THIS MONTH IN FILIPINO HISTORY
Utang na Loob
The Philippines is
an archipelago surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, the Celebes Sea, and the
South China Sea. It is a republic with an illustrious history. It has
been an active trading center since pre-colonial times, a site of decisive
battles and political revolutions, and, for centuries, a cultural meeting
ground of East and West.
The Philippines is known not only for
the beauty of its natural environment but also for the warmth and charm of
its people. It has been praised in lofty ways, but perhaps not in as
exalted a manner as by Filipinos themselves. “Pearl of the Orient Seas”
was the title given by Dr. Jose Rizal, the national hero, to his homeland.
Quick Filipino Facts
Republic of the Philippines
Filipino and English
300,000 sq. km. (116,610 sq. mi.)
Highest: Mount Apo at 3,144 meters (or 10,218
76,058,573 (estimated 2001)
54% rural, 46% urban
Agriculture: banana, cassava, coconut, corn, pineapple, rice,
sugarcane, sweet potato, swine, and poultry.
Forestry: ebony, kapok, Philippine mahogany
Marine: milkfish, shrimp, sponges, tuna, mother-of-pearl
Mining: chromite, copper, gold, nickel
Manufacturing: cement, chemicals, garments, electronic equipment,
foods and beverages, petroleum products, textiles and wood products
Basic Monetary Unit:
Weights & Measures:
Manila, Quezon City, Davao, Cebu and Zamboanga
Roman Catholic 83%, Protestant 9%, Muslim 5%,
Buddhist 3%, and others
Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilocano, Pampango, Ilonggo
A field of two horizontal bands, blue on top and
red at the bottom. During war, the colors are reversed. They are
joined at the staff side by a white triangle, in the middle of which
is an eight-rayed sun that represents liberty. In each corner of the
triangle is a yellow star, which stands for the major island groups of
Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
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|The Philippine archipelago lies off the southeastern
coast of the Asia mainland. It consists of 7,107 islands and islets,
making it one of the largest archipelagos in the world. The islands are
grouped into three sections: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. There are
eleven main islands: Luzon, Mindanao, Samar, Negros, Palawan, Panay,
Mindoro, Leyte, Cebu, Bohol and Masbate.
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For administrative purposes, the country is divided
into 15 regions (listed below). The regions are further divided into
provinces, the provinces into cities and municipalities, and these into
barangays (the smallest political unit).
I – Ilocos
II – Cagayan Valley
III – Central Luzon
IV – Southern Tagolog
V – Bicol
VI – Western Visayas
VII – Central Visayas
VIII – Eastern Visayas
IX – Western Mindanao
X – Northern Mindanao
XI – Southern Mindanao
XII – Central Mindanao
National Capital Region (NCR)
Cordillera Administrative Region
Autonomous Region of Muslim
The Philippines has a varied topography. It has a
coastline of 18,411 kilometers. Many islands have extensive coral reefs
that attract tourists from everywhere. The larger islands have rugged,
mountainous interiors, mostly ranges running north to south. Its four
major lowland areas – central plain of Luzon, Cagayan valley, Agusan and
Cotabato river valley – contrast sharply with the high mountain areas of
Central and Eastern Cordillera and Zambales. Three major mountain ranges
traverse the country to form natural barriers: the Sierra Madre, the
Cordillera, and Caraballo ranges. There are about 221 volcanoes, 21 of
which are active.
The Philippines lies on the volatile Pacific “Ring
of Fire,” and most of the highest mountains are volcanic in origin. It
had its share of natural disasters in recent years, but two major
eruptions Mt. Pinatubo and Mayon Volcano caught the attention of
sightseers. Mt. Pinatubo in the central plain of Northern Luzon erupted
on June 12, 1991, after 600 years of silence, rendering almost 50,000
people homeless. The great rivers of volcanic lava devastated the once
fertile central plains of Luzon. Mayon Volcano, called “the perfect
cone,” almost lost its mystique when it erupted on February 2, 1993,
spewing volcanic debris several miles into the air and destroying fertile
farmlands around the city of Legaspi.
The Philippines is no stranger to earthquakes. The
worst earthquake in the recent past occurred in 1990. With an intensity
of 7.7 on the Richter scale, it damaged thousands of buildings and
resulted in widespread casualties. Fortunately, the damaged areas of
Baguio, Cabanatuan and Pangasinan have recovered. Manila had minimal
damage, making it the refuge of those who were left homeless by the
The Philippines is located just above the equator on
the upper torrid zone of the globe. Thus, the country experiences an
average temperature ranging from 24˚
Celsius (about 75˚
Fahrenheit) to 31˚ Celsius
(about 88˚ Fahrenheit) and
humidity varies from 70% to 85% depending on the time of year. The warm
and humid climate all year round accounts for one of the healthiest
tropical climates. There are two distinct seasons: wet and dry. The time
of year for each season depends upon the local climate in each region. In
Baguio, the “summer capital” of the Philippines, temperature averages 18.3˚
Celsius (or 65˚
Fahrenheit). Nights all over the country are decidedly cold in the months
of December and January.
The different parts of the country experience varied
weather conditions because of the general air streams that cross the
islands: the northeast monsoon that moves from north to east from October
to January; the trade winds that come from the tropical high-pressure area
of the Pacific from February to April; the southwest monsoon that
originates from the tropical high-pressure area below the equator from May
may occur anytime of the year, but their peak of occurrence coincides with
the rainy season. The number, path, and strength of typhoons differ each
year. They are measured by signals according to strength and length. An
average of 25 typhoons comes each year to different regions of the
The Philippine population in 1990 was 61.5 million.
