CULTURE and TRADITION

Spanish and American colonial rules,present-day 

Western practices,as well as traditional ethnic beliefs greatly influenced the Filipiono way of life.While the new era brought in a modern lifesyle that was  readily embraced by the people,a number of customs and traditions are atill being practised as in the past.

"Filipinos greatly value family ties" (inhirited from the Chinese)

No other trait of the Filipino is more known the world over than his being a hospitable host.A foreigner new to the Philippines is usually treated to genuine hospitality in many ways-an invitation to dinner or night entertainment can go as far as an invitation to spend a night in the house of the Filipino host.It is not uncommon for a guest to be accommodated in the best room of the house.

Dont feel ill at ease if your host appears to have gone out of his way to make you feel comfortable.Hospitality is deeply entrenched among the Filipinos,hence it is only natural for host to welcome a total stranger to his house.

Filipinos greatly value family ties,a trait inherited from the Chinese,who began to settle in the philippines centuries ago.Family members help one another and this attachment is usually seen in several occasions-the birth of a family member,marriage or death.It is also reflected in cases where a family member approaches an uncle or cousin for employment or other favor.It is for this reason that nepotism is rampant in Filipino-owned companies.as the case of utang na loob(of being beholden)is as strong as not losing face is to a Chinese.

Another trait that has lingered on is respect to elders.Ar an early age,Filipinos are tauught to respect their elders and obey their will. It is common practice,especially in the province,to kiss the hand or forehead of ones grandparents or older relatives,as a sign of greeting and respect.Elders are key in the family,and their advice usually followed.Children are taught to attach"po" or"Opo"to whatever they say especially when speaking with older people.

Filipinos value personal relations.Known as pakikisama,personal relations often influence business and other key decisions.The word implies consideration,fairness,and camaraderie.A person can go to considerable extend just to prove he has pakikisama and is a worthly part of group.(Pakikisama or Comradeship).

The Spirit of Bayanihan

 Bayanihan or the spirit of helping one another is said to have been inherited by the Filipinos from their Malay forefathers.In the rural areas,bayanihan is reflected in many ways.During the planting and harvest seasons,all members of the family and neighbors help out without expecting payment in return.Helping one another is also carried out in such activities as when having a party where neighbors,friends and relatines help in cleaning and decorating the house,cooking,setting the table and entertaining the guests.

The same spirit of bayanihan is manifested not only in celabrations,but also in times of sickness and death.When a member of the family dies,friends and relatines help the bereaved family in one way or another.from preparing the food to the giving of finacial aid or contribution called ambag to help defry burial expenses.The wake is common practice,with neighbors and friends keeping vigil with the family of the deceased.In this country of paradox, however,it is not uncommon to see mass for the dead celebrate inside the house,while mah jong and gambling tables become beehives of activities on the front lawn or spiling into the street.After the burial,friends and relatives pray for the soul of the departed for nine consecutive evenings.On the ninth day of the prayers, food and drinks are served to the guests.

There are also traditions connected with birt and baptism.Practices to make child delivery easier vary from one province to another .A popular provincial practice is for the father to build a fire under the house to drive away the evil spirit that might get the newborn.

During baptism,it is a common practice for the godfather tor godmother to give Pakimkim,which may be in the form of cash or gift,to the baby.There is a belief thet without a pakimkim,the baby will not be sucessful when he grows up.Where several children are being baptized at the same time,the parents usually rush to leave the church ahead of the others in the belief thet the child will became more sucessful than the rest.

"A land of warm ,friendly & sure inquisitive kids"
(he!He!he!)

Of Courtship and Marriage

Courtship,the Filipino ways,is probably among the most romantic in the wold.the girl is usually showered with much attention and this attention often extends to the girls whole family.This show of affection to the girls relatives is respected until today because as the saying goes,when you marry a Filipino or Filipina,you also marry into his or her family.Family ties are a strong force in the country.

