The culture of the Philippines is reflects the country’s complex history. It is a blend of the Malayo-Polynesian and Hispanic cultures, with influence from Chinese. The Philippines was first settled by Melanesians; today they preserve a very traditional way of life and culture, although their numbers are few. After them, Malayo-Polynesian arrived. Today the Malayo-Polynesian culture is very evident in the ethnicity, language, food, dance and almost every aspect of the culture. These Austronesians engaged in trading with China, India, Japan, the Ryukyu islands, the Middle East, Borneo, and other places.
As a result, those cultures have also left a mark on Filipino culture. When the Spanish colonized the islands, after more than three centuries of colonization, they had heavily impacted the culture. The Philippines being governed from both Mexico and Spain, had received a little bit of Hispanic influence. Mexican and Spanish influence can be seen in the dance and religion many other aspects of the culture. After being colonized by Spain, the Philippines became a U.S. territory for about 40 years. Influence from the United States is seen in the wide use of the English language, and the modern pop culture.
The Philippines is one of two predominantly Roman Catholic nations in Asia-Pacific, the other being East Timor. From a census in 2000, Catholics constitute 80.9%, with Aglipayan followers at 2%,Evangelical Christians at 2.8%, Iglesia Ni Cristo at 2.3%, and other Christian denominations at 4.5%. Islam is the religion for about 5% of the population, while 1.8% practice other religions. The remaining 0.6 did not specify a religion while 0.1% are irreligious. Before the arrival of the Spaniards and the introduction of Roman Catholicism and Western culture in the 16th century, the indigenous Austronesian people of what is now called the Philippines were adherents of a mixture of shamanistic Animism, Islam, Hinduism and Vajrayana Buddhismm.
Arts of the Philippines cover a variety of forms of entertainment. Folk art and ethnographic art consist of classic and modern features that flourished as a result of European and Indigenous influences. The literature of the Philippines illustrates the Prehistory and European colonial legacy of the Philippines, written in both Indigenous and Hispanic writing system. Most of the traditional literatures of the Philippines were written during the Mexican and Spanish period. Philippine literature is written in Spanish, English, Tagalog, and/or other native Philippine languages. Early Filipino painting can be found in red slip designs embellished on the ritual pottery of the Philippines such as the acclaimed Manunggul Jar. Evidence of Philippine pottery-making dated as early as 6,000 BC has been found in Sanga-sanga Cave, Sulu and Laurente Cave, Cagayan. It has been proven that by 5,000 BC, the making of pottery was practiced throughout the country. Early Filipinos started making pottery before their Cambodian neighbors, and at about the same time as the Thais as part of what appears to be a widespread Ice Age development of pottery technology.
Further evidences of painting are manifested in the tattoo tradition of early Filipinos, whom the Portuguese explorer referred to as Pintados or the ‘Painted People’ of the Visayas. Various designs referencing flora and fauna with heavenly bodies decorate their bodies in various colored pigmentation. Perhaps, some of the most elaborate painting done by early Filipinos that survive to the present day can be manifested among the arts and architecture of the Maranao who are well known for the Naga Dragons and the Sarimanok carved and painted in the beautiful Panolong of their Torogan or King’s House. Filipinos began creating paintings in the European tradition during 17th century Spanish period. The earliest of these paintings were Church frescoes, religious imagery from Biblical sources, as well as engravings, sculptures and lithographs featuring Christian icons and European nobility. Most of the paintings and sculptures between the 19th and 20th centuries produced a mixture of religious, political, and landscape art works, with qualities of sweetness, dark, and light. Early modernist painters such as Damián Domingo was associated with religious and secular paintings.
