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We are a secular state but Christianity is the dominant faith.

As of 2011, about 80% of the population


are Catholics (with Islam as the 2nd largest) and we are also the 3rd largest Catholic country in the
world in terms of numbers. (This is why sometimes, foreigners that Ive met are very surprised when
they meet Filipinos like me who are atheists).
Given these facts, its no news that our church (or our faith since as you can see, most Filipinos
are Catholics) has an EXTREME influence not only in the political scene but even in the social and
personal lives of everyone.
EXAMPLES: Most of the citizens are still very conservative, divorce is still not allowed, abortion is
still viewed as immoral, and even the Reproductive Health Law that guarantees free access to
contraceptives for all citizens was fiercely opposed by the church for over 14 YEARSuntil it was
finally passed as a bill in 2012 and approved in 2014. Naturally, up until today, the church still
opposes it.
I guess the only irony about this is that even if we are fiercely religious, the majority have no
problems with gays or transexuals in the country which we have a LOT of. Certainly, being progay hints that we are also progressive and I find this as a good thing, but of course there are still
people who look down on it or could not tolerate it.
With a population of about 100 million, we are the 7th-most populated country in Asia and the 12th
most populated country in the world (with an additional 12 million of Filipinos who live and work
overseas these workers are commonly called OFWs or Overseas Filipino Workers).
For the record, were called Filipinos NOT Philipinos. (Females can be specifically called as
Filipinas).
We also call ourselves Pinoys which you should pronounce as P-noy (with a short P) and not Peenoy. In connection with this word, we often like to say this phrase: Proud to be Pinoy or Pinoy
Pride especially when we see any international celebrity or rising star who even has the slightest
hint of Filipino blood in their body Okay maybe not often: always. This is why there is this running
joke on the internet that whenever someone popular worldwide has a quarter or a tiny hint of Filipino
ancestry, people will start saying things like: Brace yourselves, the proud Filipinos are coming.

Haha! But of course, it helps to note that some of us are also tired whenever our fellowmen keep
claiming just aboutanyone who might be related to our ancestry.
On the other hand, though we are very proud of ourselves and our country, we
are VERY sensitive as well. We got no chill especially when its something bad about us this
means that if you ever have anything bad to say about the Philippines or our fellow countrymen,
HELL WILL BREAK LOOSE ON YOU. Guaranteed. Examples:

Teri Hatcher, an actress from the show Desperate Housewives, who made a comment about
Filipino nurses on the show had enraged Filipinos, and our government even demanded an
apology from her. (Yes, even if it was just a fictional show and that the screenwriters were
the ones who have made her say that).

Actress Claire Danes was declared as a persona-non grata in 1998 when she made bad
comments about Manila after shooting a movie there called as Breakdown Palace. Im not
sure if up till today shes still declared as so.

In 2012, Justin Bieber who is not a Pacquiao-belieber ridiculed Manny Pacquiao in 2012
after he lost a fight to Juan Manuel Marquez by posting a series of photos that mocked his
knockout loss. Naturally, a huge number of Filipinos went mad about that and some
lawmakers even filed for a request to demand an apology from the singer or else hell be
declared as a persona-non grata too. Pacquiao on the other hand, just didnt care and said
that hell pray for Bieber.

(Seemingly though, we mostly only get mad if the comments are made by foreigners since if its a
fellow Filipino thats joking or making a comment, we normally just brush it off.)
By the way, if I may add, even in the blogging scene, people are saying that some bloggers
make intentional bad comments and articles online about the Philippines just to enrage the Filipinos
and get more traffic or worldwide attention. (Now guys, dont take advantage of us, okay?)
NOTE: Rest assured, not everyone in the country is this touchy, but yeah generally, as you can
see, the majority are.