"Harana"

In some rural areas(although this is fast becoming a vanishing custom),the practice involves a night serenade called Harana where the boy serenades the girl he is courting with love songs.the young man also serves the girls family by performing daily choer such as chopping wood,mending the fence,etc.These actions originated in the past when boys were too shy to court the girls directly and parents arranged the marriages of their children.Engagement and marriage are two events where the provinces in the Philippines differ in their rituals and practices.a bride is not supposed to try her wedding gown before the wedding as this could bring bad luck.

It customary for the groom to shoulder the entire wedding expenses including the bridal gown.while this may no longer be practice in the cities where the engaged couple divides the expences,the tradition is still alive in the rural areas.In Quezon province,the grooms relative bring the wedding dress to the brides house on the eve of the wedding.In certain parts of Camarines Sur,the bride stays with her godmother the night before the wedding,as the godmother is usually assigned to dress up the bride.At the wedding ceremony,if one of the lighted candles goes out,the belief is either the bride or groom will die soon so great care is taken to make sure the candles remain lit.After the wedding ceremony,whoever stands up first will rule the household.Tice is usually thrown at a newly married couple when they step outside the church,since rice symbolizes prosperity.Modern couples however have substituted the rice grains for paper bits or small sampaguita buds,the national flower.Lately,some more shrewd newly weds have also tried to revive the provincial custom of having sponsors and relatives pin money to their wedding clothes as they dance at the reception.

Filipinos are religious and superstitious people.Long years of Spanish colonization led to the existence of some beliefs even up to the present.and these are clearly reflected in the way they celebrate.
 

One of the World’s Longest Christmas

Philippines Christmass tree & X'mass Lantern

Celebration of the Christmas season un the Philippines is one of the longest in the world-it start from December 16 and end on the first Sunday of January the following year.dec-16 marks the start of the nine-day simbang gabi or misa de gallo,which are held at around four O’clock in the morning.After the mass,the people usually have breakfast consisting of local delicacies at stalls set up in the churchyard.Favorites are ricecake like bibingka and puto bumbong,washed by salabat or hot ginger tea.

On Christmas eve,a midnight mass is held,and followed by the traditional noche buena or midnight supper.The dining table during this season is usually filled with local dishes as well as fruits.On Christmas day,children visit their godparents and relatives to pay respects to them.The children are then given money and gifts,known as aguinaldo.Family reunion is usually held on Christmas day and usually held in the home of the oldest member of the family where members of the family exchange gifts.

Various customs are observed to celebrate the coming of the New Year.On New Years Eve,people make noise by lighting firecrackers and noise increase as it reaches midnight.Filipinos make it a point to serve good foods on their dining tables and pay all their debts on the first day of the year in the belief that there will be abundance the rest of the year.The more chinese-oriented succumb to placing eight or 12 round food stuff on the dining table,each to signify good health,wealth and luck in the year to come.

Holy week
There are also traditions connected with the observance of the holy week,especially in the Catholic sector of the Philippine society.The pabasa or the chanting of the life of Christ is held in private homes during the Holy Week.

Refreshments are served to the readers of the pabasa and on the last day,a feast is prepared for all guest.On Maundy Thursday,devotees hold the visita Iglesia where they try to visit as many churches as they can.On good Friday(Karfreitag),some people punish themselves by flogging themselves on the back,while others wear crowns of thorns or carry crosses as a form of sacrifice.A few even go as far as getting crucified on a wooden cross for a few minutes.Other highligt of Good Friday is the sunset prucicion,a solemn procession where people walk the towns main thoroughfare with lighted candles as the churchs best antique carosas and Santos,holy images depicting the various stages of Christ passion play,are paraded.

One popular custom held among the people is the holding of the town fiesta.This is usually held in honor of the patron saint of the town.During the fiesta season,the churches are decorated and processions are held.All house holds prepare good food,as there usually are guests.Filipinos in the provinces usually splurge during town fiesta.