Filipino Traditions: A Mix of Footprints

Posted: April 28, 2017 in Current Issues

The Philippines is one of the many unique countries in the world. Aside from its more or less 3,107 astounding islands, the country is also home to a collection of divergent cultural practices. History tells us that Filipinos were no stranger to foreign influences. They have suffered and endured a myriad of treachery, hardships, and deception during several previous attempts aimed at dislodging their sovereignty. Although several colonizers did not succeed in their campaigns, those who did left indelible footprints for the later generation of Filipinos to follow.

To start with, early Chinese merchants regularly crossed a vast expanse of the sea dividing China and the Philippines at the height of trading between the two countries. Later, this mere trading of goods resulted into an exodus, which brought a considerable number of Chinese settlers to the Philippines. Along with this movement came new cultural practices that would later prove significant to the lives of the early Filipinos.

Next, the Philippines had also been under the Spanish rule for more than three centuries, not to mention the short but significant Japanese invasion of the Philippines at the height of World War II. These events, great and small, have somehow helped shape a nation.

A cultural imprint

It is undeniable that each time the Philippines is under foreign control, Filipinos were not only forced to follow ‘unfamiliar paths’, but new traditions and cultural practices as well. It is apparent, however, that Filipinos, instead of repelling those paths as anybody would have thought of doing (i.e. Aztecs vs the Spanish colonizers), have indeed embraced a substantial amount of their colonizers’ way of life. Many traditions have been deeply assimilated in the Filipino lifestyle as a result.

An unseen truth

If there is one thing Filipinos are popular of in other parts of the world, it is their hospitality. It seems that Filipinos are born with it. Contrary to popular beliefs, though, the tradition that the Filipinos are known for is purely not Filipino at all. Hospitality is a thing of the Chinese. Strong family ties are not uncommon to traditional Chinese. As time passes by, this tradition did not go unnoticed by the Filipinos. The practice that bonds family members together was later extended by the Filipinos to the people outside the family as well.

There are still other practices attributed to the Filipinos that are simply not Filipino. The Christmas celebration, debt of gratitude, and the (slowly dying) practice called “bayanihan” are but a few examples. These traditions that have found their way into the heart of the Filipinos were not practiced in the country until somebody brought them in.

The lingering shadow of the past

After a long history of being under the influence of different cultures, the Philippines has become a melting pot of many traditions. These traditions helped shape the country and the Filipino people in general. Some traditions have evolved while some remain unchanged. Nevertheless, majority of the Filipinos have practiced these traditions faithfully that it already became part of their lives. Lastly, these traditions have anchored the Filipinos to the ground they are standing at right now.

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