The Filipino is basically of Malay stock with a sprinkling of Chinese, American, Spanish and Arab blood. The Philippines has a population of 70 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 geographically and culturally into regions, and each regional group is recognizable by distinct traits and dialects – the sturdy and frugal llocanos of the north, the industrious Tagalogs of the central plains, the carefree Visayans from the central islands and the colorful tribesmen and religious Moslems of Mindanao. Tribal communities can be found scattered across the archipelago. The Philippines has more than 111 dialects spoken, owing to the subdivisions of these basic regional and cultural 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 Buddhist.
The country is marked by a true blend of cultures; truly in the Philippines, East meets West. The background of the people is Indonesian and Malay. There are Chinese and Spanish elements as well. The history of American rule and contact with merchants and traders culminated in a unique blend of East and West, both in the appearance and culture of the people of the Filipinos, or people of the Philippines.