OVERVIEW: Philippine Culture, Heritage and More

The four of us decided to appoint each person to post here on a certain day. You might probably be wondering how we came up with a chronology; I would like to keep that as a secret 😉 So for now, let’s do a recap of what has been discussed last week:

  • Monday – I started off with a narrative showing off the suitable tourist spots during summer.
  • Wednesday – Malvika wrote a poem with a vivid description of India’s treasures.
  • Friday – Poetry of America’s finest attributes by Blair.
  • Sunday – A view of Ellie’s peaceful and country livin’ (PS. Belated happy birthday!)

And for this week, we would like to give nature a break and show the beauty in our culture, heritage, language and/or dialect and norms.

Shall we start the tour?


Photo courtesy: wikipedia.org

In the early years, 16th century, Ferdinand Magellan came along with the Spaniards and discovered the hidden treasure of a collective 7,107 islands and named us Las Islas Filipinas (Philippines). Through their colonization that lasted for 333 years, violence and maltreatment were widely exercised by Spanish Generals and Priests to the Indios (a Spanish term for slave they call to native Pilipinos). Thus the secret local groups established by the now National Heroes Jose Rizal and Andres Bonifacio (to name a few) against the Spanish leadership. However, violence was not the only memory they left us with. Spaniards had brought Catholicism among other things, hence the strong faith of most number of Pilipinos to God and his son Jesus up to these days. Below are two of the few oldest Catholic churches in the country.

Manila Cathedral. Photo courtesy: pinoyplaces.com

Image of San Agustin Church in Manila before its renovation. Photo courtesy: rappler.com

But I’m not saying that our ancestors did not have a religion way before the Spaniards came. In fact, different tribes and their locals used to praise rebulto – a carved wooden piece that resembles their God. They pray to it in order to have plenty harvest and livestock.

Ancient “anito” or idol. Photo courtesy: kontra-balik-islam.blogspot.com/


In the ruling years of Spaniards in the Philippines, inheriting their language is expected. Since then and up until now, few Spanish words are put into our daily communication. To name a few:

  • lamesa (‘la mesa’ in Spanish that means table.)
  • pero (means but)
  • telepono (‘teléfono’ means telephone)
  • silya (‘silla’ means stool)
  • payneta (‘peineta’ means comb)
  • kanta (‘cantar’ means to sing)
  • pluma (‘pluma’ means pen)
  • porke (‘porque’ ‘por qué’ means because and why)

And the list goes on…

While many of our spoken words came from Spanish, the former president Manuel L. Quezon proclaimed Tagalog (Filipino) as the national language on 1937 in order to avoid confusion with communication since our countrymen are using different dialects. In fact, our dialects are counting over 170 depending on which part of the country people are living in. I, on the other hand, am a native Filipino speaker since I was born and raised in the National Capital Region.

Former President Manuel L. Quezon proclaiming the national language on December 1937. Photo courtesy: rappler.com


Mano po, and  po at opo are the most common norms that are practiced widely on a daily basis despite the fact that we have so many differences, like dialects that can never be all understood. I could say that it is one of the few things that we remain rooted to.

Photo couretsy: emeraldpinoyradio.com

Mano po has two distinct terms: mano means hand, a word we inherited from Spaniards, while po is a native term we use to acknowledge respect to elders. In short, mano po is simply asking for the hand of elders as if asking for their blessing. We do it mostly in the morning before we go to school or work and afternoon when we came home. It’s also become a traditional greeting when arriving and leaving a gathering.

Photo courtesy: definitelyfilipino.com

Photo courtesy: definitelyfilipino.com

Po and opo are similar though. Like what’s stated above, it is a term to acknowledge respect especially to elders. When asked how you are, you would answer: mabuti po (I’m good). Or when I greet my parents in the morning, I would normally say: magandang umaga po! (good morning!). Po is usually placed at the end of a sentence while opo is simply answering ‘yes’ to elders. When asked if I ate my lunch, I would answer: Opo (Yes). When asked would I like a drink, I would answer: hindi po (No).

Back then, when I was watching western movies, I’m usually shocked how children would normally call their older brothers/sisters and strangers by their name, ‘cause Pilipinos had a way of calling elders with a certain term. Like for example, we call our older brothers Kuya and Ate for older sisters. However, it is also applicable to call strangers by those terms too. We do it not only exclusive for elders, but also to show respect for the general folks.

Photo courtesy: flickrhivemind.net

Siesta is something that we adapted from Spaniards too. It’s when after the morning of hard work and lunch, we give a little love to ourselves by taking a nap for about 15 minutes and get back to work after. 🙂




With variation of cultures, norms and languages, how could someone expect us not to have diverse Pilipino dishes? From appetizers to desserts, name it, we have it!

For a native meal starter, we usually prepare Atsara.

Photo courtesy: kusinamaster-recipes.com

Its ingredients are vinegar, bell pepper, carrot and unripe papaya cut into thin strips and a pinch of sugar and voila! You have a no-cook and ready-to-eat Atsara­. It can also serve as a condiment perfect for dried fish. Atsara is also a counterpart of Kimchi in Korea.

Adobo is something that’s very popular not only to locals but also to Hollywood celebrities when they visit here.

Photo courtesy: pepper.ph

Among who has basically fell in love with it are Zac Efron, Gwyneth Paltrow Cameron Diaz and even Pope Francis! Adobo is an ulam or a gourmet we partner with rice as a main dish. A food that originated from the north where folks would put vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, pork or chicken meat, sugar, laurel leaves and pepper in a jar to marinate and plant them a foot under earth and wait till it’s ready for cooking. But of course we do it in a modern way today. We marinate the same ingredients usually overnight and cook them the next day.

And now we go to my most favorite part of the meal – the desserts! One of the crowd darlings is called Halo-halo (means to put together in English).

Photo courtesy: kalesaclub.wordpress.com

It is a variety of local sweetened ingredients like beans, banana, mongo, sweet potato, kaong, gelatin and sago pearl in a bowl or huge cup together with crushed ice, poured with evaporated milk and topped with ice cream, ube halaya (boiled, sweetened and smashed purple yam) and leche flan (a local milk and egg pudding). It was normally served during summer but now, restaurants offer it all-year round.

I still have so many things I haven’t told you and I wish I could tell you more but with a limited time and resources, I could only give you a gist of the most interesting stuff about my country. But I sure hope you enjoyed reading through them! However, if there are still unanswered questions in your mind, you can always leave a comment below – I would definitely love to hear your thoughts!

Till next time!



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s