|Republika ng Pilipinas
Republic of the Philippines
|Motto: Maka-Diyos, Maka-Tao, Makakalikasan, at Makabansa
("For God, People, Nature, and Country")
|Anthem: Lupang Hinirang
|Largest city||Quezon City|
|Official languages||Filipino (based on Tagalog)
|Recognized regional languages||Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilocano, Hiligaynon or Ilonggo, Bicol, Waray, Pampango, and Pangasinan|
|Optional languages||Spanish and Arabic|
|Government||Unitary presidential constitutional republic|
|-||President||Benigno Aquino III (LP)|
|-||Vice President||Jejomar Binay (PDP-Laban)|
|-||Senate President||Juan Ponce Enrile (PMP)|
|-||House Speaker||Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. (LP)|
|-||Supreme Court Chief Justice||Renato Corona|
|-||Lower House||House of Representatives|
from United States
|-||Established||April 27, 1565|
|-||Declared||June 12, 1898|
|-||Self-government||March 24, 1934|
|-||Recognized||July 4, 1946|
|-||Current constitution||February 2, 1987|
|-||Land||298,170 km² (73rd)
115,831 sq mi
|-||Water (%)||0.61% (inland waters)|
|-||2010 estimate||94,013,200  (12th)|
|GDP (PPP)||2010 estimate|
|-||Total||$351.370 billion (33rd)|
|GDP (nominal)||2010 estimate|
|-||Total||$188.719 billion (46th)|
|Gini (2006)||45.8 (medium)|
|Currency||Peso (Filipino: piso)
|Time zone||PST (UTC+8)|
|-||Summer (DST)||not observed (UTC+8)|
|1||^ The 1987 Philippine constitution specifies, "Spanish and Arabic shall be promoted on a voluntary and optional basis."|
|2||^ Philippine revolutionaries declared independence from Spain on June 12, 1898, but the Spanish claim of sovereignty was passed from Spain to the United States in the Treaty of Paris. This led to the Philippine–American War.|
|3||^ Rankings above were taken from associated Wikipedia pages as of October 2010 and may be based on data or data sources other than those appearing here.|
The Philippines, officially the Republic of the Philippines (Republika ng Pilipinas), is an island nation located in the Malay Archipelago in Southeast Asia. The country was named "Las Islas Filipinas" (The Philippine Islands) by Ruy López de Villalobos after King Philip II of Spain.
Successive administrations since the overthrow of dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 have been challenged with creating policies that would lift the masses from poverty. These dministrations have faced allegations of corruption and election-rigging.
The Filipino people have a strong belief in, and practice of, both religion and family. The bonds of the extended family and respect for elders has provided a stability that has allowed the nation to grow and prosper in spite of the hardships it has encountered.
The Philippines constitutes an archipelago of 7,107 islands with a total land area of approximately 116,000 square miles (300,000 square kilometres), making it the 72nd largest country by area, or slightly larger than the U.S. state of Arizona.
It borders the Philippine Sea on the east, the South China Sea on the west, and the Celebes Sea on the south. The island of Borneo lies a few hundred miles southwest and Taiwan directly north. The Moluccas and Sulawesi are to the south, and Palau is to the east beyond the Philippine Sea.
The local climate is hot, humid, and tropical. The average yearly temperature is around 79.7°F (26.5°C). There are three seasons: The hot season lasts from March to May, the rainy season from June to November, and the cold season from December to February. The southwest monsoon (May-October) is known as the "habagat" and the dry winds of the northeast monsoon (November-April) as the "amihan." The country itself is undergoing desertification in Sorsogon, Baguio, Davao and the Sierra Madre mountain range. Most of the mountainous islands were once covered in tropical rainforest and are volcanic in origin. The highest point is Mount Apo on Mindanao at 9,692 feet (2,954 meters). There are many active volcanos such as Mayon Volcano, Mount Pinatubo, and Taal Volcano. The country lies within the typhoon belt of the Western Pacific and about 19 typhoons strike per year.
