The soul of the Philippines
In philosophy, the word culture refers to what is different from nature, that is to say what is on the order of the acquired and not innate.
In sociology, culture is defined as "what is common to a group of individuals and as what ties them together". In its broadest sense, culture can now be regarded as the set of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features of a society or a social group. It includes not only the arts and literature, lifestyles and fundamental rights of human being, but also value systems, traditions and beliefs.
This "common pool" changes over time and by the forms of trade. It is a distinct ways of being, thinking, acting and communicate.
We often hear from tourists and expats: "Philippines? Oh, there is nothing to see, they have no culture".
Somehow we can understand. If you reduce culture to old buildings, old libraries and old paintings, then you should rather visit Rome, Paris or London to see old stones, papyrus fragments and walk all day through air-conditioned museums.
We also agree to the fact that discovering the Philippines' culture needs a lot of time. You cannot do it in one day, but it's exactly this slow approach, this looking for hints and traces that makes discovering the Philippine's culture so interesting.
Somehow the Philippines can be compared with the islands of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea. Both archipelagos have been situated on the intersection of multiple trade routes for thousands of years. In both groups of islands you can see, feel and live the remains of past invasions, the last intruder having usually left the still strongest evidence.
To start discovering the culture of the Philippines you only need to open your mind. Start by looking around, listen to the voices and ask questions.
You will be astonished of what you will learn!
The language is the primary key to any culture. The Philippines count over 90 distinct languages! Still lots of tales and legends are transmitted from grand parents to grand children in precious moments. Sometimes, someone writes them down. But most often they vanish with the family's memory.
On July 4, 1946, Tagálog (Pilipino) was officially declared the national language of the Philippines (wikang pambansâ ng Pilipinas). Candidates for the title of official language were the eight 'major' languages of the archipelago, having at least one million speakers.
In the final round were Cebuano, with the largest number of native speakers, and Tagalog, the language of Manila, the capital. Tagalog won, and from this day non-Tagalog first graders are required to learn Tagalog.
Tagalog is also a morphologically complex, predicate-initial language, in which the predicate (in many cases, a verb) occupies the initial slot of a sentence.
Tagalog, like its sister Philippine languages, is an Austronesian language distantly related to the languages of most of Indonesia, Madagascar, aboriginal Taiwan, most Pacific isles, and parts of New Guinea.
Magbasa nang higit pa tungkol sa mga wika na sinasalita sa Pilipinas.
The written language is the next important key on accessing a culture. Remember the Rosetta Stone - the link which allowed understanding Egypt's hieroglyphs.
Unfortunately in most cultures the written word had only be accessible to the upper classes. As in Europe, literacy came very late to the farmers and workers in the Philippines. Today the literacy of the Philippine's population is 93.6%.
Lots of foreigners are happy that the Filipinos write in roman characters. This fact is the result of the Spanish colonialization. Before the Spaniards invaded the Philippines, people had their own writing.
An interesting fact is the use of the ancient "Baybayin" writing as a security mark on the new Philippines banknotes. In the lower right corner, just above the value of the note, you find some strange signs.
When you hold the banknote against the light, the signs are completed by the back side equivalents and show the word Filipino written in Philippine ancient "Baybayin" alphabet.
Magbasa nang higit pa tungkol sa pagsusulat sa Pilipinas.
The first book printed in the Philippines is the "Doctrina Christiana", see also the written language. It had been published 1593 in Manila.
Tomas Pinpin wrote and printed in 1610 "Librong Pagaaralan nang mga Tagalog nang Wikang Kastila", 119 pages designed to help fellow Filipinos to learn the Spanish language in a simple way. He is also credited with the first news publication made in the Philippines: "Successos Felices".
On December 1, 1846, La Esperanza, the first daily newspaper, was available in the country. Other early newspapers were La Estrella (1847), Diario de Manila (1848) and Boletin Oficial de Filipinas (1852).
In 1863, the Spanish government introduced a system of free public education that had an important effect on the ability of the population to read in Spanish and further in the rise of an educated class called the Ilustrado (meaning, well-informed).
Spanish became the social language of urban places and the true lingua franca of the archipelago. A good number of Spanish newspapers were published until the end of the 1940s, the most influential of them being El Renacimiento, printed in Manila by members of the Guerrero de Ermita family.
Magbasa nang higit pa tungkol sa panitikan sa Pilipinas.
by Quijano de Manila*
*Quijano de Manila is the pen name of Nick Joaquin, who is considered by many as the best writer in the Philippines today. In the following essay he displays his masterly style in prose.
Nick Joaquin was born in Paco on Calle Herran, as the son of Leocadio Y. Joaquin, a lawyer and a colonel of the Philippine Revolution, and Salome Marquez, a schoolteacher. Joaquin started to write short stories, poems, and essays in 1934. In 1961 the prize-novel "The Woman Who Had Two Navels" examined the pressures of the past upon the present. In 1976 Joaquin was declared a National Artist.
[Editor's note] Reading this essay changed my understanding of the people with whom I live. Many, for foreigners so strange behaviors, come into an other light when reading Nick Joaquin.
The depressing fact in Philippine history is what seems to be our native aversion to the large venture, the big risk, the bold extensive enterprise. The pattern may have been set by the migration. We try to equate the odyssey of the migrating barangays with that of the Pilgrim, Father of America, but a glance of the map suffices to show the differences between the two ventures. One was a voyage across an ocean into an unknown world; the other was a going to and from among neighboring islands. One was a blind leap into space; the other seems, in comparison, a mere crossing of rivers. The nature of the one required organization, a sustained effort, special skills, special tools, the building of large ships. The nature of the other is revealed by its vehicle, the barangay, which is a small rowboat, not a seafaring vessel designed for long distances on the avenues of the ocean.
However far we go back in our history it's the small we find--the nipa hut, the barangay, the petty kingship, the slight tillage, the tingi trade. All our artifacts are miniatures and so is our folk literature, which is mostly proverbs, or dogmas in miniature. About the one big labor we can point to in our remote past are the rice terraces--and even that grandeur shrinks, on scrutiny, into numberless little separate plots into a series of layers added to previous ones, all this being the accumulation of ages of small routine efforts (like a colony of ant hills) rather than one grand labor following one grand design. We could bring in here the nursery diota about the little drops of water that make the mighty ocean, or the peso that's not a peso if it lacks a centavo; but creative labor, alas, has sterner standards, a stricter hierarchy of values. Many little efforts, however perfect each in itself, still cannot equal one single epic creation. A galleryful of even the most charming statuettes is bound to look scant beside a Pieta or Moses by Michelangelo; and you could stack up the best short stories you can think of and still not have enough to outweigh a mountain like War and Peace.
