What traditions and customs are there in the Philippines?
In Southeast Asia, the customs and traditions of the Philippines.
Food in daily life
Filipinos do not consider it a meal if rice is not served. Steamed rice is the basis of the diet. Three crops a year are harvested to provide enough rice for the population, and the government keeps the surplus in storage for times of drought. Saltwater and freshwater from fish and shellfish are consumed daily, whether fresh or salty.
Fish, chicken and pork are often fried, although people are becoming more health-conscious and often choose alternative methods of cooking. Garlic is added to foods because it is considered healthy. Filipino food is not spicy.
All food is cooked on gas burners or over wood or charcoal fires and allowed to cool before consumption. The rice is cooked first, as it takes longer. When ready, the rice will be placed on the table while the next courses of the meal are prepared and served.
Table knives are not used. Forks and spoons are used for eating. Food is eaten with a spoon. The traditional method of putting food on a banana leaf and eating with your hands is also used throughout the country. Eating with your hands is acceptable both in restaurants and at home.
Breakfast is served at 6am and consists of leftover food from the night before. Does not overheat. Eggs and sausages are served on special occasions. Small buns called pan de sol can be bought from vendors first thing in the morning.
At mid-morning and in the afternoon, people eat a snack. Since Filipinos like sweet foods, a mixture of instant coffee, evaporated milk, and sugar may be served. Coca-Cola is very popular. There might be sweet rolls, donuts, or a bowl of noodles.
Lunch is a light meal with rice and another dish, often a fish or meat stew. Fish, pork, or chicken are served at dinner with a soup made from lentils or vegetables. Fatty pork is a favorite. Portions of small cubes of browned pork fat are considered a specialty dish.
The fruits are abundant throughout the year. Various types of bananas are consumed, including red and green varieties. Mangoes, the national fruit, are sweet and juicy. A fruit salad with condensed milk and coconut milk is very popular on special occasions.
Vegetables are included as part of a soup or stew. Green beans and potatoes are commonly eaten foods. Sweet potato leaves, a sweet potato, are used as an ingredient for salads and soups. Ube, a bright purple bland potato, is used as a colorful ingredient in cakes and ice cream.
Halo-halo, which means “mix,” is a popular dessert that consists of layers of corn kernels, ice cream, small pieces of gelatin, cornflakes, and shaved ice. Patis, a very salty fish sauce, is placed on the table to add to any of the dishes.
Fast food has become part of the culture, with national and international chains in many cities. All meals at fast food restaurants include rice, although French fries tend to be on the menu as well. Banana ketchup is preferred, although international chains serve tomato ketchup.
A national chain, Jollibee, has entered the US market with a restaurant in California, where many Filipino immigrants live. The company plans to expand to other cities with Filipino populations.
Food customs on ceremonial occasions
Léchon, a suckling pig that has been roasted until the skin forms a hard, brown crust, is served on important occasions. The interior is very greasy. Strips of skin with attached fat are considered the best pieces. The importance of the host and the occasion are measured by the quantity of suckling pig served.
The blood drained from the pig is used to make dinuguano sticky rice prepared with coconut milk and sugar cane syrup wrapped in banana leaves. Glutinous rice is grown especially for use in this traditional dessert.
Gin and beer are available for the men and are accompanied by balut, a duck egg with an embryo. Dog meat is a delicacy throughout the country. It is now illegal to sell dog meat in markets because cases of rabies have occurred when the brains were eaten.
Marriage is a civil ceremony that takes place in the city offices. A religious ceremony is also performed. The ceremony is similar to that in the United States, with the addition of sponsors. Major sponsors are friends and family who hold positions of influence in the community.
The number of major sponsors attests to the popularity and potential success of a couple. It also cuts down on a couple’s expenses, as each primary sponsor is expected to contribute a substantial amount of cash. Members of the wedding party are secondary groomsmen who do not have to provide funds.
Arranged marriages have not been a part of Filipino life. However, men are expected to marry and if a man is unmarried by his late 20s, female relatives start introducing him to potential brides. The median age for marriage is twenty-two.
