In honor of the Philippines’ 119th Independence Day celebration, we give you a short yet informative refresher on everything Filipino. So if you’re an expat or a balikbayan looking forward to spending a holiday in the country this June, here’s a great way to be acquainted with the national symbols that convey the traditions and ideals of the Philippines’ independence.
Language: Filipino is the widely spoken language in the country making it the official language. Sometimes it is regarded as an alternative name for Tagalog or the main dialect in the Manila.
Flower: Sampaguita is a member of the jasmine family. Its sweet fragrance makes it a favorite adornment. It is believed that star-shaped flower embodies humility, purity, and simplicity.
Fruit: Mango is the said to be the third most important fruit crop in the Philippines, particularly the carabao mango variety. It is the country’s top export product and one of the world’s best mango varieties. The green mango is usually served in salads while the golden yellow mango is the all-time tropical fruit favorite in the island. From salads to desserts, cooked, dried, frozen, processed or plain, the sweet and juicy Philippine mango has many ways of being served.
Hero: Jose P. Rizal, born June 19, 1861, is a native of Calamba, Laguna. Having mastered more than 20 languages, traveled to Europe, America and Asia, and possessing a strong educational background, Rizal hoped to achieve social and political reforms for the Philippines. He was an artist, economist, ethnologist, scientific farmer, historian, journalist, linguist, musician, mythologist, nationalist, novelist, surgeon, propagandist, scientist, sculptor, sociologist, and theologian. He authored the iconic Noli Me Tangere, and El Filibusterismo, both depicting the life of the Filipinos under the Spanish regime.
Fish: Bangus, or commonly known as milkfish, is a saltwater specie that is also found in freshwater. The cultivation is predominant in the country which makes it a popular table fare among locals. It is known to be one of the boniest fishes in the world, rich in protein and vitamins, and high in omega-3 content.
Tree: Narra, is a strikingly tall, shady and sturdy tree prevalent in the countries of the Southeast Asia. Its hard and strong characteristic makes it a preferred timber for furniture production.
Bird: Philippine Eagle, also known as the monkey-eating eagle, is a giant forest raptor endemic to the Philippines. Standing at 3 feet, with a wingspan of two meters, and features a large curved beak and long crowning feathers, the Philippine eagle is one of the biggest and strongest eagles in the world and regarded as endangered vertebrae specie.
Animal: Carabao, or water buffalo, is associated with the local farming life in the provinces of the Philippines. The carabao plays a great role in the agriculture process by pulling the cart and plow used to tow the farms.
Costume (male): Barong Tagalog (Baro ng Tagalong, the dress of Tagalog) is a embroidered formal clothing in the Philippine culture. Fabrics commonly used for the barong tagalong are Jusi, Pina, Pina-Jusi, or linen fabric giving an airy tropical feel. Its closed neck design is of Chinese-influence, the elongated fit depicts Hindu-style, while the distinct embroidered design is more of a European touch.
Costume (female): Baro’t Saya (blouse and skirt) is the traditional Philippine blouse-skirt ensemble which dates back to the Spanish era. The baro (sleeved, collarless blouse) made with thin fabric like pina, covers the upper torso, where they wear a shirt underneath. The saya (skirt), which originated from the colorful plaid wrap-around, has gotten longer throughout the years.
Dance: Tinikling, popularly known as the bamboo dance, is an imitation of the graceful and speedy motion of the tikling birds as they move through the grass stems, through the tree branches and dodging bamboo traps. The dance is performed with two bamboo poles beating, tapping against, and sliding across the ground while dancers step over and dances in between the poles without their feet getting caught. The beating and rhythm continues at a faster pace as dancers demonstrate a faster yet graceful movement.
House: Nipa hut is a shelter usually found in farms across provinces. It is a structure made of bamboo and palm shade, with its roof inclined to provide protection against strong winds and rain and offers good ventilation.
Gem: Pearl, or Philippine South Sea pearl, is the oldest valued and rarest of gems. Normally its size range from 9mm-19mm and possess distinct beauty and elegance. The white and black are two groups of Philippine South Sea cultured pearls. The colors range from white to silvery blues and yellow or pale golds where the latter are mostly found in the Philippine and Indonesian waters.