Filipinos highly value the presence of their families more than anything. Despite the liberal influence they have gotten from the west, the family remained the basic unit of their society. This trait clearly shows among Filipinos abroad who endure homesickness and tough work just to support their families back home.
In a traditional Filipino family, the father is considered the head and the provider of the family while the mother takes responsibility of the domestic needs and in charge of the emotional growth and values formation of the children. They both perform different tasks and being remarked separately by the children. Children see their mothers soft and calm, while they regard their fathers as strong and the most eminent figure in the family.
Because of this remarkable closeness, parents sometimes have difficulties letting go of their children and thus results to having them stay for as long as they want. For This somehow explains why grandparents are commonly seen living with their children in the Philippines. Unlike the way people grow old in the west where they are provided with outside homes and care giving, Filipino elderly enjoy their remaining lives inside their houses with their children and grandchildren looking after them.
Another trait Filipinos made themselves exceptional from others is their strong respect for elders. Children are taught from birth how to say “po” and “opo” to teach them as early as possible how to properly respect their elders. These words are used to show respect to people of older level. Even adults will be criticized for not using these words when speaking with their parents or people older than them. Inside the family, the parents are expected to receive the highest respect from the children along with the elder siblings; as they are given more responsibilities to look after younger siblings when parents are not around.
Children fighting back or addressing parents or elder siblings with an arrogant tone is not at all tolerated. They are also not allowed to leave the house without their parents’ permission. Upon arriving home, conservative families expect children to practice the kissing of hands or placing their parents or elder family members’ hand to their foreheads with the words “mano po” as a sort of greeting.
Even after finishing school, Filipino children are not obliged to get out of their homes unless they want to. In fact, most of them keep close relationship to their parents by staying at least before they get married. Leaving them only happens when they really have to, but usually, at least one child, depending on his willingness and financial capabilities, stay even after marriage to support and look after their aging parents.
Moreover, Filipinos keep close connection with other relatives. They recognize them from 2nd degree to the last they can identify. As Filipinos say, “not being able to know a relative is like turning their backs from where they come from.”.
The Philippines in general has the strongest Christian influence in Asia. Majority of Filipinos are Catholics and most are fanatically involved. Lives of Filipinos evolve on their religious beliefs. They believe that God and its saints are the ones responsible for what they are and how they live. This is evident in their celebrations of town fiestas and festivals every year.
Pahiyas is one example that brings out the fanatic practices of the Filipinos wherein a particular saint is believed to nourish a town’s harvest by offering it a colorful festival related to the town’s main source of living. Fruits, rice, vegetables or any product related to their livelihood are lavishly decorated on to their houses. Bizarre, but the festivity transforms the whole town into an explicit sight of creativity from the colors and textures of natural ornaments.
The most popular custom that regards the strong influence of Christianism to the Filipinos is the yearly commemoration of holy week, which features the sufferings and death of Christ. Several activities within the month of celebration are performed including the recital of passion, reenactment of Jesus sufferings and death (practiced on a real cross, with real nails pounded on their hands and even the make up that resembles the looks of the Christ), processions and more prayings. This unusual practice made people around the globe wonder and smile, but the significance it brings to the lives of every Filipino in reuniting their families and comemorating their traditions is enough for the world to understand. Such cultural traits they inherited from the west that Filipinos brought it to its own uniqueness.
Filipinos are very sensitive to other people’s feelings. Strong words are avoided and directed to 3rd party to avoid awkward conversations. Women are expected to be modest for them to be treated with proper respect. This is observed mostly during courtship. Parents would rather propose the boys to have their young ladies visited at home than being followed or courted in the street.
Traditionally, wherever they are and regardless of their foreign liberal influences, most Filipinos still observe the “no touch” policy, which means no sexual interaction before marriage, a trait that emphasizes conservatism and strong religious seal between a young couple. Even nowadays, some Filipino parents avoid their daughters to have close contact with their suitors until they get married. This is commonly observed in the province and most tribal communities in the country.
People who have experienced being with Filipinos find them very hospitable. A common trait Filipinos are known to most foreigners who have traveled around the country. Although they are not the only people in the world who can be friendly and welcoming, their attitude towards other people is said to be exceptional. Even the humblest home along the road can serve as a shelter for a stranger who has lost his way. For Filipinos, serving other people the best of what they have leave them an honor and a promise of true friendship. A typical Filipino house is not completely called a home without any facility ready for unexpected visitors. It is filled with new and lovely items reserved only for them while ordinary ones are for everyday use. They welcome guests with the phrase “feel at home” to make them comfortably at ease. Arriving at your host’ house during mealtime may be awkward but if its in a Filipino house, you will be asked to sit down and share with what they have on the table. Because eating alone without asking others according to Filipino customs is considered rude. These manners picture how Filipinos accept and properly respect the presence of their visitors. A form of hospitality that comes truly from the heart like how the country made its image as the land of true smiling people. considering the struggling economy, political confusions and the rising poverty in the country, anyone will be surprised seeing how Filipinos handle such situations. It is like taking everything from them but not their love of joking. Joking and laughing at everything perhaps give them relief and make them see things more positively.
Traveling in this country means more of building rapport with its people and understanding their customs. Filipinos love entertaining foreign visitors; as to help, or for whatever reasons, interacting with them is unavoidable. Hence, aside from the country’s stunning natural assets, meeting the Filipinos gives a promise of a true friendship and memories to keep.
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. Even before Ferdinand Magellan, a Spanish explorer who discovered the country in 1521, the Philippines was already inhabited by Chinese businessmen, which resulted in a mixed Chinese-Filipino descent. During the Spanish colonial period, inter-racial marriages brought forth the emergence of the country’s Spanish-Filipino group, commonly referred to as mestizos/mestizas. A small percentage of Filipinos are also part American and part Japanese respectively, as a result of the American and Japanese occupations of the Philippines in World War II. Arab and Indian blood have also been slightly added to the racial mixture of the Filipinos, due to trade that took place between the different cultures.
Inside the Filipinos’ diverse society, anyone who has not seen Filipinos will be surprised by how unique and heterogenous they are as a group of people. From their physical appearances, to their cultural practices and beliefs, one can see a truly diversified blend of people and customs. In effect, Filipinos take pride in the ability to naturally adapt to any given cultural circumstance.