Sunday, May 3, 2009

Philippines Tourist Guide


The Philippines has a unique blend of eastern and western cultures. While most of South East Asia necessarily is a blend of Chinese, Malay and Indonesian traits, Philippine culture has been marked by long periods of Spanish and subsequently American occupation.


One of the greatest impacts of the Spanish Period was the introduction of Christianity on the islands. Spanish clergy converted a large amount of Filipinos to the Roman Catholic faith. As a result, today the population is almost 92% Christian - of which an overwhelming majority of 83% are Roman Catholic, and 9% Protestant. About 5% of the population is Muslim and 3% are of Buddhist and other faiths.


The Philippines is a linguistically diverse nation - there are almost one hundred and seventy two native languages and local dialects. The national language is Filipino, which is based on Tagalog. Tagalog was the national language during the American period. Filipino, with its basis in Tagalog, but containing elements of other local languages, was adopted as the national language in 1973. Both English and Filipino are promoted as official languages for the purposes of education, government and commerce. Apart from Tagalog, other dominant languages are Cebuano, Klokano, Hiligaynon, Bikol, Waray-Waray, Kapampangan, Pangasinan, Kinaray-a, Maranao, Maguindanao and Tausug.


Philippine cuisine is as diverse as its people. There is Chinese Filipino food, such as pansit (noodles), lumpia (vegetables rolled in edible wrappers), siopao (steamed filled buns), siomai (dumplings). The Spanish introduced new flavors such as olive oil, paprika, saffron, ham, sausage and cheese into traditional food. Today Philippine food is an exotic blend of variations of Chinese, Spanish and Mexican dishes made with tropical local ingredients.


Philippine music has influences as diverse as Christian religious church music, Indonesian Gamelan music and of course, the US period of occupation was significant in introducing American blues, folk and rock and roll. There was the origin of a new form of music called kundiman in the 1920s when traditional songs were sung in western ballads styles. In later times, Pinoy rock was a new form of fusion, with Freddie Aguilar being one of its most popular and successful proponents. Pinoy rock was used to motivate and unite protestors in popular uprisings in the 1980s - in fact Aguilar's 'Bayan Ko' became an anthem of the 1986 revolution.