The migrations were thus self-limited, never moved far from their point of origin, and clung to the heart of a small known world; the islands clustered round the Malay Peninsula. The movement into the Philippines, for instance, was from points as next-door geographically as Borneo and Sumatra. Since the Philippines is at heart of this region, the movement was toward center, or, one may say, from near to still nearer, rather than to farther out. Just off the small brief circuit of these migrations was another world: the vast mysterious continent of Australia; but there was significantly no movement towards this terra incognita. It must have seemed too perilous, too unfriendly of climate, too big, too hard. So, Australia was conquered not by the fold next door, but by strangers from across two oceans and the other side of the world. They were more enterprising, they have been rewarded. But history has punished the laggard by setting up over them a White Australia with doors closed to the crowded Malay world.
The barangays that came to the Philippines were small both in scope and size. A barangay with a hundred households would already be enormous; some barangays had only 30 families, or less. These, however, could have been the seed of a great society if there had not been in that a fatal aversion to synthesis. The barangay settlements already displayed a Philippine characteristic: the tendency to petrify in isolation instead of consolidating, or to split smaller instead of growing. That within the small area of Manila Bay there should be three different kingdoms (Tondo, Manila and Pasay) may mean that the area wa originally settled by three different barangays that remained distinct, never came together, never fused; or it could mean that a single original settlement; as it grew split into three smaller pieces.
Philippine society, as though fearing bigness, ever tends to revert the condition of the barangay of the small enclosed society. We don't grow like a seed, we split like an amoeba. The moment a town grows big it become two towns. The moment a province becomes populous it disintegrates into two or three smaller provinces. The excuse offered for divisions i always the alleged difficulty of administering so huge an entity. But Philippines provinces are microscopic compared to an American state like, say, Texas, where the local government isn't heard complaining it can't efficiently handle so vast an area. We, on the other hand, make a confession of character whenever we split up a town or province to avoid having of cope, admitting that, on that scale, we can't be efficient; we are capable only of the small. The decentralization and barrio-autonomy movement expresses our craving to return to the one unit of society we feel adequate to: the barangay, with its 30 to a hundred families. Anything larger intimidates. We would deliberately limit ourselves to the small performance. This attitude, an immemorial one, explains why we're finding it so hard to become a nation, and why our pagan forefathers could not even imagine the task. Not E pluribus, unum is the impulse in our culture but Out of many, fragments. Foreigners had to come and unite our land for us; the labor was far beyond our powers. Great was the King of Sugbu, but he couldn't even control the tiny isle across his bay. Federation is still not even an idea for the tribes of the North; and the Moro sultanates behave like our political parties: they keep splitting off into particles.
Because we cannot unite for the large effort, even the small effort is increasingly beyond us. There is less to learn in our schools, but even this little is protested by our young as too hard. The falling line on the graph of effort is, alas, a recurring pattern in our history. Our artifacts but repeat a refrain of decline and fall, which wouldn't be so sad if there had been a summit decline from, but the evidence is that we start small and end small without ever having scaled any peaks. Used only to the small effort, we are not, as a result, capable of the sustained effort and lose momentum fast. We have a term for it: ningas cogon.
Go to any exhibit of Philippine artifacts and the items that from our "cultural heritage" but confirm three theories about us, which should be stated again.
First: that the Filipino works best on small scale--tiny figurines, small pots, filigree work in gold or silver, decorative arabesques. The deduction here is that we feel adequate to the challenge of the small, but are cowed by the challenge of the big.
Second: that the Filipino chooses to work in soft easy materials--clay, molten metal, tree searching has failed to turn up anything really monumental in hardstone. Even carabao horn, an obvious material for native craftsmen, has not been used to any extent remotely comparable to the use of ivory in the ivory countries. The deduction here is that we feel equal to the materials that yield but evade the challenge of materials that resist.
Third: that having mastered a material, craft or product, we tend to rut in it and don't move on to a next phase, a larger development, based on what we have learned. In fact, we instantly lay down even what mastery we already posses when confronted by a challenge from outside of something more masterly, instead of being provoked to develop by the threat of competition.
Faced by the challenge of Chinese porcelain, the native art of pottery simply declined, though porcelain should have been the next phase for our pottery makers. There was apparently no effort to steal and master the arts of the Chinese. The excuse offered here that we did not have the materials for the techniques for the making of porcelain--unites in glum brotherhood yesterday's pottery makers and today's would be industrialists. The native pot got buried by Chinese porcelain as Philippine tobacco is still being buried by the blue seal.
Our cultural history, rather than a cumulative development, seems mostly a series of dead ends. One reason is a fear of moving on to a more complex phase; another reason is a fear of tools. Native pottery, for instance, somehow never got far enough to grasp the principle of the wheel. Neither did native agriculture ever reach the point of discovering the plow for itself, or even the idea of the draft animal, though the carabao was handy. Wheel and plow had to come from outside because we always stopped short of technology, This stoppage at a certain level is the recurring fate of our arts and crafts.
The santo everybody's collecting now are charming as legacies, depressing as indices, for the art of the santero was a small art, in a not very demanding medium: wood. Having achieved perfection in it, the santero was faced by the challenge of proving he could achieve equal perfection on a larger scale and in more difficult materials: hardstone, marble, bronze. The challenge was not met. Like the pagan potter before him, the santero stuck to his tiny rut, repeating his little perfections over and over. The iron law of life is: Develop or decay. The art of the santero did not advance; so it declined. Instead of moving onto a harder material, it retreated to a material even easier than wool: Plaster--and plaster has wrought the death of relax art.
One could go on and on with this litany.
