Philippine Culture: What Makes the Filipinos Different From the Rest of the World

bayanihan kaugalian ng mga pilipino

Each country is different from the rest of the world but what is it really about the Philippines that makes it stand out among others? For one thing, it’s the Philippine culture.

The Pearl of the Orient Seas is not just famous for its beautiful islands but also for its Filipino culture and values that deserve to be shared to the world. Here’s everything you need to know about the Philippines—from the Filipino norms to the cultural practices in the Philippines, and more!

What’s inside this blog?

Language

In the Philippines, there are about 76 to 78 major language groups, with more than 500 dialects. 

For more than 300 years, Spanish was the official language in the country under Spanish rule. 60% of the population spoke Spanish as either a first, second or third language in the early 20th century. But after the American occupation in the early 1900’s, the use of Spanish began to decline. In 1935, the Constitution of the Philippines named English and Spanish the official languages. In 1939, the Tagalog language was named the national language. It was renamed “Pilipino” in 1959 and finally “Filipino” in 1973.  The present Constitution names Filipino and English as joint official languages.


Food

adobo pagkaing pilipino

The food culture in the Philippines is very different from that of the Western’s culture. Filipinos are big eaters and love to eat rice. Rice is a food staple in every Filipino’s meal every day. It’s quite impossible to see a Filipino who doesn’t eat rice, unless that person is on a strict diet. In fact, there are many restaurants who even offer “unlimited rice”. That’s how huge Filipinos’ love for rice is. 

Filipinos also have a regular eating schedule: morning (breakfast), mid-morning (snacks), noon (lunch), afternoon (snacks), and evening (dinner). So if you’re a certified foodie, you will be delighted by the food culture in the Philippines as there are so many foods, both original and adapted from other countries, that you can enjoy. The best way to make the most of food Filipino culture is to be adventurous (with caution) when it comes to dishes.

The foreign influences also played a huge role in the food culture in the Philippines. Some popular Filipino foods influenced by other nations are paella, morcon, burges, pies, noodles, samgyupsal, and more. While the proudly-Pinoy food you can try are adobo, sinigang na baboy, lechon, and halo-halo.

Must-try Filipino food

  1. Adobo
  2. Siningang na baboy
  3. Lechon
  4. Sisig
  5. Balut
  6. Isaw
  7. Sorbetes
  8. Halo-halo
  9. Puto bumbong
  10. Bibingka

Read also: 

A Taste of Filipino Food: 10 Pinoy Dishes That Will Have You Drooling

13 Irresistible Street Food in the Philippines That Will Give You Major Foodgasm


Culture

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The Filipino culture has varied influences from previous colonizations, deriving mainly from the culture of Spain and America. You can easily notice it from the architecture to the cultural beliefs in the Philippines. Despite all of these foreign influences, the old Asian Filipino culture has been retained and are clearly seen in their way of life, cultural beliefs in the Philippines, Filipino customs and traditions. Wherever you go, the Filipino culture and values are very evident and have largely been appreciated and even applauded in many parts of the world.


Values

bayanihan kaugalian ng mga pilipino

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons

The Filipino culture and values are just among the good things that are appreciated by many people from across the world. In the Philippines, family is valued so much. Children live with their parents until they are married. The Filipino family culture is something that many people applaud because Filipinos value family time so much. 

Some other noteworthy and great Filipino cultural values are as follow:

  1. Bayanihan Filipino culture
  2. Before, the Filipino men used to serenade (harana) a woman he was courting.
  3. Filipinos call their older siblings “ate” for older sisters and  “kuya” for older brothers to show respect.
  4. Hospitable
  5. So much respect for the elderlies
  6. Pagmamano or kissing the elder’s head on the forehead
  7. Religious
  8. Palabra de Honor
  9. Pamamanhikan
  10. Pakikisama

Suggested article: 17 Magagandang Kaugalian ng mga Pilipino na Bahagi ng Kulturang Pilipino


Music, Arts and Literature

harana kaugalian ng mga pilipino

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Music, arts, and literature play a big role in the Philippine culture and arts because Filipinos are very creative. When it comes to music, they use materials, usually raw, to create sound. This is just one of the many examples of indigenous practices in the Philippines.

Filipinos are also fond of folklore, which was influenced by the early church and Spanish literature. Myths are very famous in the Philippines culture, especially in the provinces. And when it comes to literature, the Filipino culture never disappoints. Even Dr. Jose Rizal, the Philippines national hero, is famous for his literature and novels about Philippine independence. As for the Philippine Pop Culture, many artists are world-renowned such as Sarah Geronimo, Regine Velasquez, and Julie Anne San Jose among others.

Philippine folk arts
Here are some examples of Filipino culture from Luzon folk dance to Filipino cultural practices.

  1. Architecture (Bahay Kubo (Nipa Hut), Bale (Ifugao House), Ivatan House, Torogan (Marano House), Badjao’s Stilt Houses and Houseboats, Vinta (A traditional colorful boat in Mindanao)
  2. Weaving and Clothing (Piña Fabric, T’Nalak Woven Cloth, Tapis, Yakan, Barong Tagalog, Baro at Saya)
  3. Philippine and Luzon folk dance (Carinosa, Tinikling, Itik-Itik, Sayaw sa Bangko, Pandanggo sa Ilaw, Maglalatik)

Religion

san agustin church manila

We can’t deny the fact that religion plays a big role in shaping not just the Philippine culture but also other cultures. Some 80% of the population is Catholic, Spain’s lasting legacy. About 15% are Muslim and these people can be found in Mindanao. Christianity was introduced as early as the 16th century with the coming of Ferdinand Magellan in 1521. Protestantism was introduced by the first Presbyterian and Methodist missionaries who arrived with the American soldiers in 1899. The rest of the population is made up mostly of smaller Christian denominations and Buddhists.


