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Filipino Culture, Customs And Traditions

The Filipino people is rich in customs and traditions. Many of these are in connection with their family life such as DATING, MARRIAGE and BURIAL, RELIGIOUS and many more........

About Dating

Women during the Spanish regime were generally shy, refined and inhibited. Their behavior was strictly monitored by the family to maintain their good reputation. A girl was not seen alone with a man; he did not touch them, not even her hands when talking to each other they were always an arm's length apart. A man got to know a woman only by being a friend of the woman's trusted friend who would help in case he wanted to have the opportunity to see the girl of his dreams. He did not directly approach the woman; that was impolite. On the other hand, the woman did not face a man alone; to exchange glances with the man was unbecoming.

A man who had the courage to ask for a date had to pass several tests. First, he got the permission of the girl's parents to visit their daughter. Once he was permitted, his formal visit was in full attendance of the older members of the family who also participated in the conversation. The hardest test was how to convince the girl to say yes because the woman played hard to get. She kept putting off her answer. When the man finally succeeded, the girl was strictly chaperoned during their date so that he was not even able to whisper romantic words.

About Marriage

MARRIAGE is a sacred to the Filipinos. One becomes the butt of jokes if he or she remains single. A bachelorette is considered a potential competitor for the attention of a husband.

Parents train their sons and daughters in the proper choice of a mate. Both are reminded that if they marry, they had to get along well not just with one another but with their in-laws as well.

Before marriage, the boy's parents seek the approval of the girl's parents for MARRIAGE with their daughter. This called pamanhikan. The man's parents often take along someone whom they believe is highly respected by the girls parents. This was especially when they fear that the girl's parents would say no. The grandparents of the man also join the pamanhikan. They first engage into discussions regarding the latest happenings and when the proper climate is established, the man's father states the purpose of their visit, which is to ask for the girl's hand in marriage. The girl's parents are not expected to agree immediately. They will first talk about the shortcomings of their daughter. If the future in-laws persist the parents of the bride give their consent. The details of their marriage are discussed and agreed upon during the next visit of the future parents-in-law.

The wedding reception is held in the bride's home. Members of the community volunteer to help bridegroom in one way or another by either contributing some money or by offering their services in the preparation of the wedding feats.

About the Art

Filipinos are lovers of art. Their art is reflected in the things they do and way they believe in daily life. Our ancestors passed their time singing awaits, corridos, and reading stories about the bravery of legendary heroes. For stage dramas they performed the Zarzuela and the moro-moro, forms of art which depicted the life of the people.

The best examples of architecture of the sixteenth to the nineteenth century are the churches built by the Spaniards with the help of the Filipinos. They are structures built in Baroque style with elaborate curved arches, altars and images of saints.

Filipinos love music in any form. This is evident in the presence of various string and wind musical instruments in almost all communities even before the coming of the Spaniards, the skill of the Filipinos in playing musical instruments can gauged when one listens to a number played by a rondalla. A rondalla is composed of musicians that play stringed musical instruments such as the guitar and the ukulele.

The idea of organizing a rondalla must have been born during the latter part of Spanish rule in the Philippines when the guitar was introduced. Added to the guitar was other string instruments that pre-Spanish Filipinos played and nine other instrument that were added much later. All together these instruments formed the nucleus of the rondalla. The rondalla was popular entertainer in almost all sorts of gatherings like baptisms, wedding, fiesta, and funerals. It also rendered accompaniment to vocals, violins and other instruments, solos, and choral ensembles. The rodalla thus became an essentials part of social gatherings.

The Filipinos also love to sing and dance. Their songs range from folk to pop; classic kundiman to modern operas. They sing to their souls content. The Philippines has contributed its share of the world famous opera singers such as Jovita Fuente, Isang Tapales, Conchita Gaston, and Aurello Estanislao.

Dancing is the moving spirit among many Filipinos. Their skill on the dance floor is superb. Early indigenous dances represented nature. Other Filipino dances reflected Malay, Muslim, Spanish, and American influences.

Fifty years ago, every school program was a literary-musical program of Filipino songs, dances, dramas, and poems. Now, with school programs consisting of modern dances and plays, pop and jazz music, how can we expect our youth to be proud of the Filipino culture? What can be done before it is too late.

About the Games

Children of yesterdays played games that no longer familiar to the children of today. Their games were played either indoors or outdoors in involving little active participation.

Some games were imitations of what the elders did. The bahay-bahayan, lutu-lutuan were imitations of mother's household activities which the girls enjoyed playing. Other games were replicas of daily happening in the rural areas.

A typical example was the game Pusa at Aso. In a circle, sticks, slippers, and wooden shoes were placed to symbolized the bones of the dog' which was IT. The CATS who were the other players tried to get into the circle to steal the bones without being caught became the dog. This was repeated as many times for as long as the players are not tired of the game.