Philippine movies started 50 years ago and, during the ‘30s, reached a certain level of proficiency, where it stopped and has rutted ever since looking more and more primitive as the rest of the cinema world speeds by on the way to new frontiers. We have to be realistic, say local movie producers we're in this business not to make art but money. But even from the business viewpoint, they're not "realistic" at all. The true businessman ever seeks to increase his market and therefore ever tries to improve his product. Business dies when it resigns itself, as local movies have done, to a limited market
After more than half a century of writing in English, Philippine Literature in that medium is still identified with the short story. That small literary form is apparently as much as we feel equal to. But by limiting ourselves less and less capable even of the small thing--as the fate of the pagan potter and the Christian santero should have warned us. It' no longer as obvious today that the Filipino writer has mastered the short story form.
It's two decades since the war but what were mere makeshift in postwar days have petrified into institutions like the jeepney, which we all know to be uncomfortable and inadequate, yet cannot get rid of, because the would mean to tackle the problem of modernizing our systems of transportation--a problem we think so huge we hide from it in the comforting smallness of the jeepney. A small solution to a huge problem--do we deceive ourselves into thinking that possible? The jeepney hints that we do, for the jeepney carrier is about as adequate as a spoon to empty a river with.
With the population welling, and land values rising, there should be in our cities, an upward thrust in architecture, but we continue to build small, in our timid two-story fashion. Oh, we have excuses. The land is soft: earthquakes are frequent. But Mexico City, for instance, is on far swampier land and Mexico City is not a two-story town. San Francisco andTokyo are in worse earthquake belts, but San Francisco and Tokyo reach up for the skies. Isn't our architecture another expression of our smallness spirit? To build big would pose problems too big for us. The water pressure, for example, would have to be improved--and it's hard enough to get water on the ground floor flat and frail, our cities indicate our disinclination to make any but the smallest effort possible.
It wouldn't be so bad if our aversion for bigness and our clinging to the small denoted a preference for quality over bulk; but the little things we take forever to do too often turn out to be worse than the mass-produced article. Our couturiers, for instance, grow even limper of wrist when, after waiting months and months for a pin ~a weaver to produce a yard or two of the fabric, they find they have to discard most of the stuff because it's so sloppily done. Foreigners who think of pushing Philippine fabric in the world market give up in despair after experiencing our inability to deliver in quantity. Our proud apologia is that mass production would ruin the "quality" of our products. But Philippine crafts might be roused from the doldrums if forced to come up to mass-production standards.
It's easy enough to quote the West against itself, to cite all those Western artists and writers who rail against the cult of bigness and mass production and the "bitch goddess success"; but the arguments against technological progress, like the arguments against nationalism, are possible only to those who have already gone through that stage so successfully they can now afford to revile it. The rest of us can only crave to be big enough to be able to deplore bigness.
For the present all we seen to be able to do is ignore pagan evidence and blame our inability to sustain the big effort of our colonizers: they crushed our will and spirit, our initiative and originality. But colonialism is not uniquely our ordeal but rather a universal experience. Other nations went under the heel of the conqueror but have not spent the rest of their lives whining. What people were more trod under than the Jews? But each have been a thoroughly crushed nation get up and conquered new worlds instead. The Norman conquest of England was followed by a subjugation very similar to our experience, but what issued from that subjugation were the will to empire and the verve of a new language.
If it be true that we were enervated by the loss of our primordial freedom, culture and institutions, then the native tribes that were never under Spain and didn't lose what we did should be showing a stronger will and spirit, more initiative and originality, a richer culture and greater progress, than the Christian Filipino. Do they? And this favorite apologia of ours gets further blasted when we consider a people who, alongside us, suffered a far greater trampling yet never lost their enterprising spirit. On the contrary, despite centuries of ghettos and programs and repressive measures and racial scorn, the Chinese in the Philippines clambered to the top of economic heap and are still right up there when it comes to the big deal. Shouldn't they have long come to the conclusion (as we say we did) that there's no point in hustling and laboring and amassing wealth only to see it wrested away and oneself punished for rising?
An honest reading of our history should rather force us to admit that it was the colonial years that pushed us toward the larger effort. There was actually an advance in freedom, for the unification of the land, the organization of towns and provinces, and the influx of new ideas, started our liberation from the rule of the petty, whether of clan, locality or custom. Are we not vexed at the hinterlander still bound by primordial terrors and taboos? Do we not say we have to set him "free" through education? Freedom, after all is more than a political condition; and the colonial lowlander--especially a person like, say, Rizal--was surely more of a freeman than the unconquered tribesman up in the hills. As wheel and plow set us free from a bondage to nature, so town and province liberated us from the bounds of the barangay.
The liberation can be seen just by comparing our pagan with our Christian statuary. What was static and stolid in the one becomes, in the other, dynamic motion and expression. It can be read in the rear of architecture. Now, at last, the Filipino attempts the massive--the stone bridge that unites, the irrigation dam that gives increase, the adobe church that identified. If we have a "heritage of greatness it's in these labors and in three epic acts of the colonial period; first, the defense of the land during two centuries of siege; second, the Propaganda Movement; and the third, the Revolution.
The first, a heroic age that profoundly shaped us, began 1600 with the 50-year war with the Dutch and may be said to have drawn to a close with the British invasion of 1762. The War with the Dutch is the most under-rated event in our history, for it was the Great War in our history. It had to be pointed out that the Philippines, a small colony practically abandoned to itself, yet held at bay for half a century the mightiest naval power in the world at the time, though the Dutch sent armada after armada, year after year, to conquer the colony, or by cutting off the galleons that were its links with America, starve the colony to its knees. We rose so gloriously to the challenge the impetus of spirit sent us spilling down to Borneo and the Moluccas and Indo-China, and it seemed for a moment we might create an empire. But the tremendous effort did create an elite vital to our history: the Creole-Tagalog-Pampango principalia - and ruled it together during these centuries of siege, and which would which was the nation in embryo, which defended the land climax its military career with the war of resistance against the British in the 1660's. By then, this elite already deeply felt itself a nation that the government it set up in Bacolor actually defined the captive government in Manila as illegitimate. From her flows the heritage that would flower in Malolos, for centuries of heroic effort had bred, in Tagalog and the Pampango, a habit of leadership, a lordliness of spirit. They had proved themselves capable of the great and sustained enterprise, destiny was theirs. An analyst of our history notes that the sun on our flag has eight rays, each of which stands for a Tagalog or Pampango province, and the Tagalogs and Pampangos at Biak-na-Bato "assumed the representation of the entire country and, therefore, became in fact the Philippines.
