The culture of the Filipinos can be described as a melting pot of Western cultures and influences. This is reflected in the family values, customs, habits, way of dressing, birth, marriage, and death customs, as well as language of the people. The most dominant influence is that of the Spanish, since they had the longest colonial period in the Philippines, spanning three centuries. The majority of Filipinos are Roman Catholic, also a product of Spanish missionaries who zealously went out and tried to convert the natives. Although Tagalog and English are the primary languages of the country, the Tagalog language has several borrowed words from the Spanish, including the way time is told. The Spanish also significantly contributed to Filipino folklore, literature, music, epics, and dance.
Filipinos are known for having close family ties; many uphold family as the basic unit of society. Compared to many Westerners who often move out of their homes once they turn 18, Filipinos often stay close to their families even as they are way beyond independence, and even support aging relatives. Divorce is a practice Filipinos would never approve of.
The Americans, on the other hand, were essential in developing the education system of the Philippines, and expanded the Filipinos’ knowledge when it came to science, architecture, food, clothing, and pastimes. Because of them, education became highly regarded in Filipino culture; something that is taken seriously. Education also helped Filipinos progress as a people and the English language helped Filipinos become acquainted to the way the rest of the world lived their lives. Americans introduced a new way of life and technology for the people which helped the Filipinos advance in agriculture and various industries.
Respect is a core value for Filipinos, which is evident in their mannerisms and way of speaking. Filipinos commonly use the expressions, “po” and “opo” as a sign of respect not just to elders but to their peers as well.
Filipinos are averse to confrontations, and instead turn to the value of “pakikisama”, which speaks of a Filipino’s ability to get along with others in business situations, and in group and personal relationships. For Filipinos, “pakikisama” is essential in productive and harmonious relationships with other people.
The belief in superstition is still prevalent in the country, due to the fact that prior to foreign occupation, Filipinos were mostly Hindus or Buddhists. The belief in ghosts or “aswangs” is eminent throughout the country, and other spirits such as dwarves, elves, fairies, witches, and other creatures. Witchcraft and voodoo are still being practiced today, especially in areas of the country where indigenous people live. Psychics and healers in the Philippines have long been an enigma, as they do things that cannot be explained by science, such as surgery without anesthesia.
Filipinos love all sorts of arts, including music, folk dance, and the cinema. During their pastimes, you will find Filipinos going to the theater and listening to various types of music. Movies often reflect many aspects of local culture, including family, courtship, comedies of daily life, and the hardships that the people encounter.