebrations by Filipinos. Families and relatives gather on the 24th of December, to celebrate food prepared for “Noche Buena,” a Spanish term which means “midnight meal” to greet Christmas Day. New Year is another celebration that gathers the Filipino families. Wearing dotted clothes and preparing round fruits on the table, which symbolize prosperity, is one of the many customs of the Filipinos.
Filipinos are not only skilled when it comes to the industry but also in sports. The national sport of the Philippines is called arnis, a form of martial arts. Filipinos love watching American games like basketball, football and recently boxing which made the Philippines more famous all over the world. Filipino sports star, Manny Pacquiao, has been put on a pedestal due to his skill in boxing and more Filipinos have risen to stardom in the sports arena.
The basic social unit of the country is the family, which also includes the intermediate family members (aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins) and other outside relations (godparents and close friends). As such, many children have several godparents and when parents are out of the country to work, children are mostly left to the grandparents to watch over them. It is common for members of the same family to work for the same company, a practice that was influenced by the first Chinese settlers in the Philippines. Filipino families live in different kinds of house structures depending on their status or area. For families in rural areas, they live in a nipa hut which is made of bamboo and roofed with leaves from palm trees or corrugated metal. Filipinos that are ranked as “middle class” live in houses made of bricks and stones.
Filipinos are big eaters, even though it is not obviously seen in their petite bodies. The Philippines is known as Asia’s melting pot because of the uniqueness and variety of their food. Filipinos can’t go a day without including rice in their meals. They love plain rice matched with salted fish, chicken and meat. They serve rice first followed by the various viands they have grown to eat and cook. Filipinos have a very regular eating schedule: morning, mid-morning, lunch, afternoon (merienda) and dinner.
They enjoy a variety of sweet foods adopted from other countries which encouraged them to make their own desserts like “mahablanca” a dessert made of coconut milk, corn, sugar, or “puto” and “palitaw” which are also made of coconut milk. They also enjoy eating “halo-halo” for their afternoon snack which means “mixture,” a popular dessert that consists of layers of cornflakes, ice cream, small pieces of gelatin, milk and shaved ice.
During special occasions like a town’s big event in celebration of their saint’s feast, a favorite food called “lechon,” a suckling pig that has been roasted until the skin turns crusty is served. Some street foods are also common in the country like the famous “balut,” a boiled duck egg with an embryo, and fish and squid balls on a stick that is dipped on spicy and sweet sauces.