From the field of battle this elite would, after the British war, shift to the field of politics, a significant move; and the Propaganda, which began as a Creole campaign against the Peninsulars, would turn into the nationalist movement of Rizal and Del Pilar. This second epic act in our history seemed a further annulment of the timidity. A man like Rizal was a deliberate rebel against the cult of the small; he was so various a magus because he was set on proving that the Filipino could tackle the big thing, the complex job. His novels have epic intentions; his poems sustain the long line and go against Garcia Villa's more characteristically Philippine dictum that poetry is the small intense line.
With the Revolution, our culture is in dichotomy. This epic of 1896 is indeed a great effort--but by a small minority. The Tagalog and Pampango had taken it upon themselves to protest the grievances of the entire archipelago. Moreover, within the movement was a clash between the two strains in our culture--between the propensity for the small activity and the will to something more ambitious. Bonifacio's Katipunan was large in number but small in scope; it was a rattling of bolos; and its post fiasco efforts are little more than amok raids in the manner the Filipino is said to excel in. (An observation about us in the last war was that we fight best not as an army, but in small informal guerrilla outfits; not in pitched battle, but in rapid hit-and-run raids.) On the other hand, there was, in Cavite, an army with officers, engineers, trenches, plans of battle and a complex organization - a Revolution unlike all the little uprisings or mere raids of the past because it had risen above tribe and saw itself as the national destiny. This was the highest we have reached in nationalistic effort. But here again, having reached a certain level of achievement, we stopped. The Revolution is, as we say today, "unfinished."
The trend since the turn of the century, and especially since the war, seems to be back to the tradition of timidity, the heritage of smallness. We seem to be making less and less effort, thinking ever smaller, doing even smaller. The air droops with a feeling of inadequacy. We can't cope; we don't respond; we are not rising to challenges. So tiny a land as ours shouldn't be too hard to connect with transportation - but we get crushed on small jeepneys, get killed on small trains, get drowned in small boats. Larger and more populous cities abroad find it no problem to keep themselves clean - but the simple matter of garbage can create a "crisis" in the small city of Manila. One American remarked that, after seeing Manila's chaos of traffic, he began to appreciate how his city of Los Angeles handles its far, far greater volume of traffic. Is building a roadthat won't break down when it rains no longer within our powers? Is even the building of sidewalks too herculean of task for us?
One writer, as he surveyed the landscape of shortages---no rice, no water, no garbage collectors, no peace, no order---gloomily mumbled that disintegration seems to be creeping upon us and groped for Yeat's terrifying lines:
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold:
Mere anarchy is loosed...
Have our capacities been so diminished by the small efforts we are becoming incapable even to the small things? Our present problems are surely not what might be called colossal or insurmountable--yet we stand helpless before them. As the population swells, those problems will expand and multiply. If they daunt us now, will they crush us then? The prospect is terrifying.
On the Feast of Freedom we may do well to ponder the Parable of the Servants and the Talents. The enterprising servants who increase talents entrusted to them were rewarded by their Lord; but the timid servant who made no effort to double the one talent given to him was deprived of that talent and cast into the outer darkness, where there was weeping and gnashing of teeth:
"For to him who has, more shall be given; but from him who has not, even the little he has shall be taken away."
Although, geographically, the Philippines belongs to the East, its music has been heavily influenced by the West owing to 333 years of Spanish rule and 45 years of American domination.
Music in the highland and lowland hamlets where indigenous culture continues to thrive has strong Asian elements. Spanish and American influences are highly evident in the music of the urban areas.
Three main roots are apparent:
A system to classify Philippines' music is a geographic or ethno-linguistic approach: for example, traditional Tagalog music, which is somewhat more Hispanic in flavour, differs from Ifugao music and Islam influenced Maranao kulintang music.
In indigenous music, various kinds of instruments are made of bronze, bamboo or wood. These include gongs of various kinds of size and shapes, drums, flutes, zithers, lutes, clappers and buzzers.
Vocal genres include epics relating genealogies and exploits of heroes and gods; work songs related to planting, harvesting, fishing; ritual songs to drive away evil spirits or to invoke blessings from the good spirits; songs to celebrate festive occasions particularly marriage, birth, victory at war, or the settling of tribal disputes; mourning songs for the dead; courting songs; and children's game songs. It is this type of music that is still practiced today by the indigenous groups.
As varied are the people of the Philippines, so too are the dances. There are many dances performed in the Philippine Islands such as the popular "Tinikling", to the exoticized "Pangalay", to the skill-based interpretation of the "Banga" and Spanish-tinged "Jota"
Dances are performed anytime and anywhere. This starts in the morning in schools, where dance is an integrated part of education. It lasts till late in the night especially when there is a fiesta.
Dancing is deep inside Filipinos. "Dancing keeps us away from negative things, when you move, everything is positive, there’s no right or wrong, you release all your emotions and it will end up with a beautiful smile."
The Philippines have many popular folk dances which have evolved and changed as they have been passed down from generation to generation. Although a particular dance might be performed slightly differently from one region to the next, its remains true to its roots.
Dancing plays an important role in Filipino culture, telling their history and preserving traditions through folk dances and music. These dances are entertaining to observe, and even more fun to learn and perform yourself.
In August 1897, Liebman and Peritz, two Swiss entrepreneurs, presented the first imported movies on the Lumiere Cinematograph in Manila at Escolta Street.
Using the Lumiere Cinematograph as a camera, Antonio Ramos locally filmed Panorama de Manila (Manila landscape), Fiesta de Quiapo (Quiapo Fiesta), Puente de España (Bridge of Spain) and Escenas Callejeras (Street scenes), making him the first movie producer in the Philippines.
After the second world war, a resurgence of Visayan films came about through Lapu-Laapu Pictures. The 1950s were labeled as the first golden age of Philippine cinema. Four big production studios (LVN Pictures, Sampaguita Pictures, Premiere Productions and Lebran International) were at their peak in filmmaking.
The 1970s were the second golden age of Philippine cinema with the period of the avant-garde filmmakers.
In 1977, Kidlat Tahimik, made a film entitled Mababangong Bangungot (Perfumed Nightmare), which won the International Critic’s Prize in the Berlin Film Festival that same year.
