Philippines Culture Essay Papers

February 20, 2015

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 Wikipedia, the last five hundred years of eventful history of the country added an impact to the cultural blend of the Asian and Western population. 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 1900's.  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 are 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 from 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. According to Wikipedia, 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 the 9% of the rest of the population.


Christmas is one of the most loved celebration 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 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 sport 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.











Family Structure

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 which 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 are dipped on spicy and sweet sauces.


The Philippines has a very unique culture due to the influences of colonization and the surrounding countries. Filipino people are very hardworking and strive to make life better for the next generation of their family.  The melting pot theory that is evident in this culture makes this country a vibrant, exciting and diverse place to live and visit.

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Culture of the Philippines

In the culture of the Filipinos, there are evident influences. These influences set it apart from the other nations or cultures. These influences manifest themselves in the robust life that embodies the vibrant history of the nation, close family ties, and influences from the colonial masters. The paper focuses on the significant spheres of life where the influences are most evident. The paper will look at the robust culture of the Filipinos from different angles as outlined .

The national identity of the Filipinos comes out visibly in the cultural sophistication and diversity that is common among the population in Philippines. Cities designs that the people employ in their construction are the ultimate expressions of the desire of the people to express them. Urbanism is evident in Manila the capital city of Philippines. Manila qualifies to be viewed as a dangerous city for its own citizens. With millions of people living in the city, there is heightened pollution and other vices that make the city risky for the people. However, the notion held by many people that the city is a death trap is a fallacy. The city also acts as an incubator for the culture of the people. Urban culture is divergent from the conventional village culture. The views of the urbanites lean towards the western influences. Melanesian culture is also evident in the Philippines (Rodell, 2002). The people are distinct in their looks in that they have blond hair that is mostly found in Europe. This distinct ethnic group adds to the diversity of the Filipinos. The other group of people that adds to the diversity in the area includes the Austronesians. They are among the minority tribes in Philippines (Rodell, 2002).

Philippines are made up of 7107 islands found on the Pacific Rim in Southeast Asia. The major islands account for the greatest share of inhabitants with most of the islands uninhabited. The volcanic nature of most of the islands makes them uninhabitable. The country borders china, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Indonesia. There are over 175 listed languages in Philippines. Four of them do not have any known speakers. However, there are few known speakers of the indigenous language. This factor coupled by the difficulty in difficulty in determining the exact language to use led to the adoption of English as the official language. Filipino is also used in most of the urban areas. This language is a standard version of Tagalog (Rodell, 2002). The population of the Philippines is eighty one million as per 2000 census. Life expectancy in the nation is 67 years. The most important symbols for the Filipinos include the national flower, the flag and the heraldic code. However, the most significant symbol is the national flag that has white, red and blue colors. Flag ceremonies take place daily in schools and once per week in governmental offices (Rodell, 2002).

Rice is the staple food for the Filipinos. It is not a meal unless rice features therein. The crop also features among the primary source of livelihood for the population. Unemployment is rampant in the country. Most of the people that have some form of employment rely on agriculture, fishing and forestry. The remainder of the employed people relies on mining and light industries for their livelihoods (Rodell, 2002). Christmas and Idd fitr and Idd Mubarak are among the principal ceremonies for the people depending on the faith that they profess. The independence celebration is the most important nonreligious ceremony. However, the people have different celebrations conducted by the individual tribes or clans.

Social classes exist in the Filipino society. The ranking of a person into any of the classes depends on the economic power that he, or she bears. Education is also relevant in determining the class of a person (Rodell, 2002). The political system has some influences from the western nations. However, the democracy in the country is always under attack since the country has witnessed many conflicts in the past that pit the government against the guerrillas and the military. The common trend of war made the country develop codes on the flag that indicates the times of peace and war. This aspect tellingly points towards the precarious nature of the government military relations. The representative government accords a lot of respect to the military class as it is evident in the government spending (Rodell, 2002).

Like most of the nations in Asia, the gender roles in Philippines are distinctive. Men play different roles from their female counterparts. The traditional role of the men is to fend for their families. The women take care of families by playing the general yet crucial role of homemakers. The traditional roles of either gender are under constant changes. The changes are indicative of the extent of the western culture influence on the people (Rodell, 2002).

The primary job demands make most of the people living in towns to leave the children with their parents in the rural areas. This approach to infant care places the burden on all the family members. The fact that the children stay with their parents makes it imperative that the children have to attend the preschool years with their elder relatives. The Filipinos lay a lot of emphasis on education since it is the surest way of gaining upward mobility. This approach to education is the main reason behind the high literacy levels among children under the age of ten years. The education system displays both eastern and western influences. The children from the poorest families do not attend school despite education being compulsory to all until the attainment of 12 years. The elementary education takes six years while secondary education takes four years. It is rare for public schools to have kindergartens and preschools. The language used in the schools includes Filipino and English (Rodell, 2002).

Filipinos are deeply religious people. They profess Christianity, Islam, and traditional religious beliefs. The majority of people are Christians mostly Roman Catholics. The minority religions are the Sunni Muslims are among the minority religions. In roman Christian homes, the members say the rosary at 9 pm. The children grow up with the knowledge and practices of the Roman Catholic. There are also a few protestant factions. The most practiced rituals are the customary Muslim and Christian rituals although there are some people that believe in the traditional faith healers. Burial rituals have a pivotal role in the society since the people believe in life after death (Rodell, 2002).

The ruling classes have provided the people with means of accessing medical care with ease. This feat was made attainable by the use of subsidies to enable all the people access medical care at no cost irrespective of the economic power of the people. This is the main driver behind the high life expectancy. The males have a life expectancy of 64 years while the females have life expectancy of 70 years (Rodell, 2002).

There are different secular holidays that the Filipinos celebrate. Happy New Year is a holiday that the people celebrate with their families this day is combined with the Rizal Day on 30 December. Happy New Year is celebrated by use of firecrackers and gunfire sounds. The fall of Bataan Day is the other significant holiday in the Philippines. This is an observation of the death of Bataan. The people also celebrate Labor Day. The other holiday that has a lot of significance among the Philippines is the Independence Day that celebrates liberation of people from the Spanish rule. The Filipinos of Chinese descent observe the New Year in the Chinese calendar. However, this is not a national holiday. Islamic festivals are also relevant for the Filipinos that profess Islam (Rodell, 2002).


Rodell, P. (2002). Culture and customs of the Philippines. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press.

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