Prachi Gohil, Roving Editor
The Filipino Heritage Club at Saint Martin’s University aligns with the institution’s benedictine values of community, as the club addresses each other as “family.” The group not only wants individuals to work and prosper in programs, but also wants to be there for its members academically, physically, mentally, and emotionally.
The culture of the Philippines comprises a blend of traditional Filipino and Spanish-Catholic traditions, with influences from America and other parts of Asia. Traditional Filipino culture is family-oriented and often religious with an appreciation for art, fashion, music, and food. The culture also emphasizes hospitality and entertainment. This often includes getting together to sing, dance, and eat. The traditional calendar is packed with festivals, many of which combine costumes and rituals from the nation’s pre-Christian past with the Catholic beliefs and ideology of present day.
The Filippino-American war between American soldiers and Filipino revolutionaries lasted from 1899-1902, and resulted in American control of the region, during which literacy increased and freedom of religion was introduced, removing Catholicism as the state religion. America’s promises of independence in 1916 led to the Philippines being granted commonwealth status in 1935.
The Filipino culture sets them apart because in times of calamities and catastrophes, Filipinos always manage to rise above the challenge. Filipino’s consider family first. So whether you are part of the immediate family or you belong to the third or fourth generation, you are treated as a family member. Sometimes, even the closest of friends are considered family too. They are a prominent reason on why karaoke has become so popular. As part of their recreation, many Filipinos spend some quality time with their families or friends singing or belting out new and old songs.
Filipino’s are also known for their religious beliefs. They go to church every Sunday, or sometimes even twice or three times a week. It is further said, from the moment they are born into this world, they are already taught how to be respectful by using these simple catchphrases when addressing elders— “po” and “opo” are used in agreement, or “yes” . They have a culture of “pagmamano”, called “bless” in english, which is where they raise the backs of the hands of their elders to their foreheads as a sign of respect. “Bayanihan” means nation, town, or community. Filipinos help one another—without expecting anything in return—so that undertaking their tasks and responsibilities become much easier. Sometimes this is also called “community spirit.”
Filipinos also love to hold celebrations and fiestas. Some examples, but not all, include; Bacolod has its MassKara Festival, Davao has its Kadayawan Festival, and Marinduque has its Moriones Festival. Even as early as August, one can hear Christmas songs and jingles being played in the malls or the restaurant. The mood becomes festive, with many people shopping and in good spirits. Christmas celebrations last until around the first or second week of January. For them, traditions in their home and in their family are important. They usually set aside a specific day for a certain celebration like festivals, birthday parties, and reunions. And of course, every gathering is dedicated to catching up with each other over sumptuous food.
The Filipino heritage club is a family which welcomes all students with diverse cultural backgrounds, ultimately helping them learn more about in the best way we can, while being a source of “getaway” from the everyday college lifestyle.