The year 2009 brought the highest international esteem to a Filipino filmmaker when Brillante Mendoza was judged as the Best Director at the Cannes Film Festival for his film Kinatay (Butchered), a movie about murder and police brutality.
Theatre arts have long been existing as a part of the Filipino tradition and serve effectively as a medium of social awareness and entertainment. It is also a means of liberal and artful way of expressing opinions and talents.
As part of the Philippine tradition, many festivals and occasions are celebrated in the country where theatre arts are in use. For instance, during Holy Week, ‘Cenaculo’ takes place as an on-stage performance that re-enacts the passion of Christ. Another is the Moro-Moro which expresses the conflict between Christians and Muslims in the country.
In other towns, a famous theatre form called “carillo”, which is usually a drama play, is shown after the harvest season. ‘Zarzuela’ is another famous theatre performance, a local version of Spanish operetta. In many other places or occasions, variety of traditional plays that express the Filipino love for arts are shown even up to this very day.
The first paintings were commissionned works during the Spanish colonial era. Since most art produced during the first two centuries of Spanish occupation were for the church, the friars enforced strict supervision over their production. Until the 19th century, art was only for the church and religious use.
There is also some Chinese influence which can be found in the brush handling.
Tagalog painters Jose Loden, Tomas Nazario and Miguel de los Reyes, did the first still life paintings in the country. They were commissioned in 1786 by a Spanish botanist to paint the flora and fauna found in the country.
Secular subject matter in painting only increased during the 19th century. With more tourists, ilustrados and foreigners demanding souvenirs and decorations from the country, tipos del pais developed in painting. These watercolor paintings show the different types of inhabitants in the Philippines in their different native costumes that show their social status and occupation. It also became an album of different native costumes. Damian Domingo y Gabor (ca. 1790-1832) was the most popular artist who worked in this style.
Several Filipino painters had the chance to study and work abroad. Among them were Juan Novicio Luna and Felix Resureccion Hidalgo who became the first international Filipino artists when they won the gold and silver medals in the 1884 Madrid Exposition.
During the American period (1900-45) on-demand portraitists included Fabian de la Rosa, Miguel Zaragoza, Teodoro Buenaventura, Jorge Pineda and above all, Fernando Amorsolo, whose style would dominate the period.
Amorsolo designed the logo for Ginebra San Miguel (Markang Demonyo) depicting St. Michael vanquishing the devil. The logo is still in use in its original form today. The owner of the beverage company, Don Enrique Zobel, who is an ardent patron of the arts, was so impressed by his work that he offered to send Amorsolo to the Academia de San Fernando in Madrid for further studies with a generous stipend for himself and his family.
Despite his exposure to Western influences, Fernando Amorsolo retained his Filipino consciousness. He was drawn more towards the gentle rolling hills and rice fields of the Philippines rather than the cosmopolitan world of Europe's proud cities. Even his illustrations of Spanish women were drawn with slender physiques, narrower hips, and smaller breasts more typical of Filipinas rather than full bodied Caucasian women. One of his most copied paintings is the "Palay Maiden".
Fernando Amorsolo's work still influences many contemporary painters. One of them is Monico Benjamin Botor. Botor was born in Naga City, Camarines Sur and now lives in Bagasbas near Daet. He is a hobby painter who recently started taking it seriously as an avenue of expressing his innate talent to explore in the aesthetic realm one's quest to capture the appeal of nature and human response to its illusive beauty and profound mystery.
Deeply rooted in culture, he pays homage to the Filipino tradition and way of life. He uses his artistic insight and experience to capture the color and essence of a Philippine setting.
If you compare Amorsolo's painting below with the painting in Botor's atelier, then you find a girl in a very similar pose in the water.
Another contemporary artist I know is Valentino Goyenechea Jr. He lives with his family in Dumaguete (Negros). Goyenechea is a visual artist in different domains such as painting and photography. Two of his paintings decorate our house.
This article contains excerpts of Ronnie Pasigui's presentation. Another very interesting website is Go Philippines, a blog dedicated to all Filipinos, locals, OFW, migrants and tourists to gain more knowledge about Philippines.
Early carved human figurine are known from the cordilleras. Still today, the bulols, or "Ifugao rice Gods," are kept in the house or granary, and are usually made in pairs. They are carved of narra wood, which represents wealth, happiness, and well-being. Every step in their production requires a ceremony, from tree selection to arrival at the owner's house. A consecrated bulol has been bathed in pig's blood, had myths recited to it, and received offerings of wine, ritual boxes, and rice cakes.
The carvings brought to the Philippines by early Arab and Russian missionaries were of beveled type as the slanting type called Okkil. Although the word literally means “to carve” it is not confined to carving alone but also refers to design.
A familiar example of sculpture with the integration of architecture is the Art Deco Style of the Metropolitan Theater at Liwasang Bonifacio completed by Juan Arellano in 1931.
Woodcarving comes in ornamental form in the houses of the Maranao like that of the "torogan" which features the "panolong", an extended beam carved with the Sarimanok or the Naga design.
Napoleon V. Abueva is known as the "Father of Modern Philippine Sculpture". He was born in Tagbilaran, Bohol in 1930. In 1951, he won the Pura Villanueva-Kalaw scholarship and finished Bachelor of Arts in Sculpture in University of the Philippines in 1953.
Abueva utilized almost all kinds of materials from hard wood (molave, acacia, langka wood, ipil, kamagong, palm wood and bamboo) to adobe, metal, stainless steel, cement, marble, bronze, iron, alabaster, coral and brass.
Among the major works of Abueva are: Kaganapan (1953), Kiss of Judas (1955), The Transfiguration at the Eternal Garden Memorial Park (1979), Fredesvinda in Fort Canning, Nine Muses at the UP Faculty Center (1994), Sunburst at the Peninsula Manila Hotel (1994) and the bronze figure of Teodoro M. Kalaw in front of National Library.
Inspired by the Japanese One Village One Product Movement of 1979, the Philippines' OTOP program was proposed by then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as early as 2002 and launched in 2004. Current Filipino President Benigno 'Noynoy" Aquino has authorized the continuation of the OTOP program.
You find this logo in our Explore section, where we show you cities and islands.
OTOP products vary, and can include fruits, specialty dishes, or handmade products. Examples of OTOP products include Arabica coffee in the Cordillera region, cacao products in San Isidro in Davao del Norte, and brooms in Santa Fe in Nueva Vizcaya.
