The culture of the Philippines reflects the country's complex history. It is a blend of the Malayo-Polynesian and Hispanic cultures, with influences from Chinese.
The Philippines was first settled by Melanesians; today they preserve a very traditional way of life and culture, although their numbers are few. After them, the Austronesians or more specifically, Malayo-Polynesians, arrived on the islands. Today the Austronesian culture is very evident in the ethnicity, language, food, dance and almost every aspect of the culture. These Austronesians engaged in trading with China, India, Japan, the Ryukyuislands, the Middle East, Borneo, and other places. As a result, those cultures have also left a mark on Filipino culture.
When the Spanish colonized the islands, after more than three centuries of colonization, they had heavily impacted the culture. The Philippines being governed from both Mexico and Spain, had received a little bit of Hispanic influence. Mexican and Spanish influence can be seen in the dance and religion many other aspects of the culture. After being colonized by Spain, the Philippines became a U.S. territory for about 40 years. Influence from the United States is seen in the wide use of the English language, and the modern pop culture.
The Philippines is one of two predominantly Roman Catholic nations in Asia-Pacific, the other being East Timor. From a census in 2000, Catholics constitute 80.9%, with Aglipayan followers at 2%, Evangelical Christians at 2.8%, Iglesia Ni Cristo at 2.3%, and other Christian denominations at 4.5%. Islam is the religion for about 5% of the population, while 1.8% practice other religions. The remaining 0.6 did not specify a religion while 0.1% are irreligious. Before the arrival of the Spaniards and the introduction of Roman Catholicism and Western culture in the 16th century, the indigenous Austronesian people of what is now called the Philippines were adherents of a mixture of shamanistic Animism, Islam, Hinduism and Vajrayana Buddhism.
The early music of the Philippines featured a mixture of Indigenous, Islamic and a variety of Asian sounds that flourished before the European and American colonization in the 16th and 20th centuries. Spanish settlers and Filipinos played a variety of musical instruments, including flutes, guitar,ukelele, violin, trumpets and drums. They performed songs and dances to celebrate festive occasions. By the 21st century, many of the folk songs and dances have remained intact throughout the Philippines. Some of the groups that perform these folk songs and dances are the Bayanihan, Filipinescas, Barangay-Barrio, Hariraya, the Karilagan Ensemble, and groups associated with the guilds of Manila, and Fort Santiago theatres. Many Filipino musicians have risen prominence such as the composer and conductor Antonio J. Molina, the composer Felipe P. de Leon, known for his nationalistic themes and the opera singer Jovita Fuentes.
Philippine folk dances include the Tinikling and Cariñosa. In the southern region of Mindanao, Singkil is a popular dance showcasing the story of a prince and princess in the forest. Bamboo poles are arranged in a tic-tac-toe pattern in which the dancers exploit every position of these clashing poles. [pic]
The Philippines, being one of Asia's earliest film industry producers, remains undisputed in terms of the highest level of theater admission in Asia. Over the years, however, the Philippine film industry has registered a steady decline in movie viewership from 131 million in 1996 to 63 million in 2004. From a high production rate of 350 films a year in the 1950s, and 200 films a year during the 1980s, the Philippine film industry production rate declined in 2006 to 2007. The 21st century saw the rebirth of independent filmmaking through the use of digital technology and a number of films have once again earned nationwide recognition and prestige....