A more exciting game called Juego de anillo involved knights on bicycles trying their best to hook a ring dangling from a ribbon. Hulugang panyo reminded one of the days when ladies dropped their hankies to call the attention of the gentlemen.

A game popular to boys and adults is playing with the trumpo or top. The trumpo is a conical-shaped wood made from guava branches with a pointed nail at the tail of the cone. The trumpo spins on the iron-nail. In an outdoor game called podigo, one players would try to split another boy's trumpo placed in the middle of a drawn circle after spinning, he becomes the next taya or it.

Luksong tinik and Piko are moderately active games which are usually played by girls. Piko involves hopping on one or two legs through a series of rectangle drawn on the ground. Luksong tinik is played by two player who are seated facing each other and stretching their bare feet are in contact.

Touching the toes are their fingers, one above the other is spike form. The other players jump over the feet; then over the feet and one hand, and so on until all the hands are spread over the feet. A player may continue playing as long as he does not touch any of the formal spikes; the moment he touches them, he becomes the it.

Quite games at siesta time can either be the siklot or sungka. Siklot uses sigay shells, sampaloc seeds, or pebbles. The player gently tosses the shells and catches them back with her hand. The forefinger hits the shells that fall to the floor one by one. When the player succeeds in catching and hitting everything, he gets a prize. The game continues until all the shells have been captured.

Sungka like siklot, also needs shells sigay or tamarind seeds. The game hole carved in it. Each hole to begin should contain seven shells. One player drops one shell onto each hole. He picks the other shells in the hole where he drops his last shell, then continues dropping a shell in each hole. He continues playing as long as he has shells to drop. Should he drop his last shell into an empty hole, then his chance to play ends. It is now the other player turn.


Before the introduction of Christianity, the Filipinos were mostly pagans. They worshipped spirits which they believed dwell in objects like trees, mountains, rivers, ect. They worshipped nature, the sun the moon, and the stars. They also believed in a supreme God or deity. Because of their belief in a deity and in animate or living things their religion was called animo-delsm.

It was not long after the Spain colonized the Philippines that the Filipinos become Christians. Today, majoruty of the Filipinos are Catholics. But a group of Filipino Catholics headed by Mr. Gregorio Aglipay founded the Philippines Independent church. This splinter, nationalistic group does not recognize the Pope as the head of the Catholic church. But their beliefs and doctrines are the same as of the catholic. This group are called Aglipayan after their founde.

Another Filipino church and one of the true Filipino church that has originated in the Philippines is the IGLISIA NI CRISTO which has a fast growing membership throughout the Philippines and the world.

According to Encyclopedia Britanica Macropaedia page #246 Volume 6 IGLISIA NI KRISTO is the largest entirety indigenous Christian church in the Philippines. Its members assert that the early church was restored in GOD'S chosen nation, the Filipinos when Brother FELIX Y. Manalo launched this church in 1914. Rapid growth after 1945 produced some 600,000 members by the late 20th century, imposing chapels throughout the nation, and wealthy centralized organization under Bishop ERANO G. MANALO, the son of FELIX. Strong discipline from the leaders dictates a literal interpretation of the BIBLE and suggest individual contribuitions and the casting of votes, making the church a substantial political power. Unitarian in theology and Philippines in its language, liturgy, and music it represents a popular anti-Western movement for spiritual independence.


In spite of the diverse religious groups in the Philippines each with its particular practices; the Filipinos believe in only one God who is almighty and omnipotent. Religious practices show concern and love for one's neighbors. Among the Catholics, the Ten Commandment's set the standard of behavior. They keep images of their saints at home and every church has a patron saint.


Fiestas are held on the birthday of the patron saint celebrated with the holding of a novena, a nine-day devotion of masses followed by special prayers of praise to the patron saint. The plaza around t5he church is decorated with colorful buntings. On the ninth day which is the feast day of the saint, a high mass is celebrated by one or several priests. Suddenly the plaza is transformed into a mini-market where ready-made clothes, toys, fruits, and native delicacies are sold. A brass band plays after the mass and then makes a round of the immediate vivinity playing popular Filipino songs, marches and kundimans. This sets a happy, festive mood in the community with residents going on splurge entertaining relatives and friends from other towns.

The town fiesta is an event that the residents look forward to. Three or four months before the fiesta the family takes good care of a piglet and chickens earmarked for the fiesta. Of course, the fiesta is an occasion when friends and relatives can be together, enjoy each other's account of the past year's experiences and partake of the palatable dishes prepared for a day. Children living out-of-town make a special effort to come home and be with their parents, relatives, and friends for the fiesta.

