Filipino culture is a fusion of pre-Hispanic indigenous Austronesian civilizations of the Philippines mixed with Hispanic and American. It has also been influenced by Chinese and Islamic culture. The indigenous Austronesian civilizations of the Philippines are similar with those of its southern neighbors, Malaysia and Indonesia.
The Hispanic influences in Filipino culture are largely derived from the culture of Spain and Mexico as a result of over three centuries of Spanish colonial rule through Mexico. These Hispanic influences are most evident in literature, folk music, folk dance, language, food, art and religion, such as Roman Catholic Church religious festivals. Filipinos hold major festivities known as barrio fiestas to commemorate their patron saints. One of the most visible Hispanic legacies is the prevalence of Spanish surnames among Filipinos. This peculiarity, unique among the people of Asia, came as a result of a colonial decree for the systematic distribution of family names and implementation of the Spanish naming system on the inhabitants of the Philippines. A Spanish name and surname among the majority of Filipinos does not always denote Spanish ancestry. Only about less than 2% of the population (mostly Filipinos of Spanish and Mexican origin) would qualify as Hispanic by ancestry.
Names of countless streets, towns and provinces are in Spanish. Spanish architecture also made a major imprint in the Philippines. This can be seen especially in the country’s churches, government buildings and universities. Many Hispanic style houses and buildings are being preserved, like the Spanish colonial town in Vigan City, for protection and conservation. Kalesa is a horse-driven carriage introduced by the Spaniards and was a major mode of transportation during the colonial times. It is still being used today. Filipino cuisine is also heavily influenced by Mexican and Spanish cuisine.
The Chinese influences in Filipino culture are most evident in Filipino cuisine. The prevalence of noodles, known locally as mami, is a testament to Chinese cuisine. Many Filipino superstitions are also Chinese in origin. Other Chinese influences include linguistic borrowings and the occasional Chinese derived surnames.
The use of English language in the Philippines is contemporaneous and is America’s visible legacy. The most commonly played sports in the Philippines are basketball and billiards. There is also a wide influence of American Pop cultural trends, such as the love of fast-food and movies; many street corners boast fast-food outlets. Aside from the American commercial giants such as McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Burger King, KFC, and Shakey’s Pizza, local fast-food chains have also sprung up, including Goldilocks, Jollibee, Greenwich Pizza (acquired by Jollibee in 1994), and Chowking (acquired by Jollibee in 2000). Modern day Filipinos also listen to contemporary American music and watch American movies. However, Original Pilipino Music (also known as OPM) and Philippine movies are also widely appreciated.
Filipinos honor national heroes whose works and deeds contributed to the shaping of the Filipino nation. José Rizal is the most celebrated ilustrado, a Spanish-speaking reformist visionary whose writings contributed greatly in nurturing a sense of national identity and awareness. His novels Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo originally written in Spanish, are required readings for Filipino students, and provide vignettes of colonial life under the Spanish rule.
As with many cultures, music (which includes traditional music) and leisure activities are an important aspect of the Filipino society. Various sports are also enjoyed, including boxing, basketball, badminton, billiards, football (soccer) and ten-pin bowling being popular games in the country.