Philippine culture: Wikis


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Life in the Philippines
Higher Education
Martial Arts
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The culture of the Philippines reflects the complexity of the history of the Philippines through the blending of several diverse traditional Malay[1] heritage mixed with Spanish [2], American and other Asian cultures.

Pre-Hispanic, and non-Christian Philippine cultures are derived from several indigenous traditions of the Austronesian primitive tribes called Malayo-Polynesian. The prehistoric Philippine Mythology and Philippine indigenous culture was later influenced by the Malayo-Polynesian cultures of Oceania, accompanied by a mixture of Western-Christianity, Eastern-Islamic, Hinduism and Buddhism tradition.

Spanish colonization in the Philippines lasted from 1565 to 1898. Most of that time the islands were governed from Mexico and later directly from Spain. As a result, there is a significant amount of Spanish and Mexican influence in Philippine customs and traditions. Hispanic influences are visible in traditional Philippine folk music and dance, cuisine, festivities, religion, and language, though usually integrated with other influences. The most visible example of this are the Spanish names of Filipinos, which were given through a tax law (see: Alphabetical Catalog of Surnames), the thousands of Spanish loanwords in native languages such as Tagalog and Cebuano, and the majority Catholic religion.

Later, the Philippines was a territory of the United States from 1898 until 1946. American influences are evident in the use of the English language, and in contemporary pop culture, such as fast-food, music, film and basketball.

Other Asian ethnic groups such as the Chinese and Japanese have been settling in the Philippines since the colonial period and their influence is also present in the popularity of gambling games such mahjong, jueteng, Eskrima and other Asian cuisine.

Muslim Filipinos also celebrate their own customs and traditions. These groups follow a Philippine Islamic culture, and other Muslim recreation such as the Kali, Kulintang and Gamelan, are used by Islamic groups in the southern islands of Mindanao and Sulu archipelago.


Way of life

About two-fifths of the Philippines live in urban areas, while three-fifths of the people live in rural areas, although the proportion of people living in towns and cities is steadily increasing. The majority of the people follow age-old traditions as well as contemporary lifestyles and trends.


Religion in the Philippines

The Manila Cathedral in Luzon is one of many Christian churches in the country.

The Philippines is one of two predominantly Roman Catholic nations in Asia-Pacific, the other being East Timor. About 90% of the Philippine population are Christians. About 5% to 10% are Muslims and about 5% either practice other religions or practice no religion at all.


Before the arrival of the Spaniards, and the introduction of Roman Catholicism and Western culture in the 1500s, the indigenous Malayo-Polynesian tribes of the Philippines were adherents of a mixture of Animism, Islam, Hinduism and Vajrayana Buddhism. primitive gods and goddesses include "Araw" (Sun), "Buwan" (moon) are people who appear to remove tumors, and diseased tissue by sticking their hands into a patient's body and extracting human flesh and blood, but leaving the patient scar free. Some see this performance as a sleight of hand false interpretation. Believers accept it as true, and accept it as an alternative healing method, and a way to take advantage of the placebo effect.

Arts of the Philippines

Arts of the Philippines cover a variety of forms of entertainment. Folk art, Primitive art and Islamic art consist of classic and modern features that flourished as a result of European, Indigenous and Islamic influences.


The literature of the Philippines illustrates the Prehistory and European colonial legacy of the Philippines, written in both Indigenous and Hispanic writing system. Most of the traditional literatures of the Philippines were written during the Mexican and Spanish period. Philippine literature is written in Spanish, Filipino, Tagalog, English and other native Philippine languages.

Performing Arts


Muslim musicians in the southern Philippines, performing the Kulintang.

The early music of the Philippines featured a mixture of Indigenous, Islamic and a variety of Asian sounds that flourished before the European and American colonization in the 16th and 20th century. Spanish settlers and Filipinos played a variety of musical instruments, including flutes, guitar, ukelele, violin, trumpets and drums. They performed songs and dances to celebrate festive occasions. By the 21st century, many of the folk songs and dances have remained intact throughout the Philippines. Some of the groups that perform these folk songs and dances are the Bayanihan, Filipinescas, Barangay-Barrio, Hariraya , the Karilagan Ensemble, and groups associated with the guilds of Manila, and Fort Santiago theatres. Many Filipino musicians have risen prominence such as the composer and conductor Antonio J. Molina, the composer Felipe P. de Leon, known for his nationalistic themes and the opera singer Jovita Fuentes.

