A country is never complete without a culture. Culture is an encompassing sociological term, which came from the Latin word, cultura, denoting cultivation. Comprehensively, it is a process of enhancing the evolution of human capabilities with the objective of carefully classifying and representing various human experiences, by the unique use of symbolic ideas or concepts; thereby, acting them out in a creative and imaginative way. This universal characterization of culture is based from the core of an anthropological concept in the 20th century. In addition, its well-defined meaning can also be attributed to as the very individualized ways of how a group of people, from different parts of the globe; can excellently bring to reality their unique experiences as humans. With these clear explanations of this essential societal terminology, it is therefore logical to say that Philippine culture has remarkably and successfully satisfied the criteria of what it really means. In this article, readers will colorfully discover and know in the most concise manner the Filipinos way of life and how it affects their society as a whole.
Philippine Culture According to Sociological and Anthological Viewpoints
According to sociologists and anthropologists, Philippine culture mirrors the convoluted history of this Third World nation. This statement was proven without doubt, when historian had found out that the culture of the Philippines was a conglomeration of other cultures of the Malayo-Polynesian, Hispanic and Chinese cultures. Primarily, the urbanity of the Filipinos was greatly influenced by the Mealanesians. From these early people, the traditional type of culture was passed on to the Filipino generation up to this very day, soon after they left the Philippines. Then, came the Austronesians or the Malayo-Polynesians who had occupied the native territory of the Filipinos, as well. As far as their legendary contributions to the Filipino culture, the latter group of settlers had paved the way for Philippine ethnicity, language, choice of food, arts and music among others.
Spain’s Legacy to Filipino Culture
When the Spaniards had set foot on Philippine archipelago, the cultural perspectives of the Filipinos had drastically turned 360 degrees. After more than 300 years under the Spanish regime, the Philippines had in a way adopted the Hispanic way of living. Meanwhile, the combination of both Mexican and Spanish cultures can be magnificently viewed from their dances, religious beliefs and in the numerous facets of the Filipino breed of influences. However, after the unfortunate defeat of Spanish conquistadors, it opened the doors for the Americans to have a strong political dominion over the land. As a result, the GI’s became a pivotal instrument in the development of the English language and the modernized types of Philippine pop culture.
In the succeeding paragraphs, every reader of this rich and informative write up will amusingly take a historical journey of cognition about the following diverse facets of Philippine culture. Among them are: Education, religion, literature, visual arts, dance architecture and cuisines. Want to unravel the beauty of Filipino culture? Let this piece about the culture of the Filipinos do the talking for your intellectual pleasures.
In the ancient era specifically during the pre-Spanish years, the Philippines had an unintegrated type of educational system. To further explain, the Filipino students in those years were given more vocational courses; but lesser on the academic fruition. Thus, these forms of learning were conducted in the premises of their own homes. Incidentally, their loving and caring mothers acted as their first mentors. As a first step towards effective learning, parents in those early years were using the primitive system of “baybayin”. It is the prehistoric manner of writing. Likewise, this was a mixture of the native methods of scribbling from Spain and the Philippines. On the other hand, the Spanish authorities had instituted another educational reform. This was when the system of education was strictly implemented by religious orders. Accordingly, the Spanish friars had further believed that a literate and indigenous population will make a big difference in the intellectual development of the noble and hardworking Filipinos. As a result, the Spanish government had built a printing press so as to print the materials for the baybayin approach of learning. As to the fruitful benefit of this educational principle, both the natives of the Philippines and the Spaniards had fostered better means communication with one another.
The Educational System under the First Philippine Republic
When the Spaniards finally left the Philippine territory, there came the First Philippine Republic. During its administration, the learning institutions which were ran and maintained by the friars of Spain were closed down. However, they were all reopened on the 29th day of August 1898. Along this line, some the finest schools which were opened to Filipino students were the Malolos Military Academy, Burgos Institute of Malolos, Bulacan and last but not the least, the Literary University of the Philippines. These schools were established for the benefit of the Filipino populace, by virtue of Article 23 of the Malolos Constitution. Under its provision, it had sternly instructed that all public schools will have an access to free education. Unfortunately, the chaotic Philippine- American War made this noble intention, just an elusive dream.
During the American Occupation, the Philippines had followed the 1863 educational system. Under this statuette, more enhanced learning institutions were founded. This was courtesy of an earnest recommendation of the Schurman Commission. Under its leadership, those schools were assigned to provide rigid and exemplary trainings; for the achievement of awareness with respect to the duties, which must be performed by Filipino citizens. Also, the swift and strict implementation of the Filipinos avocations. Conversely, to effectively learn the English Language, non-commissioned offices and chaplains were instructed by the Taft Commission to do the said task. Furthermore, highly-centralized learning venues for the public were firmly imposed, by the Philippine Commission through Republic Act 74. As the course of its drastic implementation ran through the years, it had caused teachers’ shortage. Therefore, the government had to hire American mentors, who were called as “Thomasites”. These excellent teachers were evenly designated throughout the Philippine Islands. In effect, their main responsibility was to create barangay schools.
