The Filipino is basically
of Malay stock with a sprinkling of Chinese, American, Spanish
and Arab blood. The Philippines has a population of 76.5 million,
and it is hard to distinguish accurately the lines between stocks.
From a long history of Western colonial rule, interspersed with
the visits of merchants and traders, evolved a people of a unique
blend of east and west, both in appearance and culture.
The Filipino character is actually a little
bit of all the cultures put together. The bayanihan or spirit
of kinship and camaraderie that Filipinos are famous for is said
to be taken from Malay forefathers. The close family relations
are said to have been inherited from the Chinese. The piousness
comes, from the Spaniards who introduced Christianity in the 16th
century. Hospitality is a common denominator in the Filipino character
and this is what distinguishes the Filipino. Filipinos are probably
one of the few, if not the only, English-proficient Oriental people
today. Pilipino is the official national language, with English
considered as the country's unofficial one.
The Filipinos are divided geo-graphically and
culturally into regions, and each regional group is recognizable
by distinct traits and dialects-the sturdy and frugal Ilocanos
of the north, the industrious Tagalog's of the central plains,
the carefree Visayans from the central islands and the colorful
tribes-men and religious Moslems of Mindanao. Tribal communities
can be found scattered across the archipelago. All in all the
Philippines has 111 dialects spoken, owing to the subdivisions
of these basic regional and regional groups.
Some 80 percent of the population is Catholic,
Spain's lasting legacy. About 15 percent is Moslem and these people
can be found basically in Mindanao. The rest of the population
is made up mostly of smaller Christian denominations and Buddhists.