The Filipino People
Filipinos Way of Thinking
The People
Bayanihan: the creation of alliances with neighbors and the helping attitude whenever one is in need.

Close Familial Ties
: Filipinos are famous for the close family ties, and this goes even for the Filipinos mixed with other Asian or European ancestry.  The primary social welfare system for the Filipino is the family.

Pakikisama:  Pakikisama involves getting along with others to maintain hamonious relationship.

Utang na Loob:  debt or gratitude owed by one to a person who has helped him/her through the trials he had undergone.  There is a local saying: 'Ang hindi lumingon sa pinanggalingan ay hindi makakarating sa paroroonan,' meaning, 'one who does not look back where he started, will not get to where he is going.'  
There are at least 77 major ethno-linguistic groups in the Philippine archipelago, which can be further subdivided into 244 sub-groupings depending on the variations of the central cultures.  Classification and identification of groups is based on factors such as geography, environment, religion, language, rules on succession and social organization.

In Luzon, the biggest island, the major groups are the: Ivatan/Itbayat; Ilocano; Tinggian; Apayao; Kalinga; Balangao; Kankanay; Kankanaey; BAgo; Bontoc; Ifugao; Ibaloi; Ikalahan/Kalanguya; Iwak; Isinay; Pangasinan; Ga'dang; Ibanag; Itawit; Malaweg; Yogad; Ilongot; Kapampangan; Palanan;
Tagalog; Bicol; Negrito; and Sambal.

In Visayas, the major groups are the Masbateno; Abaknon, Rombloanon; Bantoanon;
Aklanon; Kiniray-a/Hamtikanon; Hiligaynon; Sulod; Bukidnon; Boholano; Cebuano; and Waray.

In Mindoro, there is the Mangyan.  In Palawan, there are the: Tagbanwa; Agutayanen; Kuyonen; Pala'wan; Molbog; Batak; and Tau't Batu.  In Sulu/Tawai-tawi, there are the: Yakan; Sama; Sama Dilaut; Tausug; and Jama Mapun.

In Mindanao, there are the: Manobo, Snagil/Sangir; Maranao; Ilunan; Magindanao; Tiruray; Tasaday; T'boli; B'laan; Subanun; Kamiguin; Mamanwa; Butuanon; Kamayo; Bagobo; Mandaya; Kalagan; and Kolibugan.

All these groups have their distinct culture and identity, contributing to the rich and diverse Philippine cultural heritage.

Philippine Wedding Customs
Ifugao Woman
Filipino weddings or 'Kasalan' are steeped in traditions drawn from local customs and influences of the Spanish occupation of the Philppines, and of course, centuries of Roman Catholic traditions, from the courtship rites to the wedding reception.

Tradition says it is unlucky for a bride to become too closely involved in the final planning and preparations.  Therefore, it is often left to the family to handle a lot of this complex and stressful process.

Pre-Wedding Rituals
Traditionally, a man is supposed to court (ligawan) the woman by visiting her at her house (with the fathrer's permission usually at night, after dinner. A man may go to the woman's house with a guitar and sing (harana) a song hoping she'll open the window and let him in.  After the woman accept the man's love, they become what is refered to as magkasintahan' or steady boyfriend/girlfriend.

Marriage Proposal (Pagtatapat)
The proposal for marriage or "pamanhikan" is often hosted by the bride's family where the groom and his parents visit the bride's family to formally ask her hand in marriage and discuss plans for the upcoming wedding over lunch or dinner.  It is customary that the visiting family bring a gift (often, something the groom's mother cooked).

Paninilbihan is said to be a long forgotten tradition where the marrying man attends to some daunting chores for the family of the bride to show his worth, fortitude, and responsibility.

The practice of pa-alam (to inform) is a practice of visiting important members of the family (relatives from distant places) who are not present during the pamanhikan prior to the wedding.  Couples may go out of their way to visit the person(s) to inform them about their upcoming wedding.

Despedida de Soltera
A send-off party held close to the wedding day in honor of the daughter of the house hosted by her family.  This celebrates the bride's family's consent to the marriage and bestowal of her folk's blessings.  The groom and his family, close friends and relatives from both sides and the wedding entourage are invited to meet and get to know one another before the wedding.  This affair can be anywhere from a formal sit-down dinner to a casual get-together party.

Alay ng Itlog Kay Sta. Clara

Although a rain shower is believed to bring bountiful blessings to a marrying couple, many still prefer a bright and warm wedding day.  For this reason, Filipino couples often visit St. Claire to offer fruits/food to the patron saint and request the nuns to pray that their wedding day be rain-free.

A few days prior to the wedding, couples usually have their final confessions (kumpisal) as a single person with a priest since they they will partake in the bread and drink the wine during the wedding ceremony.  The confession serves as a spiritual cleansing for the sins committed during singlehood and a commitment and devotion to their lifetime partner. The wedding itself is a very formal affair that includes a full mass that usually lasts as long as two hours or more.

