Philippine Culture

Filipinos highly value the presence of their families more than anything. Regardless of the liberal influence they have gotten from the west, the family remained the basic unit of their society. This trait clearly shows among Filipinos abroad who suffer homesickness and tough work just to support their families back home in the Philippines.

In a traditional Filipino family, the father is considered the head and the provider of the family while the mother takes responsibility of the domestic needs and in charge of the emotional growth and values formation of the children. They both perform different tasks and being remarked separately by the children. Children see their mothers soft and calm, while they regard their fathers as strong and the most dominant figure in the family.

Because of this remarkable family closeness, parents often have difficulties letting go of their children and thus results to having them stay for as long as they want. This would explain why grandparents are commonly seen living with their children in the Philippines. Unlike the way people grow old in the west where they are provided with outside homes and care giving, Filipino elderly enjoy their Golden Years inside their family home with their children and grandchildren looking after them.

Another trait Filipinos made themselves exceptional from others is their strong respect for elders. Children are taught from birth how to say “po” and “opo” to teach them as early as possible how to properly respect their elders. These words are used to show respect to people of older level. Even adults will be criticized for not using these words when speaking with their parents or people older than them. Inside the family, the parents are expected to receive the highest respect from the children along with the elder siblings; as they are given more responsibilities to look after younger siblings when parents are not around.

Children fighting back or addressing parents or elder siblings with arrogant tone are not at all tolerated. They are also not allowed to leave the house without their parents’ permission. Upon arriving home, conservative families expect children to practice the kissing of hands or placing their parents or elder family members’ hand to their foreheads with the words “mano po” as a sort of greeting or blessing.

Even after finishing school, Filipino children are not obliged to get out of their homes unless they want to. In fact, most of them keep their close relationships with their parents by staying at home until they get married. Leaving them happens only when they really have to, but usually, at least one child, depending on his willingness and financial capabilities, stay even after getting married, to support and look after their aging parents.

Superstition and Religion

Although an overwhelming majority of Filipinos are Catholic there is also sects of most every other religion from around the world here also, mostly forms of Christianity. Even though in the southern region there has been efforts to form their own state by the Muslim population the Muslims are a minority when compared to the Christian population in the south. The Catholic influence is so strong here that there are laws on the books that forbid divorce. There is no such thing as divorce in the Philippines. Of course there is the loophole of annulment but it is hard to obtain and is very expensive for the average Filipino. Only the rich, famous and politicians have easy access to annulment because they can afford it.

When it comes to the superstitious nature of the Filipino it seems that when this takes over their mind set all religious beliefs get discarded. Every Sunday and Wednesday you will see the churches packed with worshipers and often times you will see Filipinos make the sing of the cross as they thank the Lord for something. However superstitoin runs very deep for most Filipinos. Especially people from the provinces which is where most of the superstitious stories originated hundreds or even thousands of years ago. Most city dwellers came from the province at some point and bring these beliefs with them when they move to the cities.

There are many examples I know about personally. The story of the Aswang is most dominant among Filipinos. There is a popular local movie about one of these possessed people that originated in my wifes native province of Iloilo. It tells the story of a local girl possessed and starts a rampage of killing and eating people. Of course I dismissed it as a tall tale but as we watched this movie I could see and feel the tension and fear over coming my wife as she totally believes in its validity. We have been to her province a few times and she always warns me to stay away from one of her uncles and his wife because they have admitted to the family that they are both one of these Aswangs. I could see the seriousness in my wifes eyes as she was telling me that these two relatives could eat my liver and kill me by just thinking about it. She was genuinely scared for my life.

To list just a few more I have been exposed to. the building of a house and the happiness of the household depends on you leaving personal items at the base of the foundation before it is filled with concrete. My father in law even sacrificed a chicken and spread its blood over the 4 corners of our foundation before it was poured. After all these rituals to insure a happy home they will still have a Catholic house blessing before you move in. Just to cover all the bases in my opinion. I have also heard that pregnant women should not attend funerals because their unborn child could die.

I could easily write a book on all the different superstitious beliefs here but I think you get the picture now. One thing that has somewhat confused me is I have never heard the typical western superstition of the black cat crossing your path here.