The Philippines is a uniquely cosmopolitan melting pot. English is widely spoken, Chinese food is easy to find, American movies are popular, and nearly everyone has a Spanish-sounding name. From remote mountain villages to the bustling capital of Manila, the Philippines is a country proud of its fused and multifaceted identity. Its people are friendly and hospitable, and despite suffering many of the problems that plague people in other developing countries, Filipinos have been surveyed as some of the happiest people in the world.
In the Philippines, smooth social relationships are highly valued. Togetherness or pakikisama implies that one is willing to get along with others—a positive side of this is bayanihan or a helpful attitude towards community. The concept of shame or hiya is central in maintaining social harmony. Filipinos are generally non-confrontational and will seldom decline a request point blank. It is considered rude to argue or disagree, especially in public.
Although the Philippines is predominantly Catholic and the Church figures prominently in society, an indigenous belief system predated the arrival of the Spanish. Carved idols and ancestors were worshiped, and belief in the supernatural was widespread. Some of these practices still persist subtly into the present day.
A lively arts scene exists in the Philippines, not only in the capital but also across the country. Music and dance is a way of life for Filipinos, whether in traditional or modern forms. The visual arts are also well- developed, with a wealth of talented artists creating an interesting body of work. The academe and other institutions such as the Cultural Center of the Philippines continue to nurture and develop Filipino artists.
This marvelous mixture gives the Philippines a distinct charm that brings a warm and unforgettable experience to visitors from all over the world.