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Filipino Food, Culture, and Hospitality

Philippines, is a country in the Pacific Ocean off the southeast coast of Asia. The country includes several small island groups but consists mainly of the Philippine Islands, one of the largest chains in the Malay Archipelago. Nearest neighbors are Taiwan and China to the North, and Malaysia and Indonesia, to the South (See “Philippines”). Surrounding waters include the Pacific Ocean and Philippine Sea on the east, the Sulu and Celebes Seas on the South, and the South China Sea on the West. Separating the islands are numerous straits, bays, gulfs, and seas.

Among them are the Sibuyan, Visayan, and Mindanao seas (See “Philippines”). This paper identifies the different Filipino Food, Culture and Hospitality. II. Background A. Physical Geography The Philippines’ area is roughly about 116,000 square miles. There are about 7,100 islands, many of them unnamed and uninhabited small islands and islets. Luzon, in the north, and Mindanao, in the south, are by far the largest. Together, they form about two- thirds of the Philippines’ area. Other major islands include Mindoro, Palawan, and those forming the heart of the Visayan islands—Masbate, Samar, Panay, Negros, Cebu, Bohol and Leyte.

The distance from the northern end of Luzon to the southern tip of Mindanao is about 1,600 miles. The islands consist mainly of mountains thrust up from the floor of the Pacific. They were formed by folding, faulting and much volcanic activity. Most rivers in the Philippines are relatively short and swift. Among the major rivers on Luzon are the Pasig, which flows through Manila, and the Cagayan, Agno, and Pampanga rivers. Chief rivers on Mindanao are the Agusan and Mindanao- Pulangi rivers. Except for Laguna de Bay, Taal, and Sultan Alonto, there are no large lakes.

The Philippines is roughly between the Tropic of Cancer and the Equator and have a tropical to subtropical climate. Except in the mountains, where the weather is cool, average temperature ranges from about 75 – 85 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year, the warmest areas being in the south. Rainfall totals 40 to 140 inches a year, with the different regions of the country varying in the seasonal incidence of rainfall. Southern Mindanao and adjacent parts of the country are rainy throughout the year. Farther north, exposed western sides of islands receive heavy rains from June to October from the southwest monsoon.

The rest of the year is relatively dry. The eastern islands receive their heaviest rains from November through March. B. History After the ninth century, when the Chinese began trading with the Filipinos, the Philippine islands have extensive contacts with other parts of southeastern Asia. In the 15th century Moslems from the west began trading with peoples on the southern islands and converted many to Islam. The first European to visit the islands was Ferdinand Magellan, who explored them in 1521 on his voyage around the world.

Although the areas were in the part of the world assigned to Portugal in 1493 by Pope Alexander VI’s Line of Demarcation, Magellan hoped to bring it under Spanish rule. He was killed trying to help a local chieftain in a war (Lye, 1985). Spain, anxious to participate in the East Indian spice trade, claimed the islands and named them after its crown prince (Later Philip II). Several attempts to found a colony were thwarted by Portuguese attacks on Spanish ships and settlements, but in 1565 a Spanish expedition under Miguel Lopez de Legazpi arrived from Mexico and established a post on Cebu.

After defeating the local Moslem ruler in 1571, Legazpi founded Manila, establishing a trading post there. Manila remained the center of Spanish activity in the islands for more than three centuries. Under the Spanish, trade was established with Europe and with Latin America. During the Seven Years’ War, Manila was occupied by the British. After the war Spanish officials were able to resume their rule, but their administration was greatly weakened. Members of the religious orders, known as friars, had become the ruling class in the islands and tended to dominate the government.

Grown wealthy and autocratic, they tried to keep authority out of the hands of the Filipinos (Lye, 1985). In the latter half of the 19th century a strong nationalist feeling developed in the Philippines. The opening of the Suez Canal and growth of steam transportation increased the country’s foreign contacts. Domination of the government by the friars aroused bitter resentment among the Filipinos, and demands for reform became demands for independence. Many Filipino nationalists, of whom Jose Rizal was the most prominent, were exiled by the Spanish authorities.

In 1896 armed rebellion started under the leadership of General Emilio Aguinaldo. Although not involved in the rebellion, Rizal was a symbol of Filipino resistance and was put to death by the Spanish, thus becoming a martyred hero. The Filipino revolutionaries, denied immediate independence, turned against the United States, and three years of warfare followed. Aguinaldo was captured in 1901; the insurrection ended the next year (Steinberg, 1982). Civil government was set up in 1901 with William Howard Taft as governor. In 1902 the Philippines were made officially a territory of the United States.

In 1934 the U. S Congress passed an act providing for immediate commonwealth status and independence in 1496. The commonwealth was established by Manuel Quezon the first President. Then in December 1941 Japan invaded the islands. Guerilla warfare continued throughout the Japan’s occupation. Liberation forces under General MacArthur landed on Leyte in late 1944 (Steinberg, 1982). The Republic of the Philippines was inaugurated on July 4, 1946. In the early 1970’s, the Philippines experienced increased lawlessness and some peasant insurgency.

