Posted: August 7th, 2013
The Philippines is a Southern Asia sovereign state in the western part of the Pacific Ocean. Its tropical climate and location in the Pacific Fire Ring makes it prone to typhoons and earthquakes. On a positive note however, the country has been endowed with a variety of natural resources as well as being among the richest global areas in biodiversity. The Philippines includes an archipelago of more than seven thousand islands categorized into three main regions. These include Mindanao, Visayas, and Manila. The country has a population exceeding ninety million making the seventh most inhabited country in Asia. Multiple cultures and ethnicities reside throughout the islands (Baldwin, 32). The economic activities, ethnicity and the way of living make this nation among the most diverse countries in the world.
According to a census conducted in 2007, twenty-nine percent of Filipinos compose Tagalog, nine percent Cebuano, seven percent Llocano, six percent Hilagaynon, five percent Bikol, and twenty six percent classified as others. The ethnic groups in the Philippines also include non-tribal groups such as the Igorot, Mangyan, Lumad, and the Palawan. Negritos, such as the Ati and Aeta, are regarded as the earliest group to inhabit the island. Filipinos belong to various Asian ethnic groups grouped linguistically as a section of the Malayo-Polynesian or Austronesian-speaking people. Common belief maintains that Austronesian-speaking Taiwanese groups moved from Taiwan to the Philippines one thousand years ago. In their migration, they brought with them knowledge of ocean sailing, agriculture, and eventually displacing the Negrito groups that occupied the islands (Victor, 24).
Later, the Taiwanese groups were supplanted by the Japanese and Chinese arrivals in the northern islands, and the Arabs and Malays in the southern islands. Other groups such as Indians, Americans, and Spaniards arrived later in the course of the colonial period. Group intermarriages are evident in major urban areas and cities. The two non-indigenous minorities considered most notable include the Spaniards and Chinese. Chinese Filipinos are maintained to have descended from Fujian immigrants. Chinese in the Philippines number approximately two million (Victor, 48). However, an estimated two million Filipinos have a partial trace of Chinese ancestry that stems from Chinese migrants in the pre-colonial period. On the other hand, Spanish Filipinos constitute an unknown number of the Philippine population, but genetic studies suggest that four percent of the population bears West European ancestry with the Spanish exhibiting a high probability. Other significant minorities consist of Americans and Koreans who number 300,000 and 96,000 respectively (Victor, 54).
Indeed, Filipinos have fascinating traditions and customs. One tradition is referred to Mano Po and involves children or young people taking the right hand of an elder and putting it into light contact with their forehead when greeting or saying goodbye (Victor, 11). This is considered a way of giving respect as well as a way of receiving blessings from the elder. Mano is a Spanish phrase for ‘hand’ and ‘Po’ is a phrase Filipinos often used when addressing superiors or elders. The other custom associated with Filipinos is the aspect of relation between them. In this case, Filipinos regard themselves connected to each other, and this premise is based on two considerations. One is the basic relationship between family members. The other consideration comes from the sign of respect that comes from regarding other people as family even though there is no direct relationship.
Another tradition among the Filipinos manifests itself through children prolonging their stay at their parents’ house. Unlike other cultures where adult children depart from home after achieving independence, Filipino children have a culture of continued living with their parents up until marriage or even after marriage. Another tradition comes through Balikbayan boxes. Primarily, these boxes are a common practice for Filipinos who live and work in foreign countries. A Balikbayan refers to a Filipino who is about to return to the Philippines from working or living in a foreign country. A Balikbayan box is a container for storing items sent by the Balikbayan to his or her family back in the Philippines. The Balikbayan can send the box to his or her family and can return home with it in person.
