The Philippines is not only the largest Christian country in Asia, but also it is the world's third largest Catholic Nation. The Catholic faith remains the single biggest legacy of three hundred years of Spanish colonial rule. Catholicism is still taken quite seriously in the Philippines. Masses still draw crowds from the biggest cathedrals in the metropolis to the smallest parish chapels in the countryside. 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 also still exerts quite a bit of influence even on non-religious affairs such as affairs of state. Mores are changing slowly, however; Filipinos are now slowly accepting what were previously taboo issues in as far as Catholic doctrine is concerned, such as artificial birth control, premarital sex, and the dissolution of marriage vows. 

The biggest religious minority are Muslim Filipinos who primarily live in Mindanao and ARMM, but also increasingly in cities such as Manila, Baguio or Cebu in the north and central parts of the country. They account for around 5% of the population. Islam is the oldest continually practiced organized religion in the Philippines, with the first conversions made in the 12th century AD. Islam became such an important force that Manila at the time of the Spanish arrival in the 16th century was a Muslim city. Many aspects of this Islamic past are seen in certain cultural traits many mainstream Christian Filipinos still exhibit such as eating and hygiene etiquette and has added to the melting pot of Filipino culture in general. Sadly, Terrorist attacks and violent confrontations between the Filipino army and splinter militant Islamic organizations such as the Abu Sayyaf and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front have strained relations between Muslim and the non-Muslim Filipinos in rural areas in the south. Yet, the Muslim Filipinos are much more liberal in their interpretations of Islam, and like the Muslims of Indonesia, are generally more relaxed regarding such topics as gender-segregation or the hijab veil than South Asians or Middle Eastern Muslims.

Indian Filipinos, Chinese Filipinos, and Japanese Filipinos are mostly Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Shinto, and Taoist which all accounts 3% of the population of the Philippines. These populations have been in the country for centuries preceding Spanish rule, and many aspects of Buddhist and Hindu belief and culture are seen in the mainstream culture of Christian or Muslim Filipinos as well. As with many things in the Philippines, religion statistics are never clear-cut and defined, and many Christians and Muslims also practice and believe in indigenous spiritual aspects such as honoring natural deities and ancestor-worship, as well as the existence of magic and healers that may in some cases contradict the orthodox rules of their religions.

Cinema and music

The Filipino film industry is suffering because of its main rival; the Western film industry, since the 21st century every year only 40 films are produced down from 200-300 films a year in the 1990s. Western culture has also permeated the music industry in the Philippines. Many songs are in English. American Rock-n-Roll and, recently, rap and hip-hop are heard and performed. Traditional Filipino songs such as Kundiman nostalgic/poetic songs are still held dearly by the population but is, unfortuantely, slowly losing influence among the younger generations. Award winning films done by Filipino directors. The Filipino Film industry was booming the earlier days with over 200 movies per year produced and made but prior to the arrival of Western films, the Film industry collapsed in the 1990s but by the 21st century, successful attempts in reviving the independent Film industry were done. Filipino movies face fierce competition with western movies to this date.


Ricky Lee - Himala1982 —

Mike De Leon - Sister Stella L.1984 — Movie about a nun's fight against the oppression and political injustice of the government.

Metro Manila Film Festival
Held annually during the Christmas season showcases local works of Filipino directors.
Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Festival
Cinemanila International Film Festival

Fancy horror movies? Just like its neighbouring countries the Filipinos enjoy watching horror and thriller movies.

Chito Roño - Feng Shui2004 — is a big hit in Asia, the movie is about a married woman named Joy who discovers a Ba Gua; a mirror used in Chinese Geomancy, Feng Shui. She then discovers she becomes lucky but also that every lucky in return is death to people who had seen their faces in the mirror.

Yam Laranas - Sigaw2004 — is another big hit too, its popularity led it to an American Remake; The Echo2009. A movie about a guy who moves to an apartment who then hears noises and discovers things which other can't see nor hear.

By Various Directors - Shake, Rattle & Roll Film Series — have over more than 10 volumes from the late 1980s to this day, its format is somewhat like a TV-series if seen in a modern American TV set. It is premiered in the Metro Manila Film Festival where it competes with other local movies.


Freddie Aguilar - Anak; had been translated to many languages and topped the billboard charts because of its popularity not only to Filipinos but to the whole world, the song is about a boy who was loved by his parents so much but as he grows old he disrespects them but as the song ends the boy comes back to his parents' arms after realizing all his mistakes, most of the listeners relate to the song and some have emotional breakdowns probably by relating to the song. It has an English version, this song shows the Filipino parents that even though you have mistakes they are always there to forgive and help you.