Lying on the northwestern fringes of the Pacific Ring of Fire, the Philippines sustains frequent seismic and volcanic activities. Some 20 earthquakes are registered daily, though most are too weak to be felt. The last great earthquake was the 1990 Luzon earthquake.
Environmental issues include uncontrolled deforestation especially in watershed areas, soil erosion, air and water pollution in major urban centers, coral reef degradation, increasing pollution of coastal mangrove swamps that are important fish-breeding grounds
The Cagayan River of northern Luzon is the longest river. The nearly circular Manila Bay is connected to the Laguna de Bay by means of the Pasig River. Subic Bay, the Davao Gulf and the Moro Gulf are some of the important bays. Transversing the San Juanico Strait is the San Juanico Bridge, that connects the islands of Samar and Leyte.
The busy port of Manila, on the country’s largest island of Luzon, is the capital. With 1.5 million inhabitants, it is the second largest city after nearby Quezon City. Manila is the hub of a thriving metropolitan area that is home to over 10 million people.
Archeological and paleontological evidence suggests that Homo sapiens existed in the large island province of Palawan about 50,000 B.C.E. The indigenous Aeta people, who live in scattered, isolated mountainous areas, are thought to have arrived around 30,000 B.C.E., across land bridges, possibly from China or the Andaman Islands. The oldest human fossil found in the Philippines is the 22,000-year-old skull cap of a "Stone-Age Filipino" discovered inside Tabon Cave, Palawan, in 1962, and dubbed the "Tabon Man."
The ancestors of the vast majority of the Filipino people, the Austronesians from Taiwan, settled in northern Luzon around 2500 B.C.E. They spread through the Philippines and later colonized most of maritime Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific Islands.
The basic unit of settlement was the barangay, headed by a datu (chief). Within the barangay, there were maharlika (nobles), timawa (freemen), and dependents, which included landless agricultural workers; and alipin (slaves), who were mostly war captives.
Muslim, Chinese and Indian traders made contact with the Philippines during the course of the next thousand years. Traders and proselytizers from the Indonesian islands brought Islam, which by the sixteenth century, was established in the Sulu Archipelago, spread to Mindanao, and reached the Manila area by 1565. Animism remained the religion of the majority of the Philippine islands. In some areas, Muslim immigrants set up territorial states ruled by rajas or sultans who exercised sovereignty over the datu.
Sailing for Spain, the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan and his crew were the first Europeans to arrive in the archipelago in 1521. Magellan was killed by indigenous warriors in Mactan Island. Miguel López de Legazpi arrived in 1565 and formed the first Spanish settlements, paving the way for colonization. Roman Catholic missionaries converted most of the inhabitants.
In the next 333 years, the Spanish military fought off local indigenous revolts and external challenges from the British, Chinese, Dutch, French, Japanese, and Portuguese. The most significant loss for Spain was the temporary occupation of the capital, Manila, by the British during the Seven Years' War. The Philippines was governed from Mexico from 1565 to 1821, before it was administered directly from Spain. The Manila Galleon traveled once or twice a year to Acapulco, Mexico, beginning in the late sixteenth century. The Philippines opened itself to world trade in 1834.
Demands for greater representation in Spain escalated into a revolution, started in 1896 by the Katipunan, led by Andrés Bonifacio. Emilio Aguinaldo established a revolutionary government. Revolutionary leader José Rizal was executed for treason on December 30, 1896. The Spanish American War, which began in Cuba in 1898, soon reached the Philippines when Commodore George Dewey defeated the Spanish squadron at Manila Bay. Aguinaldo declared the independence of the Philippines on June 12, 1898, and was proclaimed head of state. Spain then ceded the Philippines, together with Cuba, Guam and Puerto Rico to the United States. By 1899, the United States was at war with Philippine revolutionaries. The United States proclaimed the war over when Aguinaldo was captured by American troops in early 1901, though the struggle continued until 1913.
The country's status as a colony changed when it became the Commonwealth of the Philippines in 1935, which provided for more self-governance.
