Culture of the Philippines

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Kalesa, a traditional Philippine urban transportation

The culture of the Philippines is a combination of Eastern and Western culture. Before the Spanish colonization of the country, the Philippines' culture was mainly influenced by the indigenous Malay heritage of Southeast Asia.[1] The Spanish Empire then colonized the islands and, after more than three centuries of colonization, Roman Catholicism spread throughout the archipelago and Hispanic influence heavily impacted the country's culture. The Philippines, then being governed from both Mexico and Spain, received a fair bit of Hispanic influence from the regions. For instance, Mexican and Spanish influence can be seen in the country's dance and religion as well as many other aspects of its culture. Then, after being colonized by Spain, the Philippines became a U.S. territory for almost 50 years. Influence from the United States is manifest in the wide use of the English language and in the modern pop culture of present-day Philippines.

The Philippines was first settled by Melanesians; today, although few in numbers, they preserve a very traditional way of life and culture. After them, the Austronesians or more specifically, Malayo-Polynesians, arrived on the islands. Today the Austronesian culture is very evident in the ethnicity, language, food, dance and almost every aspect of the culture. These Austronesians engaged in trading with Japan, China, India, Palau, Malay, America, Malaysia, Papua, west Pacific Islander, Indonesian Islands, the Middle East, Borneo, and other places. As a result, those cultures have also left a mark on Filipino culture.[2][3]

Archaic (Pre-colonial)[edit]

A portrayal of the Ginu class. From the Boxer Codex, c. 1595

Influences from India and Chinese[edit]

Main article: Greater India

India and Philippines have historic ties going back over 3000 years and there are over 150,000 people of Indian origin in Philippines.[4]

Iron Age finds in the Philippines also point to the existence of trade between Tamil Nadu in South India and the Philippines Islands during the ninth and tenth centuries B.C.[5] The influence of Culture of India on Culture of the Philippines intensified from the 2nd through the late 14th centuries CE.[6] Through the Srivijaya and Majapahit empires, Indian influences would have reached the Philippines from the 10th through the early 14th centuries, based on the events in these two regions, and through direct migration from the Indian subcontinent to the Philippines.[7] Artifacts of Indian orientation have been found in a lot of islands in the Philippines.[8] The golden image of Tara a female Boddhisattva which was found in Agusan, was related to the development of Buddhism in Southeast Asia dating back to the late 13th and 14th centuries. The introduction of Sanskrit words and literature may be dated to the 10th and 12th centuries. Until now, Sanskrit words are still found in abundance in various Philippine languages. Then there is the folk narrative among the Maranao, known as Maharadia Lawana which shows an Indian character and whose story is very similar to the Indian epic Ramayana.

Social Structure[edit]

A social dissection is a basic categorization method whereby a community ranks one another as superior or inferior. Although there are many factors that contribute in the social segregation of people but majorly this ranking & evaluation is done on the basis of authority, wealth, status and social influence.

Maharlika Members of the Tagalog warrior class known as maharlika had the same rights and responsibilities as the timawa, but in times of war they were bound to serve their datu in battle. They had to arm themselves at their own expense, but they did get to keep the loot they won – or stole, depending on which side of the transaction you want to look at. Although they were partly related to the nobility, the maharlikas were technically less free than the timawas because they could not leave a datu’s service without first hosting a large public feast and paying the datu between 6 and 18 pesos in gold .

Timawa The timawa class were free commoners of Luzon and the Visayas who could own their own land and who did not have to pay a regular tribute to a maginoo, though they would, from time to time, be obliged to work on a datu’s land and help in community projects and events. They were free to change their allegiance to another datu if they married into another community or if they decided to move.

Alipin Today, the word alipin (or oripun in the Visayas) means slave and that’s how the Spaniards translated it, too, but the alipins were not really slaves in the Western sense of the word. They were not bought and sold in markets with chains around their necks. A better description would be to call them debtors. They could be born alipins, inheriting their parents’ debt, and their obligations could be transferred from one master to another. However, it was also possible for them to buy their own freedom. A person in extreme poverty might even want to become an alipin voluntarily – preferably to relatives who saw this as a form of assistance rather than punishment.

Education and writing[edit]

Laguna Copperplate Inscription (c. 900), a thin copperplate document measuring less than 8x12 inches in size, shows heavy Hindu-Malayan cultural influences present in the Philippines during the 10th Century.
a sample of Baybayin.