Hotdog - Manila is a popular song from the 1980s, it is about a man missing the bustling streets of Manila as well as its food, people and noise.

Check out other pop and rock groups such as Eraserheads, Spongecola, Parokya Ni Edgar, Gary Valenciano, Side A and Apo Hiking Society. Journey frontman Arnel Pineda is a native of Manila and a former street kid.


Filipino literature is a mix of Indian sagas, folktales, and traces of Western influence. Classical books are written in Spanish as well as in Tagalog, to this day most of Filipino literature is written in English. The Philippines thus is a Multi-cultural country with its roots stretching from Asia to Europe and to the Americas.History, Documentary

Red Revolution
by Gregg R. Jones ISBN 0813306442 - Documentary about the guerrilla movement; New People's Army NPA, in the Philippines.
In Our Image: America's Empire in the Philippines
by Stanley Karnow ISBN 0345328167 - Shares the story of European and American colonization in the archipelago as well as the restoration of democracy after the overthrew of Marcos.


Noli Me Tangere
by Jose Rizal
El Filibusterismo
by Jose Rizal
Dekada '70
by Lualhati Bautista ISBN 9711790238 - A story about a middle class Filipino family that struggled to fight with other Filipinos during the martial law during the time of Marcos.
The Day the Dancers Came
by Bienvenido Santos
Amazing Archipelago
by John-Eric Taburada

The climate is tropical, with March to May summer being the hottest months. The rainy season starts in June and extends through October with strong typhoons possible. The coolest months are from November to February, with mid-January to end of February considered the best for cooler and dryer weather. Locations exposed directly to the Pacific Ocean have frequent rainfall all year. This includes the popular Pagsanjan Falls southeast of Manila though the falls will get you wet regardless. The average temperatures range from 78°F / 25°C to 90°F / 32°C, and humidity is around 77 percent. Baguio, which is branded as the summer capital of the Philippines, tends to be cooler due to its being located in mountainous regions with temperatures at night going below 20°C 68°F. During summer, the country experience droughts, sometimes at extreme conditions, from Marchsometimes early as February to Maysometime extending to June water supply drops with most of the power plants being hydro electric meaning during summer, you'll be experiencing regular black-outs locally known as brown-outs, so it isn't much suggested to travel during the months of March to May.


As of 2008, the Philippines has a population estimated at 96 million. From its long history of Western influence, 300 years by the Spaniards and 30 years by the Americans, its people have evolved as a unique blend of East and West in both appearance and culture. Filipinos are largely Austronesian more specifically Malayo-Polynesianin terms of ethnic origin. However, many people, particularly in the cities of Luzon and the Visayas, have Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Spanish and American mixtures, whereas those living in the provinces are mostly of pure Austronesian origin known as "native". Many Muslims in the Sulu archipelago near Borneo have Arab, Indian and Chinese mixtures. The four largest foreign minorities in the country are as follows: Chinese, Koreans, and Indian, and the Japanese. Also of significance are the Americans, Indonesians, and Arabs. Pure Spaniards and other Europeans form a very small proportion in the country's population.

Needless to say, the Filipino trait is a confluence of many cultures put together. Filipinos are famous for the bayanihan or spirit of kinship and camaraderie taken from Austronesian forefathers. They observe very close family ties which is said to have been passed on by the Chinese. Religion comes from the Spaniards who were responsible for spreading the Christian faith across the archipelago. The Spaniards introduced Christianity Roman Catholicism and succeeded in converting the overwhelming majority of Filipinos. At least 83% of the total population belongs to the Roman Catholic faith. The Philippines is one of only two countries in Asia with a majority Roman Catholic population the other being East Timor

The genuine and pure expression of hospitality is an inherent trait in Filipinos, especially those who reside in the countryside who may appear very shy at first, but have a generous spirit, as seen in their smiles. Hospitality, a trait displayed by every Filipino, makes these people legendary in Southeast Asia. Guests will often be treated like royalty in Philippine households. This is most evident during fiestas when even virtual strangers are welcomed and allowed to partake in the feast that most, if not all, households have during the occasion. At times, this hospitality is taken to a fault. Some households spend their entire savings on their fiesta offerings and sometimes even run into debt just to have lavish food on their table. They spend the next year paying for these debts and preparing for the next fiesta. At any rate, seldom can you find such hospitable people who enjoy the company of their visitors. Perhaps due to their long association with Spain, Filipinos are emotional and passionate about life in a way that seems more Latin than Asian.