Young professionals wait until their 20s to marry, and engagements of five to seven years are not uncommon. During this period, the couple establishes themselves in jobs, pays for the education of their younger siblings, and purchases household items.
A woman who reaches the age of thirty-two without getting married is considered to be over the age of marriage. Women believe that marriage to a rich man or to a foreigner guarantees happiness. Divorce is illegal, but an annulment is available for the dissolution of a marriage.
Reasons for annulment include physical incapacity, physical violence, or pressure to change a person’s religious or political beliefs. Interfaith marriages are rare.
People believe that it is their duty to keep things running smoothly. It is very important not to lose face. Being corrected or correcting another person in public is not considered acceptable behavior.
People want to grant every request, so they often say yes when they mean no or maybe no. Others understand when the request is not fulfilled because saying that it could not have caused the individual to lose face.
When one is asked to join a family for a meal, the offer must be refused. If the invitation is extended a second time, it can be accepted. Time awareness and time management are not important considerations. A scheduled meeting can take place later, much later, or not at all.
Filipinos walk hand in hand or arm in arm with relatives and friends of both genders as a sign of affection or friendship. Women are expected not to cross their legs or drink alcohol in public. Shorts are not in common use for women.
People pride themselves on hospitality. They go out of their way to help visitors or get them to their destination. It is of the utmost importance to acknowledge the positions of others and to use full titles and full names when introducing or referring to people.
Non-verbal language, such as pointing at an object with your lips, is a key element in communication. You greet friends by raising your eyebrows. A longer lift can be used to ask a question.
The Philippines is the only Christian nation in Asia. More than 85 percent of the population is Roman Catholic. The rosary is said in the house at 9:00 p.m., just before the family retires for the night. Children are introduced to the “Mama Mary” statue at a very young age.
Protestant missionaries arrived in 1901 and followed the Catholic example of establishing hospitals, clinics, and private schools. The Church of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) is currently the most active missionary group.
Sunni Muslims constitute the largest non-Christian group. They live in Mindanao and the Sulu Islands, but have migrated to other provinces. Muslim provinces celebrate Islamic religious holidays as legal holidays. Mosques are located in large cities throughout the country.
In smaller communities, Muslims gather in small buildings to receive services. Animism, the belief that natural objects have souls, is the country’s oldest religion, practiced by indigenous people in the mountains of Luzon.
Freedom of religion is guaranteed by the Constitution. The disagreement between the Muslim population of the southern provinces and the federal government is not so much about religion as about political goals. Non-Catholics are not opposed to Catholic symbols or to praying in public places.
Each barangay has a patron saint. The day of the saint is celebrated with a party that includes a religious ceremony. Large amounts of food are served in each house. Friends and relatives from other barangays are invited and go from house to house to enjoy the food. A talent show, beauty pageant, and dance are all part of the fun. Carnival rides and bingo games add to the festivities.
Religious leaders are powerful figures. Political and business leaders court Cardinal Jaime Sin because of his influence with much of the population. Local priests and ministers are so respected that their petitions assume the power of mandates.
A family considers having a son or daughter with a religious career to be a great honor. Personal friendships with priests, ministers, and nuns are greatly appreciated. Clerics take an active role in the secular world. An example is Brother Andrew Gonzales, current secretary of DECS.
Faith healers cure illnesses through prayer or touch. “Psychic” healers operate without using scalpels or drawing blood. The several thousand healers are Christians. They believe that if they ask for a fee, their power will disappear. Patients are generous with gifts because healers are highly respected.
Rituals and sacred places
The main rituals are customary Christian or Muslim practices. Miracle sites draw huge crowds on Sundays and holidays. Easter is the most important Christian observance. On Easter weekend, the entire Christian zone of the country is closed from noon on Holy Thursday until the morning of Black Saturday.
International flights continue and hospitals are open, but national television broadcasts, religious services, shops and restaurants are closed and public transportation is scarce. People stay home or go to church. Special events are held on Good Friday. There are religious processions such as the parade of statues of saints throughout the community.