Some basic of education of pre-Spanish time in the Philippines was informal and unstructured. The fathers taught their sons how to look for food and other means of livelihood. The mothers taught their girls to do the household chores. This education basically prepared their children to became good husband and wives.[9]

Early Filipinos valued education very much. Filipino men and women knows how to read and write using their own native alphabet called baybayin. The Tagalog Baybayin was composed of 17 symbols representing the letters of the alphabet. Among these seventeen symbols were three vowels and fourteen consonants.

Prehistoric people devised and used their own system of writings from 300 BC, which derived from the Brahmic family of scripts of Ancient India. Baybayin became the most widespread of these derived scripts by the 11th century.

Early chroniclers, who came during the first Spanish expeditions to the islands, noted the proficiency of some of the natives, especially the chieftain and local kings, in Sanskrit, Old Javanese, Old Malay,and several other languages.[10][11][12]

Many fables and stories in Philippine culture are linked to Indian arts, such as the story of monkey and the turtle, the race between the deer and the snail (similar to the Western story of The Tortoise and the Hare), and the hawk and the hen. Similarly, the major epics and folk literature of the Philippines show common themes, plots, climax and ideas expressed in the Mahabharata and the Ramayana.[13]

According to Indologists Juan R. Francisco and Josephine Acosta Pasricha, Hindu influences and folklore arrived in Philippines by about 9th to 10th century AD.[14] The Maranao version is the Maharadia Lawana (King Rāvaṇa of Hindu Epic Ramayana). Lam-Ang is the Ilocano version and Sarimanok (akin to the Indian Garuda) is the legendary bird of the Maranao people. In addition, many verses from the Hud-Hud of the Ifugao are derived from the Indian Hindu epics Ramayana and the Mahabharata.[15]


Prior to the Spanish Era, the Tagalogs of Luzon already wore a garment that was a forerunner of the Barong Tagalog – the Baro.[16] Earliest reference to the Baro was in the Historical account of Ma-i (Pre-Colonial name for the Philippines) that the Filipinos wore a sleeve-doublet of rough cotton cloth called kanga, reaching slightly below the waist. It was collarless and had an opening in front. The doublets indicated the social status and badge of courage of a man, red was for the Chiefs and the Bravest, Black and White for the Ordinary Citizen. Their loins were covered with colored Bahague between legs to mid-thigh.

The early pre-colonial clothing of groups such as the Tagalogs and Visayans included both the baro and saya made from silk in matching colours. This style was exclusively worn by the women from the upper caste, while those of lower castes wore baro made from pounded white bark fibre.

baro, and a floor length wrap around skirt. Women usually wore jewelry, such as gold necklaces and earrings, which symbolized wealth and beauty. In some tribes, women also wore tattoos signifying beauty, power and wealth.

In contrast, the Visayans wore clothes similar to that of Indonesians and Malaysians. They wore a robe called Marlota or jacket called Baquero without a collar that reached the feet. The robes or jackets were brightly coloured. The Tagalogs and the Visayans bound their foreheads and temples with long, narrow strips of cloth called Putong. Necks were covered with gold necklaces, and wrists with golden armlets called Calombigas – these had intricate patterns. Others would wear precious stones.[17]


Maritime skills

The balangay was the first wooden watercraft excavated in Southeast Asia and is evidence of early Filipino craftsmanship and their seamanship skills during pre-colonial times. The Balanghai Festival is also a celebration in Butuan, Agusan del Norte to commemorate the coming of the early migrants that settled the Philippines, on board the Balangay boats.[18] When the first Spaniards arrived in the 16th century, they found the Filipinos living in well-organized independent villages called barangays. The name barangay originated from balangay, the Austronesian word for "sailboat".[19][20]

Since the ancient times, gold has been one of the main products of the islands. Both ancient and modern day goldsmiths exude exquisiteness in their craftsmanship in making pieces for trade or for personal vanity and prestige.[21]

Using of precious metals as ornaments
Mining in the Philippines began around 1000 BC. The early Filipinos worked various mines of gold, silver, copper and iron. Jewels, gold ingots, chains, calombigas and earrings were handed down from antiquity and inherited from their ancestors. Gold dagger handles, gold dishes, tooth plating, and huge gold ornamets were also used.[22] In Laszlo Legeza's "Tantric elements in pre-Hispanic Philippines Gold Art", he mentioned that gold jewelry of Philippine origin was found in Ancient Egypt.[22] According to Antonio Pigafetta, the people of Mindoro possessed great skill in mixing gold with other metals and gave it a natural and perfect appearance that could deceive even the best of silversmiths.[22] The natives were also known for the jewelries made of other precious stones such as carnelian, agate and pearl. Some outstanding examples of Philippine jewelry included necklaces, belts, armlets and rings placed around the waist.