Filipinos lead the bunch of English-proficient Asian people today and English is considered as a second language. When it was an American territory, English was largely taught to the Filipino people. While the official language is Filipino which is basically the Tagalog dialect and whereas 76-78 languages and 170 dialects exist in this archipelago, English is the second most widely spoken language in the country. Many business establishments and schools also speak in English and many signs around the country are in English. American culture such as movies, television, music, electronic accessories and such are extremely popular in the country.

The geographical and cultural grouping of Filipinos is defined by region, where each group has a set of distinct traits and dialects - the sturdy and frugal Ilocanos of the north, the industrious Tagalogs of the central plains, the loving and sweet Visayans from the central islands, and the colorful tribesmen and religious Muslims of Mindanao. Tribal communities or minorities are likewise scattered across the archipelago.

Also, it may seem peculiar for tourists to notice a somewhat latin flair in Filipino culture. About 3 million people in the country speak some Spanish. Mainstream Philippine culture, compared to the rest of Asia, is quite Hispanic and westernized at the surface level. But still, Filipinos are essentially Austronesian and many indigenous and pre-Hispanic attitudes and ways of thinking are still noticeable underneath an American veneer. Indigenous groups, who have retained a fully Malayo-Polynesian culture unaffected by Spanish-influence, are also visible in cities like Manila, Baguio, Davao or Cebu, and can remind a visitor of the amazing diversity and multiculturalism present in the country.


Christmas: The Filipino Way


Filipinos are very Catholic; Christmas is celebrated from September till Epiphany, go and have Noche Buena with a Filipino family; Filipinos don't mind strangers eating with them in their dining table as this is customary during Fiestas, try out Hamonham and Keso De Bola. Caroling is widely practiced by the youth around the Philippines, they'll appreciate if you give them at least 5-10 pesos. Don't miss the Misa Del Gallo; Early Mass or Simbang Gabi in Tagalog meaning Night Mass, this tradition was passed down from the Spanish, masses usually are held either on Midnight or before dawn, after this Filipinos eat Kakanin or rice cakes and Bibingka that are sold outside churches and also drink Tsokolate; hot chocolate or eat Champurado; hot chocalte porridge. Parols; Star of Bethlehem lanterns are hanged in front of houses, commercial establishments and streets, a Giant Lantern Festival is held in Pampanga. Belens or Nativities are displayed in city halls and/or commercial establishments. This is an experience, one shouldn't miss if he/she is travelling in the Philippines.

The Philippines is a multicultural country having Christian, Muslim and Chinese holidays aside from secular holidays. The year is welcomed by New Year's Day on January 1, being a predominantly Catholic country means observing the traditional Catholic holidays of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday during Lent or months around April or May, Araw ng pagkabuhay or Easter Sunday is celebrated 3 days after Good Friday. Araw ng Kagitingan or Day of Valor, Boy scouts reenact the march every 2 years in honor of this day that is also known as Bataan Day, they march as long as 10 kilometers, the Bataan Death March was part of the Bataan Battle which was also part of the Battle of the Philippines, the Bataan Death March was a 60 Kilometer march and the people who participated in this march were captured, tortured and murdered. All Saints Day on November 1 and All Souls Day on November 2. In recognition of the Muslim Filipinos, the Islamic feast of Eid-Al-Fitr known in the Philippines as Hari Raya Puasa, held after Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting, is also a national holiday. This day changes year by year, as it follows the Lunar Calendar. Chinese New Year is also celebrated by the Chinese Community but dates vary according to the lunar calendar. Secular holidays include Labor Day May 1 and Independence Day June 12. August 30 is declared National Heroes Day. Some holidays also commemorate national heroes such as Jose Rizal Dec. 30 and Andres Bonifacio Nov. 30 as well as Ninoy Aquino August 21. Metro Manila is less congested during Holy Week as people tend to go to their hometowns to spend the holidays there. Holy week is also considered part of the super peak season for most beach resorts such as Boracay and the most popular ones tend to get overcrowded at this time. Due to its cool mountain weather, Baguio is also where a lot of people spend the Holy Week break. Christmas is widely celebrated on December 25.


New Year's Day - January 1

Maundy Thursday - Varies

Good Friday - Varies

Easter Sunday - Varies

Araw Ng Kagitingan Day of Valor - April 9

Labor Day - May 1

Independence Day - June 12

Ninoy Aquino Day - August 21

National Heroes Day - Last Monday of August

All Saints Day - November 1

All Souls Day - November 2

Eid Ul Fitr Hari Raya Puasa - Varies according to lunar calendar

Eid Ul Adha - Varies according to lunar calendar

Bonifacio Day - November 30

Christmas Day - December 25

Rizal Day - December 30

Last Day of the Year - December 31