The fiesta is a Filipino heritage that has been handed down from generation. It has its advantages as well as its disadvantages. Must we continue pertrating it as it is? Can it be perpetuated with certain modifications?


As soon as December sets in, everyone in the Philippines, young and old alike are busy preparing for the biggest religious activity on December 25. Houses are cleaned, painted and decorated with new colorful curtains, Christmas decorations and multicolored lights.Lanterns of different Christmas tree and a Belen are placed in the living rooms of the most homes.

The nine-day masses or Misa de Gallo, celebrated at dawn when the cock starts to crow begin on December. These masses are well-attended in spite of the fact that those who attend wake up as early as three o'clock in the morning. As one walks to the church, one will notice the streets lined with small stores selling puto, bibingka and puto bumbong.

The climax of the Christmas celebration is a midnight mass on Christmas eve, December 24. The family makes an effort to go this mass. On Christmas day children dressed in their best attires visit ninongs, ninangs, relatives and friends. They kiss the hands of the elders as a sign of respect. In return the elders give them money gifts or native delicacies. Christmas is for everyone and at no other time of the year is the family more complete. Even married children who are abroad make a special effort to be home in the Philippines for Christmas.


The Lente season is as significant to the Filipinos as Christmas. Christian Filipinos commemorate the passion and death of Jesus Christ with as much sincerity and seriousness as His birth.

On Ash Wednesday, the faithful go to church were a sign of the cross is imprinted with ashes on the forehead of every season. Chanting of the Pasyon (Christ's suffering before His death) in the native tongue of the region begins on Holy Week and is held at certain hours of the night. On Holy Thursday, the chanting goes on the whole day and night until the following morning. By Good Friday, the whole town is deep in meditation on the passion and death of Christ on the Cross. In Church one can observe individuals as well as families praying the Stations of the Cross.

Good Friday is a day of fasting and penance to atone for one's sins. A penance quite common in the barrios is for a penitent to cover his face with a black cloth and walk down the streets beating his back with thin bamboo sticks until blood oozes out of his wounds. In afternoon the devotees flock to church for sermon on the Seven Last Words of Jesus as he hung on the cross.

Easter Sunday is a memorable day. The faithful wake up early for the salubong, a re-enactment of the Risen Lord's meeting with His Mother at dawn.

There are many more religious celebrations and festivities observed by the Catholics in the Philippines which vary from community to community and all of which give honor and glory to Jesus Christ this is according to all Catholics believers.

Other Religions like the INC, the Baptist, Jehovas Witness, Born Christians and some Biblical in teaching do not celebrate the so called celebration.


The loss of a member of the a family was an occasion for bayanihan. Friends, relatives and neighbors came to condole with the bereaved family. Flowers, and food and money were offered as tokens of sympathy.

Before the burial, there was a lamayan a vigil attended by all who wished to come. People at the wake participated in some activities such as gambling, telling stories, or playing mental games, to keep them awake through the night.

For as long as the deceased was in state, sweeping the floor and taking a bath in the house were forbidden. The bereaved were also cautioned to keep their tears from dropping in the coffin.

The general practice was for the bereaved family to bury the deceased member within 24 hours after his death. Close relatives and friends accompany the corpse to church for the religious rites then the funeral procession headed by the band of musicians proceeds to the cemetery.

ABOUT THE ALL SAINTS DAY (PANGANGALULUWA) (practice by the catholic religion)

November 1 is a day for remembering the dead. According to the catholic belief though it is not biblical. Tradition has it that the immediate members of all the deceased go to cemetery a few days before All Saints Day to clean and white-wash the tombs of their dead. On the day itself, the family attends a mass before going to the cemetery bringing with them flowers, drinking water and food to last till midnight. The cemetery becomes a busy and crowded place. Candles are lighted during the day and all through the night to the wee hours of the next day.

Another custom during ALL SAINTS DAY called pangangaluwa, is based on the belief that the suffering of souls in purgatory would be lessened if the living would pray for them and material help is given to the living, this is according to the catholic believers.

At about 10:00 in the night until the early morning hours, men and woman went singing from one house to another representing the souls in purgatory and asked for alms. Later, however, barrio folk did not entertain these souls anymore because instead of aski8ng for alms, the mangangaluluwa stole things underneath the houses and picked fruits on trees in the yards. They would then least on all these stolen goods.


The food of the Filipino is simple. Rice is the chief food. Together with rice, fish or meat and vegetables are eaten. The Filipino is fond of eating pork, chicken, corn, fruits, and vegetables. One of the more popular foods of the Filipino on special occasions is lechon, a whole pig roasted over charcoal fire. Adobo is another popular dish which almost every Filipino can cook. Eating is done with the hands and for outdoor meals, the banana leaves serve as plates. The Filipino cooks his food in clay pots over a clay stove (kalan) using wood to build a fire.


