Philippine (Filipino) Customs and Traditions

Marriage and Family

Most Filipinos marry before they are 30 years old. The groom and his family pay for the wedding ceremony and reception. The bride often does not see her bridal gown until the day she is married. Grooms often wear a barong, an embroidered shirt that hangs over the trousers, made of pineapple fiber. At the reception, during the newlyweds’ first dance, relative may take turns clipping money to the groom’s shirt or the bride’s gown.


Loyalty to the extended family is fundamental, as is the concept of mutual support and self-sacrifice when the family or a member of it needs help. The close-knit network of relationships even extends to honorary kinships, usually referred as a kumpadrehan or godparenthood. Particular respect is shown more to more senior members of the family. Traditionally, the nuclear family has been large, often with four or more children, but today, particulary in urban areas, people are having fewer childre. Many Filipinos work overseas to earn money for the extended family at home.


Rice is the dietary staple of the Filipinos, prepared in a variety of ways and included in desserts as well as main meals. The primary source of protein is fish, and pork and poultry are the most common meat. Garlic is used liberally. A typical meal might consist of boiled rice, fried fish, a vegetable, and fruit for dessert. Fruit is also often eaten for breakfast. Beacuse the Philippines has been influenced by many diverse cultures, the cuisine is also diverse. Adobo is a stew of chicken or pork in garlic, soy sauce, and vinegar. Meats are often roasted and served on skewers. Kare-kare is a stew of meat and vegetables served in peanut sauce. A favorite snack is halo-halo, a drink made from sweetened beans, milk, and fruits serve in colorful layers with crushed ice. At large celebrations, the lechon, a stuffed pig, is often roasted over a charcoal fire.

Filipinos usually eat three meals a day, with snack periods (merienda) between meals. Families in rural areas usually eat meals together, while families in urban areas eat breakfast and dinner together on weekdays and all meals on weekends. When guests are present, they are seated nearest the head of the home and are always served first. no one eats until after the guest has had a bite or two. It is proper to keep one’s hands above the table. Conversation is informal during meals. Although compliments are welcomed, the best way for a guest to show appreciation of the cooking is to eat heartily. A small portion is left on the plate to indicate that the person has had enough to eat.


Initial greetings are informal and friendly in the Philppines, and are usually accompanied by a handshake. If people shake hands and wish tp show additional respect or enthusiasm, they place the free hand on top of the handshake or use it to pat the other person’s shoulder. Common Filipino greeting included Kumusta ka na? (“How are you?”), Anong balita? (“What’s new?”), and Ayos ba tayo ‘dyan? (“Is everything all right?”). Just are common are the English greetings “Hi” and “Good morning.” Young people are taught to show respect to adults and to address them by a proper title.

If a professional title (Doctor, Manager, etc.)is not appropriate, then “Sir”, “Ma’am,” or a familial title is used. It is common for young adults to address older adult strangers as Tita (Auntie) or Tito (Uncle). The elderly might be called Lola (Grandmother) or Lolo (Grandfather). Numerous other such titles exist in most languages. Among equals in age and status, first names or nicknames are used in addressing each other.


Filipinos spend their leisure time socializing with relatives and neighbors or watching films; the Philippines is the world’s 4th largest producer of films, a number of which has strong religious themes. Films from the United States, including low-budget films, are also shown. Sundays are big days for sports; basketball, baseball, and soccer are all played. Filipinos love to bet in horse races and cockfights, and playing mah-jong, a Chinese table game played with tiles.

-Interactive World Atlas

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