Gold As a currency and commodity
The Piloncitos a type of gold ingots are small, some are of the size of a corn kernel—and weigh from 0.09 to 2.65 grams of fine gold. Large Piloncitos weighing 2.65 grams approximate the weight of one mass. Piloncitos have been excavated from Mandaluyong, Bataan, the banks of the Pasig River, and Batangas.[23] That gold was mined and worked here is evidenced by many Spanish accounts, like one in 1586 that said:

“The people of this island (Luzon) are very skillful in their handling of gold. They weigh it with the greatest skill and delicacy that have ever been seen. The first thing they teach their children is the knowledge of gold and the weights with which they weigh it, for there is no other money among them.”[24]


The Philippines is one of the two predominantly Roman Catholic (80.58%) nations in Asia-Pacific, the other being East Timor. From the census in 2014, Christianity consist about 90.07% of the population while Islam is the religion for about 5.57% [25][26] of the population. Those who reported others or none composed 4.37% of the total population of the country.

Before the arrival of the Spaniards and the introduction of Roman Catholicism and Western culture in the 16th century, the indigenous Austronesian people of what is now called the Philippines were adherents of a mixture of shamanistic Animism, Islam, Hinduism and Vajrayana Buddhism.[27]



Ancient Hydro engeneering

For 2,000 years the mountainous province of Ifugao have been carefully cultivated with terraced fields.[28] These rice terraces illustrate the ability of human culture to adapt to new social and climate pressures as well as to implement and develop new ideas and technologies.

Classical epoch

Later on the invention of various tools allowed for the fabrication of tent-like shelters and tree houses. Early Classical houses were characterized by rectangular structures elevated on stilt foundations and covered by voluminous thatched roofs ornamented with gable-finials and its structure could be lifted as a whole and carried to a new site. Examples include the Ifugao House, Bahay kubo and the Royal Nobilities' Torogan.


Main article: Idjang

The architecture of the early Filipinos reflects the skills that were used at the time of war and on the battlefield. Due to the creation of various thalassocratic states within the archipelago, trade began to flourish. Neighboring states would often wage war for territory and trade rights in certain areas, this ultimately led to the fortification of villages and towns. like the Kota and the Idjang for example, Another reason for the development of these fortification skills was that of prestige and intimidation, leaders, mainly Datus, Rajahs and Lakans as they were called, often built forts and fortifications to intimidate other leaders in their area.

Colonial era[edit]

Calle Crisologo, Vigan City

Being a colony of the Spanish Empire for almost 300 years, the Spaniards introduced European colonial architecture to the Philippines. The introduction of Christianity brought European churches, and architecture which subsequently became the center of most towns and cities in the country. The Spaniards also introduced stones as housing and building materials. Spanish colonial architecture can still be seen in centuries-old churches, schools, convents, government buildings and residences around the country. The best collection of Spanish colonial architecture can be found in the walled city of Intramuros in Manila and in the historic town of Vigan. Colonial-era churches are also on the best examples and legacies of Spanish Baroque architecture in the Philippines. Historic provinces such as Ilocos Norte, Pampanga, Bulacan, Cavite, Batangas, Laguna, Quezon and Iloilo also boasts colonial-era churches and houses.

In the past, before the Spanish colonization, the Nipa hut (Bahay Kubo) was the common form of housing among the native Filipinos. 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 peoples may be characterized by an angular wooden roofs, bamboo in place of leafy thatching and ornate wooden carvings.

The University of Santo Tomas Main Building in Manila is an example of Renaissance Revival architecture. The building was built on 1924 and was completed at 1927. The building, designed by Fr. Roque Ruaño, O.P., is the first earthquake-resistant building in the Philippines.[29] 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.

Visual arts[edit]


A statue of Sarimanok.

Early Filipino painting can be found in red slip (clay mixed with water) designs embellished on the ritual pottery of the Philippines such as the acclaimed Manunggul Jar. Evidence of Philippine pottery-making dated as early as 6000 BC has been found in Sanga-sanga Cave, Sulu and Laurente Cave, Cagayan. It has been proven that by 5000 BC, the making of pottery was practiced throughout the country. Early Filipinos started making pottery before their Cambodian neighbors, and at about the same time as the Thais as part of what appears to be a widespread Ice Age development of pottery technology.

