The People

“Everyone is kneaded out of the same dough but not baked in the same oven.”
-Yiddish Proverb

I will go into the specific characteristics of the Filipina, the male (both expats and tourists) as well as the local population later, but as a general overview of the Filipino race consider the following:

The Filipino is basically of Malay stock with a sprinkling of Chinese, American, Spanish and Arab blood. The Philippines has a population of 60 million, and it is sometimes hard to distinguish accurately the lines between stocks. From a long history of Western colonial rule interspersed with the visit of merchants and traders evolved a people of a unique blend of east and west, both in appearance and culture.

I truly believe it is because of these multiple races and cultures mixing and mashing together for a millennia that there is a gentler tolerance to ethnic diversity here than elsewhere in Asia. Ethnocentricity is a danger to the common good and that is against the Filipino character. (See more of this Pride factor in Profile: The Filipina.)

I always had the distinct feeling in my time in Korea that no matter how hard I tried to learn their language and no matter how immersed I was in their culture and way of life, I was always an outsider and would never measure up. Once I heard from a good friend of mine in Korea after knowing him off and on for 6 years say to a friend of his when introducing us, “For a foreigner he’s all right. Can’t help he wasn’t born a Korean.”

He was serious. After sharing so much with this man, the first thing he said about me to describe me to his friends was that I was foreign and not a Korean. You won’t get this attitude in the Philippines. While there is still a distinct difference on the way tourists and locals are treated than a native Filipino, I believe it is for other reasons and misconceptions and not because of any feeling of superiority or Social Darwinist tendencies.

The Filipino character is actually a little bit of all the cultures put together. The bayanihan or spirit of kinship and camaraderie that Filipinos are famous for is said to be taken from Malay forefathers. The close family relations are said to have been inherited from the Chinese. The piousness comes, from the Spaniards who introduced Christianity in the 16th century. Hospitality is a common denominator in the Filipino character and this is what distinguishes the Filipino. Filipinos are probably one of the few, if not the only, English-proficient Oriental people today. Tagalog is the official national language, with English considered as the country’s unofficial one. (See the section Communicating Effectively for more on Tagalog)

The Filipinos are divided geographically and culturally into regions, and each regional group is recognizable by distinct traits and dialects – the sturdy and frugal Ilocanos of the north, the industrious Tagalogs of the central plains, the carefree Visayans from the central islands and the colorful tribesmen and religious Moslems of Mindanao. Tribal communities can be found scattered across the archipelago.

Some 80 percent of the population is Catholic, Spain’s lasting legacy. About 15 percent is Moslem and these people can be found basically in Mindanao. The rest of the population is made up mostly of smaller Christian denominations and Buddhists.

All in all there are more than 160 languages used in the Philippines, owing to the subdivisions of these basic regional and cultural groups. Of these 160 languages 87 are tribal languages with 111 dialects. The most common dialects are Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Waray-Waray, Sama, Tboli, Tausug, Tagalog, Romblomanon, Pangasinan, Magindanaon and Ilocano. Other languages include Japanese, Chinese and Spanish.

But with all that most Filipinos are bilingual to our advantage. English is the standard language used in business, government, schools and everyday communication. The national language in the Philippines is Filipino, based on the Tagalog dialect. Tagalog is the language spoken in Luzon and thus Angeles City.

One of the best books I have read about some of the cultural differences you will experience while traveling through the Philippines is the book Culture Shock!: Philippines by by Alfredo Roces, Grace Roces. This book can be bought in most book stores that have a travel section or simply click the lick below and order it from Amazon.com and get it delivered right to your door.

I read this a while after my first couple of trips to the Philippines and wished that I had read it before my first one. They really do a great job of describing the differences yet similar traits you will find in this strange but wonderful culture.

Editorial Review on the book Culture Shock!: Philippines by Alfredo Roces, Grace Roces (Taken from Amazon.com review) Book Description
You’ll never feel intimidated and awkward about the customs and etiquette of another country again. With the insights provided in this CULTURE SHOCK! Guide, you’ll learn to see beyond the stereotypes and misinformation that often precede a visit to a foreign land. Whether you plan to stay for a week or for a year, you’ll benefit from such topics as understanding the rules of driving and monetary systems, religious practices and making friends. There are tips on political traditions, building business relationships, and the particular intricacies of setting up a home or office. Great for the business traveler, the foreign exchange student, or the tourist who makes a sincere attempt to cross the bridge into a new and exciting culture.

Now that we know where and who, let’s get to the meat of your trip: How to get there, where to stay, where to eat, and entertainment

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