Things You Should Know About Filipino Tradition and Culture

Updated: May 12

What is it about the Philippines that makes it different from the rest of the world? Well, for one thing, it is all about their culture. Here are things you should know about Filipino culture that sets them apart from any other nation. Like everywhere else in the world, it has positives and negatives. But hey, let's focus on positive.

Filipinos value traditions and culture

Filipino culture and tradition are important to each and every Filipino in the Philippines. Especially before every Filipino must learn and follow the traditional way of Filipino culture. The old ones are more careful about showing and teaching the younger one about Filipino tradition and cultures. The Philippines culture has a big part in every Filipino life. It influences the people to apply it in their daily life and be a good example to a younger Filipino. Filipino culture is unique to other countries. And the tradition of Filipino people is more conservative than to Asian countries.

For Filipinos, traditions in their home and in their family are important. They usually set aside a specific day for a certain celebration like festivals, birthday parties, reunions, etc. And of course, every gathering is dedicated to keeping up with each other over sumptuous food.

Filipinos are very religious

The Philippines is unique among its neighbours in the South East Asian region in that the majority of Filipinos identify as Christian 92.5%.

More specifically, 82.9% of the population identifies as Catholic, 2.8% identify as Evangelical Christian, 2.3% identify as Iglesia ni Kristo and 4.5% identify with some other Christian denomination. Of the remaining population, 5.0% identify as Muslim, 1.8% identify with some other religion, 0.6% were unspecified and 0.1% identify with no religion. The Catholic Church and state were officially separated in the 1990s, yet Catholicism still plays a prominent role in political and societal affairs.

procession of the Black Nazarene in Manila

The denomination of Christianity that became most embedded in Filipino culture is Catholicism, which was introduced in the Philippines during the early colonial period by the Spanish. The Black Nazarene is one of the most religious icons in the Philippines which draw millions of barefoot men and women in search of miracles every year.

The procession of the Black Nazarene in Manila drives devotees to tears while it leaves the others, including Catholics themselves, shaking their heads in bewilderment. For millions, it is faith; for others, fanaticism.

Filipinos take pride in their families

In the Philippines, it is family first. So whether you are part of the immediate family or you belong to the third or fourth generation, you are treated as a family member. Sometimes, even the closest of friends are considered family, too.

Filipino's are family oriented

The elderly are honoured and respected and children are taught to say 'po' and 'opo,' showing respect to their grandparents, from an early age. There is a special greeting to show veneration, 'mano,' whereby you take the hand of an elderly person and place it on your forehead as if receiving his blessing.

Extended families live together and even distant members are given the title of a cousin. Children have several sets of godparents so that the support system is strong.

Extended family during large celebrations

There may be a few houses grouped on the same piece of land, or in the same neighbourhood so that children from different parents are part of one household and single aunts and uncles, or grandparents look after them while parents work. The major festivals are celebrated together. If a family originates outside the city, they journey back to the rural area where they have their roots to celebrate.

Filipino have Traditional Way of Courtship

Courting in the Philippines is important and the value of being respected by Filipino people. A Filipino family is very strict when it comes to someone that court their daughter. Before courting for Filipino people is very hard before the girl say yes to someone who courts them. When a Filipino men court Filipino women they know in their hearts how they really meant it, they are seriously in love with the person and they give full effort on showing how they love women. They spend time, the energy, the money, and the effort just to win the heart of the women they love and spend the rest of their life. Before when Filipino man court a girl they really know how hard work, commitment, and perseverance they gave just to show the girl how serious they are in courting them.

Filipino courtship has undergone a tremendous shift — -from traditional serenading to online dating.

Before Filipino man court a girl by asking permission to the family of the girl they want to court. When they gave that permission they bring gifts like flowers, chocolate, and thoughtful gifts to someone they love. They even serve a Filipina with their strength and the attitude of a Filipino man when courting a girl is admirable. Because they do not just court the girl but the whole clan of the girl.

Filipino man, accompanied by friends, would engage in serenading the woman he adores at night

Some of the traditional ways of showing their love to someone is by courting like:

  1. Serenading or Harana in Tagalog

  2. Reciting poems

  3. Writing letters

  4. Gift giving

  5. Going to the house of someone they court

  6. Paninilbihan or visiting the house of the woman and helping the woman family the household chores.

Evolution of courtship and dating practices in the Philippines has been greatly shaped through history and time. Since age immemorial, wooing has always been there; it comes in various ways and forms, and it actually links a particular set of dating etiquette and taboos.

Filipinos have the longest Christmas celebrations

The Philippines is known for celebrating the longest and merriest Christmas season around the globe. As early as September, you can hear Christmas songs and jingles being played in the malls. That’s at least 128 days of Christmas. Six months and a day at most. Imagine how at a certain point, shopping malls are simultaneously decorated with both Christmas and Halloween ornaments. The mood becomes festive, with many people shopping and in good spirits.