#3 Happiness & Mentality

On the other end of the spectrum however, we are VERY friendly and happy people. No matter
if most of us Filipinos are poor, we are recognized as one of the worlds happiest nations and its
mainly because we just are. We always try to look for the silver lining behind any dire situation. We
make the best out of things! No matter what misfortunes we may have lack of money, floods,
crazy typhoones, etc. our positivity shines through. I guess we know full well the phrase: Sh*t
just happens. so we move on and continue to persevere.
Sounds too good to be true? Youll know what I mean when you get here.
Moreover, we also LOVE foreigners and we love it even more if you visit our country and fall in love
with it. We absolutely have colonial mentality and thats because we were colonized by white people
for a very long time (Spaniards for 377 years and Americans for 48 years) yet in the end, its the
Americans that we have developed a really soft spot for.
I say this because if youre an American or white person who visits the country, you will notice a LOT

of things:

You will be treated like a KING. Youll experience prime service and friendliness (but this is
not to say that Filipinos are not warm and friendly to each other and to any other race,
because we are it just so happens that most people go to the extreme when dealing with
white people).

You can become an instant celebrity (mostly in the more rural areas) as people flock to you,
ogle, take pictures, or try their English.

Strangers calling you: Joe in a friendly way is a common thing even if you might not in fact
be, American. We also use the term Kano for Americans which derives from the word
Amerikano.

One example of a drawback to this though is that since they know that youre a foreigner, youll
sometimes be charged way over the normal price or even be scammed; so its best to be informed
about the typical prices beforehand.
Nevertheless, despite all this special treatment, remember: DONT let it get to your head. Ive met
and seen a lot of white people who become too arrogant after knowing this fact, but please dont be
one of those people because we do NOT worship just about every white individual a large portion
of the population just simply admire them. Besides, like I mentioned in the previous number, if you
wrong us we will not hesitate to go against you.
NOTE: This favoritism can also be observed with Filipinos intense desire for whiter skin. You will
even notice that most of our celebrities have mixed native Filipino and white ancestry, or have fair
white skin.

#4 Catholicism

We are a secular state but Christianity is the dominant faith. As of 2011, about 80% of the population
are Catholics (with Islam as the 2nd largest) and we are also the 3rd largest Catholic country in the
world in terms of numbers. (This is why sometimes, foreigners that Ive met are very surprised when
they meet Filipinos like me who are atheists).
Given these facts, its no news that our church (or our faith since as you can see, most Filipinos
are Catholics) has an EXTREME influence not only in the political scene but even in the social and
personal lives of everyone.
EXAMPLES: Most of the citizens are still very conservative, divorce is still not allowed, abortion is
still viewed as immoral, and even the Reproductive Health Law that guarantees free access to
contraceptives for all citizens was fiercely opposed by the church for over 14 YEARSuntil it was
finally passed as a bill in 2012 and approved in 2014. Naturally, up until today, the church still
opposes it.
I guess the only irony about this is that even if we are fiercely religious, the majority have no
problems with gays or transexuals in the country which we have a LOT of. Certainly, being progay hints that we are also progressive and I find this as a good thing, but of course there are still
people who look down on it or could not tolerate it.

#5 Language

There are approximately 180 languages and dialects in the Philippines but there are two official
languages: English and Filipino (standardized version of Tagalog).
This means that the country is very tourist-friendly well, provided that you, as a tourist, knows how
to speak English. But of course, there are some parts of the Philippines that cant speak fluent
English (or even Filipino/Tagalog) but almost everyone can understand and utter simple English no
matter if they have little to no education.
Besides, as connected to the colonial mentality that we have, we are proud of how we can speak
English (some people even go as far as forcing, if not learning, a U.S. accent).
TRIVIA: We have a really competent English-speaking workforce thats why we have a LOT of call
centers in the country. Koreans normally flock to our country to learn English as well! Moreover,
because of how almost everyone in the country speaks English, most expats dont bother learning
Filipino/Tagalog.

#6 Transportation

Photo by Jeff Jacinto via Flickr / CC

We have nice expressways but relatively, our overall transportation infrastructure is underdeveloped.
We also have the worst traffic. (We, of course, blame the government for that).
Anyhow, one of the most popular modes of public transportation in the Philippines are the jeepneys
which we also often use as a symbol for the country. These were originally made or inspired out
from US military jeeps that were left behind after World War II. Today, they are decorated
flamboyantly in various colors! Though they act like buses, they are not air-conditioned and they can
stop just about ANYWHERE for as long as you say Para! (Stop!).
The next most common public transport vehicle are tricycles which are motorcycles that have an
attached side car for passengers these are basically like taxis that can take you to anywhere you
want. There are also the pedicabs which are similar to rickshaws given how they operate by cycling.
FYI: For a jeepney ride, Php 8.00 (pesos or $0.18) is the minimum fare; more is added after 4 kms.
As for tricycles, its usually at Php 12.00 less if you share with other persons whereas pedicabs
are more costly. For taxis, the flag-down base rate should be Php 40.00 ($0.85) so its really cheap
especially if you come from a developed country.