Death and the afterlife
A twenty-four-hour vigil is held at the deceased’s house, and the body is escorted to the cemetery after the religious ceremony. The tradition is that the mourners walk behind the coffin. A mausoleum is built during the user’s lifetime. The size of the building indicates the position of the builder.
Mourning is carried on for six weeks after the death of a family member. It may consist of a black pin worn on the mourner’s blouse or shirt or on black clothing. The duel is set aside after a year. A meal or feast is offered to family members and close friends one year after the burial to commemorate the recognition of the memory of the deceased.
All Saints’ Day (November 1) is a national holiday to honor the dead. Graves are cleared of debris and repaired. Families gather at the cemetery and stay for twenty-four hours. Candles and flowers are placed on the graves.
Food and memories are shared, and prayers are offered for the souls of the dead. When a family member visits a grave during the year, pebbles are placed on the grave to indicate that the deceased has been remembered.
New Year’s Day is more of a family holiday than Christmas. It is combined with Rizal Day, December 30, to give people time to return to their province. Midnight on New Year’s Eve brings a burst of firecrackers and randomly aimed gunshots.
Other secular national holidays are Bataan Autumn Day, an observance of the Bataan Death March in 1942, on April 9. May 1 is Labor Day.
Independence Day, June 12, celebrates the liberation from Spanish rule. It is celebrated with parties, parades and fireworks. Sino-Filipinos celebrate Chinese New Year, which is not a national holiday, in January or February. In Manila, fireworks and parades take place throughout Chinatown. Muslims celebrate Islamic holidays.
The arts and humanities
The government supports institutions such as the National Museum in Manila. Libraries exist in colleges and universities. The best collections are in Manila. The museums are located in the provincial capitals and in Manila. The Philippine Cultural Center in Manila is a performing arts center that opened in 1970.
It is a multi-building complex created under the direction of former first lady Imelda Marcos, who encouraged musicians to enter the international community and receive additional training. Non-governmental organizations preserve the folk heritage of indigenous groups.
The literature is based on the oral traditions of folklore, the influence of the church, and Spanish and American literature. Philippine written literature became popular in the mid-19th century as the middle class became educated. Most of the historical literature grew out of the independence movement. José Rizal electrified the country with his novels.
During the early years of American control, literature was written in English. The English and American literature taught in schools was a factor in the type of writing that was produced.
Writing in Philippine languages became more common in the late 1930s and during the Japanese occupation. Literature is now written in both Filipino and English. Textbooks contain national and world literature.
The Philippine Academy of Art, established in 1821, displays early art reflecting Spanish and religious themes. Juan Luna and Félix Hidalgo were the first Filipino artists to gain recognition in Europe in the late 19th century. Contemporary artists use a variety of techniques and media to reflect social and political life.
The crafts reflect the national culture. Each area of the country has specialties ranging from the batik cotton prints of the Muslim areas to the wood carvings of the mountainous provinces of Luzon. Baskets and rugs are made of wicker.
Textiles are woven by hand in cooperatives, shops and homes. Banana and pineapple fiber cloth, cotton and wool are interwoven into textiles. Furniture and decorative items are carved. Crafts in silver and shell are also created
Sex and violence are major themes in the films, which are often adaptations of American productions. American films are popular and readily available, so high-quality Philippine cinema has been slow to develop.
Drama before Spanish colonization was religious in nature and intended to persuade deities to provide the necessities of life. The Spanish used the theater to introduce the Catholic religion.
Filipino themes in theater developed in the late 19th century as the independence movement evolved. The current themes are nationalistic and reflect everyday life.
The dance is a mixture of Filipino and Spanish cultures. Professional dance companies perform ballet, modern dance, and folk dance. Folk dances are presented at meetings and conferences and reflect a strong Spanish influence. Indigenous dances are used in historical parades.
An example is a bamboo dance that tells the story of a bird moving among the reeds. People enjoy ballroom dancing for recreation. Dance instructors are available at parties to teach the waltz and cha-cha.
Musical performance begins at home and at school. At parties, amateur shows with songs and dances are performed. Popular music tends to be American. The guitars are made for export; Folkloric instruments such as the nasal flute are also built.
Share the customs and traditions of the Philippines.