The art of Juan Luna and Felix Hidalgo showed a trend for political statement. The first Philippine national artist Fernando Amorsolo used post-modernism to produce paintings that illustrated Philippine culture, nature and harmony. While other artist such as Fernand Zóbel used realities and abstract on his work. In the early 1980s, other unique folk artist exist one of these is Elito Circa as amangpintor the famous Filipino folk painter. He uses his own hair to make his paintbrushes, and signs his name with his own blood on the right side of his paintings. He developed his own styles without professional training or guidance from masters. The Itneg people are known for their intricate woven fabrics. The binakol is a blanket which features designs that incorporate optical illusions. Woven fabrics of the Ga’dang people usually have bright red tones. Their weaving can also be identified by beaded ornamentation. Other peoples such as the Ilongot make jewelry from pearl, red hornbill beaks, plants, and metals.
The Lumad peoples of Mindanao such as the B’laan, Mandaya, Mansaka and T’boli are skilled in the art of dyeing abaca fiber. Abaca is a plant closely related to bananas, and its leaves are used to make fiber known as Manila hemp. The fiber is dyed by a method called ikat. Ikat fiber are woven into cloth with geometric patterns depicting human, animal and plant themes. A technique combining ancient Oriental and European art process. Considered lost art and highly collectible art form. Very few known art pieces existed today. The technique was practiced by the indigenous people of Samar Island between early 1600 and late 1800 A.D. Kut-kut is an exotic Philippine art form based on early century techniques sgraffito, encaustic and layering. The merging of these ancient styles produces a unique artwork characterized by delicate swirling interwoven lines, multi-layered texture and an illusion of three-dimensional space.
Islamic art in the Philippines have two main artistic styles. One is a curved-line woodcarving and metalworking called okir, similar to the Middle Eastern Islamic art. This style is associated with men. The other style is geometric tapestries, and is associated with women. The Tausug and Sama Bajau exhibit their okir on elaborate markings with boat-like imagery. The Marananaos make similar carvings on housings called torogan. Weapons made by Muslim Filipinos such as the kampilan are skillfully carved. The early music of the Philippines featured a mixture of Indigenous, Islamic and a variety of Asian sounds that flourished before the European and American colonization in the 16th and 20th centuries. Spanish settlers and Filipinos played a variety of musical instruments, including flutes, guitar, ukelele, violin, trumpets and drums. They performed songs and dances to celebrate festive occasions.
By the 21st century, many of the folk songs and dances have remained intact throughout the Philippines. Some of the groups that perform these folk songs and dances are the Bayanihan, Filipinescas, Barangay-Barrio, Hariraya, the Karilagan Ensemble, and groups associated with the guilds of Manila, and Fort Santiago theatres. Many Filipino musicians have risen prominence such as the composer and conductor Antonio J. Molina, the composer Felipe P. de Leon, known for his nationalistic themes and the opera singer Jovita Fuentes. Modern day Philippine music features several styles. Most music genres are contemporary such as Filipino rock, Filipino hip hop and other musical styles. Some are traditional such as Filipino folk music. Philippine folk dances include the Tinikling and Cariñosa. In the southern region of Mindanao, Singkil is a popular dance showcasing the story of a prince and princess in the forest. Bambo opoles are arranged in a tic-tac-toe pattern in which the dancers exploit every position of these clashing poles.
The advent of the cinema of the Philippines can be traced back to the early days of filmmaking in 1897 when a Spanish theater owner screened imported moving pictures. Filipinos cook a variety of foods influenced by Western and Asian cuisine. The Philippines is considered a melting pot of Asia. Eating out is a favorite Filipino past time. A typical Pinoy diet consists at most of six meals a day; breakfast, snacks, lunch, snacks, dinner, and again a midnight snack before going to sleep. Rice is a staple in the Filipino diet, and is usually eaten together with other dishes. Filipinos regularly use spoons together with forks and knives.
Some also eat with their hands, especially in informal settings, and when eating seafood. Other popular dishes brought from Spanish and Southeast Asian influences include afritada, asado, chorizo, empanadas and mani. Every province has its own specialty and tastes vary in each region. In Bicol, for example, foods are generally spicier than elsewhere in the Philippines. Patis, suka, toyo, bagoong, and banana catsup are the most common condiments found in Filipino homes and restaurants. Western fast food chains such as McDonald’s, Wendy’s, KFC, and Pizza Hut are a common sight in the country.