The Philippine-American War, an armed military conflict between the United States and the nascent First Philippine Republic, fought between 1899 until at least 1902, is also known as the Philippine Insurrection and was historically the name most commonly used in the United States. The conflict officially ended on July 4, 1902, which marked the end of the war as far as the United States and the Filipino elite were concerned. However, for the Filipino masses, who saw the war against the Americans as a continuing struggle for independence, their resistance lasted longer. Remnants of the Philippine Army and other resistance groups continued hostilities against American rule until 1913. The Philippine-American War Centennial Initiative gives an estimate of 510,000 civilian deaths and 20,000 military deaths, excluding 100,000 deaths from the separate Moro Rebellion that lasted until 1913.
On December 8, 1941, Japan launched a surprise attack on the Philippines, just 10 hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Philippine defense continued until the final surrender of U.S.—Philippine forces on the Bataan Peninsula in April 1942 and on Corregidor in May. Most of the 80,000 prisoners of war captured by the Japanese at Bataan were forced on the infamous Bataan Death March to a prison camp 65 miles (105 kilometers) to the north. It is estimated that about 10,000 Filipinos and 1,200 Americans died before reaching the camp. The Japanese occupation was opposed by large-scale underground and guerrilla activity.
U.S. General Douglas MacArthur's Allied forces landed on Leyte on October 20, 1944. Landings in other parts of the country followed, and the Allies pushed toward Manila. Fighting continued until Japan's formal surrender on September 2, 1945. An estimated one million Filipinos had been killed, and Manila was extensively damaged.
World War II had left the Philippines demoralized and severely damaged. Elections held in April 1946 resulted in Manuel Roxas becoming the first president. The Philippines achieved independence from the United States on July 4, 1946. The task of reconstruction was complicated by the activities of the Communist-supported Hukbalahap guerrillas (known as "Huks"), who had evolved into a violent resistance force against the new Philippine government. Roxas suddenly died in office in 1948. The Huk movement had waned in the early 1950s, finally ending with the unconditional surrender of Huk leader Luis Taruc in May 1954.
After a series of presidents, Ferdinand Marcos was elected president in 1965. He initiated ambitious public works projects and intensified tax collection, which brought prosperity throughout the 1970s. With massive loans and economic aid from the United States, his administration built more roads than all his predecessors combined, and more schools than any previous administration. Barred from seeking a third term, Marcos declared martial law on September 21, 1972, and ruled the country by decree. His authoritarian rule became marred with pervasive corruption, and cronyism.
Pressure against the Marcos regime came to a head when opposition leader Benigno Aquino, Jr. returned from exile and was assassinated on August 21, 1983. Under pressure from the United States, and after large protests, Marcos allowed for a presidential election. The election, held on February 7, 1986, was believed to be fraudulent, and resulted in a heavily disputed outcome and a stand-off between military mutineers and the military loyalists. Protesters supported the mutineers. Prominent cabinet officials resigned.
A radio call for mass protest on February 22, 1986, sparked the EDSA Revolution, also known as the People Power Revolution of 1986. Four days of peaceful action by millions of Filipinos in Manila led to the downfall of the Marcos regime and the installation of Corazon Aquino, widow of Benigno, as president. EDSA stands for Epifanio de los Santos Avenue, a main highway in Manila and the main site of the demonstrations.
Massive national debt, government corruption, coup attempts, a communist insurgency, and a Muslim separatist movement has hampered the return of democracy and government reforms after the events of 1986. The economy improved during the administration of Fidel V. Ramos, who was elected in 1992. However, the economic improvements were negated at the onset of the East Asian financial crisis in 1997.
Many months before the expiration of the U.S.-Philippines Military Bases Agreement of 1947, intense negotiations between the governments of the United States and the Philippines began to renew the American lease. However, the Philippine Senate rejected a new treaty despite President Aquino's support. In 1991, she issued a formal notice for the U.S. to leave its Subic Bay naval by the end of 1992. This withdrawal of U.S. forces marked the first time since the sixteenth century that no foreign military forces were present in the Philippines.
A 2001 EDSA Revolution led to the downfall of president Joseph Estrada. Thousands of citizens converged at the EDSA Shrine to protest against Estrada, following his aborted impeachment trial at the Senate of the Philippines. Estrada was a former movie actor who was popular with the masses, but was reviled by the upper and elite classes for his alleged corruption.
