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Last updated : Nov 2009
Philippines Social Profile
Philippines Culture and Social Profile - TravelPuppy.com
Food and Drink

Filipino cuisine is quite different from other Asian cooking and is remarkable by its restrained use of spices. Spanish, American, Chinese, Malay, and Japanese influences have left their consequence in a subtle mingling of cultures and flavours. Seafood features strongly in all areas. It is freshly caught and frequently barbecued, stewed, boiled, fried or steamed and served with kalamansi (the local lemon), bagoong (a fish paste) or vinegar with labuyo (the fiery native pepper). There are many restaurants specialising in seafood, offering lobster, crabs, prawns, tuna, oysters, freshwater fish, bangus (the bony but prized milk fish) and the sweet maliputo. The roasted whole pig or lechon is usually served at fiestas and family celebrations. Some other specialties are kare-kare, an oxtail stew in peanut sauce served with bagoong; sinigang, meat or fish in a sour broth; and adobo, braised pork and chicken, in tangy soy sauce, vinegar and garlic. Regional dishes include the Ilocos pinakbet, vegetables sautéed with pork and bagoong; Central Luzon’s relleno, boned and stuffed chicken or fish; and the Visayas’ kinilaw, raw fish marinated in a spicy vinegar dressing. Rice is a main staple of Filipino food. Plenty of fruit is available such as bananas, chicos, guavas, mangoes, lanzones, papayas and rambutans. Philippine preserves such as atsara, a chutney-like vegetable preserve; and the native desserts like the pili nut brittle, a crunchy sweet made with the luscious pili nuts (found only in the Bicol region); can be found in the local markets. Manila’s many excellent restaurants feature all the native dishes, and like the restaurants of all the major cities, offer a diverse cuisine. For the less adventurous, many European and American fast food restaurants are also available.

San Miguel is the popular and locally brewed beer. The Philippines rum is also popular. There are no strict rules with regard to the sale of alcohol.


Everything ranging from high-tech discos to lavish cultural songs and dances, including excellent pop singers and performers, trios, show bands and classical string ensembles can be found at the five star hotels. Many evenings cultural performances by native artists or foreign groups are organized at the performing arts venues. Free weekly concerts are held at several parks. You may even get to enjoy some outstanding musical groups like the Pangwat Kawayan bamboo orchestra, that uses bamboo musical instruments, or the Rondalla group that uses tiny guitars like the ukulele. Casinos can be found in Manila, Ilocos Norte, Pampanga, Cebu, Zamboanga, Iloilo and Davao.


For many people, the Philippines is a shoppers paradise. A number of bargain opportunities for handicrafts from the different areas are found in the many shopping complexes that range from sleek air-conditioned shopping malls to open-air markets. From the renowned barong tagalog (hand-embroidered dress shirts for men in delicate jusi material) to Tiffany lamps made with capiz shells are offered in the chain department stores. At the old markets selling used goods and products, all types of cloth weaves, brassware, woodcarvings, local crafts, rare seashells, and painted papier-maché horses of Laguna can be found. Good purchases include silver jewellery from Baguio, coral trinket boxes, rattan furniture, baskets, woven grass mats (banig), antique wooden saint figurines, ready-to-wear clothes, garments embroidered with the traditional callado, dresses made from banana and pineapple fibres, cigars and abaca placemats. Handicraft shops are all over the country, particularly in cities. The bigger department stores generally sell native and foreign manufactured goods.

Shopping hours: Monday to Saturday 9.30 am to 10.00 pm, but may vary. Most shopping malls, department stores and supermarkets are open on Sunday.

Special Events

Many colourful festivals are held in the Philippines all year round. A complete listing of the important Muslim festivals and Catholic feast days in honour of patron saints etc, can be acquired from the Department of Tourism.

The following is a list of some of the major celebrations and events in the Philippines:
January Philippine Game Fishing Tournament and International
Billfish Tournament, Sta Ana; Kuraldal (residents dance
to honour St Lucia), Pampanga and Sasmuan.
Jan 9 Feast of the Black Nazarene, Manila.
Jan 25-27 Ati-Atihan, Kalibo.
February International Bamboo Festival, Las Pinas City; Annual
Philippines Poker Run & Motorcycle Rodeo, Damaguete City.
March Carabao-Carroza Festival, Ravia.
April Moriones (re-enacting of the beheading of Longinus),
Boac, Gasan, Marinduque and Mogpog; Turumba,
Laguna and Pakil; Holy Week Lenten Rituals, nationwide.
May Santacruzan and Flores de Mayo Festival, nationwide;
Carabao Festival, Bulacanl and Pulilan; Pahiyas (parades and flower decorations), Lucban and Sariaya; Obando Fertility Rites.
May 30- June 1 Mango Festival 2004, Manila.
June 12 Independence Day Celebrations, nationwide, focusing
on Manila’s Luneta Park.
June 24 Parada Ng Lechon (roast pig feast), Balayan. Jul Pagoda Sa Wawa, Balayan; Sandugo Festival, Bohol.
August Aurora Festival, Tanjay; Kalibongan Festival, Kidapawan City; Tuguegarao City Fiesta; Kadayawan Sa Dabaw, Davao City.
September Nuestra Senora de Penafrancia, Naga City.
October Zamboanga Hermosa Festival; Masskara Festival,
Bacolod City; Lanzones Festival, Camiguin Island.
November Feast of San Clemente/Gigantes, Angono and Rizal.
November 1 All Saints’ Day, nationwide.
December Giant Lantern Festival, Pampanga and San Fernando; Binirayan, San José.
Dec 16-24 Misa de Gallo (Filipino Yuletide Tradition).
Dec 25 Christmas Festival, Laoag.
Dec 30 Rizal Day (festivities at Luneta Park).
Social Conventions

Usual modes of address and levels of politeness are expected. Government officials are addressed by their titles such as Senator, Congressman or Director. Casual dress is welcome in most places. Visitors should cover up in the Muslim areas. Filipino men wear an embroidered long-sleeved shirt or a plain white barong tagalog with black trousers for the more formal occasions. The Philippines are more westernized than any other Asian country but there is also a rich underlay of Malay culture.

Tipping: 10% of the bill is expected. Hotels normally add a 15% service charge in the bills but it is appreciated to leave small change.
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