The Cultural Geography of the Philippines

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Over the last fifty years or so, globalization and technological advancement in the transport and communication has seen the world’s population become highly mobile regarding their places of work and residence. This alongside tourism has become an important segment of the global, economy with many countries investing a lot of time and resources in marketing themselves as an attractive destination to foreign tourists and expatriates. One important factor people consider before relocating to a country either temporarily or permanently is the Cultural Geography of the country. Cultural geography is a branch of geography that is concerned with the patterns and interactions of both material and non-material human culture about natural environment and human organization. Countries with a favorable cultural geography climate host and attract millions of foreigners and generate billions of dollars in revenue annually. This research paper is a review of the cultural geography of the nation of Philippines focusing on its human traits and cultural organization.

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Human Traits of the nation of Philippines

The Philippines is a south-east Asian nation entirely made up of more than 7,000 islands of which around 2,000 of them are inhabited. Majority of the over 104,000,000 citizens of the Philippines live on 11 islands which are mainly mountainous and prone to some natural disasters including earthquakes, floods, landslides and volcanic eruptions. The Philippines attained its independence in 1946 from the United States which had been in power since 1898 when the Spanish colonist ceded control to the Americans after the 1898 Spanish-American war (Kelly, 2012) The cultural landscape and characteristics of the people of Philippines is a cocktail of both local and foreign influence from its regional neighbors as well as European and Americans influences over the past few centuries. The Philippines is the 12th most populated country in the world and has for a long time experienced a steady population growth rate although it has slowed over the last ten years. Ethnically, the population of the Philippines is as diverse as its geographical landscape with each island seemingly hosting a different ethnic group. The Tagalogs (often considered as the Filipinos), Ilocanos and Cebuanos are some of the country’s largest ethnic groups. The origin of the ethnic groups can be traced to the Philippines itself as well as Polynesia, Han Chinese, Indian and Malay. The Philippines has two official languages namely Filipino and English. Filipino is the formalized version of Tagalog; which is the language spoken by Philippines largest ethnic groups. Additionally, there are over a dozen other native languages spoken by the numerous ethnic groups across the Philippines of which majority belong to the same language family and closely related to Tagalog (Orbeta Jr, 2003). Religion is a very important aspect of the lives of the majority of the people of Philippines. The Philippines is widely known to be the only Christian nation in the whole of the continent of Asia. Statistics indicate that more than 80 percent of the people of Philippines are affiliated to Roman Catholic.

This has been attributed to the impact of Spanish colonization of the island nation between 1521 and 1898. Another 2 percent are Christian Protestants from the over 100 denominations within the country. The Muslim population makeup approximately 5 percent of the Filipino population and are primarily based in the southern islands of Mindanao and Sulu. There are other statistically insignificant religions scattered around the country including Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism. Culturally, the people of the Philippines are also diverse thanks to indigenous varied cultural influences. The old Asian culture of the Filipinos is still prominently evident in the way of life, beliefs, and customs of the people of Philippines. The Spanish colonialist, as well as the Americans, have also had a major impact in the daily way of life for the majority of the Filipinos. Folklore is an important part of the culture of the people of Philippines, especially in the rural areas. The Spanish literature and the early church is a prominent influence on the Filipino folklore landscape. Music is another vibrant aspect of culture which many Filipinos are very fond of. Festive celebrations in the Philippines are characterized by group songs and traditional dances commonly known as Thinking and Carinosa.

Majority of the music is contemporary although there are also local compositions based on real-life experiences of the composers. The Spanish influence in the country’s music landscape is evident in the instruments such as ukulele, trumpet, drums and violin introduced by the Spanish settlers. The Philippines has a democratic political system modeled on the American system with multi-party elections held periodically every five years. The Manila-based government is made up of three co-dependent branches; the executive, the legislature and the judiciary which are headed by a democratically elected president who is also the head of state. The country has several administrative divisions made up 72 provinces and 61 chartered cities. Since independence, the Philippines has witnessed periods of political instability which has seen some presidents overthrown from office by the popular political uprising, for example, the 1986 people power revolution that toppled President Ferdinand Marcos from power. The political landscape in the country remains volatile to this day as a result of various factors including rampant corruption, the allegation of human rights violation, drug violence as well as threats of terrorism. The people of the Philippines can freely migrate and live through most of the country except a few places affected by insurgency and terrorism threats. Communist Insurgency waged by New Peoples’ Army has lasted for around half a century leading to loss of many lives and property. The Philippines has also encounter Islamic terrorist attacks over the tears with recent cases attributed to the international affiliates of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (McCabe, 2017).