The administration of current president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, since 2001, has been beset by allegations of corruption and election rigging.
The government of the Philippines is organized as a presidential unitary republic, where the president functions as head of state, the head of government, and the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The president is elected by popular vote to a six-year term, during which he or she appoints and presides over the cabinet of secretaries.
The bicameral Congress comprises the Senate and the House of Representatives. The 24 senators, who are elected at large, serve six-year terms, with half retiring every three years, while the House of Representatives comprises 250 members, elected by geographical district, serving three-year terms.
The Supreme Court heads the judiciary, with a chief justice as its head and 14 associate justices, all appointed by the president from nominations submitted by the Judicial and Bar Council. Other courts include the Court of Appeals, the Regional Trial Courts, and the Metropolitan Trial Courts.
The Philippines has a multi-party system, with numerous parties with diverse ideologies, in which no one party often has a chance of gaining power alone, and parties must work with each other to form coalition governments.
Philippine political parties comprise proteges of elite families educated at American universities. Critics say that academic degrees mask the incompetence of this educated elite who have become alienated from Philippine society, and who tend to represent their clans' interest, rather than various interest groups. The legislature has become an arena for the elite to carry out profiteering and political showmanship.
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo sought to amend the constitution to create a unicameral parliament under a federal setting. The country would be split into "states" with each one having a local legislature responsible for certain functions. Included are plans to ease a ban on foreign ownership of property, land and commercial organizations.
The Philippines is a founding member of the United Nations and of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and belongs to the East Asia Summit, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group, the Latin Union, and the Group of 24. The country is a member of the Non-Aligned Movement.
The Philippines is divided into three geographical areas: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. It has 17 regions, 81 provinces, 117 cities, 1,501 municipalities, and 41,982 barangays. Most government offices establish regional offices to serve the constituent provinces. The regions themselves do not possess a separate local government, with the exception of the autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao.
In 2006, Arroyo announced a proposal to create five economic super regions to concentrate on the economic strengths in a specific area.
The United States is one of the Philippines’ closest economic and political allies. The two countries are partners in counter-terrorism, as they both share intelligence. The two countries conduct military exercises in Mindanao, and are both heavily involved in trade and commerce.
Philippines soldiers are considered one of the most battle-hardened armies in the world due to their long exposure to counter-insurgency and anti-secessionist campaigns. Consisting of army, navy and air force, due to its close relationship with the United States military, the Philippine armed forces was considered the strongest national defense program in Asia—especially in the 1950s and 1960s.
The Philippines is a developing country with one of the busiest call-center industries in Asia, generating thousands of jobs. But agriculture, forestry, and fishing are the occupations of 40 percent of the 30 million people who are employed. People work seven days a week and take additional jobs to maintain or improve their lifestyle or pay for a child's education.
The Philippines was less severely affected by the Asian financial crisis of 1998 than its neighbors, aided by its high level of remittances from overseas workers, and no sustained run-up in asset prices or foreign borrowing before the crisis. From a 0.6 percent decline in 1998, GDP expanded by 2.4 percent in 1999, and 4.4 percent in 2000, but slowed to 3.2 percent in 2001 in the context of a global economic slowdown, an export slump, and political and security concerns. GDP growth accelerated to about 5 percent between 2002 and 2006 reflecting the continued resilience of the service sector, and improved exports and agricultural output.
Analysts say a higher, sustained growth path is required to alleviate poverty, given the Philippines' high annual population growth rate and unequal distribution of income. The Philippines also faces higher oil prices, higher interest rates on its dollar borrowings, and higher inflation. Fiscal constraints limit Manila's ability to finance infrastructure and social spending.
The Philippines' consistently large budget deficit has produced a high debt level, and this has forced Manila to spend a large amount on debt servicing. Large unprofitable public enterprises, especially in the energy sector, contribute to this debt. The introduction of a Value Added Tax (VAT) in 2005 helped to strengthen the peso.
