January 1, 2009 : Jennifer Gelar
The Philippines is made up of more than 7,100 islands and is said to be a country of smiles. Filipinos always seem to be smiling even when there is no apparent reason. The Filipino culture is blend of Spanish, American, Chinese and Indo-Malay cultures, which reflects the Philippines’ rich and complex history.
Hospitality is in the core of the collectivistic Filipino culture, and those who set foot in a Filipino home are very likely to be offered food during their visit. When it comes to food, nearly every region in the Philippines offers its own dishes, most of them are at least interesting, and some of them are absolutely wonderful. Although Filipino food has been heavily influenced by Chinese, Spanish and American colonization, there are many indigenous foods that are enjoyed throughout the archipelago. Sinigang is one of these. It is basically a soup that can be made with pork, beef, shrimp or fish and vegetables in a broth soured with tamarind. Halo-halo (literally “mix mix”) is also popular throughout the Philippines. It is a concoction of layers of ingredients such as diced gelatin, coconut gel and candied jackfruit topped with shaved ice and milk.
In Filipino tradition, the mother’s maiden name is typically used as a child's middle name. Filipinos maintain close family ties and parents often teach their children to call their family friends aunts and uncles. When someone in the community is in dire need, Filipinos usually come together ito helping. I saw a great example of this two summers ago while on board a crowded jeepney - a popular form of public transportation in The Philippines. A woman was having a hard time boarding the jeepney because she had all of her belongings in one hand and was trying to hold her baby in the other arm. A woman already inside the jeepney, who was obviously a stranger, reached out and took the baby in her arms to hold during the entire ride while the mother tended to her things. This kind of action can be contrasted with the individualistic attitude that is prevalent in many societies. At many Filipino parties, Filipinos usually sing karaoke. Basketball, boxing, soccer and billiards are some of the most popular sports among Filipinos.