Clothing

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traditional clothing philippine culture

Photo sources: (Left) Wikimedia Commons | (Right) Wikimedia Commons

Before, the cultural practices in the Philippines when it comes to clothing is wearing baro’t saya for women and barong tagalog for men. Baro’t saya is composed of a blouse and a long skirt with a “panuelo”. Barong Tagalog was an almost see-through polo but throughout the centuries, the Barong Tagalog has evolved. Buttons and collars were added, as well as intricate designs on its pina fabric and laces. Underneath the transparent Barong Tagalog is the Camisa de Chino, a type of shirt, usually in white that is said to have originated from the Chinese.

Throughout the years, with the popularity of the hippie and Philippine pop culture, the Filipino clothing has evolved, turned into more comfortable and laidback wear. Thus the change in the Philippine culture when it comes to clothing.


Celebrations

Philippine Festivals 2020 Updated

Another great thing to know about the Philippine culture is that Filipinos love celebrations! May it be a simple event like a grade school moving up, birthdays, job promotions, or celebration for a patron saint, no occasion is too small not to celebrate. 

For example, the Philippines is known to have the longest Christmas in the world because as early as September, the people are already preparing for the season. This Philippine culture and tradition has been known worldwide and is one of the main reasons foreigners love spending the holidays in the country.

Philippine Festivals are also among the most remarkable cultural practices in the Philippines where Filipinos give all-out to celebrate the province or town’s fiesta. 

Must-read: Festivals In The Philippines: 10 Most Exciting Filipino Fiestas


Places to Visit to Experience the Philippine Culture

The culture of the Philippines surely is among the most notable ones in the world. Here are some places where you can experience the authentic Filipino culture and tradition.

Metro Manila

ayala triangle gardens makati luzon tourist spots

Metro Manila is the place to experience modern Filipino culture. Here you’ll find some of the newest trends in popular culture in the Philippines like fashion, food, and architecture. But don’t get us wrong, while this is the metropolitan area, the old Philippines culture is still alive and practiced here.

Ifugao

banaue rice terraces tourist spot in the philippines

The northern part of the Philippines, especially the Ifugao Province, is one of the best places to experience the traditional Filipino culture. From the Filipino cultural heritage and arts to the cultural practices in the Philippines, Ifugao is something you shouldn’t miss to experience authentic Filipino culture.

Cebu

kawasan falls cebu visayas tourist spots

Cebu is known not just in the Philippines but across the world for its beaches and electrifying festivals like Sinulog. If you want to party like a Filipino, make sure to attend any of these festivals in Cebu where you’ll experience and witness the best of the Philippine culture. 

Related article: 8 Biggest Festivals in Cebu That Every Traveler Must Experience

Davao

happy street dancers during the kadayawan festival

Another great place to see different cultures in the Philippines is Davao. And when in Davao, you must not miss the Kadayawan Festival

Zamboanga

vinta zamboanga philippine culture

Photo credits to City Government of Zamboanga

Zamboanga perhaps exhibits the most colorful Philippine culture and tradition from music, arts, architecture, and Filipino beliefs and values.


Frequently Asked Questions About Philippine Culture

Q: What is the Filipino culture?
A: The Filipino culture and values show the world what the nation’s journey has been through the centuries. A Filipino practices his oneness with others, affinity with nature, and celebration of life. The concept of kapwa (others) is at the core of the Filipino soul and the bayanihan Filipino culture is still alive to this day.

Q: What is important to the Philippine culture and tradition?
A: There are many things that’s important to Philippine culture then and now like the family, bayanihan spirit, religion, Philippine folk arts, and more.

Q: What is traditional Filipino clothing?
A: The traditional clothing that shows the Filipino culture and tradition are baro at saya for women and barong tagalog for men. 

Q: What are the common cultural practices in the Philippines?
A: The Filipino culture is one of the most well-known in the world for its uniqueness and rich history. The common cultural practices in the Philippines are as follow:

  1. Bayanihan Filipino culture – Among the most popular Filipino customs and traditions that are still practiced to this day
  2. Harana – This was one of the most popular things about Filipino culture. Harana is when a guy serenades the girl he’s courting.
  3. Filipinos call their older siblings “ate” for older sisters and  “kuya” for older brothers to show respect
  4. Hospitable – Filipinos are known for being welcoming and friendly
  5. So much respect for the elderlies – One of the Filipino culture and values that locals are very proud of
  6. Pagmamano or kissing the elder’s head on the forehead – One of the most important Filipino culture and values
  7. Religious – Where many traditions in the Philippines occurred from
  8. Palabra de Honor – One of the most valued customs in the Filipino culture
  9. Pamamanhikan – One of the traditions in the Philippines related to marriage
  10. Pakikisama – Among the best traits in the Filipino culture

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