Further evidence of painting is manifest in the tattoo tradition of early Filipinos, whom the Portuguese explorer referred to as Pintados or the 'Painted People' of the Visayas.[30][31] Various designs referencing flora and fauna with heavenly bodies decorate their bodies in various colored pigmentation. Perhaps, some of the most elaborate painting done by early Filipinos that survive to the present day can be manifested among the arts and architecture of the Maranao who are well known for the Naga Dragons and the Sarimanok carved and painted in the beautiful Panolong of their Torogan or King's House.

Filipinos began creating paintings in the European tradition during 17th-century Spanish period. The earliest of these paintings were Church frescoes, 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 centuries 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 Félix Resurrección Hidalgo showed a trend for political statement. The first Philippine national artist Fernando Amorsolo used post-modernism to produce paintings that illustrated Philippine culture, nature and harmony. While other artists such as Fernando Zóbel de Ayala y Montojo used realities and abstract on his work. In the 1980s, Elito Circa, popularly known as Amangpintor, gained recognition. He uses his own hair to make his own paintbrushes and signs his painting using his own blood on the right side corner. He developed his own styles without professional training or guidance from masters.

Indigenous art[edit]

Blood Painting: President Rodrigo Duterte in the Center of the Triangle, Indigenous Art
The Kutkut Art

The Itneg people are known for their intricate woven fabrics. The binakol is a blanket which features designs that incorporate optical illusions. Woven fabrics of the Ga'dang people usually have bright red tones. Their weaving can also be identified by beaded ornamentation. Other peoples such as the Ilongot make jewelry from pearl, red hornbill beaks, plants, and metals. Some indigenous materials are also used as a medium in different kinds of art works especially in painting by Elito Circa, a folk artist of Pantabangan and a pioneer for using indigenous materials, natural raw materials including human blood. Many Filipino painters were influenced by this and started using materials such as extract from onion, tomato, tuba, coffee, rust, molasses and other materials available anywhere as paint. The Lumad peoples of Mindanao such as the B'laan, Mandaya, Mansaka and T'boli are skilled in the art of dyeing abaca fiber. Abaca is a plant closely related to bananas, and its leaves are used to make fiber known as Manila hemp. The fiber is dyed by a method called ikat. Ikat fiber are woven into cloth with geometric patterns depicting human, animal and plant themes.

A technique combining ancient Oriental and European art process. Considered lost art and highly collectible art form. Very few known art pieces existed today. The technique was practiced by the indigenous people of Samar Island between early 1600 and late 1800 A.D. Kut-kut is an exotic Philippine art form based on early century techniques: sgraffito, encaustic and layering. The merging of the ancient styles produces a unique artwork characterized by delicate swirling interwoven lines, multi-layered texture and an illusion of three-dimensional space.

Islamic art[edit]

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.

Performing arts[edit]


A Philippine Kulintang ensemble

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 centuries. Spanish settlers and Filipinos played a variety of musical instruments, including flutes, guitar, ukulele, 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.


Main article: Philippine Dance
A Zamboangueño dance in Philippine 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.[32][33]


The Philippine literature is a diverse and rich group of works that has evolved throughout the centuries. It had started with traditional folktales and legends made by the ancient Filipinos before Spanish colonization. The main themes of Philippine literature focus on the country’s pre-colonial cultural traditions and the socio-political histories of its colonial and contemporary traditions. 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, English, or any indigenous Philippine languages.

Some of the well known work of literature were created from the 17th to 19th century. The Ibong Adarna is a famous epic about an magical bird which was claimed to be written by José de la Cruz or "Huseng Sisiw".[34] Francisco Balagtas is one of the country's prominent Filipino poets, he is named as one of the greatest Filipino literary laureates for his contributions in Philippine literature. His greatest work, the Florante at Laura is considered as his greatest work and one of the masterpieces of Philippine literature. Balagtas wrote the epic during his imprisonment.[35]José Rizal, the national hero the country, wrote the novels Noli Me Tángere (Touch Me Not) and El Filibusterismo (The Filibustering, also known as The Reign of Greed).

Cinema and media[edit]

Mila del Sol starred in one of the earliest Filipino movies, Giliw Ko (1939), along with Fernando Poe, Sr..

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.

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.

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

The 1950s saw the first golden age of Philippine cinema,[36][37] 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.[37]

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.[38][39] 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.[38][39] 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.

