The Philippine culture is diverse. It’s exactly like halo-halo (mix-mix), the country’s yummy dessert and our cooling grace this summer. Many people believe that the halo-halo might have been derived from a Japanese dessert called, kakigori (shaved ice with sweet beans) introduced prior to WWII.
It has since evolved into shaved ice with evaporated milk and mixed with different kinds of fruits and tiny pieces of native delicacies.
Although we are a part of Southeast Asia, our culture spans Euro-American. I am not a historian, so I am treading on this topic carefully with research data from various sources.
There are many ethnic groups scattered all over our 7,000+ islands, but nearly four centuries of Western rule greatly influenced us. While the Christian churches built by the Spanish and the mosques built by the Muslims provided spiritual anchors, the educational system from the US—expanded by Filipino academicians—has contributed to our cultural halo-halo.
(Brief background: Our history books say that the Philippines is named after King Philip II of Spain [1556-1598] as we were a Spanish colony for over 300 years. But long before that, in the 10th century, indigenous Filipinos traded with China. By the 12th Century, Arab merchants reached the Philippines and introduced Islam. And even before all that, as the discovery of the Callao Man* in 2007 suggests, the first humans—Negrito groups—perhaps using rafts or boats at least 67,000 years ago, inhabited our shores.)
And so, today, we are a halo-halo of various traits and practices, brought on by the countries that stepped on our archipelago.
“From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries. His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us.” Acts 17:26-27
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*Archaeologists from the University of the Philippines dug up a human foot bone in the Callao caves about 210 north of Manila. Their report was released in the Journal of Human Evolution, “after tests in France established the fossil's age,” said professor Armand Mijares, the expedition leader. Cut marks on bones of deer and wild boar found around Callao Man suggest he/she could have hunted and was skilled with tools. Excavation continues to find other parts of the skeleton and hunting tools.)