To bring about order, President Ferdinand Marcos imposed martial law in 1972. In 1981, Marcos lifted the martial law and won reelection as president. His administration was troubled by economic recession and revived Communist insurgency followed by the assassination of Benigno Aquino in 1983 which in turn called for People Power. People Power made Corazon Aquino, the wife of Benigno Aquino won the snap elections held and Marcos was finally defeated. In 1987 a new constitution was adopted and legislative elections were held (May et al, 1985). C. Culture Many Filipinos are religious.

Most Filipinos are Catholics and only a few are Muslims. Those people living in the barrios believed in animism and quack doctors or what they refer to as “albularyo”. These albularyo’s used herbs and ferns in treating certain kinds of diseases. Long ago, some believed in Bathala as their god although there are still some places in the Philippines where in they still have faith in Bathala whom they believed as the supreme god (Lockhart, 1981). In many barrios, “aswang” or vampire in English are believed to exist and eats the babies inside the womb of a pregnant mother or newly born infants.

Filipinos also believed in dwarfs whom they call “dwende”, “diwata” or fairies and spirits. It is believed that in Samar, a province in Visayas, witchcrafts are very rampant where in they use black magic. They call it the “mangkukulam” or the witches and sorcerers. Most Filipinos are superstitious which they passed on from generation to generation (Lockhart, 1981). Philippine literature were mostly influenced the by the countries that conquered it. With regards to their music, folk music is popular especially in fiestas in different barrios.

Bayanihan is also popular where in neighbors unite to carry and transfer their neighbor’s houses. Tinikling is the national dance and Singkil is the dance of the Muslims. Long before the modern architecture existed, houses were nipa huts; it was then made of nipa (Lockhart, 1981). D. Foods Lechon is the Philippine’s delicacy. It is roasted pig in other countries, but the only difference is the organic spices and herbs being put in the pig. A normal Filipino family usually eats three meals a day and that includes breakfast, lunch and supper. In eating spoons and forks maybe used while others like to eat by hand.

Adobo, pancit and lumpia are among the foods served. Filipinos loved to eat and they also love to cook. That is why they have other tasteful delicacies like mani or peanuts that are roasted, chorizo, asado and torta which is omellete in the western world. Filipinos also have native delicacies which includes suman, bibingka and puto or rice cakes. Some also eats chicharon especially when they are drinking. Chicharon are fried skin of pork. Most drank beverages in the Philippines are Coke, Pepsi, San Miguel Beer and, tuba which is a native beer.

It has always been the behavior of the Filipinos to prepare special dinner or grand dinner when a member in a family celebrates his or her birthday. During that time foods and liquors usually are served in the table (American University, 1984). Some Filipinos eats cockroaches, rats and bugs believing that it can be helpful in the health of the person. Some also eats the dogs that are stray in the streets that is why the government has imposed a law that dog owners should make sure their dog is inside the gates of their houses to prevent it from happening.

Some eat many kinds of spices because it is a natural way to preventing harmful diseases and sicknesses like flu and fever. Tomatoes are also sometimes used as food especially to those that are health conscious. They believe that tomatoes beautify the skin as well as helping in maintaining the health of the heart. Malunggay or horse radish is also used in making a stew because of the helpful benefits with regards to health (American University, 1984). E. Major Holidays and Major foods served

Each year there are hundreds of fiestas happening especially in the month of May. Lechon is always present during this occasion. Suman, bibingka and puto are also the foods served in this time. During the Holy Week in the Month of March or April; bibingka, suman, puto and ginataang halo halo are usually served. During Christmas and New Year, Lechon is always present, hamon or ham, spaghetti, roasted chicken or Lechon manok, cheese, cake, pies, fruits like apples, oranges are usually prepared in every table (American University, 1984).

Some Filipinos in the barrios give their saint food and offer it their altars at home during fiestas, some also leave food in the epitaph of their loved ones who died already believing that they will come and eat it. F. Hospitality among the Filipinos Filipinos are popular in other western countries like United States because of their hospitality and generosity. Whenever they have visitors in their houses they see to it that they served the best food and best accommodation they can. Some of them also let their visitors sleep in their houses (May et. al, 1985).

They are also like that to other Filipinos. The do not mind the cost as long as their happy to see you satisfied and being welcomed. You do not feel homesick because of their hospitality. The foods they served are clean and world class that every Filipino would feel very proud of. Many Filipinos living now in the United States are also serving Filipino delicacies and let their American friends eat, that is why some Americans already fell in love with Filipino food like Lechon and adobo.

They presentation and style of serving the food is just so Filipino- like. It may look simple but the taste is incomparable (Lockhart, 1981). III. Conclusion Philippines, is such a lovely place. A country filled with love for one’s country. A place where freedom truly exists. A country that surpassed the test of time. What happened to Philippines hundreds of years ago contributed to the greatness of the culture that they have now especially the Hospitality that they are known for. References “Philippines”.

New Standard Encyclopedia. Volume 1. Pages 279- 283. American University. (1984). The Philippines: a Country Study, 3rd Edition. Government Printing Office. Lockhart, Saul. (1981). The Complete Guide to the Philippines. Tuttle Publishing House. Lye, Keith. (1985). Take a Trip to the Philippines. Watts Publishing Company. May, R. J. , and Francisco Nemenzo, editors. (1985). The Philippines after Marcos. St. Martin’s Press Printing Press. Steinberg, D. J. (1982). The Philippines: a Singular and a Plural Place. West view Press.

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