|Filipino Culture and Tradition|
|Lifestyle - Travelers Blog|
|Written by Jonah- contributing blogger|
The Philippines is an archipelago that lies on the south -east Asian region of the world and it famous for many things- including being the only predominantly Christian nation in the Asian bloc. It is a colourful hodge podge of different cultures and has a microcosm of ethnic and tribal groups. The enriching variety of traditions by all migrants/ indigenous groups and the wave of foreign conquest that swept its shores has bestowed lasting influence which are now part of the blue print of the Filipino psyche. All these contributing factors have made Philippines what it is now- beautiful, resilient, pious, endearing and forbearing.
Philippines was introduced to the known world during April 1521, when the Portuguese explorer named Ferdinand Magellan set foot on the shores of Limasawa island in Southern Leyte. During that time, there was no centralized form of government. Instead, there were Chiefdoms. These Chiefdoms or Balangays are the small governing bodies and are autonomously lead by warlord/ chieftains locally titled Raja/ Datu. With the Cross and the guns the Spanish conquerors claimed the land and named it Philippines ( taken after the name of the Spanish king, Philip II) Though Ferdinand Magellan had been killed at the shores of Mactan, Cebu after engaging in a skirmish battle with the first Filipino hero Datu Lapu Lapu and his band of tribesmen, The remnant of the sailors were able to sail back to Spain and encouraged more expedition into the Philippines which turned our fledgling country into a proper Spanish colony which lasted a good 333 years.
The dawning of 19th century marks the era of the declining clout of the Spaniards- thanks to the Americans who after a battle with the Spaniards, bought the Philippines from the latter for a sum of twenty million dollars. It was the biggest deed of sale ever- the entire country was bought out by the Americans. After the Spanish and the Americans signed the Treaty of Paris, the war had ended but the Americans formalized their sovereignty of the Philippines. The Americans had governed the archipelago for 48 years establishing its lasting legacy of democracy,education and foreign policy. After which the populace clamoured for independence from which the nation came out as The Republic of the Philippines. From the brief history of the Philippines, its easy to understand how the culture and traditions have uniquely evolved into what it is now.
First and foremost the majority of the Filipinos are Christians, this is because the Spanish colonizers brought their friars who were baptizing the animist indigenous Filipinos to become Christians. Religion became both the saving grace and weapon of the Spaniards. But looking back- we have no bitterness towards this manipulation because Christian Faith has saved our country from a lot of trials throughout our shared history as a nation. The Filipinos celebrate greatly the traditions of Christianity which include the Lenten season especially the Easter Sunday. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is said to be the most important celebration of Christians. Another Filipino-Christian event is the birth of Jesus Christ; the Filipinos look forward to the dawn to hear masses which is called “misa de gallo”. After which, they all head to the streetfood counters to have breakfast consisting of traditional Filipino sweets and hot chocolate drink. Furthermore, infants and persons are expected to be baptized as Christians. A Confirmation religious ceremony also happens when they have reached adult age to affirm their faith in the Church and most importantly in Christ. Filipinos indeed are religious and they had strong relationship with their God.
Secondly, Filipinos observe dates of revelry called Fiestas. These events are usualy religious in origin. Different places have their patrons saints. During Feasts, neighbors would visit every other house and have a lovely meal with other guests. It is in this occasion that Filipino Hospitality becomes evident. Filipinos are food lovers. Who can ever forget the lechon (roasted pig) in the dining table? Every fiesta will always have this as a center piece. The Filipino solidarity or bayanihancan often be observed in Boodle feasts or kamayan ( celebrating a big meal of sumptuous grilled morsels eaten best on banana leaf and enjoyed without any cutlery- only freshly washed bare hands. Another instance when the virtue od Solidarity/ Bayanihan is observed is during the moving of an indigenous cottage called bahay kubo from one location to another. Such an endearing sight for foreigners and locals alike to see sweaty muscled men in a group effort to carry the bahay kubo to a new home base.
Thirdly we highlight the Filipino way of courtship. From the perspective of the family the aspiring male should not only court the damsel but her the family as well. Also, the woman should never visit the man in his own house. The Filipino gentleman usually courts the woman by singing and playing guitar outside the window which is called harana and pleasing the girl as well as the family. Some of the provinces in the country still practice this kind of courtship. In, addition the man should respect the parents by placing the back of the hand of the parent into the man’s forehead which is calledpagmamano. After all the courtship, the woman is now ready to accept the man’s love for her and avows to give her devotion.. The next step after successful relationship between the man and woman would be the engagement. The man would now ask the woman’s permission and tell the woman’s parents that they are going to get married and if the woman’s parents accept the permission they would give their blessings and ready for the wedding, the process is called pamamanhikan. Since most of the Filipinos are Christian and conservative, they usually opt for a church wedding than the other alternatives.
Fourthly we tackle the Filipino love for food. Different food specialties abound throughout the region. For example, the Southern Luzon area is known for their Bicol Express, which consists of native chillis, coconut milk, vegetables and fried pork . In the seaside region, seafood recipes are a staple. The mountainous regions like Baguio and Cagayan Valley are known for organic vegetable morsels from which pinakbet is widely loved in the dining tables. Filipinos also share a number of favourite dishes that are widely cooked and enjoyed everywhere in the country these includes;adobo, bulalo, kaldereta, arroz caldo, bibinka, puto maya and many more. The Filipinos also has a penchant for exotic food which the old folks believe to strengthen the knees: this is the Balut . Thebalut is sold by street vendors who go around in bicycles. Other delicacies like the kwek-kwek (deep fried whole egg breaded in orange colored flour) and buko juice which is famous for its healing properties(fresh coconut juice).
Lastly, let us not forget to applaud this most endearing Filipino quality- the respect for elders. The children are trained by their parents to speak respectively to the elders and by saying affirmative terms which is po and opo. Close family ties is strong among Filipinos. Extended families in each home and living in a Family Compound are quite common even today.
To conclude with due candour- never has the term beauty in diversity found its most apt embodiment in the culture and traditions of the Filipino nation. We ought to be proud being Filipinos.
MC Pitt- Editor
Jonah- contributing blogger