culture of the Philippines

pattern of human activity and symbolism associated with the Philippines and its people

The culture of the Philippines is characterized by cultural diversity. Although the multiple ethnic groups of the Philippine archipelago have only recently established a shared Filipino national identity, their cultures were all shaped by the geography and history of the region, and by centuries of interaction with neighboring cultures, colonial powers. In more recent times, Filipino culture has also been influenced through its participation in the global community." The Philippine archipelago was first settledby Negritos; today, although few in numbers, they preserve a very traditional way of life and culture. After them, the Austronesians arrived on the archipelago. The Austronesian culture is strongly evident in the ethnic majority and languages. Before the arrival of European colonizers in the 1500s, the various ethnic groups of the Philippines were organized into various independent polities, which historians have come to call "barangays." These polities consisted of about thirty to a hundred households, and were ruled by leaders with titles. The largest of these, such as Butuan, Tondo and the Sultanate of Sulu were complex political formations based on the deltas of the archipelago's biggest river systems, with political and trade relationships with polities further upstream on one hand, and with the political and trading powers of Maritime Southeast Asia and East Asia such as the Sultanate of Brunei, the Majapahit empire, the Qing and Ming Dynasties of China, and even Japan. Indirect cultural exchange and some trade also took place with the Indian subcontinent and Arabia. The advent of Spanish colonial rule in the islands marked the beginning of the Philippines as an entity, a collection of Southeast Asian countries united under Spanish Empire. The empire ruled, via the Viceroyalty of New Spain and later directly from Madrid (after 1821 Mexican independence), the islands between the 16th and 19th centuries (Batanes being one of the last places to be colonized in the mid-1800s), resulting in Christianity to spread and dominate throughout the archipelago and influenced the religion and beliefs of the natives. Then, the Philippines became a U.S. territory for almost 50 years. Influence from the United States is manifested in the wide use of the English language, media and in the modern culture and clothing of present-day Philippines.
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