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The Philippines: Culture and Tradition

Updated August 26, 2021
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The Philippines: Culture and Tradition essay

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The Philippines was a widely diverse population including many different religions and ethnics, ranging from Chinese descendants to when Spain had taken control. The Philippines has a wide variety of food, clothing, language, money, religion, and lifestyles. The school system is also different from what America has surrounded the younger generations with. The curriculum moves at a fast pace to force the generations to learn how to be independent and how-to problem solve themselves. As for religion and lifestyles, both tie into each other. The lifestyle depends on religion and how things in the community should be ran. Specific aspects of everyday life revolve around religion. For this culture, many ideas and beliefs can also revolve around the idea of respect. For most of the individuals in the Philippines, respect of ones elder is expected for everyday life. The Philippines revolve around the past and they work up from where the culture was to try and make currently living better.

Amir Balimbingan is an individual that lives in Kasanyangan, Zamboanga City. He currently is attending Zamboanga University. In his studies, he has traveled to America, different places in the Philippines, China, and many more. In his culture and way of living, he has been taught a total of 7 different languages fluently. In his community, the natives speak Chabacano. This is a type of broken Spanish. In other parts of the Philippines, there is an estimated total of 175 different languages. The wide diversity in language is from colonial rule. Spanish was introduced after Spain’s colonial rule, making 60% of the population adapt to Spanish. Currently, the Philippines has English as one of the main languages.

Written in the current constitution, Spanish and English are the two main languages. “The community revolves around the elders and their word is final. If the elderly does not agree with something or they are opposed to it, then the action that is being debated should not take place.” He proceeded to go into detail on how much of a cultural shock it was to live in America for a year. “Many people in America question authority and question those adults around them. They argue, or they defy their parents or grandparents. In the Filipino culture that would be looked down upon and the individual would be punished.” After being asked why the culture relies so heavily on the older individuals, Amir used one word. Respect. In the Philippines, the elders of the community are the backbone of the decisions for the whole community.

The Philippines hold true to many cultures. There are many ideas, celebrations, and ideas that have come from the past. Some of the differences can include everyday meals, religion, music, folklore, family structure, and even sports. An average Filipino family structure would consist of a large intermediate family. This can stretch all the way to aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins. Individuals who are not classified as intermediate include friends and godparents. In America, godparents can serve a large role an individual’s life. But, in the Philippines, godparents are classified as a forever friend. The child or young adult is the grandparents’ responsibility if the parents are unable to care for them. The family structure is a tight nit family who can live in the same houses or complex. Housing is different from what America classifies as a home. In the Philippines, a house can be made from mud, leaves, rock, bamboo, and corrugated metal. These houses are called “nipa huts.” For the middle class, the families can live in houses consisting of everyday materials. Bricks, rocks, cement, and much more. Because the family is extremely close, it is not uncommon for all the members of the same family to be working for a specific company. This idea of relying on family was brought from the first settlers from China. The settlers worked together and proceeded to get more accomplished as the individuals knew each other’s habits, abilities, and workmanship.

On average, in the Philippines there is 104,256,076 people. Statistics, which were from indexmundi.com, states that the highest age group is individuals ranging from 25-54. Whereas individuals that range from 65 and over take up 4.49% of the population. Which can be explained why the culture holds the elderly to such a high standard. Amir, an individual that was mentioned earlier, mentioned that his community held on of the highest population rates since 2015. He also said that even in large cities and places that had a high population rate, still struggled to have drinkable water.

Currently there is a water crisis that is affecting around 101 million individuals, which is most of the population. Because there is so many individuals in demand for fresh water, only 75% of those individuals have voiced their opinion on having fresh water. In the Philippines there is approximately one-third of the population that are living in poverty, which means there is a lack sanitation and a lack of fresh drinkable water. As high as 25 Filipinos die every single day from dehydration and some type of waterborne illness. In some cases, where sanitation is lacking, families will wash and empty feces and other extremities outside and near rivers or drinking sources.

This in the end, contaminates the drinking water putting most of the community in danger for things such as typhoid fever, cholera, leptospirosis, and even hepatitis A. Weather is extremely different from what America is surrounded with and the Philippines experience things such as typhoons. As the sanitation system is lacking, this increases the waterborne illnesses. In 2018, there was action taken regarding contaminated water. Water-treatment facilities and the ideas of locals taking charge in helping keep water clean. Even with such ideas being introduced, a lot of the areas that are surrounded by poverty are experiencing contaminated school water as it is close to residential areas. Thus, interfering with individuals learning and mentality levels. Currently the Philippines are coming together to try and fix this issue.

