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Philippines: Filipino Traits and Living

Updated on March 22, 2012

Life in the Philippines seems simplier and fun. That is mostly if you live in the provinces which is something I missed from time to time. The cockadoodle of roasters in the morning, sounds of jeepneys, and the gentle breeze from the rice field just behind our kitchen is just a memory to hold onto.

And if you are interested to know more about how life is in the Philippines and the way of living, here's a glimpse of what I am missing from my childhood while my family was living there just before migrating.


Sharing dish with neighbors.

Filipino families share whatever dish they had prepared with their neighbors which I think a tourist would find quite interesting. This could be observe anywhere in the country, even in the cities.

But most of memories of our neighborhood are in the province of Mindoro where I grew up. The neighbors are more like relatives as each one usually knows what's going on with the neighbors. Either mom or dad would call my younger brother or I after lunch or dinner was cooked. And when we show up on the kitchen, it would be the usual, "Bring this to our neighbor." It could be whatever viand we had for meal.

Once on the neighbor, the family wouldn't return the bowl without something in return with it. And that would either be a dessert or their dish they had for their meal.

This trait can also be observe on parties amongst neighbors. If there's a celebration on the neighborhood, don't be surprised if you opened your door with someone standing there holding a plates or bowls of foods.

The common house lizard.
The common house lizard. | Source

House lizards are common in the Philippine household. So don't get startled when you see a lizard anywhere in the house.

And it is just true that when you get used to something, somehow you would miss it when it is no longer there. I missed seeing this common house lizards! Back in the Philippines, I could spot them on ceilings, walls, and in the tables, anywhere in the house I say.

The common house lizard also has this interesting trait of going down to the ground, kissing the Earth at 6 in the evening. My dad always tells me about that but it seems that this has been changing or it might be because I hadn't actually caught a house lizard kissing the ground at those specific time of the night. One Philippine legend goes that the common house gecko does this to atone to its greatest sin.


Neighbors watching television together.

Another Filipino activity that can be observe are Filipinos just going into one of the neighbors house and watch television with them. This is one thing I missed and I grew up with.

Back then, I would look forward into the end of the day, school was done at 4 pm and I would be home to my favorite cartoons. At about early evening while our television was on and local news was about to end followed by anime episodes, our neighbors would be showing up in our living room watching either news with us and then the anime Lupin III, Dragon Ball Z, and even Pokemon. It is fun actually watching television programs with them.


Up for a natural alarm clock? Get ready to be awakened early in the morning when the roosters does their cockadoodle sound.

Filipino elders say roosters do this routine everyday. I remember being said many times, "Roosters do their cockadoodle at 6 am, then at 12 noon and at 3 pm or 6 in the evening." But as I observed it, I hear these roosters at those mentioned hours and even on some other hours of the day.


School days!

School life in the Philippines starts at 7 in the morning. From grade school to high school and to college, I went to school in uniforms and classes are Mondays to Fridays, being out at 4 pm. And I'd say every student is looking forward to school activities such as Intrams because in those days, a school uniform isn't required. The days would be spend with different games, fun with friends, singing, and other sports.

My friends and I loves hanging out on the benches under the mango trees watching any activities on the playground, laughing and chit chatting until the day is over. What a great day and a chance to rest and just be lazy from classroom lectures, quizzes,graded oral recitations and finals.

High school days in uniforms at the Jica building hallway.
High school days in uniforms at the Jica building hallway. | Source

Want more insight into Philippine school life?

Well, I went to public schools and both grade school and high school are the same: school uniforms, time classes start and end, and the cleaning! There's a group of students assigned to clean the classroom everyday, either it is done alphabetically or by rows. That's the sweeping, dusting and cleaning the board so it would be ready for the day's lectures.

And the sitting arrangement? Some class adviser allows students to sit wherever they want, but some after few days the classes had started for the year, prefers students to be alphabetically seated. And in my case, I'm always sitting in row 1 in the front since my last name starts in letter A. On grade school, there's only one teacher that teaches the class all of the subjects, and the classrooms are named after flowers. But in high school each subject instructors would go to our classroom and each classrooms are numbered in Roman numerals with letters such as IV-A, IV-B and IV-C which refers to Fourth year class section A to C.

Bidding on Philippine market on any product or item.
Bidding on Philippine market on any product or item. | Source


Another well known trait that can be seen in the country is the biding. And this can go on almost any item or product on the market: fruits, vegetables, meat and fish, clothing, accessories, you name it.

When the price seems high and the customer can't afford it or wanted to buy the item for a lower price, the customer would offer an amount until both parties agrees on the price.

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The mini store

The mini store or called sari-sari store or tindahan can be seen anywhere in the country which sells cooking ingredients, snacks, soap and shampoo, canned foods and drinks.

And you know what owners hate sometimes? That is a long list of debt. When people in the neighborhood are broke, or doesn't have any money to pay for items, they could ask the store owner to just "put the item they would take on the list of debt" and they would pay it when money is available. Or just simply by saying ,"utang" (debt.) The store owner would just then list the item on the customers list, but there are times the list keeps piling up without being paid off. And in that case, the customer wouldn't be allowed until the debts or list has been paid.


So you are walking by in the neighborhood and you see mangoes! Or any other fruit bearing trees and at that instant you want some. What to do?

Just go knock on the owner's home and ask if you could have some mangoes, santol, avocado, or any other fruit you had spotted that you are craving for.

In the Philippines, specially in the provinces, neighbors know each other and builds a good neighbor relationship. And they usually happy to share whatever they had in their yards. This doesn't only go with fruit bearing trees but also with vegetables. yes, vegetables and even herbal plants.

When we we're still in the Philippines, dad had a mini fish pond on our front yard, planted some oregano and lagundi tree for my asthma, bittermelon and other vegetables. And he's just glad he could share it with our neighbors when their kids are sick.

A neighbor could just call us on the front porch and say, " Can I have few leaves of your oregano? Thank you!" And this goes with any other plant too as I said, but usually it was the oregano that attracts attention for healing cold and cough.


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