Modern day Philippine music features several styles. Most music genres are contemporary such as Filipino rock, Filipino hip hop and other musical styles. Some are traditional such as Filipino folk music.


A Chavacano dance in Hispanic tradition.

Philippine folk dances include the Tinikling and Cariñosa. In the southern region of Mindanao, Singkil is a popular dance showcasing the story of a prince and princess in the forest. Bamboo poles are arranged in a tic-tac-toe pattern in which the dancers exploit every position of these clashing poles.[3] Guide to Philippine Cultural and Folk Dances

Visual arts

Folk art

Filipinos began creating artistic paintings in the 17th century during the Spanish period.[4] The earliest paintings of the Philippines were religious imagery from Biblical sources, as well as engravings, sculptures and lithographs featuring Christian icons and European nobility. Most of the paintings and sculptures between the 19th, and 20th century produced a mixture of religious, political, and landscape art works, with qualities of sweetness, dark, and light. Early modernist painters such as Damián Domingo was associated with religious, and secular paintings. The art of Juan Luna and Felix Hidalgo showed a trend for political statement. Artist such as Fernando Amorsolo used post-modernism to produce paintings that illustrated Philippine culture, nature and harmony. While other artist such as Fernando Zóbel used realities and abstract on his work.

Primitive art

A primitive Ifugao fabric.

Pottery, weaving, and wood carving are popular among Filipinos. Pottery was first made in the Philippines about 6000 B.C. The Manunggul jar, discovered in Palawan Island, is the most valued prehistoric artifact. The jar features carved scroll lines, a figure of a boat, a boatman and passenger and was painted with iron oxide,.

The sculptures of the Kankana-ey and Ifugao tribes possess a unique sculptural tradition. The bulol tradition features a pair of figures with primitive features carved in wood. They have religious significance, and are associated with the protection of rice harvests. The hagabi is perhaps the best example of a wood carving in the Philippines. It is a carved large wooden bench with pig-like heads sculpted at each end. The natives regard it as a sign of social status.

The Itneg tribes are known for their intricate weaving production. The binakol is a blanket which features optical illusion designs. Weavings of the Ga'dang tribe usually have bright red tones. Their weaving can also be identified by beaded ornamentation. Other tribes such as the Ilongot make jewelry from pearl, red hornbill beak, plants and metals.

The tribes of Mindanao such as the B'laan, Mandaya, Mansaka and T'boli became skilled in art of dyeing abaca fibre. Abaca is a plant, and its leaves are used to make fibre known as Manila hemp. The fibre is dyed by a method called ikat. Ikat textiles are woven into geometric patterns with human, animal and plant pictorial themes.

Islamic art

Islamic art in the Philippines have two main artistic styles. One is a curved-line woodcarving and metalworking called okir, similar to the Middle Eastern Islamic art. This style is associated with men. The other style is geometric tapestries, and is associated with women. The Tausug and Sama-Bajau exhibit their okir on elaborate markings with boat-like imagery. The Marananaos make similar carvings on housings called torogan. Weapons made by Muslim Filipinos such as the kampilan are skillfully carved.

Cinema and television

The advent of the Cinema of the Philippines can be traced back to the early days of filmmaking in 1897 when a Spanish theater owner screened imported moving pictures.

The formative years of Philippine cinema, starting from the 1930s, were a time of discovery of film as a new medium of expressing artworks. Scripts and characterizations in films came from popular theater shows and Philippine literature.

In the 1940s, Philippine cinema brought the consciousness of reality in its film industry. Nationalistic films became popular, and movie themes comprised primarily of war and heroism and proved to be successful with Philippine audiences.

The 1950s saw the first golden age of Philippine cinema [5][6] with the emergence of more artistic and mature films, and significant improvement in cinematic techniques among filmmakers. The studio system produced frenetic activity in the Philippine film industry as many films were made annually and several local talents started to gain recognition abroad. Award-winning filmmakers and actors were first introduced during this period. As the decade drew to a close, the studio system monopoly came under siege as a result of labor-management conflicts. By the 1960s, the artistry established in the previous years was in decline. This era can be characterized by rampant commercialism in films.

The 1970s and 1980s were considered turbulent years for the Philippine film industry, bringing both positive and negative changes. The films in this period dealt with more serious topics following the Martial law era. In addition, action, western, drama, adult and comedy films developed further in picture quality, sound and writing. The 1980s brought the arrival of alternative or independent cinema in the Philippines.

