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The Filipino Culture

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With a total land area of 115,707 square
miles, the Philippines is almost as large
as Italy, larger than New Zealand, twice
as big as Greece, and very much larger
than Britain.

It’s irregular coastline stretches 10,850

statute miles which is twice as long as
the coastline of the United States.
Ancestors of Filipinos are of Malay
origin. Prior to Spanish colonization, the
Filipinos had a rich culture and were
trading with the Chinese and the
Japanese people. Spain discovered
Philippines on March 16, 1521 and
colonized it for 333 years (1565-1898).

On December 28, 1898, The United States bought the Philippines from
Spain for $20 million as provided for in the 1898 Treaty of Paris. This made
the Philippines the first and only colony of the United States. The U.S. ruled
the Philippines for 48 years (1898-1946). United States brought widespread
education to the islands. Filipinos fought alongside Americans during World
War II against Japanese. US gave the Philippines her “independence" on
July 4, 1946.
Philippines is the third largest
English speaking country in the
world. Filipinos are known for their
talent in languages. It is the only
nation in Asia who speak English
and Spanish and a literature written
in these two foreign languages.

The Philippines has more than 111

dialects spoken, owing to the
subdivisions of these basic regional
and cultural groups. Filipino is the
official national language, with
English considered as the country's
unofficial one.
The Philippines is the most literate nation in Southeast Asia. The
present literacy rate is 89.27%.
“Filipinos have quick perceptions, retentive memory, aptitude and
extraordinary docility” making them “most teachable persons”
– Dr. David P. Barrows, American Educator
The government of the Philippines is organized as a Presidential-
unitary Republic, where the President functions as head of state,
the head of government, and the commander-in-chief of the
armed forces.

The bicameral Congress comprises

the Senate and the House of Representatives.
There are 24 senators serving 6-year terms
while the House of Representatives comprises
250 members serving 3-year terms.

The Judicial Branch of government is

headed by the Supreme Court, with a
Chief Justice as its head and 14
Associate Justices.
The Filipino is basically of Malay
stock with a sprinkling of Chinese,
American, Spanish, and Arab
blood. The Philippines has a
population of 76.5 million as of
May 2000, and it is hard to
distinguish accurately the lines
between stocks.

From a long history of Western colonial rule, interspersed with the visits
of merchants and traders, evolved a people of a unique blend of east
and west, both in appearance and culture. The Filipino character is
actually a little bit of all the cultures put together.
The Filipino has very close family ties.
The family has been the unit of society
and everything revolves around it. The
Filipino family ordinarily consists of
grandparents, the parents, and the

The father is the head of the family, but while he rules, the mother governs.
For it is the mother that reigns in the home: she is the educator, the
financial officer, the accountant, the censor, the laundrywoman, and the
cook. But over and above the "ruler" and the "governor" are the
grandparents, whose opinions and decision on all important matters are
sought .
The Filipino character is actually a little
bit of all the cultures put together. The
bayanihan or spirit of kinship and
camaraderie that Filipinos are famous for
is said to be taken from Malay
forefathers. The close family relations
are said to have been inherited from the
Chinese. The piousness comes from the
Spaniards who introduced Christianity in
the 16th century.

Hospitality is a common denominator in the Filipino character and this is

what distinguishes the Filipino. The Filipino opens his heart to you, a
complete stranger, and offers you the best in his kitchen and bed chamber,
usually with profusion of apologies, to make yourself feel “at home” while
he, the host, sleeps on the cold floor.
• Most Filipinos are observant, displaying an
intuitive feeling about the other person and
the contextual environment during
• The emphasis on maintaining smooth
interpersonal relationships brings a
consequent ambiguity in communication to
prevent the risk of offending others.

• Same-gender closeness and touching are

normal behaviors. Young adults of the
same gender may hold hands, put one arm
over another’s shoulder, or walk arm-in-
• Promptness for social events is
determined situationally. “Filipino time”
usually means an hour late.
• Saying “no” to a superior may be
considered disrespectful, which predisposes
to ambiguous positive response.
• During a teaching session, a Filipino
client’s nod may have several meanings.
• One may not disagree, talk loudly, or look
directly at a person who is older or who
occupies a higher position in social

• Greater distance is observed when

interacting with outsiders and people in
positions of authority.
•Most Filipinos have a relaxed temporal
outlook. They have a healthy respect for
the past, the ability to enjoy the present,
and hope for the future.
• The Filipino is naturally fatalistic. No amount if expostulation
on the virtues of science or logic can dislodge him from his
idea of fatalism. He believes that whatever happens to him is
the work of Fate. This fatalism is best symbolized in the phrase
"Bahala na," a phrase that defies translation but which may be
rendered loosely as "come what may."

• The tendency to be indolent is, certainly,

a trait of the Filipino. This may come as a
result of tropical climate which makes even
the Westerner indolent in these parts of
Paradise. But aside from the warm climate,
indolence may be partly explained by the
abundance with which Nature has endowed
the country - a fact which makes the Filipino
exert less effort in the belief that he does
not have to work hard to make both ends
Loyalty to a friend or to a benefactor is one trait that is very
strong in the Filipino. Do him a little favor and he
remembers you to the end of his days. For a Filipino,
friendship is sacred and implies mutual help under any