With the high rates of film production in the past, several movie artists have appeared in over 100+ roles in Philippine Cinema[40] and enjoyed great recognition from fans and moviegoers.


Main article: Philippine cuisine
Puto, a steamed rice cake usually served as a dessert or snack.

Filipinos cook a variety of foods influenced by Western, Pacific Islander, and Asian cuisine. The Philippines is considered a melting pot of the West and Asia.

Classical era[edit]

During the pre-Hispanic era in the Philippines, the preferred Austronesian methods for food preparation were boiling, steaming and roasting. The ingredients for common dishes were obtained from locally raised livestock. These ranged from kalabaw (water buffaloes/carabaos), baka (cows), manok (chickens) and baboy (pigs) to various kinds of fish and seafood. In 3200 BCE, Austronesians from the southern China (Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau) and Taiwan settled in the region that is now called the Philippines. They brought with them knowledge of rice cultivation and other farming practices which increased the number and variety of edible dish ingredients available for cooking.[41]

Direct trade and cultural exchange with Hokkien China in the Philippines in the Song dynasty (960–1279 AD) with porcelain, ceramics, and silk being traded for spices and trepang in Luzon.[42] This early cultural contact with China introduced a number of staple food into Philippine cuisine, most notably toyo (soy sauce; Chinese: 豆油; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: tāu-yu), tokwa; (tofu; Chinese: 豆干; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: tāu-koaⁿ), toge (bean sprout; Chinese: 豆芽; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: tāu-koaⁿ), and patis (fish sauce), as well as the method of stir frying and making savory soup bases. Many of these food items and dishes retained their original Hokkien names, such as pancit (Chinese: 便ê食; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: piān-ê-si̍t)(Chinese: 扁食; pinyin: biǎn shí), and lumpia (Chinese: 潤餅; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: jūn-piáⁿ, lūn-piáⁿ).[42] The Chinese food introduced during this period were food of the workers and traders, which became a staple of the noodle shops (panciterias), and can be seen in dishes like arroz caldo (congee), sinangag (fried rice), chopsuey.

Trade with the various neighboring kingdoms of Malacca and Srivijaya in Malaya and Java brought with it foods and cooking methods which are still commonly used in the Philippines today, such as Bagoong (Malay: Belacan), Patis, Puso (Malay: Ketupat), Rendang, Kare-kare and the infusion of coconut milk in condiments, such as laing and Ginataang Manok (chicken stewed in coconut milk). Through the trade with the Malay-Indonesian kingdoms, cuisine from as far away as India and Arabia enriched the palettes of the local Austronesians (particularly in the areas of southern Luzon, Mindanao, Sulu, Palawan, the Visayas and Bicol, where trade was strongest). These foods include various dishes eaten in areas of the southern part of the archipelago today, such as puto derived from Indian cuisine puttu, kurmah, satti and biryani.

Colonial era[edit]

The Spanish colonizers and friars in the 16th century brought with them produce from the Americas such as chili peppers, tomatoes, corn, potatoes, and the method of sautéing with garlic and onions. Eating out is a favorite Filipino pastime. A typical Pinoy diet consists at most of six meals a day; breakfast, snacks, lunch, snacks, dinner, and again a midnight snack before going to sleep. Rice is a staple in the Filipino diet, and is usually eaten together with 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 (a noodle dish), and lechón baboy (roasted pig) are served on plates.

Sarciado, a fish dish stewed in tomato sauce mixed with egg.

Other popular dishes brought from Southeast Asian, and Spanish influences 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 of salt), pescado frito (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 may seem unappetizing to the Western palate include balut (boiled egg with a fertilized duckling inside), longanisa (sweet sausage), and dinuguan (soup made from pork blood).

Popular snacks and desserts such as chicharon (deep fried pork or chicken skin), halo-halo (crushed ice with evaporated milk, flan, sliced tropical fruit, and sweet beans), 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, coconut arrack, and tuba.

Every province has its own specialty and tastes vary in each region. In Bicol, for example, foods are generally spicier than elsewhere in the Philippines. Patis (fish sauce), suka (vinegar), toyo (soy sauce), bagoong, and banana ketchup are the most common condiments found in Filipino homes and restaurants.

Western fast food chains such as McDonald's, Wendy's, KFC, and Pizza Hut are a common sight in the country. Local food chains such as Jollibee, Goldilocks Bakeshop, Mang Inasal and Chowking are also popular and have successfully competed against international fast food chains.[43][44]


Education in the Philippines has been influenced by Western and Eastern ideology and philosophy from the United States, Spain, and its neighbouring Asian countries.