The 1990s saw the emerging popularity of drama, teen-oriented romantic comedy, adult, comedy and action films.[6]

The Philippines, being one of Asia's earliest film industry producers, remains undisputed in terms of the highest level of theater admission in Asia. Over the years, however, the Philippine film industry has registered a steady decline in movie viewership from 131 million in 1996 to 63 million in 2004.[7][8] From a high production rate of 350 films a year in the 1950s, and 200 films a year during the 1980s, the Philippine film industry production rate declined in 2006 to 2007.[7][8] The 21st century saw the rebirth of independent filmmaking through the use of digital technology and a number of films have once again earned nationwide recognition and prestige.


A traditional Nipa hut.

The Nipa hut (Bahay Kubo) is the mainstream form of housing. It is characterized by use of simple materials such as bamboo and coconut as the main sources of wood. Cogon grass, Nipa palm leaves and coconut fronds are used as roof thatching. Most primitive homes are built on stilts due to frequent flooding during the rainy season. Regional variations include the use of thicker, and denser roof thatching in mountain areas, or longer stilts on coastal areas particularly if the structure is built over water. The architecture of other indigenous tribes may be characterized by an angular wooden roofs, bamboo in place of leafy thatching and ornate wooden carvings.

The Spaniards introduced stones as housing and building materials. The introduction of Christianity brought European churches, and architecture which subsequently became the center of most towns and cities. Spanish architecture can be found in Intramuros, Vigan, Iloilo, Jaro and other parts of the Philippines. Islamic and other Asian architecture can also be seen depicted on buildings such as mosques and temples.

Contemporary architecture has a distinctively Western style although pre-Hispanic housing is still common in rural areas. American style suburban-gated communities are popular in the cities, including Manila, and the surrounding provinces.


A roasted pig known as the Lechón, one of the Philippines most popular cuisines.

Filipinos cook a variety of foods influenced by Spanish and Asian cuisines.

A typical Philippine diet consists of at least three meals a day served with boiled or fried rice, corn and other dishes. Filipinos regularly use spoons together with forks and knives. Some also eat with their hands, especially in informal settings, and when eating seafood. Rice, corn, and popular dishes such as adobo (a meat stew made from either pork or chicken), lumpia (meat or vegetable rolls), pancit (noodle dish) and lechón (roasted pig) are served on plates.

Other popular dishes include: afritada, asado, chorizo, empanadas, mani (roasted peanuts), paksiw (fish or pork, cooked in vinegar and water with some spices like garlic and pepper), pan de sal (bread rolls), pescado (fried or grilled fish), sisig, torta (omelette), kare-kare (ox-tail stew), kilawen, pinakbet (vegetable stew), pinapaitan, and sinigang (tamarind soup with a variety of pork, fish or prawns). Some delicacies eaten by some Filipinos but may seem unappetizing to the Western palate include balut (boiled egg with a fertilized duckling inside), longanisa (sweet sausage) and dinuguan (soup made from animal blood).

Popular snacks and desserts such as chicharon (deep fried pork or chicken skin), halo-halo (crushed ice with evaporated milk, flan, and sliced tropical fruits), puto (white rice cakes), bibingka (rice cake with butter or margarine and salted eggs), ensaymada (sweet roll with grated cheese on top), polvoron (powder candy) and tsokolate (chocolate) are usually eaten outside the three main meals. Popular Philippine beverages include San Miguel Beer, Tanduay Rhum Masters, lambanog and tuba.

Every province have its own specialty and tastes differently in each region. In Bicol, for example, foods are generally spicier than elsewhere in the Philippines

Most Filipino families eat together with their relatives and friends. They say that food tastes better when you eat it with someone.

Martial arts

Filipino martial arts is a term used to describe the numerous martial art forms that originated in the Philippines, similar to how Silat describes the martial arts practiced in Asia. Filipino martial arts include Panantukan (empty-handed techniques), Eskrima, Kali, Arnis de Máno (blade and stick fighting) and Pananjakman (kicking).

Education in the Philippines

Education in the Philippines has similar features to that of the United States and Europe. Philippine students enter public school at about age four, starting from Nursery up to Kindergarten. At about seven years of age, students enter grade school (6 to 7 years). This is followed by high school (4 years). Students then take the College Entrance Examinations (CEE), after which they enter collegiate school (3 to 5 years). Other types of schools includes Private school, University-preparatory school, International school, Laboratory high school and Science High School. Of these schools, Private Catholic schools are the most famous. Catholic schools are preferred in the Philippines due their religious beliefs. Most Catholic schools are uni-sex. The uniforms of Catholic schools usually have an emblem along with the school colors.