The wedding begins with the groom and his parents, entourage, and ninongs (godparents) walk down the aisle.  The rings bearers, the 'aarhae' (13 coins) or coin bearer and the flower girls follows.  Finally, the bride herself will walk up the aisle on the arm of her father, often in a custom made wedding dress.  The godparents then place the ceremonial veil over the groom's shouldres and the bride's head symbolizing the unity of the two families into one.  The bride then cups her hands under the groom's cupped hands while the priest dribbles the 13 silver coins into the groom's open palms, trickling like water into the brides hands, adn from her palms into a plate held underneath by an acolyte or sacristan.  This is a symbol for fidelity.  The priest recites prayer over the couple and continue with the mass.  Then comes the Yugal (nuptial tie, a silken cord or strand of flowers or coins) which the cord sponsors entwines loosely around the couples necks of a figure eight (8) symbolizing infinity of the bond of marriage.  The candles lit by the candle sponsors, is a call for enlightenment, a reminder of God's presence in the ceremony.  After the recessional, the newlyweds are showered with rice as a symbol of fertility.  At the reception, the couple usually release a couple of white dove and they do the "money dance" dance while the guests pin paper money on their clothing in exchange for the groom or the bride dancing with them.
Filipino Couple in Traditional Filipino Clothing (Barong & Saya)

Culture and Religion
Filipino culture is primarily based on the cultures of the various native groups, though heavily influenced by Spanish, Mexican, and American cultures.  The customs and traditions of the Roman Catholic faith are Spain's lasting legacy.

Over 83% of the Filipino people are Christians, resulting from the Spanish colonization and evangelization for over three centuries.  However, a significant minority of Filipinos are Filipino Muslims (most of which can be found in Mindanao and most of the Sulu Archipelago).

Many Filipino celebrations derived from Hispanic Catholic customes fused into native traditions.  Some annual celebrations include the
Penafrancia festival in the Bicol region, the Sinulog, Ati-Atihan and the Black Nazarene.  Residents of the villages of Guadalupe Viejo and Nuevo in Makati City celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Other major festivals include:

Flores de Mayo - a colorful celebration in Lucban Quezon where houses are decorated mainly with dried rice papers in different shapes and colors.

Holy Week (Semana Santa)
- treated one of the most important religious festivals of the entire year.  At Mass on Palm Sunday, Catholics carry "palaspas" or palm leaves to be blessed by the priest.  Many Filipinos bring home the palm leaves and place these above their front doors of their windows, believing that doing so can ward off evil spirits.  Throughout this week you will hear what is known as "pabasa" or "pasyon" a chanting of the story of Jesus' life until he died.

In the province of Pampanga, the procession includes devotees who self-flagellate and sometimes even themselves nailed to crosses as expressions of penance.  All through the week, you can observe lines of people beating their backs with nailed balls, carrying the cross, and crawling all the way to the church--just as Jesus supposedly had done.

After three o'clock in the afternoon of Good Friday (the time at which Jesus is traditionally believed to have died), noise is discouraged, bathing is proscribed and the faithful are urged to keep a solemn and prayerful disposition through Black Saturday.
(Mindanao Island)
Mother's Day Phone Cards

Customs and Traditions
The customs and traditions of the Philippines are strongly influenced by its colonized past.  The Spanish colonization of the Philippines lasted more than 350 years, thus the significant presence of Spanish influence in almost all facets of the Filipino culture.

The Filipino language, more commonly known as Tagalog, is in itself rooted into some Spanish words.  Filipinos are religious in nature.  The festival season is celebrated with church ceremonies, street parades in honor of the patron saints, fireworks, beauty and dance contests, and cockfighting tournaments.

Arts and Music
The arts of the Philippines reflect a society with diverse cultural influences and traditions.  The Malayan peoples had early contact with traders who introduced Chinese and Indian influences.  Islamic traditions were first introduced to the Malays of the Southern Philippine Islands in the 14th century.

The indigenous literature of the Philippines developed primarily in the oral tradition in poetic and narrative forms.  Epic poems, legends, proverbs, songs, and riddles were passed from generation to generation through oral recitation and incantation in the various languages and dialects of the islands.

- a Philippine Folktales, Myths and Legends Page.  It is through these legends that you can see the Filipino psyche.

Filipino music - lots of pinoy music to listen to here.

Filipinos cook a variety of national food influenced by both Castillan-Mexican and Asian cuisines such as:
Adobo - typically pork, slow-cooked in soy sauce, vinegar, crushed garlic, bay leaves, and black pepper corns.

Lechon - whole roast pig usually prepared during fiestas, major festivals, and other major celebrations such as weddings, christening, etc.

Other types of food a Filipino would look for after having been away for a while are asado, menudo, torta, polvoron, pandesal, afritada, ensaymada, paksiw, pescado, balut, pancit canton, pancit bihon, sinigang, sisig, bistek, kare-kare, and pinakbet.

A typical meal for Filipinos is a bold combination of sweet, sour, and spicy.  Snacking (mirienda) is normal, and it is possible that a person could have eaten four meals in a day.

While Koreans have 'Kimchi,' the Filipinos have
bagoong (fermented shrimp paste) for salt and sweet atchara (sweet pickled papaya shreds) to the sour suka at bawang (vinegar and garlic).  Fish in most kind, often inihaw (roasted) should be on the table. Deserts made with coconut milk and glutinous rice can also be sighted.

You may visit the
Filipino recipe page by clicking here....

Filipinos are also fond of liquor.  The most popular are San Miguel Beer and Ginebra San Miguel.