Philippine Culture - Philippine Society
culture | celebrations | family
traits | heritage | philippine
The locals of the Philippines are called Filipinos. Their primary ancestors
are the Malays who came from the southeastern Asian country or what is now called
Indonesia. Before the Europeans discovered the country, Filipinos have had connections
with China that resulted to a mixed Chinese-Filipino descent. Spanish-Filipinos
came out during the colonial period and Filipino-Americans added a few percentages
as well during the American occupation. They are easily distinguished by their
fairer color, taller stature and fairly formed nose structure. A few Arab and
Indian blood added to the racial mixture of the Filinos during their trading
years. Aetas- the aboriginal group of the Philippines has a small percentage
remained in the composition of the country’s ethnic groups.
The Philippines is a combined society, both Singular and Plural in form. Singular
as one nation, but it is plural in that it is fragmented geographically and
culturally. The nation is divided between Christians, Muslims, and other religion-ethno-linguistic
groups; between urban and rural people; between upland and lowland people; and
between the rich and the poor. Although different in a lot ways, the Filipinos
are very hospitable and give appropriate respect to anybody regardless of race,
culture and belief.
Inside their mixed society, anyone who has not seen Filipinos will be surprised
how everyone differs from each other. Their looks, their cultural practices
and beliefs show a truly diverse blend of people and customs. Because of this
inconsistent homogeneity of race, the Filipinos naturally adapt and get influenced
easily. They embraced the spirituality of the Spanish during the colonial period
and surpass it with the modernity of the Americans in the recent years. Inspite
of these multifaceted customs and incongruous mixture of people, visitors, however,
find Filipinos enriched with uniqueness and variants.
The Filipino Cultural Awareness
• Bayanihan: the creation of association with neighbors and the helping
atittude whenever one is in disastrous need. Oftentimes, the Bayanihan spirit
in action can be seen when a bus gets a flat tire. The by standing or surrounding
Filipinos would help the bus driver in whatever actions to get the bus back
• Close Family Ties: Filipinos are well-known for the close family ties.
The primary social welfare system for the Filipino is the family. Many filipinos
live near their family for most of their lives, even as independent adults.
• Pakikisama: Pakikisama, or harmony, in English, involves getting along
with others to preserve a harmonious relationship.
• Hiya: Hiya is shame and is a motivating factor behind behavior. It is
a sense of social decency and compliant to public norms of behavior. Filipinos
believe they must live up to the accepted standards of behavior and if they
fail to do so they bring shame not only upon themselves, but also upon their
family. An example might be a willingness to spend more than they can afford
on a party rather than be shamed by their economic situation. If someone is
publicly embarrassed, criticized, or does not live up to expectations, they
feel shame and lose self-esteem.
• Utang na Loob: Utang na Loob, or Debt of Gratitude, is owed by one to
a person who has helped him through the trials he had undergone. There is a
local saying: 'Ang hindi lumingon sa pinanggalingan ay hindi makararating sa
paroroonan', meaning, 'One who does not look back to where he started, will
not get to where he is going'.
o Amor Propio: Concern for self image.
o Delicadeza: Sense of honor
o Palabra de Honor: "word of honor"
Although these traits are generally positive, these practices also have the
inclination to be applied in the wrong context. A debt of gratitude is sometimes
repaid by giving special favors to the other person regardless of the moral
outcome. Close familial ties can also lead to favoritism.
Traditions and Beliefs
Before the coming of the Spaniards and the introducing of Roman Catholicism,
the indigenous inhabitants were believer of animism, or the worship of nature.
As in Roman Catholicism, their pre-Hispanic beliefs consisted of a hierarchy
of gods, goddesses, and spirits which bear similarity to that of Roman Catholicism,
which is why the latter has been accepted easily by the inhabitants. Bathala
was the supreme God of the Tagalogs, symbolized by the araw, or sun. The supreme
God of the Bikolanos was Gugurang. Other Tagalog Gods and Goddesses include
the buwan or moon, tala or stars, and even objects, such as trees, shrubs, mountains,
or rocks. The spirits consist of aswang (ghoul), tikbalang (a man having the
head of a horse), kapre (a giant that is smoking tobacco), tiyanak ( vampire
feeding on children's blood), santelmo (fireball), dwende (dwarves and elves),
ik-ik (witches), and a lot of engkanto (minor spirits) and diwata (fairies/nymphs).
Aside from that, voodoo practices were practiced by the pre-colonial inhabitants,
such as pangkukulam, or witchcraft. Beliefs such as usog (a child greeted by
a stranger will get sick) and lihi (unusual craving for something during pregnancy)
are also present. These beliefs were carried on up to the present generation
of Filipinos, which has directed some foreign authors to describe them as 'Pagan-Christians'