Generally, religion in the Philippines is evidently represented by the universal regard for spiritual beliefs. There was a point in Philippine history that the cultural component of religion was the center of Filipino lives. In fact, some of the well-received religious orientations were Catholicism, Aglipayanism, Protestantinism, Buddhism and Hinduism. For most Filipinos, religion was merely a collection of experiences. As such, it was comprised of rituals for an everlasting life and to attain the moral benefits of human existence. Most importantly, the Filipino religion had formed religious associations. In turn, this will harmoniously bring about the system of kinship relations, other kinds of relationship which are excluded from the type of nuclear family bond. . Moreover, both Christianity and Islam religions were somehow the influential factors. in some ancient Filipino traditions.
Filipino literature is mainly comprised of prehistoric legends and the magnificent legacy of the Philippines as a colony. Generally speaking, most of the world-renowned literary pieces were penned in Spanish, Tagalogs, English and other native spoken languages. Among the most priceless and earliest literary work was Doctrina Christiana, printed in the year 1593. Incidentally, it was significantly written in the pages of Philippine history as the first-ever book published in the Philippines. Aside from these literary masterpieces, there were also prose creations, which contained the artistic translations of writings about religion.
Did you know that the early Filipinos painting masterpieces can be mysteriously found in a red-slip? A red slip is a clay which was perfectly mixed with water, utilized for the ritual pottery in the Philippines. The best classic example of this particular masterpiece was the “Manunggal Jar” In addition, the creative ways of making pots can be traced back as early as 6,000 BC. Such artifacts were found in Sanga-Sanga in the Cave of Sulu. Also, it was learned that the art of pot making had begun as early as the settling of the Cambodian neighbors of the Philippines.
Aside from the art of pottery, the visual art of painting also became an integral part of Philippine culture. Traditionally, the first form of painting during the time of the Philippines’ early ancestors was aesthetically referred to as “tattoos”. From then on, the voyagers and explorers of Portugal called these people as “Pintados”. (The Visayas’Painted People”). Commonly, these individuals had utilized different designs such as flowers and animals with heavenly bodies, Best of all, visual arts had miraculously survived through the years. These are incredibly seen in the lives of the Maranaos, through their architecture and arts.
The music of the early Filipinos is a mixture of Islamic, indigenous and the diverse types of Asian music. These variations of the performing arts had proliferated in Philippine culture, prior to the colorizations of the Asian and European conquistadores; during the 16th and 20th centuries respectively. To make this cultural component more meaningful and enriching, the Filipinos and Spanish inhabitants enjoyed their leisure hours by playing indigenous instruments like flutes, guitars, violins, ukuleles, drums and trumpets. Thus, Filipinos loved to sing and dance as forms of entertainment whenever jovial occasions happened.
At the onset of the 21st century, Philippine culture had taken a new level of expression. This was made known when most of the Filipino folk songs and even the most endearing Filipino-inspired dances, had remained unblemished and unchanged. In fact, there were some of the finest artists and performers who had displayed their talents using these types of Philippine performing arts. Some of them were: “The Bayanihans, Barangay-Barrio and the Hariraya”. In the field of music, there were Filipino composers who had contributed a lot to further enhance the tremendous culture of the Philippines. Among the illustrious names in music were Antonio Molina, Jovita Fuentes and Felipe de Leon.
Philippine culture has also included Philippine dances like Tinkling and Carinosa which were very famous in the southern part of Mindanao. Besides these dances from the Philippines, the country has also another marvelous dance, which is being referred to as “Singkil’. To describe, this kind of art tells about the wonderful story about a prince and a princess in the wilderness. Similarly, Singkil features the fabulous arrangement of bamboo poles in a tic-tac-toe position. Then, skilled dancers will be exploring these positions, alongside with the clashing of the poles.
The Nipa Hut or bahay kubo is the mass form of housing during the early days of the Filipino culture. For those of you who are not that familiar with this adorable home of the Filipinos, a nipa hut is made from inexpensive materials, like bamboo and coconut for its woods. In those ancient times, these humble abodes were durably built on stilts, because of frequent flooding incidents. Mainly, the architectural principles in those years were centered on the use of angular wooden roofs and the wise employment of bamboos, instead of the very expensive wooden carvings.
The simple and yet delicious cuisines of the Filipinos were predominantly influenced by the Western and Asian races. Since Filipinos loved to cook mouthwatering gourmets, the Philippines was dubbed “Asia’s Melting Pot”. Culturally, a conventional diet of most Filipino households is composed of six meals a day. It includes breakfast, lunch, snacks consumed at least two times a day, supper and a midnight snack. More so, rice is the staple food of the Filipinos. As for their main dishes, they usually serve adobo, pancit, lechon and other delectable varieties. Specifically, these tempting cuisines of the Filipinos were handed to them by Spain and Southeast Asia. As for Filipino desserts, most of the time they have leche flans, halo-halo puto and bibingka, especially during special events. For Filipino beverages, it can be any of the following: beer, lambanog, tuba and salabat.
Truly, Philippine culture is one-of-a-kind. It mirrors how Filipinos have excellently used foreign influences to enhance their way of life, in the most practical and special ways. Therefore, it makes them shine brilliantly and become a standout in terms of global competitiveness, today and in the years ahead.