The Philippines is a member of the Asian Development Bank, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and other international economic associations, such as the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Colombo Plan, and the G-77.
The Philippines is a significant source of migrant workers. An estimated eight million overseas Filipinos sent home a record $10.7-billion in 2005.
Exports totaled $38.728-billion in 2004. Export commodities included electronic equipment, machinery and transport equipment, garments, coconut products, and chemicals. Export partners were the United States, 20.1 percent, Japan 15.9 percent, Hong Kong 8.5 percent, Netherlands 8.1 percent, Taiwan 6.9 percent, Malaysia 6.8 percent, Singapore 6.7 percent, and China 5.9 percent.
Import totaled $45.109 billion in 2004. Import commodities included raw materials and intermediate goods, capital goods, consumer goods, and fuels. Import partners were Japan 20.4 percent, the United States 19.8 percent, Singapore 6.8 percent, South Korea 6.4 percent, Taiwan 5 percent, China 4.8 percent, and Hong Kong 4.3 percent.
Per capita GDP was $4,923 in 2005, with a rank of 102 on a list of 181 countries.
Income inequality persists. About 30 million people lived on less than $2 a day in 2005. China and India have emerged as economic competitors, taking away investors, particularly telecom companies. Regional development is uneven, with the main island Luzon and Metro Manila gaining most of the new economic growth at the expense of other regions.
With a population of over 90 million in 2005, the Philippines is the world's twelfth most populous country. Roughly two-thirds reside on the island of Luzon. Manila, the capital, is the eleventh most populous metropolitan area in the world.
Life expectancy is 69.9 years. In the 100 years since the 1903 Census, the population has grown by a factor of eleven, much faster than other countries in the region including Indonesia, that has grown fivefold over the same period.
The people of the Philippines are called "Filipinos." Most Filipinos are descended from Austronesian-speaking migrants who arrived in waves over a thousand years ago from Taiwan. They are genetically most closely related to the Ami tribe. The three most numerous ethnolinguistic groups are the Bisaya, the Tagalogs, and the Ilocanos. The Negritos or Aetas, who are considered as the aboriginal inhabitants of the Philippines, currently number fewer than 30,000 people (0.03 percent).
Filipinos of Chinese descent, who had arrived since pre-Hispanic times, form the largest non-Austronesian ethnic group, claiming about two percent of the population. Other significant minorities include Americans, Japanese, British, Australians, Europeans (particularly Spanish and Basques), Koreans, and South Asians. There are also numerous Arabs and Indonesians, especially in Mindanao. The Philippines has Asia's largest American population.
Intermarriage has produced Filipino Mestizos. About 3.65 percent are partly of Caucasian ancestry (mostly of Spanish, English-American and other European people descent), and about 10 percent have some Chinese ancestry.
More than 170 languages are spoken, almost all of them belonging to the Western Malayo-Polynesian language group of the Austronesian language family. Filipino, heavily based on Tagalog, and English, are the official languages. The 12 major regional languages are the auxiliary official languages of their respective regions, each with over one million speakers. They are: Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilocano, Hiligaynon, Waray-Waray, Bikol, Kapampangan, Pangasinan, Kinaray-a, Maranao, Maguindanao, and Tausug. English is used by some Filipinos as their first language, particularly those belonging to the upper echelons of society. The Lan-nang-oe variant of Min Nan is widely spoken by the country's Chinese minority. The use of Arabic is prevalent among the Filipino Muslims, and is taught in madrasah (Muslim) schools.
Spanish was the official language for more than three centuries, used mainly by the educated ilustrados (including José Rizal) or self-taught natives and the Spanish authorities. During the American occupation, its use declined, and in 2007 only a few Spanish Mestizo families speak it as their first language, although others use it together with Tagalog and English.
The Philippines is one of only two Roman Catholic countries in Asia, the other being East Timor. About 90 percent of Filipinos are Christian, 81 percent belong to the Roman Catholic Church, and the nine percent composed of Protestant denominations, the Philippine Independent Church, and Iglesia ni Cristo.
