Cover A small town fiesta featuring a local dance called, 'Tinikling'

Just how pinoy are you?

With more than seven thousand islands, the archipelagic nature of the Philippines lends itself to a diversity of cultures and customs. Still, there are many traditions that bring these islands together. With a tumultuous history—having been under Spain, the US, Britain, and Japan—it’s safe to say that all these interactions have created a unique character for the Filipino people.

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Still, pinoys are often known for their hospitality and joyful spirit; so much so that the Department of Tourism slogan was once "it's more fun in the Philippines". Here are some common practices that shine a light on the fun-loving nature of Philippine society:

1. Competitive Karaoke

Having originated from Japan, this fun pastime found itself on Philippine shores very quickly. With karaoke studios peppered across every municipality, there’s always room for everyone’s favourite sport: competitive singing!

Karaoke set-ups find themselves in Filipino homes across the country, always there to liven up every dinner party or random occasion. You may even encounter Karaoke kiosks around malls, condos, or arcades.

Watch out for the Magic Sing vendor who is always eager to showcase their product by serving their best rendition of pop hits! From My Way, I Will Survive, I Have Nothing. . . pinoys are always happy to let out their inner balladeer.

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2. Bayanihan

As a country that is prone to typhoons and volcano eruptions, Filipinos have seen their fair share of natural calamities. Always resilient and light-hearted, Philippine culture often entails a bayanihan character, best expressed during times of crisis.

Simply translated, it is the inclination to help as a community, functioning under the recognition of each other as kapwa. Father of Filipino Psychology (Pilipinolohiya), Virgilio Enriquez, translates this as ‘shared identity’ akin to equal respect of fellow beings.  

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3. Fiestas

Having been colonised by Spain for more than 300 years, a large number of Filipino citizens identify as Christians. Most provinces have a patron saint and celebrate fiestas or festivals in their honour.

These colourful celebrations often involve entire municipalities or cities and may last days or for some, weeks. These events also function as community-building occasions, strengthening not only faith but also familial bonds amongst the people.

Some of the most famous festivals across the country are the Sinulog of Cebu, Dinagyang in Iloilo, and the MassKara Festival in Bacolod (non-denominational). 

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4. Four-month Christmas

As most of the country is of the Christian denomination, it doesn’t come as a shock that Filipinos love the holiday season!

Christmas lights and decorations may go up as early as September 1. Countdowns can start as soon as the ber months roll in and for many, so does gift shopping. The ultimate culmination of familial celebration in the Philippines may be witnessed during December. Don't be surprised if you're invited to more than a couple of Christmas parties - be it among friends, co-workers, immediate family, (not-so-immediate) family, or even social clubs.

Tatler Tip: be sure to prepare a random talent as most of these parties host impromptu variety competitions. 

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5. Filipinos love to eat. . . and drink!

Although this rings true for all cultures and countries, the jovial Filipino character is definitely best expressed through food.

Most Philippine households enjoy family-style meals and bonding often takes place over a shared spread or the occasional inuman (trans. 'drinking session'). Filipinos love crowd gatherings whether at the workplace or home. People sitting outside their houses sharing a bottle or two during the evenings is a regular sight around the city or rural areas. 

When passing by your neighbours gathered for a couple bottles of Red Horse or San Miguel, make sure to say hi and they may even offer you a glass. 

Trivia: "tagay" is the oft-used pinoy equivalent for cheers!, though you may also hear the call-out "kampay" often, which is a localised form of the Japanese "kanpai", meaning to 'empty the glass'.

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