Other OTOP products are the Lanzones fruits and the famous Pastel buns in Camiguin. The Bicol Express in Naga-City isn't a train but a spicy food. Another good example is the potter's village of Lezo in Aklan, Panay.
Handicraft you can see anytime and anywhere in the Philippines. On nearly any island you find a black-smith who makes the traditional bolos. Fishermen wear the typical conic hat made of sliced bamboo or palm leaves.
Hand made items are usually not expensive, are decorative and make the perfect gift (pasalubong) for your family and your friends.
Bahala Na translates literally as "leave it up to God (Bathala)" and it is used as an expression, almost universally, in Filipino culture.
Elma L. Chong has collected "100 reasons to be happy to be a Filipino". When you read them, you understand why Filipinos are nearly always smiling
1. Merienda. Where else but in the Philippines is it normal to eat five times a day?
2. Sawsawan. Assorted sauces that guarantee freedom of choice, enough room for experimentation and maximum tolerance for diverse tastes. Favorites: toyo't calamansi, suka at sili, patis.
3. Kuwan, ano. At a loss for words? Try these and marvel at how Pinoys understand exactly what you want.
4. Pinoy humour and irreverence. If you're api and you know it, crack a joke. Nothing personal, really.
5. Tingi. Thank goodness for small entrepreneurs. Where else can we buy cigarettes, soap, condiments and life's essentials in small affordable amounts?
6. Spirituality. Even before the Spaniards came, ethnic tribes had their own anitos, bathalas and assorted deities, pointing to a strong relationship with the Creator, who or whatever it may be.
7. Po, opo, mano po. Speech suffixes that define courtesy, deference, filial respect--a balm to the spirit in these aggressive times.
8. Pasalubong. Our way of sharing the vicarious thrills and delights of a trip, and a wonderful excuse to shop without the customary guilt.
9. Beaches! With 7000 plus islands, we have miles and miles of shoreline piled high with fine white sand, lapped by warm waters, and nibbled by exotic tropical fish. From the stormy seas of Batanes to the emerald isles of Palawan--over here, life is truly a beach.
10. Bagoong. Darkly mysterious, this smelly fish or shrimp paste typifies the underlying theme of most ethnic foods: disgustingly unhygienic, unbearably stinky and simply irresistible.
11. Bayanihan. Yes, the internationally-renowned dance company, but also this habit of pitching in still common in small communities. Just have that cold beer and some pulutan ready for the troops.
12. The Balikbayan box. Another way of sharing life's bounty, no matter if it seems like we're fleeing Pol Pot every time we head home from anywhere in the globe. The most wonderful part is that, more often than not, the contents are carted home to be distributed.
13. Pilipino komiks. Not to mention "Hiwaga," "Aliwan," "Tagalog Classics," "Liwayway" and "Bulaklak" magazines. Pulpy publications that gave us Darna, Facifica Falayfay, Lagalag, Kulafu, Kenkoy, Dyesebel, characters of a time both innocent and worldly.
14. Folk songs. They come unbidden and spring, full blown, like a second language, at the slightest nudge from the too-loud stereo of a passing jeepney or tricycle.
15. Fiesta. Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow is just another day, shrugs the poor man who, once a year, honors a patron saint with this sumptuous, no-holds-barred spread. It's a Pinoy celebration at its pious and riotous best.
16. Aswang, manananggal, kapre. The whole underworld of Filipino lower class mythology recalls our uniquely bizarre childhood, that is, before political correctness kicked in. Still, their rich adventures pepper our storytelling.
17. Jeepneys. Colorful, fast, reckless, a vehicle of postwar Pinoy ingenuity, this Everyman's communal cadillac makes for a cheap, interesting ride. If the driver's a daredevil (as they usually are), hang on to your seat.
18. Dinuguan. Blood stew, a bloodcurdling idea, until you try it with puto. Best when mined with jalapeso peppers. Messy but delicious.
19. Santacruzan. More than just a beauty contest, this one has religious overtones, a tableau of St. Helena's and Constantine's search for the Cross that seamlessly blends piety, pageantry and ritual. Plus, it's the perfect excuse to show off the prettiest ladies--and the most beautiful gowns.
20. Balut. Unhatched duck's embryo, another unspeakable ethnic food to outsiders, but oh, to indulge in guilty pleasures! Sprinkle some salt and suck out that soup, with gusto.
21. Pakidala or padala. A personalized door-to-door remittance and delivery system for overseas Filipino workers who don't trust the banking system, and who expect a family update from the courier, as well.
22. Choc-nut. Crumbly peanut chocolate bars that defined childhood ecstasy before M & M's and Hershey's.
23. Kamayan style. To eat with one's hand and eschew spoon, fork and table manners--ah, heaven.
24. Chicharon. Pork, fish or chicken crackling. There is in the crunch a hint of the extravagant, the decadent and the pedestrian. Perfect with vinegar, sublime with beer.
25. Pinoy hospitality. Just about everyone gets a hearty "Kain tayo!" invitation to break bread with whoever has food to share, no matter how skimpy or austere it is.
26. Adobo, kare-kare, sinigang and other lutong bahay stuff. Home-cooked meals that have the stamp of approval from several generations, who swear by closely-guarded cooking secrets and family recipes.
27. Lola Basyang. The voice one heard spinning tales over the radio, before movies and television curtailed imagination and defined grown-up tastes.
28. Pambahay. Home is where one can let it all hang out, where clothes do not make a man or woman but rather define their level of comfort.
29. Tricycle and trisikad, the poor Pinoy's taxicab that delivers you at your doorstep for as little as P3, with a complimentary dusting of polluted air.
30. Dirty ice cream. Very Pinoy flavors that make up for the risk: munggo, langka, ube, mais, keso, macapuno. Plus there's the colorful cart that recalls jeepney art.
31. Yayas. The trusted Filipino nanny who, ironically, has become a major Philippine export as overseas contract workers. A good one is almost like a surrogate parent--if you don't mind the accent and the predilection for afternoon soap and movie stars.
32. Sarsi. Pinoy root beer, the enduring taste of childhood. Our grandfathers had them with an egg beaten in.
33. Pinoy fruits. Atis, guyabano, chesa, mabolo, lanzones, durian, langka, makopa, dalanghita, siniguelas, suha, chico, papaya, singkamas--the possibilities are endless!