In the year 2000, it soared to 76.5 million and is expected to grow
As the country moves toward industrialization, the
urban population has increased. Many people from the rural areas are
transferring to urban areas where the standard of living is perceived to
be higher and there are more opportunities for employment. Of the total
Philippine population, 65% belong to the working age group (between 15 and
64 years old).
Aware of the adverse effects of high population
growth on all aspects of the economy, the government continues to advocate
a population policy that encourages the attainment of a small family
size. These population programs are complemented by schemes to promote
the health and welfare of women, improve the environmental sanitation, and
provide more employment opportunities.
The first people to live in the Philippine Islands
are thought to have migrated from various regions of Asia, including
negroid Aetas and Mongloid people from Southeast Asia. Larger groups
of people from the regions of present-day China and Vietnam arrived later.
The largest migrations to the islands, however, probably occurred after
the 3rd century BC. The latest arrivals were people from the Malay
and Indonesian archipelagos and the Polynesian islands. These
migrants brought iron tools and technologies that included glassmaking and
weaving as well as seafaring skills.
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There is no doubt that the Filipino spirit is alive
and strong. The Filipino's identity is evident in the traits,
traditions, passions, and attitudes of a people with a diverse and unique
Filipinos are generally known for their
hospitality. Although they are not the only people in the world
who can be friendly, warm, and welcoming, their attitude toward other
people is said to be unique. The foreigner will experience being "at
home" almost anywhere in the Philippines. If he happens to drop by a
Filipino home, the family will normally offer him something to eat.
The host will not complain that he's being disturbed and will not boast
that he has offered the best that is available under the circumstances.
Another important Filipino Trait is close family ties. In a
conventional Filipino family, the father is the head and the mother is the
"light," the teacher and manager of the household. Due to the
closeness that this unit maintains, the grandparents live with the family
for as long as they like. More than that, the Filipino values the
relationship of their relatives, even down to their third cousins.
Another major trait incomparable to other races is respect for elders.
In the Filipino setting, the parents are accorded the highest respect in
the family. Hence, it is a moral rule for children to talk and
behave respectfully. The constant use of the words po and
opo is a sign of respect for the elderly. Even parents are
obliged to use these words when talking to their elders.
If you want a Filipino friend, it would not be hard for you to gain
loyalty, which is another strong trait among the people. The
term utang na loob implies a strong sense of gratitude and loyalty
to a person who did a good thing for someone. Filipinos treasure
their friendships under any circumstances. The Filipino's trust
becomes evident when he shares with you both his joys and sorrows. A
Filipino friend is someone you can lean on.
trait of the Filipino is pakikisama, which can be roughly
translated as comradeship or being cooperative. It has many
manifestations in Philippine society, one of which is extending support or
offering help to neighbors who are in need. Pakikisama
reflects the bayanihan spirit, which involves cooperation among
fellow men to come up with a certain idea or accomplish a certain task.
While bayanihan refers to a community-support deed, pakikisama
has a more individualized sense.
Filipinos too are
known for being sensitive to insults, criticisms (constructive and
destructive), racial discrimination, and other small issues cropping on
occasion. Amor propio, or pride, connects the traits
pakikisama, hiya (or shame), and utang na loob (or debt
of honor). All of these affect his amor propio. If you
have helped him in a way that cannot be repaid materially, he will
constantly thank you for the favor done. The pride to return the
good deeds he received nurtures his amor propio, which sometimes
leads to showing off especially in the presence of peers and subordinates.
His amor propio propels him to be overly of sensitive.
The Filipino Compared to the Bamboo
There is a popular saying, "The Filipino is as pliant
as a bamboo." The bamboo is a tree found in tropical and subtropical
regions. It is known for its flexibility and versatility. It
can be used in making furniture, kitchen utensils, and other items for
practical use. There is even a organ made from bamboo at the Las Piňas
church, the only one of its kind in the world.
The properties of bamboo, according to Tomas
Andres in Positive Filipino Values (1989), are "low modules of
elasticity, poor bond with concrete, tendency to absorb moisture, high
absorption strain, and variations in mechanical properties." The
bamboo is generally considered pliant, and symbolically it has been
compared to the Filipino character. Why so?
The Filipino character is similar to the bamboo
because it has flexibility, endurance, and harmony with nature. It
bends with the wind, but can survive a storm. Just like the bamboo,
the Filipino nation goes along with the forces of nature and politics.
It copes with "fate" rather than fights against it. The Filipino mind
is pliant in the sense that it is open to new ideas. Although the
Filipino is trusting, he is also capable of standing up for his own
beliefs. He will not tolerate betrayal and oppression.
Filipinos in general are protective of their hard-won independence, and
they will fight for their freedom at all costs.
Majority of Filipinos—about
83% of the national population—are Roman Catholics. The religion was
introduced to the natives by the Spanish colonizers in the 16th century.
About 95% of the people are considered Christians, more than in any Asian
country. Thus, the Philippines is considered the only Christian
country in Asia.
Philippine Constitution guarantees freedom of worship. Every
Filipino can choose which organized religion to join. Protestants,
Muslims (especially in the South), and members of other minor religions
can openly practice their faith.
The Philippines has two official languages, Filipino and English.
Filipino is based primarily on the Tagalog language. Most Filipinos
are either bilingual or trilingual. About 70 native languages are
spoken all over the archipelago.