The school year in the Philippines starts in June and ends in March, with a two-month summer break from April to May, two-week semestral break in October and Christmas' and New Year's holidays.

In 2005, the Philippines spent about US$138 per pupil compared to US$1,582 in Singapore, US$3,728 in Japan, and US$852 in Thailand.[9]

Sports in the Philippines

An amateur basketball game being played in a rural province in the country.

Sipa is the national sport in the Philippines. Other popular sports include basketball, boxing, football (soccer), billiards, chess, ten-pin bowling, volleyball, horse racing and cockfighting. Dodge ball and badminton are also popular.

Filipinos have gained international success in sports. These are boxing, football (soccer), billiards, ten-pin bowling and chess. Popular sport stars include Manny Pacquiao, Flash Elorde and Francisco Guilledo in boxing, Paulino Alcántara in football (soccer), Carlos Loyzaga, Robert Jaworski and Ramon Fernandez in basketball, Efren Reyes, and Francisco Bustamante in billiards, Rafael Nepomuceno in ten-pin bowling, and Eugene Torre in chess.

The Palarong Pambansa, a national sports festival, has its origin in an annual sporting meet of public schools that started in 1948. Private schools, and Universities eventually joined the national event, which became known as the "Palarong Pambansa" in 1976. It serves as a national Olympic Games for students, competing at school and national level contests.

The year 2002 event included football (soccer), golf, archery, badminton, baseball, chess, gymnastics, tennis, softball, swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, track and field, and volleyball.

Traditional Filipino games

Traditional Filipino games include yo-yo, piko, patintero, bahay kubo, pusoy and sungka. Pusoy is a popular gambling game. Individuals play the game by trying to get rid of all the cards by choosing poker hands wisely.[10][10][11] Sungka is played on a board game using small sea shells in which players try to take all shells. The winner is determined by who has the most shells at the point when all small pits become empty.[12] Filipinos have created toys using insects such as tying a beetle to string, and sweeping it circular rotation to make an interesting sound. The "Salagubang gong" is a toy described by Charles Brtjes, an American entomologist, who traveled to Negros and discovered a toy using beetles to create a periodic gong effect on a kerosene can as the beetle rotates above the contraption.[13]

Tribal groups

A Negrito woman, one of many indigenous ethnic groups in the Philippines.
Mangyan (Malayo-Polynesian) indigenous people of Mindoro.

The Indigenous peoples of the Philippines consist of a large number of Malayo-Polynesian ethnic groups. They are the descendants of the original inhabitants of the Philippines, that settled in the islands thousands of years ago, and in the process have retained their Indigenous customs and traditions.[14]

In 1990, more than 100 highland tribes constituted approximately 3% of the Philippine population. Over the centuries, the isolated highland tribes have retained their Indigenous cultures. The folk arts of these groups were, in a sense, the last remnants of Indigenous traditions that flourished throughout the Philippines before the Islamic and Spanish contacts.

The highland tribes are a primitive ethnic group like other Filipinos, although they did not, as a group, have as much contact with the outside world. These tribes displayed a variety of native cultural expressions and artistic skills. They showed a high degree of creativity such as the production of bowls, baskets, clothing, weapons and spoons. These tribes ranged from various groups of Igorot people, a group that includes the Bontoc, Ibaloi, Ifugao, Isneg, Kalinga and Kankana-ey, who built the Rice Terraces thousands of years ago. They have also covered a wide spectrum in terms of their integration and acculturation with Christian Filipinos. Other Indigenous tribes include the Bukidnons. These groups have remained isolated from Western and Eastern influences.

Philippine diaspora

An Overseas Filipino is a person of Philippine origin, who lives outside of the Philippines. This term is applied to people of Filipino ancestry, who are citizens or residents of a different nation.

Often, these Filipinos are referred to as Overseas Filipino Workers.

There are about 11 million overseas Filipinos living worldwide, equivalent to about 11% of the total population of the Philippines.[15]

Each year, thousands of Filipinos migrate to work abroad through overseas employment agencies and other programs. Other individuals emigrate and become permanent residents of other nations. Overseas Filipinos often work as doctors, nurses, accountants, IT professionals, engineers, architects,[16] entertainers, technicians, teachers, military servicemen, students, caregivers, domestic helpers and household maids.

International employment includes an increasing number of skilled Filipino workers taking on unskilled work overseas, resulting in what has been referred to as brain drain, particularly in the health and education sectors. Also, the employment can result in underemployment, for example, in cases where doctors undergo retraining to become nurses and other employment programs.


