Like most asian countries, the Philippines is rich in customs and traditions handed down from generation to generation. While Filipinos have been able to preserve some traditional values and revered practices, some of these customs have become the product of foreign influence, assimilated into the native culture and in time becomes traditional.
Filipino customs and traditions evolved from religious beliefs and/or superstitions. They find expression in a wide range of daily activities, from farming to commerce, courtship, birth, marriage, family, death, relationships, among many others.
As we now see, every region, province and even municipality in the Philippines has two or more customs or traditions that are uniquely their own. This is especially true in the countryside, where customs endure on the strength of collective acceptance and perpetuation by their people. Some of them have been institutionalized as annual events or festivals.
Two classic and popular examples of these showcased customs and traditions are the fiesta celebrations and the cenaculo. While the former takes on a variety of forms, themes, creativity and normally project a festive mood, the latter is a more subdued practice depicting the life and death of Jesus Christ. Both, however, have religious gist and history. Fiestas honor and thank the saints for a plentiful harvest and the cenaculo serves as venue for remembering the life, suffering and death of Christ. Both are occasions for collective or individual piety.
Other well-known Filipino customs and traditions include the selection of godparents along with marking the significance of baptism as one’s anointment into the Christian world. In courtship, the serenading and voluntary housework of young men as a way to win their lady’s affection was common in the olden times.
In marriage, the groom-to-be is restricted from seeing or speaking to his soon-to-be bride on eve of their wedding day, in the same way that the wife-in-waiting is restricted from trying on her wedding dress on that same day, for fear that the wedding itself may not materialize.
These and other customs and traditions define the uniqueness of the Filipino people. They reflect their history and the social evolution they went through.