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.
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.
Further Cultural and Localization Resources
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Editor’s Note: In celebration of the Philippines’ 117th Independence Day, INQUIRER.net is publishing short essays submitted by our readers.
Gemma Louise Heaton, a teacher at The Lord of Grace Christian School, asked students under her History and Social Studies classes to answer our question: “What’s the best that you have done for our country?” Here are their responses.
‘Be proud of being a Filipino’
What is the best the thing I have done for my country? I actually don’t know because at my age, it is impossible to do something big. Then I realized it isn’t important on how big it is. I think the best thing I’ve done for my country is to be proud that I am a Filipino.
Being proud that I am a Filipino is not quite easy. Sometimes, I even doubt it because of our government. The people have to rally on the streets to get what they want. I feel like it is telling me that we have to go to war first before we can gain peace. When I was in Grade 7, we studied Philippine history. I then appreciated peace. It was not just about the Filipinos fighting the Spanish but how we fought for our independence.
Now, if someone will ask me what is the best thing that I have done for our country, I will tell him or her that I am proud to be a Filipino.
– Jen Denielle R. Hernandez, Grade 9
There are many heroes and heroines who have done big things for the Philippines: Andres Bonifacio, who sacrificed and gave everything for the sake of the Philippines; Melchora Aquino, who risked her life to help the Katipuneros; Dr. Jose Rizal, who is our national hero, and others who sacrificed their lives.
But what is the best thing a 13-year-old girl has done and can do for her country? I am not a mother who is a hero for neither her child nor a father who is a hero for his son. I am just a sophomore student, a girl who knows nothing but to eat, sleep, surf the Internet, watch television and fan-girl over Daniel Padilla. The things I have done for my country so far are to make my parents proud and to give respect. I study to make my parents, as well as my teachers, proud. It is not easy to make a person proud and, at the same time, happy.
I gave relief items to the victims of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” before. Yes, it is a big thing, but for me, giving respect is bigger. It is the biggest thing a 13-year-old girl can do and give. Giving respect, for me, is the sister of loving and loving is the root of caring.
Giving respect is the best thing I have done for my country and for the people around me.
– Maureen Omanito, Grade 8
‘Study our history, teach it to others’
What’s the best that I have done for my beautiful, loving country? Even if I can’t die for my country like Andres Bonifacio and Dr. Jose Rizal, here are best things that I have done for my country and I will continue to do for my country: In our house, we separate biodegradable, degradable and recyclable trash. For that, I contribute to saving our environment. I also use “po” and “opo” because it is one of our Filipino traits well-known by people around the world.
But really, what is the best that I have done for our country? It is to study about its history so that I can teach it to the future young Filipino kids, that they will never forget where they belong. It doesn’t matter if what you’ve done for your country is big or small. Small things can become big things.
You don’t have to die for your country; you can simply do small things that will help the future of the Philippines.
– Marie Gold Vivien M. Totanes, Grade 8
‘Do good in school’
When people ask that question, the answer really depends on who you are asking. When you ask an adult, he/she would probably answer something like: “I have donated to charity” or “I have beggars on the street.” But as a sophomore student, and not a financially fortunate one at that, there is only so much I can do.
A lot of people say it doesn’t matter how old you are and stuff like that, “you can do anything if you put your mind to it.” But in my perspective, I am just a little girl who is lost in a big world. What is there for a 14-year-old to do that will improve our country? After all the ups and downs in my 14 years of existence, I guess the best I can do is to do good in school, succeed as a student and be an obedient daughter to my family.
If I am an honor student, I can graduate with honors, and graduating with a scholarship is my goal. If I can make to the Dean’s List, I will succeed in the career I want to pursue. If I am going to be a film director in the future, as an adult I can change or improve the country by directing inspirational or motivational films.
– Anna Maria Mikaela Almirez, Grade 8
‘Pray for the nation, embrace our culture’
Praying for our nation is the best I can contribute to our country. When we had our field trip at Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, we were told not to fold the bills. By not folding our monetary bills, I am helping our economy. Embracing our culture is one of the best things I can do for our country.
– Jean Lalaine F. Rubio, Grade 9
‘Help victims of calamities’
I, with my dad and sister, participated in the “World Wide Walk” fund run to help the people who were affected by a typhoon in the Visayas, a run that broke the Guinness World Record for having a huge number of participants. This event helped the victims of the typhoon in Samar and Leyte. If there are more events like this in the future, I’ll be there to participate and help.
– VJ Bagani R. Villan, Grade 9
I think the best thing I have done for my country is to save electricity since the Philippines has a power supply problem.By simply turning off appliances when not in use, we are helping the country.
– Aira Joy L. Bercero, Grade 10
‘Pick up litter’
As a student, the simple things I can do for my country will snowball to bigger things.Something as simple as picking up candy wrappers affects us all. This should not be taken lightly, as throwing small things can lead to throwing bigger things. By picking up litter, if done little by little, we are also influencing others to do the same.
– Reimart C. Sarmiento, Grade 10
Being a citizen is a little difficult for the reason that you have to follow the rules implemented by your country. We know that people hate to follow them; if you don’t you, could be sent to jail or you will have to pay the price. You have to submit to the authorities. You have to be responsible and you need to contribute in the simplest way that you can do for your country. Actually, as a citizen, you need to be aware and remember a few things or rules.
As a student, I believe the things that I can do for my country are limitless, as long as I believe in myself. Honestly, when I’m at home, I dislike following the house rules; sometimes, even when I am in school. When I’m outside, I throw garbage anywhere. But when I entered high school, I realized I have to stop these practices because it is childish. I need to grow up in order to contribute to my country. So, I started following the rules, regardless of where I am.
Therefore, I conclude that our society has a lot of problems right now and I’m aware there will be a lot more as time goes by. So stop being a burden in our society: Follow rules and submit to our authorities. Our society has a lot to face they may not be able to help you right now. Grow up!
– Lois Corliss Q. Rivera, Grade 9
‘Make the right decisions’
Choosing what course to take up in college and which school to apply for are the main thoughts of a Grade 10 student like me, taking up exams in the University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University and the University of Santo Tomas. Once we make the right decisions, we are doing the best we can do for our country.
– Joan Ellaine F. Rubio, Grade 10
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TAGS: 117th Independence Day, Essay, Independence Day, June 12, UGC