Regular holiday

  • January 1 - New year’s Day
  • March or April - Good Friday
  • April 9 - Araw ng Kagitingan (Bataan, and Corregidor Day)
  • May 1 - Labor Day
  • June 12 - Independence Day
  • August 31 - National Heroes Day
  • November 1 - All Saints day
  • November 30 - Bonifacio Day
  • December 25 - Christmas Day
  • December 30 - Rizal Day
  • Moveable date - Maundy Thursday
  • Moveable date - Eidul Fitr

Nationwide holiday

  • August 21 - Ninoy Aquino Day
  • November 1 - All Saints Day
  • December 31 - Last day of the year

Native holiday

  • January 9 - The Black Nazarene procession in Quiapo, and Manila.
  • Third Sunday of January - The Fiesta del Santo Niño de Cebu (Festival of the Child Jesus of Cebu), Sinulog in Cebu, Ati-Atihan Festival in Kalibo, Aklan.
  • Last Sunday of January - The Dinagyang Festival in Iloilo.
  • March or April - Semana Santa (Holy Week).
  • May - Flores de Mayo. A festival celebrated by farmers as they welcome the fertile season. Celebrations around towns showcase crops, food and delicacies. One of the most celebrated festivity is the "Pahiyas", a colorful festival in Lucban, Quezon where houses are decorated mainly with dried rice papers in different shapes and colors. Crops also accentuate these houses in artistic shapes, and styles.
  • Last week of May - Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival (A Festival honoring Santo Niño de Leyte) in Tacloban City, Leyte
  • Third Saturday and Sunday of September - The Peñafrancia Festival in Naga City, Camarines Sur, Bicol Region. During the festivities, people attend church services, followed by parades on the streets, fireworks and feasting. The Peñafrancia Festival is also celebrated by a fluvial procession in the Bicol River.
  • October 31 to November 2 - "Araw ng mga Patay", "Día de los Muertos" (Day of the Dead, All Saints Day, and All Souls Day). Also known as "Undas". During All Saints, and Souls Day, friends and families visit the cemeteries, and pay homage to their dearly departed. The cemetery becomes a party atmosphere, rather than a solemn celebration.
  • December 24 - Noche Buena (Christmas Eve).
  • December 25 - Araw ng Pasko, Navidad (Christmas).
  • January 1 - Bagong Taon, Año Nuevo (New Year).

Other cultural realm


Homosexuality in the Philippines is widely accepted, and viewed as part of normal life, though it is viewed with some discrimination because of the nation's straight philosophy, and beliefs. However, due to the Philippines' strong Roman Catholic religion, gay marriage and civil unions are not accepted and severely condemned.

See also


  1. ^ "Countries and Their Cultures". 
  2. ^ "Culture Of The Philippines". 
  3. ^ "Hot Spots Filipino Cultural Dance - Singkil". 
  4. ^ "Filipino Cultured: The Best of Filipino Art". 
  5. ^ Is the Curtain Finally Falling on the Philippine Kovie Industry?. Accessed January 25, 2009.
  6. ^ a b Aenet: Philippine Film History. Accessed January 22, 2009.
  7. ^ a b Cannes entry puts spotlight on Philippine indie films. Grafilo, John. Top News Light Reading. May 06, 2008.
  8. ^ a b A bleak storyline for the Filipino film industry. Conde, Carlos H. International Herald Tribune. February 11, 2007.
  9. ^ Saving Philippine education. Accessed Aug. 19, 2008.
  10. ^ a b "Big Two Poker (Pusoy Dos) Online Lessons". 
  11. ^ "The History of Chinese Poker". 
  12. ^ "Mancala Games /Sungka". 
  13. ^ Brtjes, Charles. "THE SALAGUBONG GONG, A FILIPINO INSECT TOY" (PDF). Harvard University. 
  14. ^ National Commission of Indigenous People Accessed August 30, 2008.
  15. ^ Yvette Collymore (June 2003). "Rapid Population Growth, Crowded Cities Present Challenges in the Philippines". Population Reference Bureau. Retrieved 2007-08-14. "An estimated 10 percent of the Philippine population, or nearly 8 million people, are overseas Filipino workers distributed in 182 countries, according to POPCOM. That is in addition to the estimated 3 million migrants who work illegally abroad" 
  16. ^ "[Info-Bureau] FW: STATEMENT ON FILIPINO HOSTAGE". Philippine Women Centre of B.C — requoted by Mailing Lists. 19 July 2004. Retrieved 2007-03-21. 

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