Summer is a great time to take family vacations, but it is not always possible to go exactly where you would like to go. As a parent, you may be concerned about exposing your children to a variety of cultures and helping them to learn about the world they have yet to see. One great way to do this, without paying the fees necessary for flying halfway across the world, is to have a culture night at home.
For your first stop on your “trip”, why not choose the magnificent country of the Philippines? Here are some fun facts to teach your family, as well as cultural traditions to incorporate as you learn more about the “Pearl of the Orient Sea”.
Population: Over 101 million and counting
Landmass: Comprised of over 7,000 islands
Languages: Filipino (based on Tagalog), English and “Taglish” (Filipino and English mixed). A very few also speak Spanish, as it was the official language at one time.
Religion: Predominantly Roman Catholic (80%), Islam (11%), Buddhist (1.8%), other (3.8%). Roman Catholicism came from the Spaniards, where the indigenous people were originally a mixture of shamanistic Animism, Islam, Hinduism, and Vajrayana Buddhism.
Currency: Philippine peso.
Note: Philippine bills are brightly colored and have pictures of prominent people and buildings on one side while landmarks and animals are on the other, as seen here. Use this as a fun way to teach your children Philippine history and facts as they see them displayed on the currency.
Start the evening off with some lessons on Filipino etiquette. Go over the following situations and then practice putting them into place as the evening commences.
Meeting: Greet the eldest or most important person first. Use a handshake with a warm smile.
Dining: When invited to someone’s home to eat, arrive 15-30 minutes later than invited for large parties. Dress well, as appearance matters. Compliment the hostess on the house. Send a handwritten thank you note within a week.
Table Manners: Wait to be asked several times before moving into the dining room or serving yourself food. Wait to be told where to sit as there may be a seating plan. Do not start eating until invited to do so by the host. Meals are largely eaten as family-style meals or buffets. Be sure to hold the fork in your left hand and the spoon in your right. The fork is used to guide food to spoon.
An exploration of a new culture has to include food. On your night in the “Philippines”, you will want to include some of their tasty dishes (as well as some of their less Western culture friendly dishes, if you are brave!). The Philippines are considered a melting pot of Asia with Western and Asian influences in their cuisine.
A typical Pinoy diet consists of six meals a day: breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, midnight snack. Rice is a staple and served with most meals. Especially in an informal setting, such as at home, food can be eaten with their hands. Here are some main entrees to try:
Adobo: A meat stew made from pork or chicken
Lumpia: Meat or vegetable rolls
Pancit: A noodle dish
Lechon: Roasted pig
There is also some Spanish influence in the Filipino cuisine, as is seen by the asado, chorizo, and empanadas you can also include in your dinner. Don’t forget to include one or more of the following desserts:
Chicharon: Deep fried pork or chicken skin
Halo-halo: Crushed ice with evaporated milk, flan, sliced tropical fruit, and sweet beans
Puto: White rice cakes
The Philippines is familiar with many of the same sports we have here in Western culture, but they are best known for their influence in martial arts. The following forms of martial arts originated in the Philippines:
Arnis (also known as Eskrima or Kali): A weapon-based fighting
Panantukan: Empty-handed techniques are employed
Pananjakman: A boxing martial art
As part of your culture night, look up some videos of these different types of martial arts and watch them as a family. Reenacting them yourselves might be a bit dangerous, but you can certainly have a great time watching the experts and admire their displays of skill and technique.
Round out the evening with a popular game of Luksong Tinik. You will need space to run and jump, so this is the perfect summer night activity once the temperature comes down in the evening. Here are the directions:
Two people sit facing each other, with their feet touching, knees bent up and arms stretching up and toward each other, creating a barrier. Players are split into two teams, each taking turns trying to jump over the barrier.
The game initially starts with the barrier being lower and the people forming the barrier adding their arms and raising both their arms and legs higher to make it more difficult for the teams to make it over. If any part of the jumper’s body or clothing touches the barrier, they are out.
After a fun night of learning more about Filipino culture, experiencing their food, and playing their games, your family will be begging for more culture nights and you will soon find yourself immersed in world cultures.