Prehistoric people devised and used their own system of writings from 300 BC, which derived from the Brahmic family of scripts of Ancient India. Baybayin became the most widespread of these derived scripts by the 11th century.

Early chroniclers, who came during the first Spanish expeditions to the islands, noted the proficiency of some of the natives, especially the chieftain and local kings, in Sanskrit, Old Javanese, Old Malay,and several other languages.[45][11][46]

Philippine students enter public school at about age four, starting from nursery school up to kindergarten. At about seven years of age, students enter elementary school (6 to 9 years) this include Grade 7 to Grade 10 as Junior High School then after they graduate. Since the Philippines has already implemented the K-12 system, students will enter SHS or Senior High School, a 2-year course, to be able to prepare College life with their chosen track such as ABM (Accountancy Business Management), STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and HUMSS (Humanities and Social Sciences) other tracks are included like TECH-VOC (Technical Vocational). Students can make a choice if they will take the college entrance examinations (CEE) for which they enter college or university (3 to 5 years) or find a work after they graduate on Senior High School.

Other types of schools in the country include Private school, 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 to their religious beliefs. Most Catholic schools are co-ed. 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. Changes are currently being made to the system and some universities have copied the Westernized academic calendar and now start the school year in August.

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.[47][48]


Manny Pacquiao, the first and only eight-division world champion in boxing

Arnis, a form of martial arts, is the national sport in the Philippines.[49] Among the most popular sports include basketball, boxing, football, billiards, chess, ten-pin bowling, volleyball, horse racing, Sepak Takraw and cockfighting. Dodgeball, badminton and Tennis are also popular.

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

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, golf, archery, badminton, baseball, chess, gymnastics, tennis, softball, swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, track and field, and volleyball.

Martial arts[edit]

Main article: Filipino martial arts
A grandmaster of Arnis

There are several forms of Filipino martial arts that originated in the Philippines (similar to how Silat is the martial arts practiced in Asia) including Eskrima (weapon-based fighting, also known as Arnis and in the West sometimes as Kali), Panantukan (empty-handed techniques), and Pananjakman (the boxing component of Filipino martial arts).

Traditional Filipino games[edit]

One Traditional Filipino game is luksong tinik. A very popular game to Filipino children where one has to jump over the tinik and cross to the other side unscathed.[50] Other traditional Filipino games include yo-yo, piko, patintero, bahay kubo, pusoy, and sungka. Tong-its is a popular gambling game. Individuals play the game by trying to get rid of all the cards by choosing poker hands wisely. 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.[51] 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.[52] Piko is a Philippine version of the game hopscotch. Children will draw a sequence rectangles using chalk on the ground. With various level of obstacle on each rectangle, children will compete against one another or in a team. Players use pamato; usually a flat stone, slipper or anything that could be toss easily.

Indigenous groups[edit]

An Igorot man in Ifugao.

The Indigenous peoples of the Philippines consist of a large number of Austronesian ethnic groups. They are the descendants of the original Austronesian inhabitants of the Philippines, that settled in the islands thousands of years ago, and in the process have retained their Indigenous customs and traditions.[53]

In 1990, more than 100 highland peoples constituted approximately three percent of the Philippine population. Over the centuries, the isolated highland peoples 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 peoples are a primitive ethnic group like other Filipinos, although they did not, as a group, have as much contact with the outside world. These peoples 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 peoples 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 peoples include the Lumad peoples of the highlands of Mindanao. These groups have remained isolated from Western and Eastern influences.

Philippine diaspora[edit]

Main article: Overseas Filipino

An Overseas Filipino is a person of Filipino origin, who lives outside of the Philippines. This term is applied to people of Filipino ancestry, who are citizens or residents of a different country. Often, these Filipinos are referred to as Overseas Filipino Workers.

There are about 11 million overseas Filipinos living worldwide, equivalent to about 11 percent of the total population of the Philippines.[54]

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,[55] 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.


The Sinulog Festival is held to commemorate the Santo Niño

Festivals in the Philippines, locally known as fiestas, originated dating back to the Spanish colonial period when the Spaniards introduced Christianity to the country. Most Philippine towns and cities has a patron saint assigned to each of them. Fiestas in the Philippines serve as either religious, cultural, or both. These festivals are held to honor the patron saint or to commemorate history and culture, such as promoting local products and celebrate a bountiful harvest. Fiestas can be categorized by Holy Masses, processions, parades, theatrical play and reenactments, religious or cultural rituals, trade fairs, exhibits, concerts, pageants and various games and contests.