34. Filipino celebrities. Movie stars, broadcasters, beauty queens, public officials, all-around controversial figures: Aurora Pijuan, Cardinal Sin, Carlos P. Romulo, Charito Solis, Cory Aquino, Emilio Aguinaldo, the Eraserheads, Fidel V. Ramos, Francis Magalona, Gloria Diaz, Manuel L. Quezon, Margie Moran, Melanie Marquez, Ninoy Aquino, Nora Aunor, Pitoy Moreno, Ramon Magsysay, Richard Gomez, San Lorenzo Ruiz, Sharon Cuneta, Gemma Cruz, Erap, Tiya Dely, Mel and Jay, Gary V.
35. World class Pinoys who put us on the global map: Lea Salonga, Paeng Nepomuceno, Eugene Torre, Luisito Espinosa, Lydia de Vega-Mercado, Jocelyn Enriquez, Elma Muros, Onyok Velasco, Efren "Bata" Reyes, Lilia Calderon-Clemente, Loida Nicolas-Lewis, Josie Natori.
36. Pinoy tastes. A dietitian's nightmare: too sweet, too salty, too fatty, as in burong talangka, itlog na maalat, crab fat (aligue), bokayo, kutchinta, sapin-sapin, halo-halo, pastilyas, palitaw, pulburon, longganisa, tuyo, ensaymada, ube haleya, sweetened macapuno and garbanzos. Remember, we're the guys who put sugar & franks (horrors) in our spaghetti sauce. Yum!
37. The sights. Banaue Rice Terraces, Boracay, Bohol's Chocolate Hills, Corregidor Island, Fort Santiago, the Hundred Islands, the Las Pinas Bamboo Organ, Rizal Park, Mt. Banahaw, Mayon Volcano, Taal Volcano. A land of contrasts and ever-changing landscapes.
38. Gayuma, agimat and anting-anting. Love potions and amulets. How the socially-disadvantaged Pinoy copes.
39. Barangay Ginebra, Jaworski, PBA, MBA and basketball. How the vertically-challenged Pinoy compensates, via a national sports obsession that reduces fans to tears and fistfights.
40. People Power at EDSA. When everyone became a hero and changed Philippine history overnight.
41. San Miguel Beer and pulutan. "Isa pa nga!" and the Philippines' most popular, world-renowned beer goes well with peanuts, corniks, tapa, chicharon, usa, barbecue, sisig, and all manner of spicy, crunchy and cholesterol-rich chasers.
42. Resiliency. We've survived 400 years of Spanish rule, the US bases, Marcos, the 1990 earthquake, lahar, lambada, Robin Padilla, and Tamagochi. We'll survive Cory, Fidel, Erap, Gloria, and whoever comes next.
43. Yoyo. Truly Filipino in origin, this hunting tool, weapon, toy and merchandising vehicle remains the best way to "walk the dog" and "rock the baby," using just a piece of string.
44. Pinoy games: Pabitin, palosebo, basagan ng palayok. A few basic rules make individual cunning and persistence a premium, and guarantee a good time for all.
45. Ninoy Aquino. For saying that "the Filipino is worth dying for,'' and proving it.
46. Balagtasan. The verbal joust that brings out rhyme, reason and passion on a public stage.
47. Tabo. All-powerful, ever-useful, hygienically-triumphant device to scoop water out of a bucket and help the true Pinoy answer nature's call. Helps maintain our famously stringent toilet habits.
48. Pandesal. Despite its shrinking size, still a good buy. Goes well with any filling, best when hot.
49. Jollibee. Truly Pinoy in taste and sensibility, and a corporate icon that we can be quite proud of. Do you know that it's invaded the Middle East as well?
50. The butanding, the dolphins and other creatures in our blessed waters. They're Pinoys, too, and they're here to stay. Now if some folks would just stop turning them into daing.
51. Pakikisama. It's what makes people stay longer at parties, have another drink, join pals in sickness and health. You can get dead drunk and still make it home.
52. Sing-a-long. Filipinos love to sing, and thank God a lot of us do it well!
53. Kayumanggi. Neither pale nor dark, our skin tone is beautifully healthy, the color of a rich earth or a mahogany tree growing towards the sun.
54. Hand-woven cloth and native weaves. Colorful, environment-friendly alternatives to polyester that feature skillful workmanship and a rich indigenous culture behind every thread. From the pinukpok of the north to the malong of the south, it's the fiber of who we are.
55. Movies. Still the cheapest form of entertainment, especially if you watch the same movie several times.
56. Bahala na. We cope with uncertainty by embracing it, and are thus enabled to play life by ear.
57. Papaitan. An offal stew flavored with bile, admittedly an acquired taste, but pointing to our national ability to acquire a taste for almost anything.
58. English. Whether carabao or Arr-neoww-accented, it doubles our chances in the global marketplace.
59. The Press. Irresponsible, sensational, often inaccurate, but still the liveliest in Asia. Otherwise, we'd all be glued to TV.
60. Divisoria. Smelly, crowded, a pickpocket's paradise, but you can get anything here, often at rock-bottom prices. The sensory overload is a bonus.
61. Barong Tagalog. Enables men to look formal and dignified without having to strangle themselves with a necktie. Worn well, it makes any ordinary Juan look marvelously makisig (good-looking).
62. Filipinas. They make the best friends, lovers, wives. Too bad they can't say the same for Filipinos.
63. Filipinos. So maybe they're bolero and macho with an occasional streak of generic infidelity; they do know how to make a woman feel like one.
64. Catholicism. What fun would sin be without guilt? Jesus Christ is firmly planted on Philippine soil.
65. Dolphy. Our favorite, ultra-durable comedian gives the beleaguered Pinoy everyman an odd dignity, even in drag.
66. Style. Something we often prefer over substance. But every Filipino claims it as a birthright.
67. Bad taste. Clear plastic covers on the vinyl-upholstered sofa, posters of poker-playing dogs masquerading as art, over-accessorized jeepneys and altars--the list is endless, and wealth only seems to magnify it.
68. Mangoes. Crisp and tart, or lusciously ripe, they evoke memories of family outings and endless sunshine in a heart-shaped package. Mangoes.
