The Philippines

The Philippines is the third largest English-speaking country in the world. It has a rich history combining Asian, European, and American influences. Prior to Spanish colonization in 1521, the Filipinos had a rich culture and were trading with the Chinese and the Japanese. Spain’s colonization brought about the construction of Intramuros in 1571, a “Walled City” comprised of European buildings and churches, replicated in different parts of the archipelago. In 1898, after 333 years and 300 rebellions, the Filipinos, with leaders like Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio and Emilio Aguinaldo, succeeded in winning their independence.

In 1898, the Philippines became the first and only colony of the United States. Following the Philippine-American War, the United States brought widespread education to the islands. Filipinos fought alongside Americans during World War II, particularly at the famous Battle of Bataan and Corregidor, which delayed Japanese advance and saved Australia. The Filipinos then waged a guerilla war against the Japanese from 1941 to 1945. The Philippines regained its independence in 1946.

Filipinos are freedom-loving people, having waged two peaceful, bloodless revolutions against what were perceived as corrupt regimes. The Philippines is a vibrant democracy, as evidenced by 12 English national newspapers, 7 national television stations, hundreds of cable TV stations, and 2,000 radio stations.

Filipinos are fun-loving. Throughout the islands, there are fiestas being celebrated every day and foreign guests are always welcome at the homes of Filipinos

People

Filipinos are very hospitable by nature. Guests are often  treated like royalties in Filipino households. This is most evident during fiestas when even random strangers are welcomed and allowed to partake of the feast of most — if not all — households within the town, served during the occasion. At times, this hospitality is taken to a fault, and some households spend their savings on their fiesta offerings and sometimes even get into debt just to produce lavish food on their tables. They spend the following year paying for these debts and preparing for the next fiestas.

Tourists may find it peculiar to notice a Latin flair in the Filipino culture. Compared to the rest of Asia, the Filipino culture is prominently tinged with Hispanic influence.

The Philippines is by far the largest Christian country in Asia. The Catholic faith remains the single biggest legacy of 333 years of Spanish colonial rule. Catholicism is still taken quite seriously in the Philippines. The biggest cathedrals in the metropolis to the smallest parish chapels in the countryside still draw crowds. During Holy Week, most broadcast TV stations close down or operate only on limited hours and those that do operate, broadcast religious programs. The Catholic Church still exerts quite a bit of influence even on non-religious affairs such as affairs of state. However, mores and norms are changing slowly. Filipinos are now slowly beginning to accept and embrace what were previously considered as taboo issues as far as the Catholic doctrine is concerned; such as artificial birth control and the dissolution of marriage vows.

Then you have other minorities, such as Indian Filipinos, Chinese Filipinos, and Japanese Filipinos who are mostly Hindu, Sikh, Buddhists, and Taoists. They account for 3% of the population of the Philippines.The biggest religious minority are Muslim Filipinos who live primarily in Mindanao and Sulu and account for around 5% of the population. Terrorist attacks and violent confrontation between the Filipino armies and militant Islamic organizations such as the Abu Sayyaf and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front have strained the relationship between the Muslim and the non-Muslim population. This has labeled the Filipino Muslims as “dangerous people.” The rift between Muslims and non-Muslim Filipinos and the government is still quite wide at present. Cebu, however, is very far from the Mindanao area where Muslims reside. Cebu is still a very safe place to spend your vacation.