Indigenous traditions and rituals still influence religious practice. A handful of indigenous tribes continue to practice animism, which is a collection of beliefs and practices anchored in the idea that the world is inhabited by spirits and supernatural entities, both good and bad, and that respect be accorded to them through nature worship.
Approximately five percent are Sunni Muslim. They primarily settle in parts of Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago. Most lowland Muslim Filipinos practice normative Islam, although the practices of some Mindanao's hill tribe Muslims reflect a fusion with animism. There are small populations of Buddhists, and Jews.
Land ownership has been an issue. Peasant groups such as the HUKs (People's Liberation Army in the 1950s, and the NPA (New People's Army) in 2007 have resorted to guerrilla tactics to obtain land for the poor. Large amounts of arable land remain in the hands of absentee landowners given land grants during the Spanish colonial period.
The Philippines is one of only two nations, along with Malta, where all civil marriages are for life, because civil divorce (for violations coming after the marriage) is banned, although annulment (for violations before the marriage) is permitted.
Marriage includes a civil ceremony conducted in city offices, and a religious ceremony. A feature is the presence of sponsors, friends and relatives who attest to the popularity and potential success of a couple, and contribute towards wedding costs. There are no arranged marriages. Men are expected to marry. Young professionals wait until their late twenties to marry, and engagements of five to seven years, during which time the couple becomes established financially, are not uncommon. Divorce is illegal, but annulment is available. Interfaith marriages are rare.
The extended family is the basic unit of Philippine society. Mothers and daughters who share a home make decisions concerning the home without conferring with male family members. One child is expected to remain at home to care for the parents and grandparents. The home may include children from the extended family, and single aunts and uncles. Several houses may be erected on the same lot. Childcare is shared. Fathers carry and play with children but are unlikely to change diapers. Grandparents who live in the home are the primary care givers since both parents work. Needy relatives live in and provide household and childcare help. Young people may work their way through college by exchanging work for room and board. Nieces and nephews are referred to as one's own children and cousins are referred to as sisters and brothers. Unmarried adult women may legally adopt a sibling's child.
Inheritance laws provide that all children acknowledged by a father, whether born in or out of wedlock, share equally in the estate. Females share equally with males. Anyone remotely related is known as a cousin. Indigenous tribes live in clan groups. People have a strong sense of belonging to a place. New Year's Day, Easter, and All Saint's Day are the most important family holidays.
The Spanish colonization of the Philippines, governed from Mexico, lasted for more than 350 years, thus there is a significant presence of Spanish and Mexican influence in the Filipino culture. The Filipino language, more commonly known as Tagalog, contains many borrowed Spanish words. Large Spanish brick churches built during the colonial era dominate the towns. Countless streets, towns and provinces have Spanish names. Spanish surnames prevail, as a result of a colonial decree for the implementation of the Spanish naming system. A Spanish surname therefore does not necessarily denote Spanish ancestry.
The use of the English language is America's visible legacy. The most commonly played sport there is basketball. There is also a wide "imitation" of American cultural trends, such as the love of fast-food. Aside from the American commercial giants such as McDonald's, Pizza Hut, Burger King, and Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), local fast-food chains have also sprung up, including Goldilocks Bakeshop, Jollibee, Greenwich Pizza, and Chowking. Modern day Filipinos also listen to contemporary American music and watch American movies.
Most of the present celebrated religious traditions are a mix of Christian, pagan and other local religious rites. Each year, the Fiesta commemorates the patron saints of each town, villages or regional districts. Fiesta features church ceremonies, street parades in honor of the patron saints, fireworks, beauty and dance contests. In some areas there are cockfighting tournaments. Fiestas are observed in countries that had a Spanish occupational past. The Islamic southern island celebrates Muslim customs and traditions.
Native moral codes, respect of family, veneration of elders, and friendliness, all remain intact. Filipinos honor national heroes whose works and deeds contributed to the shaping of the Filipino nation. José Rizal is the most celebrated ilustrado, a Spanish-speaking reformist visionary whose writings contributed to nurturing a sense of national identity and awareness. His novels Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, originally written in Spanish, are required readings for Filipino students, and provide vignettes of colonial life under the Spanish rule.
