Family, community, hospitality, religion and food. When I think about filipino culture these are first things that come to mind.
Every time I travel to the Philippines I notice that Filipinos are very happy people. Clearly, poverty in the Philippines is rampant, however, people everywhere are laughing and smiling. I truly believe their happiness stems from family, community, hospitality, religion and food. Isn't everyone happy when there is food?
Family includes grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, first cousins, second cousins and so on. In my father's hometown in Balete, Aklan he has 4 siblings and 4 first cousins that live within a 1 mile radius of one another.
They see and spend time with each other on a regular, usually daily, basis. It is commonplace for at least 3 generations of a family to live in one home or for several generations to live on a single piece of family land.
Community in Filipino culture is better described as 'a sense of shared community'. Filipinos tend to share responsibility for the neighborhood or place where they live, care for the people and the occurances or activities happening around them.
When I was a kid in the 70's in Chicago, I remember my neighbors watching over me or my mom sharing bread/sweets she baked with them on a regular basis. As an adult, I hate to admit, I don't even know the names of my neighbors!
Filipinos also love celebrations. You can see this reflected in annual town fiestas and regional festivals like the Ati-Atihan in Aklan, Masskara in Bacolod, Sinulog in Cebu, Tinagba in Bicol. Every month you can find something to celebrate in the Philippines!
Filipinos go to great lengths to show their hospitality to others. Universally, being a good host by ensuring one's comfort -having enough to eat or drink- is being hospitable. In the Philippines it is not unusual for a host to offer their guest their own bed to sleep in!
Religion plays a big role in everyday Filipino culture. In the Philippines there is virtually no separation between church and state. For example, In Manila, the most westernized city in the Philippines, you can go to the mall on Sunday morning and hear catholic mass being broadcasted on the loudspeakers. The country is predominantly Catholic, due to Spanish occupation, and traces of catholicism are everywhere.
Last, but not least, there is food. Food and culture are inextricably linked. In fact, food, family, community, and hospitality are linked. Not just for Filipinos but for everyone!
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