Welcome to the Philippines! A visitor visiting these isles will find a lot of things uniquely Filipino from the loud and vibrant jeepneys plying the streets to the halo-halo, a dessert that perfectly encapsulates the people, their way of life, and their culture.
The halo-halo is loosely translated as “mix-mix” in English. It derives it’s name from the various ingredients that make up the dish. A few examples of the ingredients include ice, condensed or evaporated milk, beans, bananas, coconut meat, and the local sweet “ube.” Such a mix will seem strange at first to the unfamiliar visitor. But when you get a taste of it, you can’t get enough of it! Many tourists will attest to this and this makes it the perfect description for Philippine culture. Just like the popular dessert there are so many things, from so many sources that are so unique and different that mix and come together to make Philippine culture. Just like halo-halo, some of the elements may seem conflicting at first. But once you get used to it, Philippine culture is really so unique and endearing. There’s just so much to take in with Philippine culture!
Influences on Philippine culture
Philippine culture borrows heavily from 3 main influences. The Spanish and the American colonizers, and native Filipino customs and practices that existed before colonization. The Spanish colonized the islands for over 200 years. In that long span of time, their influence was heavily felt and recognized. The Americans did not colonize the country as long as the Spanish. However, their influence has also been just as heavily felt.
Perhaps the most recognizable contribution of the Spanish to Philippine culture is Catholicism. The population is mainly Catholic and most of the prestigious private schools in the country were established by the Spanish and are Catholic as well.
The Americans’ most influential contribution to the country is the English language. During their stay in the country, the Americans taught and popularized the language. Because of this, the Philippines has now become one of the most English-fluent countries in Asia. This gives it a clear advantage in modern business and commerce. Many call-centers are based in the country with very fluent and friendly agents.
Another contribution of the Americans is the democratic form of government. The current model of Philippine government is democratic and borrows heavily from the American system.
What makes the Filipino culture unique
Although the culture borrows heavily from the Spanish and the American cultures, it is the native aspects of the culture itself that make it unique. It’s Filipino roots make it different from the rest.
Filipino culture places a very high regard on the family. There is much love and respect for family, more so than in other cultures. Families are very close and relations are of the highest regard. Events where the families can get together like Christmas are the most important. It is also common to find children living together with parents and grandparents even if they are financially independent in contrast to the West where families often leave their elders to be taken care of by nurses and caregivers. This highlights just how close the Filipino is to family.
Filipinos by nature are also very respectful. From birth, Filipinos are taught “po” and “opo” which are words used to convey respect to elders, or people of higher authority. They are also taught the custom of “Mano” a gesture where one takes the hand of the elderly and bows or kisses it. It is these unique Filipino traits that make the culture unique.