#7 Concept of Family

Below photo by Mommysaurus75 via Flickr / CC

Another thing that you should know about the Philippines is that, family is VERY important and
almost every family is close. But this closeness is not just limited between the parents and the
children because it also includes the relatives!
Some other facts:

You will often see extended families in Filipino homes and every celebration can be really
festive since almost all the members under the family tree can be present! (Christmas, New
Year, birthdays, etc. with the ever present karaoke spree.) Youll best see this if you can
manage to stay in with a Filipino family; so maybe try couchsurfing or a homestay? Then
again, once you befriend a Filipino, youll most likely be invited to one of their happenings.

Its normal for sons and daughters to stay at home with their parents even after they are 18,
and most of the time, parents have a strong say about their childrens future. Its not
surprising to see people following a university course or doing a job thats dictated by their
parents.

Once the children are married, they are free to choose to stay in with their parents or
separate. Anyhow, there is this saying that, When you marry a Filipino, you marry the whole
family. and thats so true!

We respect our parents a lot so even the idea of sending them to a nursing home is
unthinkable. Most of the time its the eldest of the family or the child who is the most well-off
who takes the parents in until they pass.

More about respect, we usually attach an appropriate title for those who are older than us, like Ate
or Tita for girls or Kuya and Tito for guys (example: Ate Aileen or Kuya Jonas). We also add
the word po at the end of our sentences when we are talking to elders.
Plus, every time we meet our elders we do a mano gesture which is a sign of respect and an
acceptance of their blessing (we put the hand of the elder to our forehead see photo on the side
to see how its done).

#8 A Social Media Capital

There was a time that the Philippines was dubbed as the Text Capital of the World as 35 million
people send about 450 million text messages daily. Today, we are being dubbed as the Social
Media Capital of the World or the Most Social Nation as well given how we have the most active
users on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. (Time magazine had even previously titled us as
the Selfie Capital of the World.)

This claim fully supports the incidences previously mentioned in point #2 because we can easily
make our voices heard all over the world if we ever feel the need to say something about some
people or some issues. What does this mean for you? Nothing much really, but its a nice fact to
know. I guess the things youll just have to prepare for are frequent instances of picture-taking and
Filipinos adding you up in their Facebook accounts accounts because some people have a
Facebook account for home, another one for work, another for friends, etc.
To even better display our power in social media, just look up on the AlDub social media
phenomenon thats still currently going on in the country. Over the past months, the hashtag
#ALDUB had a record-breaking performance on Twitter as it trended with over 25.6 million tweets in
just one day! Today, it continues to trend over at Twitter that programs like BBC and Bloomberg have
taken notice.
http://iamaileen.com/10-things-foreigners-should-know-about-the-philippines/

You see, apart from the Holy Week, Christmas is another event that we LOVE to do and we usually
start celebrating it as early as September and ends sometime in January. Yes, you read it right:
September!
People will start saying stuff like -Ber months are here! claiming that the weather is slowly getting
chillier (when it fact its not) and then public + private establishments will start setting up Christmas
decorations. You will also start to hear Christmas songs being played in the malls or on the radio!
Yes, it is that festive.
Things we do during this season:

Simbang Gabi (Night Mass) where Catholics attend masses from December 16 to 24 and
these occur at various times (as early as 03:00 AM!!). This is a way of honoring the Virgin
Mary and also a way of anticipating the coming Christmas Day.

On the last day of the Night Masses (Misa de Gallo), Filipino families will get together to
celebrate Noche Buena as they eat a BIG feast lechon or roasted suckling pig is almost
always the center of this occasion.

The whole Christmas celebration ends on the 1st Sunday of January as we celebrate the
Feast of the Three Kings.