According to Victor (65), the cuisine in the Philippines includes a wide variety of foods, eating customs, and preparation methods. In this case, Filipinos often consider their meals incomplete without Adobo. Adobo is a ubiquitous dish in all Philippine Households and traces its origin to Mexico. Filipinos found cooking meat in salt, garlic, vinegar, soy sauce, or pepper a convenient way of preserving meat when refrigeration is not available. Lechon dish is another food and is normally served normally in parties with esteemed guests. Filipinos are known for their no wasting policy, and the Sisig dish is testament of this. Primarily, this food is prepared by turning the pork’s liver, head, and cheeks into one dish. Among the characteristics the Filipinos have is the respect and care they have for their elders. They also have ambiguity-in this case, a ‘yes’ from a Filipino is not final since they use it to answer to a request with a view of not hurting the feelings of others.
Statistically, Filipinos are the only Asian nation that practices Christianity. More than eighty percent of the population constitutes Catholics, ten percent on various Christian cults and the remaining population in over a hundred protestant denominations. In addition to Christianity, a minor four percent practice the Muslim faith. The smallest group in terms of religion follows non-western religious practices and beliefs. Although statistically insignificant, the Chinese minority has ultimately influenced the Catholic Filipino coloring with many practices and beliefs on Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism.
The education system is patterned from both the Spanish and United States education systems. The former education system in the Philippines involved elementary education lasting six years and four years in high school. Education in this system was not compulsory. However, July 25 2012 oversaw the Philippine education system introduce the K-12 education system (Simpich, 41). This system includes a similar curriculum for all schools with education now compulsory. All private and public schools have to start the learning period from the set date given by the country’s education department. The learning period is concluded after the mandated two hundred day period ends as stipulated by the education department.
The Philippines exercise a democratic republic with the president assuming the head of government as well as the state with a multi party system. The country’s government is divided into three braches including the executive, the legislature, and the judiciary (Gonzalez, 12). The government exercises executive authority under the president’s leadership. Legislative power rests with government through the two chambers Philippine Congress- the house of representative forms the lower chamber and the Senate forms the higher chamber. Judicial responsibilities are vested in the Philippine Supreme Courts, and this is the highest judicial body in the nation. The government and its three branches are monitored by the Ombudsman office. The Ombudsman bears the mandate of investigating and prosecuting any government officials suspected of having committed a crime (Gonzalez, 29).
Jimenez (52) states that the Philippines economy is ranked 43 globally in accordance with the World Bank statistics formulated in 2011. According to these statistics, the gross domestic product of the country was 412.4 billion dollars for the year ending 2011. The Goldman Sachs estimated that the Philippine economy will rank 14th largest globally by year 2050. The success of the country’s economy is mainly supported by the export of electric products and semiconductors, garments, transport equipment, petroleum, and coconut oil. Since the Philippines is a newly industrialized country, its economy has been under constant transition from an agricultural economy to a more manufacturing and services one. Currently, the Philippine economy has been attributing is successful growth to credit rating agencies and credit upgrades. Additionally, the decreasing unemployment serves testament to the growth of the economy. This manifests itself through an upsurge in the rate of white blue-collar jobs and office occupancy.
The Philippines is a country rich and diverse in terms of culture, customs and ethnicity. The country has a population exceeding ninety million that composes a wide variety of distinct ethnic groups that live together in harmony. Filipinos practice fascinating cultures and customs that make them distinct from the global ethnic groups. The major institution of the country exhibits an efficient education system that looks to foster a learned population. The Philippines economy is successful, and its growth is expected to propel it from 43rd to 14th in global economic positions by 2050. This rapid growth is attributed to exports of manufactured and processes products of the harnessed resources within the country.
Baldwin, Robert E. The Philippines. New York: National Bureau of Economic Research: distributed by Columbia University Press, 2005. Print.
Gonzalez, Joaquin L. The Philippine Political System. Milwaukee, WI: Gareth Stevens Pub, 2009. Print.
Jimenez, Ramon T, and Ildefonso R. Jimenez. “Philippines Economy.” International Encyclopaedia for Labour Law and Industrial Relations. 2007. Print.
Simpich, Frederick, and J B. Roberts. “Facts About the Philippines.” National Geographic Magazine. 81.2 (2012): 185-202. Print.
Victor, Jean-Christophe. “Philippines Cultures.” Géo. Paris. 2007. Print.
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