Culture Of The Philippines
Filipinos, the term by which people of the Philippines are generally known, descended from the various Austronesian-speaking migrants who came in droves over a thousand years ago from South East Asia. There are various ethno-linguistic groups these Filipinos are divided into. The three major groups are the Visayans, the Tagalogs, and the Ilocanos. They are genetically close to the Taiwanese aborigines, Malays of Indonesia and Malaysia, and the Polynesians.
Then there are Filipino mestizos, a term employed to refer to those who are of mixed indigenous heritage and Spanish or other foreign ancestry form. They are in minority but form an economically and politically important minority.
Linguistically speaking, the nation is amazingly diverse with more than 170 languages. Nearly all of these languages belong to the Western Malayo-Polynesian language group of the Austronesian language family. The 1987 Constitution confers the status of official language to both Filipino and English. Additionally, there are twelve major regional languages with over one million speakers of each. These are Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilokano, Hiligaynon, Waray-Waray, Bikol, Kapampangan, Pangasinan, Kinaray-a, Maranao, Maguindanao, and Tausug. Also, Spanish and Arabic are used as auxiliary languages.
Around 92 percent of the Filipinos are Christians making it the world’s third-largest Christian nation. Among the Christians, 83 percent belong to the Roman Catholic Church, 2 percent to the Philippine Independent Church, and 10 percent to various Protestant denominations. Some 5 percent of the Filipinos are Muslim and live primarily in parts of Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago.
Filipino culture blends the indigenous traditions of the Philippines with the Hispanic and American cultures, and also have distinct cultural traits of the Chinese, the Indonesians and the Indians.
The Hispanic influences come largely from the cultural influence of Spain and Mexico. The Hispanic influence stands visible in the religious festivals of the Roman Catholic Church. Filipinos hold major festivities known as barrio fiestas to commemorate their patron saints. However, what strikes one right away is the prevalence of Spanish surnames among the Filipinos. However, this was a result of a colonial decree for the systematic distribution of family names and implementation of the Spanish naming system amongst the Filipinos. So, a Spanish surname does not necessarily imply a Hispanic heritage.
Besides, some of the Chinese traits are also found in Filipino culture, particularly in the cuisine. Noodles, for instance, are known locally as mami and are a standing testament of the Chinese cuisine. Linguistic borrowings is the other way by which the Chinese culture has seeped into the Philippines.
So far as the American legacy is concerned, English stands head and shoulder above everything else that Americans might have given to the Filipino way of life. Basketball is very popular another American trait. America seems to have influenced the Philippines in much the same way as it has influenced the rest of the world– through its fast-food revolution. Fast-food joints are ubiquitous in the Philippines. McDonald’s, Burger King, Pizza Hut, KFC, you just name it! Much of what is typically American can be found in the Philippines. Filipinos listen and dance to American music, throng the theaters to watch American movies, and paste the posters of American actors and actresses on their bedroom walls. Asian trends too are now making their presence felt.
However, despite all the influences, the native moral codes are still intact. The respect for the family, veneration of elders, and friendliness continue to mark a Filipino’s social life. Among the national heroes, José Rizal tops the list. He was a Spanish-speaking reformist visionary whose writings influenced the sense of national identity and awareness and is a respected name still.