Mano PoThe Filipinos have a very rich culture that is best shown in the county’s dances, festivals, religious observations and manners in and out of the home. Their tradition is influenced by several cultures, particularly Malay, Spanish, Chinese, American and other Asian and Western countries. Majority of the Filipinos speak very good English, compared to other Asian neighbors. Traditional Filipino customs, beliefs and way of life may not be too evident in the large urban capitals but a trip to the provinces will open your eyes (and your mind) to the richness of Filipino culture.

“Mano po” is what the young ones say to an older person when they ask for their blessings. They take the elder’s right hand and bow until their forehead touches the hand. “Mano” as described in contemporary dictionary is to “kiss the hand” and is the Spanish word for hand.

“Pakikisama” has a very deep meaning. It means comradeship; getting along with others. Its origins are sama (to go with), kasama (companion) and paki (please). From these words, “pakikisama” truly means “getting along with others,” stretched to getting others out of a scrape or helping save face.

“Utang na loob” is a debt of gratitude. It can be an endless debt starting from the first generation and end in the very last generation. It is a tradition also practiced in other East Asian countries such as China, Japan and Korea.

Filipinos are musically and artistically inclined. While traditional music is kundiman (serenade), modern Filipinos are belting out Asian and Western songs with class, earning them worldwide accolades. They excel in music, films, politics, literature, publishing, broadcasting and

Filipinos speak over 170 regional languages most of which belong to the Austronesian language family from the Western Malayo-Polynesian language group while Filipino and English are the official languages.

Filipinos have traditional dances like Tinikling and Cariñosa, but Filipinos are very adept at dancing the latest dance craze. They love to eat and while adobo (meat cooked in soy sauce, vinegar and peppercorns) and sinigang (sour broth with meat and vegetables) served with plenty of steaming white rice are staple, they are not averse to eating burgers, pizzas, spaghettis and other food served at fast food joints and restaurants. They either eat with their hands or use a spoon, knife and fork.

More than 80% of the people remain as Roman Catholics and are tolerant of other religions like Islam and various other Christian religions. Patintero (tag), tumbang preso (downing the opponents’ can), piko (hopscotch) and luksong-tinik (jumping over thorns – fingers or a stick)
are traditional children’s games.

Filipino hospitality is widely known. You can visit a poor family and still get the best treatment they can offer. You can come at lunch or dinner time unannounced and still get invited to share in whatever the family is having. It is all right to make a thumb’s up sign to say you are okay, but you are not allowed to point an index finger at someone. However, you should watch their lips or the raising of their chin to indicate direction.

While the wealth of Filipino culture is deep and wide, one thing is certain: The family is still the focus of Filipinos and familial ties remain tight. It is part of the Filipinos’ culture to be friendly, venerate elders and have respect for the family. Despite hardships, the resilient Filipinos still manage to greet people with a sweet smile and engaging laughter.



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