The Philippines is known for its rich and extensive culture. It is a country which was influenced by several other countries: discovered by Aetas; "nurtured" by the Indones and Malays; subject to a three-hundred-year rule by the Spaniards; decades of influence by the Americans; and a couple of years under Japanese rule. It is evident that Filipinos were brought up under the fusion of Oriental and Western cultures. This makes the Philippines and the Filipino people unique and intriguing to people from other countries. And when they do come to see what it is like to be "Juan dela Cruz," they somewhat undergo culture shock. Still, others are able to easily to adapt to Filipino customs and traditions, and even realize that they like the Filipino way of living.
How do you survive the Philippine culture? Read on.
- Research on Philippine geography and socio-cultural aspects of a province. This country is an archipelago, with more than 7,000 islands. Each is composed of several regions and provinces. These provinces, in turn, have their own cultures. Ilocanos have different customs and languages. Cebuanos do, too. If you are not familiar with each province's traditions, you will get confused and might end up frustrated. Worse, you might offend the sensibilities of the common folk. There are still a number of people who are ultra conservative and find tube tops and short shorts kind of scandalizing. Some rural areas, on the other hand, are beginning to accept and adapt to the urban ways. To avoid earning the ire of very strict indigenous people, research on their culture and respect them. Not all traditions are alike even if they belong to only one country.
- Get yourself ready with exotic food and other Filipino dishes. If you have never tasted "balot" (duck egg), "dinuguan" (pork blood stew), fried frog, or "isaw" (grilled pork or chicken liver), then you better brace yourself. These are traditional foods that are popular in Philippine culture. They may not look that presentable, but they can taste really good. They are even fun to prepare. If you will be adventurous enough to try these then rest assured that you will get along well with most Filipinos.
- Other exotic delights are camaro (field crickets cooked in soy sauce), "asocena" (dog meat), and pinikpikan (chicken meat which was tenderized by beating it). For those with sensitive tummies and taste buds, Filipinos also have palatable dishes that will surely make you ask for more. Main dishes include sinigang (pork or fish in tamarind or guava soup and veggies), kare-kare (oxtail and veggies in peanut sauce), adobo (pork or chicken in cooked in vinegar and soy sauce), and tinapa (smoked fish).
- Get your linguistic skills working. Some rural folk are not yet used to speaking and hearing foreign languages, except for English. There are phrases which can help you communicate with Filipinos. The tradition of Filipinos is saying "po" and "opo" as a form of respect to the elderly. When talking to them for the first time, greet them the Filipino way. Say Magandang umaga (Good morning), magandang tanghali (noon), magandang hapon (afternoon), or magandang gabi (evening)." Meanwhile, express your gratitude by saying samalat which means "thank you." When it is time for you to leave, do not forget to say paalam, which means "goodbye."
These three things are not really hard to do since Filipinos are considerate, especially to foreigners. They will help you out and explain their traditions in case you find them a little daunting. So be adventurous. Visit the Philippines, and find out how Filipinos live and make visitors feel at home. You wouldn't feel strange at all.