Wherever you choose to go in the Philippines, it’s the Filipinos that will make your holiday unforgettable. Lonely Planet calls us, ‘among the most ebullient and easy going people anywhere.’
Don’t be shy about coming up to a Filipino and starting a conversation. We’re not just fun, we’re officially friendly too. Forbes.com ranked us the friendliest country in Asia – eight in the world!
Filipinos are pre-dominantly of Malay stock with a sprinkling of Chinese, Spanish, American and Arab blood. More than 100 cultural minority groups are scattered throughout the country.
Roman Catholicism is practiced by approximately 83% of the population. The rest of the religions are mostly Christian. There are Muslims and Buddhists too.
We have two official languages – Filipino and English.
Filipino is based on Tagalog, the predominant dialect from the Luzon mainland, and is used nationally to communicate among the ethnic groups. There are seven (7) other widely used languages: Cebuano, Ilocano, Hiligaynon or Ilonggo, Bicolano, Waray, Pampango, and Pangasinense. Apart from these, there are more than 176 local dialects!
Like any living language, Filipino is in a process of development through loans from Philippine or foreign languages, as well as from inventions among different sub-cultures (ask someone about “becky speak” or “gay lingo”).
Thanks to the American Period, American English was and continues to be taught in schools. Filipinos get a healthy amount of Hollywood movies and American TV shows too. So if you speak English, feel free to ask for directions or strike up a conversation. If the Filipino you spoke to can’t speak English, he’ll happily pull in someone who does.
You’ll soon discover our love for color. You’ll see it in jeepneys, tricycles, bancas, and even our fiestas. While you’re here, you’re bound to see one – because they happen almost every day. There are a ton of festivals like the Masskara festival in Bacolod, the Pahiyas in Quezon, Sinulog in Cebu, Kadayawan in Davao and Panagbenga in Baguio.
Metro Manila is the center for entertainment and cultural activities. International acts are always flying in, while local acts are always on stage.
Visit museums in Metro Manila and other parts of the country to get a glimpse of Philippine history and culture.
At art galleries – in up-market neighborhoods, malls, urban hang-outs or heritage streets – you can feel the creative pulse of the country from leading and promising visual artists.
Check local event magazines given out free at restaurants, as well as online city guides, for the latest of these events, plus film festivals, dance parties, weekend classes, pop-up shopping venues and other fun things to do!
Check these sites for the latest events:
Food is a huge part of Filipino culture—in fact, the local word for ‘Hello,’ is ‘Have you eaten?’ And though little-known, you’ll find our cuisine as beautiful and surprising as the country. Esquire UK described dinner in Manila as a ‘growing flirtation that was turning into true love’.
Filipino food is an exotic, tasteful fusion of Oriental, European, and American culinary influences with a wide variety of fresh seafood and delectable fruits. These influences have been adapted to local ingredients and the Filipino palate to create distinctly Filipino dishes.
Take “kare-kare” — what started as a Filipino take on curry. Instead of curry paste, some ancient, resourceful cook ground peanuts to make a thick stew, then paired it with “bagoong” (fish paste). The dish now is so far from its inspiration, but has become its own kind of good.
Long ago, these islands were home to Indo-Malays and Chinese merchants. Then in 1521, Spanish explorers led by Portuguese Ferdinand Magellan discovered them. They named the archipelago “Felipinas” after Spain’s Philip II, and introduced Christianity to the people.
The explorers saw the islands’ potential for commerce, with Manila and Cebu as strategic trading ports. They established the seat of government in Cebu, later moving it to Manila in 1571. The islands were a colony of Spain from the 16th to the 19th century, for a total of 333 years.
The Filipinos waged Asia’s first nationalist revolution in 1896. On June 12, 1898, they won their independence from Spain.
After the Spaniards left, the Americans came, introducing their educational and legal systems, as well as their democratic form of government. They ruled for 48 years until World War II broke out in 1941.
Japanese troops invaded the country on December 8, 1941 and stayed for four years. The US forces returned to liberate the Filipinos and finally recognized Philippine independence on July 4, 1946.
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