Month Festival Place
January Ati-Atihan Kalibo, Aklan
Sinulog Cebu
Dinagyang Iloilo
Dinagsa Cadiz City, Negros Occidental
Coconut San Pablo City, Laguna
Hinugyaw Koronadal, South Cotabato
February Panagbenga Baguio
Kaamulan Bukidnon
Paraw Regatta Iloilo City and Guimaras
Pamulinawen ilocos
March Pintados de Passi Passi City, Iloilo
Araw ng Dabaw Davao
Kariton Licab, Nueva Ecija
April Moriones Marinduque
Sinuam San Jose, Batangas
Aliwan Pasay
May Magayon Albay
Pahiyas Lucban, Quezon
Sanduguan Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro
Butwaan Butuan City
June Baragatan Palawan
Sangyaw Tacloban City
Pista Y Ang Kagueban Puerto Princesa City, Palawan
July T'nalak Koronadal, South Cotabato
August Kadayawan Davao
Pavvu-rulun Tuguegarao City
September Peñafrancia Naga, Bicol
Padul-ong Borongan City, Eastern Samar
Bonok-Bonok Surigao City
Banigan Basey, Samar
Diyandi Iligan City
October Fiesta Pilar Zamboanga City
Masskara Bacolod
Buglasan Oriental Negros
November Itik Victoria, Laguna
December Paru-Paru Dasmariñas, Cavite


Parol (Christmas lanterns) being sold during the Christmas season
Good Friday observance in Pampanga

Regular holidays[edit]

Date (Gregorian Calendar) Filipino language English language
January 1 Araw ng Bagong Taon New Year's Day
March–April Mahal na Araw including Biyernes Santo and Huwebes Santo Holy Week including Good Friday and Maundy Thursday
April 9 Araw ng Kagitingan Day of Valour
May 1 Araw ng mangagawa Labour Day
June 12 Araw ng Kalayaan Independence Day
August 27 Araw ng mga Bayani National Heroes' Day
November 30 Araw ni Bonifacio Bonifacio Day
December 24 Bisperás ng Pasko Christmas Eve
December 25 Araw ng Pasko Christmas
December 30 Araw ni Rizal Rizal Day

Special holidays[edit]

Date (Gregorian Calendar) Filipino language English language
January–February Bagong Taong Pang Tsino Chinese New Year
February 25 Anibersaryo ng Rebolusyon ng Lakas ng mga Tao People Power Revolution Anniversary
August 21 Araw ni Ninoy Aquino Ninoy Aquino Day
November 1 Araw ng mga Santo All Saints Day
November 2 Araw ng mga Kaluluwa All Souls' Day
December 31 Bisperás ng Bagong Taón New Year's Eve