69. Unbridled optimism. Why we rank so low on the suicide scale.
70. Street food. Barbecue, lugaw, banana-cue, fishballs, IUD (chicken entrails), adidas (chicken feet), warm taho. Forget hepatitis; here's cheap, tasty food with gritty ambience.
71. The siesta. Snoozing in the middle of the day is smart, not lazy.
72. Honorifics and courteous titles: Kuya, ate, diko, ditse, ineng, totoy, Ingkong, Aling, Mang, etc. No exact English translation, but these words connote respect, deference and the value placed on kinship.
73. Heroes and people who stood up for truth and freedom. Lapu-lapu started it all, and other heroes and revolutionaries followed: Diego Silang, Macario Sakay, Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, Apolinario Mabini, Melchora Aquino, Gregorio del Pilar, Gabriela Silang, Miguel Malvar, Francisco Balagtas, Juan Luna, Marcelo H. del Pilar, Panday Pira, Emilio Jacinto, Raha Suliman, Antonio Luna, Gomburza, Emilio Aguinaldo, the heroes of Bataan and Corregidor, Pepe Diokno, Satur Ocampo, Dean Armando Malay, Evelio Javier, Ninoy Aquino, Lola Rosa and other comfort women who spoke up, honest cabbie Emilio Advincula, Rona Mahilum, the women lawyers who didn't let Jalosjos get away with rape.
74. Flora and fauna. The sea cow (dugong), the tarsier, calamian deer, bearcat, Philippine eagle, sampaguita, ilang-ilang, camia, pandan, the creatures that make our archipelago unique.
75. Pilipino songs, OPM and composers. "Ama Namin," "Lupang Hinirang," "Gaano Ko Ikaw Kamahal," "Ngayon at Kailanman," "Anak," "Handog,""Hindi Kita Malilimutan," "Ang Pasko ay Sumapit"; Ryan Cayabyab, George Canseco, Restie Umali, Levi Celerio, Manuel Francisco, Freddie Aguilar, and Florante--living examples of our musical gift.
76. Metro Aides. They started out as Imelda Marcos' groupies, but have gallantly proven their worth. Against all odds, they continuously prove that cleanliness is next to godliness--especially now that those darned candidates' posters have to be scraped off the face of Manila!
77. Sari-sari store. There's one in every corner, offering everything from bananas and floor wax to Band-Aid and bakya.
78. Philippine National Red Cross. PAWS. Caritas. Fund drives. They help us help each other.
79. Favorite TV shows through the years: "Tawag ng Tanghalan," "John and Marsha," "Champoy," "Ryan, Ryan Musikahan," "Kuwarta o Kahon," "Public Forum/Lives," "Student Canteen," "Eat Bulaga." In the age of inane variety shows, they have redeemed Philippine television.
80. Quirks of language that can drive crazy any tourist listening in: "Bababa ba?" "Bababa!"
81. "Sayang!" "Naman!" "Kadiri!" "Ano ba!?" "pala." Expressions that defy translation but wring out feelings genuinely Pinoy.
82. Cockfighting. Filipino men love it more than their wives (sometimes).
83. Dr. Jose Rizal. A category in himself. Hero, medicine man, genius, athlete, sculptor, fictionist, poet, essayist, husband, lover, samaritan, martyr. Truly someone to emulate and be proud of, anytime, anywhere.
84. Nora Aunor. Short, dark and homely-looking, she redefined our rigid concept of how leading ladies should look.
85. Noranian or Vilmanian. Defines the friendly rivalry between Ate Guy Aunor and Ate Vi Santos and for many years, the only way to be for many Filipino fans.
86. Filipino Christmas. The worlds longest holiday period. A perfect excuse to mix our love for feasting, gift-giving and music and wrap it up with a touch of religion.
87. Relatives and kababayan abroad. The best refuge against loneliness, discrimination and confusion in a foreign place. Distant relatives and fellow Pinoys readily roll out the welcome mat even on the basis of a phone introduction or referral.
88. Festivals. Sinulog, Ati-atihan, Moriones. Sounds, colors, pagan frenzy and Christian overtones.
89. Folk dances. Tinikling, pandanggo sa ilaw, karinosa, kuratsa, itik-itik, alitaptap, rigodon. All the right moves and a distinct rhythm.
90. Native wear and costumes. Baro't saya, tapis, terno, saya, salakot, bakya. Lovely form and ingenious function in the way we dress.
91. Sunday family gatherings. Or, close family ties that never get severed. You don't have to win the lotto or be a president to have 10,000 relatives. Everyone's family tree extends all over the archipelago, and it's at its best in times of crisis; notice how food, hostesses, money, and moral support materializes during a wake?
92. Calesa and karitela. The colorful and leisurely way to negotiate narrow streets when loaded down with a year's provisions.
93. Quality of life. Where else can an ordinary employee afford a stay-in helper, a yaya, unlimited movies, eat-all-you-can buffets, the latest fashion (Baclaran nga lang), even Viagra in the black market?
94. All Saints' Day. In honouring our dead, we also prove that we know how to live.
95. Handicrafts. Shell craft, rattan craft, abaca novelties, woodcarvings, banig placemats and bags, bamboo wind chimes, etc. Portable memories of home. Hindi lang pang-turista, pang-balikbayan pa!
96. Pinoy greens. Sitaw. Okra. Ampalaya. Gabi. Munggo. Dahon ng Sili. Kangkong. Luya. Talong. Sigarillas. Bataw. Patani. Lutong bahay will never be the same without them.
97. OCWs. The lengths (and miles) we'd go for a better life for our family, as proven by these modern-day heroes of the economy.
98. The Filipino artist. From Luna's magnificent "Spolarium" and Amorsolo's sun-kissed rice fields, to Ang Kiukok's jarring abstractions and Borlongan's haunting ghosts, and everybody else in between. Hang a Filipino painting on your wall, and you're hanging one of Asia's best.
99. Tagalog soap operas. From "Gulong ng Palad" and "Flor de Luna" to today's incarnations like "Mula sa Puso"--they're the story of our lives, and we feel strongly for them, MariMar notwithstanding.
100. Midnight madness, weekends sales, bangketas and baratillos. It's retail therapy at its best, with Filipinos braving traffic, crowds, and human deluge to find a bargain.