Culture of the Philippines

Antipolo Fiesta, 1947 by: Fernando Amorsolo

Fiesta is part of Filipino culture which is celebrated every year


The Philippine culture is rich in customs and traditions. Philippines culture reflects the complexity of the history of the Philippines through the combination of cultures of foreign influences.


Pre-Hispanic and non-Christian Philippine cultures are derived from many native traditions of the Austronesian people called Malayo-Polynesian or the Malay people. The prehistoric Philippine Methodology and Philippine indigenous culture was later influenced by the Malay cultures of Southeast Asia, accompanied by a mixture of Western-Christianity, Eastern-Islamic, Hinduism and Buddhism tradition.

Spanish colonization in the Philippines lasted from 1565 to 1898. The islands were governed from Mexico and later directly from Spain. As a result, there is a significant amount of Spanish and Mexican influence in Philippine customs and traditions. Hispanic influences are visible in traditional Philippine folk music and dance cuisine, festivities, religion, and language, though usually integrated with other influences. The most visible example of this are the Spanish names of Filipinos, which were given through a tax law (see: Alphabetical Catalog of Surnames), the thousands of Spanish loanwords in native languages such as Tagalog and Cebuano, and the majority Catholic religion.

Later, the Philippines were a territory of the United States from 1898 until 1946. American influences are evident in the use of the English language, and in contemporary pop culture, such as fast-food, music, film, and basketball.

Muslim Filipinos also celebrate their own customs and traditions. These groups follow a Philippine Islamic culture, and other Muslim recreation such as the Kali, Kulintang and Gamelan, are used by Islamic groups in the southern islands of Mindanao and Sulu archipelago.

Photo Courtesy: Fernando C. Amorsolo Art Foundation(Fernando Amorsolo.com)
The photo above is an example of Philippine Fiesta where Filipino people gathered to celebrate bountiful harvest. It is an oil painting made by Fernando Amorsolo (Filipino National Artist's)
The oil painting on canvas depicts a rural scene where a group of people are shown celebrating a fiesta in Antipolo. The main focus is on a pair of dancers in the field surrounded by revelers both young and old. Abundant food is presented in basketfuls of assorted fruits on the benches and on the ground, as well as the traditional roasted pig or lechon being prepared by two men. Nearby is a house with huge windows from where dwellers watch the revelers. At the background is a huge church, a symbolic town structure. A vast number of townsmen completes the essence of a fiesta.

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