Education in the Philippines has been influenced by Western and Eastern ideology and philosophy from the United States, Spain, and its neighboring Asian countries. Philippine students enter public school at about age four, starting from nursery school up to kindergarten. At about seven years of age, students enter elementary school. This is followed by high school. Students then take the college entrance examinations, after which they enter college or university. Other types of schools include private school, preparatory school, international school, laboratory high school, and science high school. Of these schools, private Catholic schools are the most famous. Catholic schools are preferred in the Philippines due to their religious beliefs. Most Catholic schools are unisex. The uniforms of Catholic schools usually have an emblem along with the school colors. The school year in the Philippines starts in June and ends in March, with a two-month summer break from April to May, two-week semestral break in October and Christmas and New Year’s holidays.
Arnis, a form of martial arts, is the national sport in the Philippines. Among the most popular sports include basketball, boxing, football, billiards, chess, ten-pin bowling, volleyball, horse racing, and cockfighting. Dodgeball and badminton are also popular. Filipinos have gained international success in sports. These are boxing, football, billiards, ten-pin bowling, and chess. Popular sport stars include Manny Pacquiao, Flash Elorde, and Francisco Guilledo in boxing, Paulino Alcántara in football, Carlos Loyzaga, Robert Jaworski, and Ramon Fernandez in basketball, Efren Reyes and Francisco Bustamante in billiards, Rafael Nepomucenoin ten-pin bowling, Eugene Torre in chess, and Mark Munoz in MMA.
The Palarong Pambansa, a national sports festival, has its origin in an annual sporting meet of public schools that started in 1948. Private schools and universities eventually joined the national event, which became known as the “Palarong Pambansa” in 1976. It serves as a national Olympic Games for students, competing at school and national level contests. One Traditional Filipino game is luksong tinik. A very popular game to Filipino children where one has to jump over the tinik and cross to the other side unscathed. Other traditional Filipino games include yo-yo, piko, patintero, bahay kubo, pusoy, and sungka. Tong-its is a popular gambling game. Individuals play the game by trying to get rid of all the cards by choosing poker hands wisely. Sungka is played on a board game using small sea shells in which players try to take all shells. The winner is determined by who has the most shells at the point when all small pits become empty. Filipinos have created toys using insects such as tying a beetle to string, and sweeping it circular rotation to make an interesting sound. The “Salagubang gong” is a toy described by Charles Brtjes, an American entomologist, who traveled to Negros and discovered a toy using beetles to create a periodic gong effect on a kerosene can as the beetle rotates above the contraption.
The Indigenous peoples of the Philippines consist of a large number of Austronesian ethnic groups. They are the descendants of the original Austronesian inhabitants of the Philippines, that settled in the islands thousands of years ago, and in the process have retained their Indigenous customs and traditions. In 1990, more than 100 highland peoples constituted approximately 3% of the Philippine population. Over the centuries, the isolated highland peoples have retained their Indigenous cultures. The folk arts of these groups were, in a sense, the last remnants of Indigenous traditions that flourished throughout the Philippines before the Islamic and Spanish contacts.
The highland peoples are a primitive ethnic group like other Filipinos, although they did not, as a group, have as much contact with the outside world. These peoples displayed a variety of native cultural expressions and artistic skills. They showed a high degree of creativity such as the production of bowls, baskets, clothing, weapons and spoons. These peoples ranged from various groups of Igorot people, a group that includes the Bontoc, Ibaloi, Ifugao, Isneg, Kalinga and Kankana-ey, who built the Rice Terraces thousands of years ago. They have also covered a wide spectrum in terms of their integration and acculturation with Christian Filipinos. Other Indigenous peoples include the Lumad people of the highlands of Mindanao. These groups have remained isolated from Western and Eastern influences.