The Philippines have a rich culture steeped with 1,000’s of years of history and traditions. The infographic below will help you learn about this vibrant nation, their beliefs and even discover some of their mythological creatures. If you continue to scroll down the page, you’ll be able to add your own favorite Filipino customs and facts in the comments section.
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Guide to the Culture and Traditions of the Philippines
Filipino history dates back 1,000’s of years. With traditional Asian influences and Spanish flair, this culture is often overlooked, but with the information below, you’ll be in the “Filipi-know”.
- Are made of 7,000 islands, 1,000 of which are inhabited.
- They began as a collection of island kingdoms and traded with China, India, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, & Indonesia.
- There are 70 languages including Tagalog, now the national language, Cebuano, Llocano, Hiligaynon, and Bicolano.
- English became the language of government and education in 1898.
Holidays and Celebrations
When the Spanish arrived in the 1500’s, Catholicism became the main religion bringing western celebrations such as Christmas, Easter and Lent. Although Catholic holidays are celebrated similarly to their western counterparts, Filipinos have some unique religious and national customs of their own.
- Birthdays – The person being celebrated provides all of the food and desserts. Gifts are not traditionally presented by guests.
- New Year’s – Filipinos wear polka dots to welcome a prosperous and wealthy new year.
- Independence Day (June 12) – Celebrating the independence of the Philippines in 1898.
- National Heroes Day – The last Monday of August is used to celebrate national heroes of the Philippines.
- Christmas (Pascua de Navidad) – Lasting 4 months, carols start playing in September and continue through December.
Despite the Catholic majority, many believe in ancestral animist traditions like spirits – both free-roaming and attached to objects – that influence human destiny for good or ill. Many were used to explain natural phenomenon, and others are just for fun. Here are a few of the most popular.
- Duwende – Similar to gremlins, these creatures like to play jokes on humans.
- Mangkukulam – This creature is similar to a witch, but only causes pain and illness in humans.
- Sigbin – Similar to the Mexican Chupacabra, this goat/kangaroo creature stalks and kills livestock.
- Bal Bal – This Filipino vampire only feasts on dead corpses. The bad news, he hypnotizes you at funerals to fall asleep while he feeds.
- Asuwang – The female Filipino vampires that travel in groups and can shapeshift while stealing your soul. Also known as ghouls, you don’t want to come across them.
- Baconaua – Known as the god of the underworld, this serpent swallowed the 7 moons and cast darkness over the Earth.
Lucky & Unlucky Symbols
Where so many saints and spirits collide, the locals know the subtle ways to attract their favor and what makes them angry. Below are a few beliefs about what brings good and bad luck.
- Lucky Number “7” – odd numbers are lucky, but 7 is the luckiest.
- Big Ears – having large ears could mean you’ll have a long life.
- Jade – giving someone a jade stone is giving them good luck.
- Combing your hair at night may kill your parents.
- Talking about dreams before breakfast might make the nightmares come true.
- Telling jokes about saints is sure to get someone’s attention and bring misfortune.
If you have your own fun facts and information about the Philippines, feel free to leave a comment below. You’re welcome to share this infographic on your website or social media as well. Just copy and paste the embed code below the infographic to make it easy.
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