Switching on the X-mas lights along Ayala Avenue in Makati has signaled the beginning of the festive holiday season.

Filipinos start a Christmas countdown, decorating their homes and offices with anything that relates to the Christmas Season and keep these ornaments until the Feast of Epiphany or Three Kings on the first week of the following year. Throughout this period, a mixture of western and native Filipino traditions are observed

Early Christmas decorations in shopping malls

On each of the nine mornings leading up to Christmas, Filipino Catholics gather in the pre-dawn hours for Simbang Gabi, a novena of Masses that anticipates the celebration of Christmas. Churches are generally filled out the doors, or the Mass is held outside to accommodate the crowd. The timing of the Mass, which begins as early as 4 a.m., helps make the event special and highlights the seasonal sense of anticipation.

One famous Filipino Christmas tradition is Simbang Gabi or nine dawn masses that begins on Dec. 16 to Dec 24

The experience of rising early in the morning and travelling to the church in the dark adds an element of sacrifice and specialness. The experience of eating together among the crowds in the plaza after Mass, before heading to work, adds a sense of festiveness and camaraderie. Many Filipinos believe that petitions brought to the baby Jesus at each of the nine Simbang Gabi Masses are especially likely to be answered.

Filipinos are very resilient

In times of calamities and catastrophes, Filipinos always manage to rise above the challenge. Instead of wallowing, they manage to pick themselves up and smile.

The Philippines, survived through typhoon after the typhoon, year after year, and emerged resilient every time. Filipino's resilience of surviving and overcoming disasters an inspiration to us all – a modern fairytale, almost, in the midst of trying times. Indeed, such has been the spirit of resilience that it has been branded as a trademark of the Filipino spirit.

That a nation is so accustomed — so capable — of handling and surviving everything from typhoons to earthquakes and everything in between manages to come out smiling truly is an admirable hallmark of the Filipino culture. Wide smiles while waist-deep in water, the Filipino spirit is unbreakable one that knows no bounds, come wind, rain, or water.

Filipinos help one another

More popularly known as Bayanihan, Filipinos help one another—without expecting anything in return—so that undertaking their tasks and responsibilities become much easier. Sometimes this is called “community spirit.”

Filipinos are respectful in their own way

From the moment they are born into this world, they are already taught how to be respectful by using these simple catchphrases—po and opo, words that end sentences when addressing elders. They have a culture of pagmamano, which is where they raise the backs of the hands of their elders to their foreheads as a sign of respect.

Filipinos love to eat

Aside from breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks in between, Filipinos manage to squeeze in a little meal in between, too. Filipino's are naturally hospitable and gregarious, food is the basis of their social life. Whether they eat every hour or every three hours, they savour every bite. Oh, and they do love going to buffets!

Boodle Fight a bear hand eating style culinary experience - a Filipino tradition of eating originated from the Philippine military where a big pile of food are served in the middle of a really long table in a mess hall where every hungry soldier eats with their hands symbolizing of camaraderie, brotherhood and equality in the military.  The “fight” in the name refers to the act of grabbing and eating as much as the soldier can before others grab them, otherwise, you won’t have any. 

Filipino Etiquette When Eating

Just a hint of what is felt to be good manners at the Filipino dining table.

  • Don't be the first to enter.

  • Wait to be seated.

  • Knives are not used

  • Hold the fork in your left hand and use it to place food on your spoon.

Filipinos love to sing

This is the reason why karaoke has become so prevalent. As part of their recreation, Filipinos spend some quality time with their families or friends singing or belting out new and old songs.

Filipinos love to party

Filipinos know how to party. They love to hold celebrations and fiestas. No matter when you travel, there is bound to be a holiday or festival. If you're visiting the Philippines, Filipino Travel Center has a useful calendar of festivals. Every municipality has a patron saint whose day is celebrated extravagantly in the homes and streets. Residents anticipate the event for months in advance. A feast is prepared and they go from one house to another tasting dishes. The church and plaza are decorated with lights and bunting, and a procession is held with dancing and music.

Philippine festivals are celebrations to express gratitude for a good harvest in honor of the town's patron saint

According to the festival, Filipinos dress up in vivid costumes, sporting masks and headdresses. Bacolod has its MassKara Festival, Davao has its Kadayawan Festival, and Marinduque has its Moriones Festival. Fireworks and firecrackers complete the excitement.

Philippines is known as the Capital of the World’s Festivities

Other holidays include Christmas, Rizal Day, which takes place on 30 December making it part of the New Year's Day celebration, Easter, All Saints Eve, and secular holidays like Bataan Death March, Labor Day, and Independence Day on 12 June. Sino-Filipinos celebrate the Chinese New Year in Chinatown, Manila, and Muslims enjoy the Islamic Feasts for the end of Ramadan and the Haj.

Celebrating Philippine Independence Day

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