Our ancestors, both men and woman wore two-piece clothes; a collarless, short-sleeved jacket and strip of cloth wrapped around the waist and in between the legs. The women wore the baro, a wide-sleeved jacket and a skirt of cotton cloth wrapped about the waist. The Filipina wardrobe was later modified. The says, the tapis and the enagua comprised the ladies wear. Do you know how these looked like?

They says is a long skirt which touches the floor. It has a kola or train which mean the woman holds to keep it clean she moves. Printed satin is the usual material used for the says; brocade for gala use.

Over this says, a tapis with tassels on the edges is worn. Beneath the saya and tapis is the enagua, a slip with lace edging.

The elegant clothes of the Filipino women are properly taken cared of. Women give special attention to their clothes especially those made of fibers such as fina or sinamay.


The washerwoman would sort out the white from the colored ones. the plain from the printed, the cotton and satin from those made of fibers. Dirt was removed using a wooden palu-palo or by trampling upon the clothes laid out on smooth rocks. Round sabon intsik or Chinese soap and blue tina were essential washing materials.

After washing, some clothes were starched. The starch used was made from rice lugaw pressed with a wooden sandok or ladle form a cheesecloth duyan (hammock) tied tto the clothes line at four points. below this was a wooden batya or basin to catch the starch. This was then gently patted on the barong tagalog and butterfly sleeves of the women's baro. The starched clothes were later stretched into shape and dried on the flat galvanized iron sheets.

Stains are removed from the clothes by dropping calamansi juice on the stained spots after which the clothes are bleached in the sunlight.

Starched clothes were sprinkled with water before pressing with a flat iron filled with glowing charcoal.


The houses vary in the same style depending on their location and social status and taste of the family. Houses of the Filipinos are usually made of wood and nipa. Later galvanized iron replaced nipa for roofing.

In some towns, barrios, and cities, houses made of nipa and bamboo are still to be found. Some have sawali walls and cogon roofings. Most of the houses especially the older ones are situated high above the ground for better ventilation and reduced humidity. In the past, building a houses was fast and inexpensive. Houses were built then through the help of friends and neighbors.

Today there are only few bamboo houses. Most houses are already built of strong materials like hollow blocks, wood, galvanized iron and glass windows.

Modernity has not entirely changed the architecture of the Filipino houses. The batalan is stall a part of the houses in Luzon and is used as an open bathroom, a place for water jars or tapayan and a place for washing. The modern batalan is made of concrete and is still adjacent to the kitchen.

The banguerahan, a storage shelf and drainer before the dish rack was introduced, is still a part of a few modern houses. The modern banguerahan is no longer enclosed with bamboo spikes but is screened.

The old house of before were not painted. The present ones are painted in varied colors and built styles. The old houses were built high on the ground and the space below calle4d silong was fenced with bamboo to keep pigs, dogs, and chickens out.

Chairs, tables, beds and other furniture are found in most hours. Many Filipinos, particularly t6he Tagalogs, still prefer to sleep on bamboo or wooden floors instead of on beds.

Some years ago kerosene lamps were used in most houses. Now electricity has found its way in almost all houses. The old kalan or native stove has been replaced by electric ranges; the palayok or native pot by aluminum pots and pans. Firewood and charcoal are still used by some Filipino housewives especially now that gas and electricity have become very expensive.

The verandah or porch is still a part of today's houses. Pots of ferns and flowering plants surrounded the wall kept verandah. The artistic touch of the Filipino is still evident in his house. In a one-room house, you can see curtains hanging on the walls and windows, and a family picture and a saint prominently displayed in one corner of the room.

The Filipinos also displays neatness and cleanliness in keeping their houses. The Filipinos housewife uses different kinds of brooms for cleaning. There is the salary or soft broom for sweeping the floor; a smaller one for dusting wall carvings and picture frames; the walis-tingting or stiff broom for cleaning and stone floors; and the plumero, a broom made from chicken feathers for dusting. Buckets, wooden scrub brushes with thick bristles, bunot or coconut husk, dustpans, bar soap, gugo or native shampoo, is-is leaves, banana leaves, kerosene and coconut oil are also used for cleaning the houses.

Floor wax was prepared by homemakers from candles, atsuete and kerosene melted from glowing embers. In some homes, hardwood floors were swept from scrubbed with is-is before wax was applied. When the sticky wax was dry, the floor was scrubbed again until it became very shiny. The furniture, window sills, staircases and walls were also scrubbed with is-is leaves or polished with wax. Kitchen tables were cleaned with is-is leaves, water, sand and ash. Those made of zinc were wiped with kerosene.

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