As of October 11, 2018, there are currently 9 million individuals who do not have access to safe drinking water in areas such as Zamboanga. In that area, there are currently 19 million individuals who do not have access to correct sanitation. This has been a problem since 2014, but there have been 2.1 million individuals who have adequate water and sanitation. There also has millions of dollars supplied to fix this crisis in the Philippines. Those numbers may not seem high for the amount individuals who populate there, but the currency is transferred in American currency. 1 million dollars in America averages out to 54,061,500 Philippine Pesos. This amount of currency difference is a wide variety.

Music is a large topic the Philippines. Mostly music has been impacted from ideas such as traditions, emotions, influences, and society ideas. Music can be documented as far as 1521. Instruments made from bamboo, bronze, and wood have been found which links early music impact. Gongs, flutes, zithers, lutes, and other things have been located and are used in culture today. It is known that music around 1521 was mostly about planting, fishing, and religious ritual ideas. Songs would mostly be about praying to the Gods asking for a blessing over crops and to drive evil spirits away. They would sing about blessings. These blessings can range from marriage, births, war, and children’s music.

In the 17th and 19th centuries, Spanish-European influences became apparent. Ideas of music changed from praying to the Gods to more about music of the Catholic and even secular music which were adapted to society of the time. As it was the Spanish-European influence, Spanish ideas were included in the music. Spanish, Latin, and changing things to folk songs and adapting musical instruments to what is needed. America has also had a fairly large impact on the Philippines. The American regime was around 1898 all the way until 1946. During this time, the communities picked up many things that are practiced in America currently. This impacted music, school systems, curriculum, and the ideas that Music can be incorporated into college form. Reformatories were created, and conservatories were created. America’s regime introduced a new side of music, which helped spark Filipino composers who majored in classical arts. In America, Music Majors in college study these ideas.

After the regime, many ideas changed regarded music and ideas became more open to interpretation. Sarswela tradition was created after opera was brought to light. Sarswela, is the Philippine idea on opera arias. Not only was music influenced vocally, but instrumentals were also influenced. Things such as bands surfaced, theatre, and personal interpretation was accepted. Because music was accepted at such a fast and large degree, many groups and cultural impacts happened. In the Philippines, music such as secular, classical, American/European influenced classical, folk songs, ballads, Broadway, rock n’ roll, disco, jazz, and even rap have been sourced from impacts from Spanish-European influence as well American influences.

A study on 3 groups of middle schoolers was studied on the power of music in countries such as the Philippines to know how to better students in the communities. In the first group they would keep it quiet. The second group was introduced with loud music, and the third group was introduced with music that was just the right level. This study was done on students participating in a mathematical setting, while taking a test. In the results, it showed that group 1 did okay. It wasn’t the best. Group 2 had scored that were better while taking a test on problems that were never taught.

Lastly, group 3 had the best results. Each student in group 3 had scores that went as high as double the competitors scores. Music changes the way that the brain functions. The scientists introduced music to individuals while taking a math test because both use a different part of the brain. Music affects parts of the brain such as the auditory cortices, hippocampus, frontal lobe, and the temporal lobes. When music is engaged, it uses all parts of the brain. Rhythm, singing, reading, and listening all use a different section. Listening to music uses the center of the brain, such as the hippocampus and the lowest parts of the frontal lobe. Keeping rhythm involves the cerebellum.

Reading sheet music involves the visual cortex as well as playing back music involved the temporal and frontal lobes. There are also many different parts that are involved. With music being a large part of the culture, scientists believed that research over bringing music into school settings would positively affect individuals. The use of music uses the right side of the brain. But while doing certain tasks it can involve using both sides at once. The scientists also researched the thought process of music. Because music had such a large impact of the individuals tested, tests were running to check emotional involvement and brain levels. Each test backed up music as a positive.

The Philippines is large tourist hotspot. Many come for the food and the uniqueness that comes with each mean. Ten of the most famous dishes in the Philippines are as followed: chicken adobo, balut, kare kare, kinilaw, sinigang, paksiw na lechon, tapsilog, halo halo, buko, and rum. Each food has its different origin and different background. Many are ranging from savory, sweet, and some that are not for the kindhearted. Every dish that is served for every meal of the day is served with some type of rice. No matter what it is, rice is always incorporated. The first one is chicken adobo. In blatant terms it simply means when chicken is soaked and marinated in a sauce consisting of soya sauce and vinegar. This is a simple delicacy that at some point has been eaten in every Filipino home. The next one is balut. This is one of the many that are not for the lighthearted. Balut means duck embryo. This is an extremely popular street food that is found all over. This food consists of a duck egg with a partially developed duck inside. It is boiled, cracked open, seasoned, and usually splashed with vinegar to add acidity. When food vendors are wanting to sell balut, the egg should be 17 days old. This is the stage where the chicken is still very underdeveloped. This originated from Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, but it slowly made its way to the Philippines. Kare Kare is popular in the whole country. This is a type of curry consisting of ox tail, peanuts and peanut butter, onions, and garlic. Fish is widely eaten in the Philippines. The access to fish is abundant and it is less expensive. Kinilaw is a raw fish salad. It is technically cooked because the salad is soaked in acidity, which then cooks the meat. Sinigang is a type of sour meat stew. This consists of vegetables, tamarind (which is the souring agent, therefore giving the dish the name), and the meat. Any dish of meat and vegetables including tamarind is classified as a sour meat stew. Paksiw na lechon is a full pig roasted over a pit full of charcoal and is left there to cook for hours at a time. This is the national dish of the Philippines and is used on special occasions. The last three dishes range from a cured beef breakfast (Tapsilog), halo halo (shaved ice with coconut), buko (coconut water), and rum. The Philippines are one of the top producers of rum, because it is made from pure cane sugar and is cheaper than bottled water.