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ Baringer, Sally E. [c. 2006]. "The Philippines". In Countries and Their Cultures. Advameg Inc. Retrieved December 20, 2009 from
  2. ^ "Going Banana". 
  3. ^ "The Cultural Influences of India, China, Arabia, and Japan". Philippine Almanac. Archived from the original on 2012-07-01. 
  4. ^ Indians in Philippines
  5. ^ Tamil language,
  6. ^ The cultural influence of India,
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ [2]
  9. ^
  10. ^ [3]
  11. ^ a b From the mountains to the seas. Mallari, Perry Gil S. The Manila Times. January 18, 2009.
  12. ^ Bergreen, Laurence.Over The Edge of The World: Magellan’s Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe. New York. 2003.
  13. ^ Maria Halili (2010), Philippine History, ISBN 978-9712356360, Rex Books, 2nd Edition, pp. 46-47
  14. ^ Mellie Leandicho Lopez (2008), A Handbook of Philippine Folklore, University of Hawaii Press, ISBN 978-9715425148, pp xxiv - xxv
  15. ^ Manuel, E. Arsenio (1963), A Survey of Philippine Folk Epics, Asian Folklore Studies, 22, pp 1-76
  16. ^ Barong Tagalog history
  17. ^ History of the Barong Tagalog by My Barong
  18. ^ BALANGHAI FESTIVAL - Commemorating the coming of the early settlers from Borneo and Celebes
  19. ^ Zaide, Sonia M. (1999). The Philippines: A Unique Nation. All-Nations Publishing. pp. 62, 420. ISBN 971-642-071-4.  citing Plasencia, Fray Juan de (1589). Customs of the Tagalogs. Nagcarlin, Laguna. 
  20. ^ Junker, Laura Lee (2000). Raiding, Trading, and Feasting: The Political Economy of Philippine Chiefdoms. Ateneo de Manila University Press. pp. 74, 130. ISBN 971-550-347-0. 
  21. ^
  22. ^ a b c Ancient Philippine Civilization. Accessed January 7, 2013.(archived from the original on 2007-12-01)
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^ Philippines in Figures 2014. National Statistics Office. 2014. pp. 29–34. 
  27. ^ Carolyn Brewer (2004). Shamanism, Catholicism, and gender relations in colonial Philippines, 1521-1685. Ashgate Publishing. p. xvii. ISBN 978-0-7546-3437-9. 
  28. ^ "Philippine Rice Terraces". National Geographic. Retrieved 8 September 2016. 
  29. ^ "Main Building". Retrieved 2009-12-04. 
  30. ^ "Islas de los Pintados: The Visayan Islands". Archived from the original on 2011-05-26. 
  31. ^ Francisco Alzina (1668). Historias de las Islas el Indios de Bisaias. The Bisayans are called Pintados because they are in fact so, not by nature although they are well-built, well-featured and white, but by painting their entire bodies from head to foot as soon as they are young men with strength and courage enough to endure the torture of painting. In the old days, they painted themselves when they had performed some brave deed. They paint themselves by first drawing blood with pricks from a very sharp point, following the design and lines previously marked by the craftsmen in the art, and then over the fresh blood applying an indelible black powder. They do not paint the whole body at one time, but part by part, so that the painting takes many days to complete. In the former times they had to perform a new feat of bravery for each of the parts that were to be painted. The paintings are very elegant, and well proportioned to the members and parts where they are located. I used to say there, captivated and astonished by the appearance of one of these, that if they brought it to Europe a great deal of money could be made by displaying it. Children are not painted. The women paint the whole of one hand and a part of the other. 
  32. ^ "Hot Spots Filipino Cultural Dance - Singkil". 
  33. ^ "Guide to Philippine Cultural and Folk Dances". 
  34. ^ "Ibong Adarna in the year 2014". 
  35. ^ "Philippine Heroes - Francisco Baltazar Balagtas y Dela Cruz (1788-1862)". Etravel Pilipinas. Retrieved 11 March 2014. 
  36. ^ "Is the Curtain Finally Falling on the Philippine Kovie Industry?". Retrieved January 25, 2009. 
  37. ^ a b "Aenet: Philippine Film History". Retrieved January 22, 2009. 
  38. ^ a b Grafilo, John (May 6, 2008). "Cannes entry puts spotlight on Philippine indie films". Top News Light Reading. 
  39. ^ a b Conde, Carlos H (February 11, 2007). "A bleak storyline for the Filipino film industry". International Herald Tribune. 
  40. ^ "Filipino Culture - Most Exposed Filipino Movie Artists". 
  41. ^ Knuuttila, Kyle. (c. 2006). Rice in the Philippines. Retrieved 2010-10-03 from the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Northern Illinois University.
  42. ^ a b Wu, David Y.H.; Cheung, Sidney C.H. (2002), The globalization of Chinese food, Curzon 
  43. ^ "The Jollibee Phenomenon". Jollibee Inc. Archived from the original on June 23, 2007. Retrieved January 9, 2008. 
  44. ^ Conde, Carlos H. (May 31, 2005). "Jollibee stings McDonald's in Philippines". The New York Times. Retrieved January 5, 2010. 
  45. ^ [4]
  46. ^ Bergreen, Laurence.Over The Edge of The World: Magellan’s Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe. New York. 2003.
  47. ^ "Saving Philippine education". Archived from the original on February 10, 2009. Retrieved August 19, 2008. 
  48. ^ "Differences in Culture in South East Asia". Retrieved 15 July 2014.  External link in |website= (help)
  50. ^ "Luksong Tinik - About the Philippines". 
  51. ^ "Mancala Games /Sungka". 
  52. ^ Brtjes, Charles. "THE SALAGUBONG GONG, A FILIPINO INSECT TOY" (PDF). Harvard University. 
  53. ^ "National Commission of Indigenous People". Retrieved August 30, 2008. 
  54. ^ 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 
  55. ^ GABRIELA Network USA (19 July 2004). "[Info-Bureau] FW: STATEMENT ON FILIPINO HOSTAGE". Philippine Women Centre of BC — requoted by Mailing Lists. Retrieved 2007-03-21. 

External links[edit]