Cultural Organization of the country

The cultural organization of a country is also another important aspect which expatriates and tourists consider when choosing their destination. The Cultural organization is mainly concerned with the general social dynamics within a country whose consequences are beyond the individual level. Food and agriculture, industry and manufacturing, services and settlement, and urban patterns are some of the primary cultural organization issues that work either favorable against or for a particular country. The Philippines is widely considered as a lower middle-income country despite significant economic expansion witnessed over the past few years. The Philippines still has a significant number of its population living below the national poverty line with 2016 estimates by the Asian Development Bank placing a figure of 21 percent. Compared to her South-East Asian neighbors such as Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore, the Philippines still lags behind in various important human development indices. Agriculture has always been a vital component in the lives of rural Filipinos who depend on it for food and livelihood. Agriculture employs more than a third of the entire workforce in the Philippines and contributes about 15 percent of the country’s GDP.

Rice is the stable food for the majority of the Filipinos served for breakfast, lunch, and supper with a variety of other dishes. Most farmers in the country also farm rice crops in paddies across the hilly islands of the Philippines. Despite the importance of agriculture to the economy of the Philippines and its population, the country is not able to produce enough food to feed itself thanks to a combination of both human-made factors and natural disasters including floods, earthquakes, and armed conflicts. Low yields and low profits from farming have made the turned majority of the country’s small-scale farmers poor as well as discouraging many young people from taking up farming. Hunger and malnutrition are rampant amongst the poor Filipino children. Despite this, the Filipinos are known for their unique variety of diverse vegetarian and meat cuisines such as Casablanca and Lechon. Being a nation entirely made up of hundreds of islands, the sea has always been a great resource and source of livelihood for the people of Philippines in terms of provision of food. Sea food is an important component in majority of the Filipino dishes especially for communities residing by the sea. Bangus which is the national fish for the Philippines is the most popular sea food amongst the locals as well as visitors as well. Apart from this, there are dozens of other popular sea food including tambakol, cream dory, mussels, crabs, yellow fin tuna, espada, tangigue, oysters, squid, lobster, sea cucumber, seaweed and many varieties of prawns (Blanchard et al., 2017). Industry and manufacturing are one of the areas where the Philippines has done well over the last few years becoming the most important driver of the country’s economy. The Philippines has a diversified array of industrial sector made up of sub-sectors such as manufacturing, mining and quarrying, construction, and electricity, gas and water. According to figures released by the Philippines Statistics Authority in 2015, manufacturing contributed more than half of the country’s industrial sector and approximately a quarter of the country’s GDP. Over the last few decades, the manufacturing output of the Philippines has rapidly advanced regarding efficiency and the value of products. Electronics, machinery, vehicles, ships and boats, medical equipment’s, and fruits are some of the main products the Filipino industrial sector produces for both the domestic and international markets The service industry is another increasingly important component of the economy of Philippines employing millions of people and generating billions of dollars in revenues for both government and private investors.

Labour Force Survey (LFS) released in 2017 by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) indicate that the service sector is the largest employer in the Philippines. With over 40 million people employed across the different sub-sectors of the industry, the service sector accounts for approximately 55 percent of the country’s entire workforce. Wholesale and retail, repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles, transportation, public administration and defense, and accommodation and food services are a few of the sectors of the service industry where the majority of the 40 million are employed. Business Process Outsourcing is another service industry that the Philippines has performed well and attracted investments thanks to her well-educated population (Low & Pasadilla, 2016). Settlements and urban patterns are the other cultural organization aspects that are important for expatriates and tourists planning to move to a foreign country. Settlements and urban patterns are important indicators of a country’s economic wellbeing status. Being a lower middle-income country, a significant number of the population of the Philippines still live in rural areas although the country is rapid urbanization. 2015 statistics from the World Fact Book showed that 44 percent of the population of Philippines lived in urban areas while the remaining 55 percent resided in rural or semi-urban areas. The annual rate of urbanization for that year was 1.32 percent. The Philippines has several major urban centers with Manila the capital hosting around 12 million people. The other big cities are Cebu and Davao each hosting over two million people. The patterns in Filipino urban centers reflect those seen in the majority of the developing countries.

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The Cultural Geography of the Philippines. (2018, Dec 15). Retrieved December 9, 2022 , from

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