In the Philippines, eating is classified as a gift. With each meal, it is treated as a social affair. Every family member will eat at the same time and never in front of the television. The time spent when eating is solely dedicated to family and friends. Every person must talk because it is a way to bring a large family closer together. Every family eats three large meals a day. The three large ones are breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But, the Filipinos eat many small meals throughout their day. Anything that can be eaten with rice, is classified as a large meal. A snack can be anything without rice.

These range from pastries, to sandwiches of any kind, ramen, and other types of noodles. The list provided is vague, but there is a large variety that can be classified as a snack. With every meal, there is a reason that rice must be included. The rice in the Philippines are rich is flavor and color and can balance any dish out. It also makes a more filling feeling. There is a certain way that food is to be placed on a plate. First, rice is to be in the center at the very bottom of the plate. This is so the person eating can easily scrap the rice onto either a fork or spoon.

It is thought that eating with hands was a wide practice. But, there is a certain time, place, and setting when it is acceptable. When eating pag kinakamay, it gives the dish a more fun and interactive eating experience. Seafood, meat, shrimp, and anything with bones are to be eaten with hands. Eating with hands is a mostly practiced in homes, but back in the day, it was a must. When cooking a dish or there are leftovers, everything is always used. No part of any animal goes to waste. Any type of dish can be made with any part of an animal. This is can be for many reasons, but the main reason so nothing is wasted.

Filipino culture can range in many ways between religion, food, weather, schooling, and sanitation. All around the Philippines are very beneficial when it comes to individualization. Amir, a young individual that was interviewed said, “I have traveled many places. America, Europe, China, and many more. But, the Philippines will always hold a special place in my heart. The way it runs, feels, and how open ended it is. My culture is what makes me. The Philippines will always be home to me.” Many other Filipinos call the Philippines their home as well. No matter what is going on in the country, the issue is always in the process of being resolved.

Works Cited

  1. “10 Famous Foods You Must Try in the Philippines.” Nomadic Boys, Nomadic Boys, 9 Oct. 2018, nomadicboys.com/famous-foods-philippines/.
  2. “Filipino Culture, Customs, and Traditions.” Culture And Traditions | Living In The Philippines, Living in the Philippines, 2018, livinginthephilippines.com/culture-and-people/philippine-culture/culture-and-traditions.
  3. “Improving Sanitation in the Philippines.” Improving Sanitation in the Philippines | ChildFund, ChildFund International, 6 June 2013, www.childfund.org/Content/NewsDetail/2147489253/.
  4. Jr., Roberto G. Sagge. “Music: Effects on Junior High School Students’ Performance in Mathematics.” IAMURE International Journal of Education, 1 Jan. 1970, ejournals.ph/article.php?id=3425.
  5. “Music, Rhythm, and the Brain » Brain World.” Brain World, 20 May 2018, brainworldmagazine.com/music-rhythm-brain/.
  6. “The Philippines: Culture and Tradition.” Globalization Partners International Translation Blog, Translation Blog, 15 Feb. 2015, blog.globalizationpartners.com/the-philippines-culture-and-tradition.aspx.
  7. “Philippines Demographics Profile 2018.” Philippines Demographics Profile 2018, CIA World Factbook, 20 Jan. 2018, www.indexmundi.com/philippines/demographics_profile.html.
  8. “Philippines Water Crisis – Water In The Philippines 2018.” Water.org, Water.org, 2018, water.org/our-impact/philippines/.
  9. Pier. “Filipino Culture – Communication.” Cultural Atlas, 2018, culturalatlas.sbs.com.au/filipino-culture/filipino-culture-communication.
  10. Sawe, Benjamin Elisha. “The Culture Of The Philippines.” WorldAtlas, WorldAtlas, 12 July 2017, www.worldatlas.com/articles/the-culture-of-the-philippines.html.
  11. “What to Eat When Traveling Around the Philippines.” Adventure In You, 15 June 2018, www.adventureinyou.com/philippines/what-to-eat-when-traveling-around-the-philippines/.
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