Philippine Traditions and Icons That Are in Danger of Disappearing
If we are to list all Philippine traditions and icons we have today, it’ll take us longer than what free time would only allow. The list is long, and that’s because this country had been occupied by more powerful nations in the past, including the Spaniards, the Americans, and the Japanese. Before that, its interaction and trade with neighboring countries like China and Malaysia also helped shape out culture.
Unfortunately, as it is with most of the modern world, Filipinos too have been westernized; and while progress in that sense is good, it has slowly stripped us of the things that had been part of our heritage for hundreds of years, changing our way of life.
Here are some Philippine traditions that we might one day lose for good.
Philippine Traditions Filipinos Slowly Forget About
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“Uso pa ba ang harana?”
The question was posed by a famous Pinoy band as the first line of their hit song, but truly, a lot of more traditional Filipinos are asking the same thing. The old-school way of courting is romantic, and John Cusak with his boombox cannot hold a candle to a boy singing a song in the evening as he woos you with his voice in the night, with your parents watching by the window next to you.
The influx of Western ideas have managed to wiggle their way even in our dating practices, and the traditional panliligaw is no longer practiced in metros and smaller cities; maybe the municipalities and far off provinces still practice Philippine traditions including this, though.
The paninilbihan is also considered obsolete nowadays, and in case you don’t know what it is, it’s when a suitor does chores around his beloved’s house to prove his love for her.
It’s too bad that this has become one of the Philippine traditions that have been forgotten. Do you know that the Filipino way of courting was regarded as among the most romantic in the world?
Piko, patintero, and tumbang preso—if these words mean more than just random gibberish to you, then you have experienced a traditional Filipino childhood. If you actually played them with your friends, then you were lucky enough to have had fun under the sun.
Unfortunately, few children play these games anymore, preferring the high-tech ones they find in computers, tabs, and smart phones. But wouldn’t you want to see children playing in the sun again?
Filipinos have always been respectful of their elders, and the best way to show such respect is for a younger person asking for the hand of an older relative and then kissing it or placing the back of the elder’s hand to the forehead. In return, the elderly person “blesses” the younger one.
There are other ways to show respect for our elders these days. The pagmamano has been replaced by the beso, which is a cheek-to-cheek greeting like Europeans do—still respectful, but not remarkably Pinoy.
These horse-drawn carriages were introduced by the Spaniards in the eighteenth century when the country was still occupied by them. Originally, only Spanish officials and the wealthy classes could use the kalesa, but it became more accessible during the American period. In fact, the streets of Manila had been full of them before the Second World War broke out.
Like most other countries embracing technology, the number of kalesas operating on the streets were reduced in favor of the mechanized forms of transport like jeepneys and motorcycles. Today, kalesas are merely for tourist attractions in some places in the country. Not too many of them, though, because most kalesa drivers have to look for more ways to earn money.
The Filipino jeepney is iconic, being that it is the backbone of the Philippine public transport system. These vehicles used to be painted with unique artwork on the sides, but today, there are less of them, due in part to the rising costs involved in doing the project.
In 2011, it costs an average P100,000 to paint a jeepney in Metro Manila, something that no driver could afford by living on small change. Because of this, many prefer to ditch the artwork and just go through the roads with unpainted jeeps. Today, many jeeps are painted mere solid colors with just their routes and franchise licenses, which is still useful and frequently used by commuters but with significantly less art and personality.
Filipino Tribes and Their Culture
Before the Spanish came and “discovered” the Philippine Islands, indigenous tribes have lived here for hundreds of years. Unfortunately, due to modernization, many have run out of their villages and others ventured out in the cities in order to find “better” lives.
Even the art of indigenous tattooing, for instance, had been scarce, and the Kalinga area only has one living traditional tattoo artist left—the 93-year-old Apo Whang Od. Like many tribes scattered around the country, hers is a tribe that is not only struggling to keep their culture alive but their existence as well.
Another endangered tribe is from Palawan, the Bataks, believed to number less that 300 today, which is a shame because they are said to have roots from all the way to the first settlers, the Negritos.
Pan de Sal
Another one of the slowly forgotten Philippine traditions and icons is pan de sal or the “poor man’s bread.” However, fewer people may be able to afford pan de sal (literally “salt bread”) because the rising princes of ingredients and decreasing profitability will not make it worth while to bake so early in the morning. The size and quality of the pan de sal had been declining since the 1990s, and if the downward trend continues, there may be a chance that the pan de sal will disappear from the breakfast nook of the majority.
The Philippines has a diverse ecosystem that is home to endemic species (species that can only be found here and nowhere else in the world). Unfortunately, urbanization and destruction of the environment through illegal means has put these species in threatening situations, and many of them are increasingly in danger of extinction.
According to the DENR, more than half of over a thousand of the country’s species are in danger of going extinct, and if the government and the citizens don’t step up on conservation efforts, these species, like the Philippine Eagle, tamaraw, and tarsiers will be lost forever.