Plain steamed rice is the basis of the diet. Salt water and freshwater fish and shellfish are eaten daily, served either fresh or salted. Fish, chicken, and pork are usually fried. Garlic is added to food because it is considered healthy. Filipino food is not spicy; it is cooked on gas burners or over wood or charcoal fires and is allowed to get cold before it is eaten—from a spoon. The traditional method involves placing food on a banana leaf and eating with one's hands. Breakfast, served at 6 a.m., consists of food left over from the night before, and is not reheated. The widespread use of noodles, known locally as mami, are a testament of the Chinese cuisine.
Filipinos are fond of sweet foods. Coca-Cola is popular. Fatty pork is a favorite. Portions of small cubes of browned pork fat are considered a special dish. Fruits are abundant all year. Red and green bananas are eaten. Mangoes, the national fruit, are sweet and juicy. Fast food has become part of the culture. Léchon, a suckling pig that has been roasted until the skin forms a hard brown crust, is served at important occasions. Gin and beer are available for men and are accompanied by balut, a duck egg with an embryo. Dog meat is a delicacy, although it is now illegal to sell it because cases of rabies have occurred.
The education system is similar to that in the United States. Filipino children enter public school at about age four, starting from nursery up to kindergarten. At about seven years-of-age, children enter a primary school (six plus one years) where the core subjects include mathematics, English, and Makabayan (a mixture of social studies and Filipino). This is followed by secondary school (four years). Students then sit for the College Entrance Examinations (CEE), after which they enter collegiate school (three plus two). Most local schools are taught in English. All primary-level students graduate with a knowledge of two or three languages. There are private schools, preparatory schools, international schools, and science high schools. The Chinese, British, Americans, and the Japanese have their own schools, while there are Islamic schools in the autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao. The literacy rate was 92.5 percent in 2003 and about equal for males and females.
Filipino music is a mixture of European, American and indigenous sounds. Spanish and Mexican colonizers introduced the guitar and other instruments, as well as zarzuela (a form of operetta), guitar-accompanied harana courtship music, and rondalla music, played on an ensemble of plectrum instruments.
Traditional Filipino music typically employs a combination of musical instruments belonging to the percussion, wind, and string families, usually made of bronze, wood, or bamboo. A highly sophisticated musical repertoire called kulintang exists, on Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago, in which the main instruments used are bossed gongs not dissimilar to gongs used in Indonesia.
The United States introduced American blues, folk, R&B and rock and roll. This American influence taught the Filipinos how to create and market their own performers, and led to the emergence of superstars such as Sharon Cuneta, Gary Valenciano, Lea Salonga and Regine Velasquez, as well as the Pinay girl group phenomenon which brought Kikay, Sex bomb, Viva Hot Babes, Jaboom Twins and others. The most notable achievement in Filipino rock of the 1960s was the hit song "Killer Joe," which propelled the group "Rocky Fellers" to #16 on the American radio charts. In the early 1970s, Tagalog and English lyrics were both used, as in Sharon Cuneta's first hit, "Mr DJ."
Basketball courts are found in every barangay and school. Filipinos enjoy watching American professional basketball and teams in Filipino professional leagues. Cockfights are popular. Cocks, with metal spurs attached to the leg, fight until one cock is unable to continue fighting or runs away. Mah-jongg, a Chinese game played with tiles, is very popular, especially with women. Boxing, badminton and billiards are popular.
Filipinos value social acceptance and see education as a way to provide upward mobility. Color of skin, beauty, and money help determine a person's social position—a light-skinned attractive person will advance faster. Family position and patron-client relationships are part of achieving success. Government officials, wealthy friends, and community leaders sponsor hundreds of weddings and baptisms each year. About two percent of the population is wealthy. The masses live in poverty, while the middle class feels too obligated to those in power to push for any change.
Money to buy consumer goods indicates power. Wealthy people lead Western lifestyles. Owning a vehicle is a statement of a high social level. Women above the poverty line have extensive wardrobes. Sending children to the best schools indicates social position.
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