5038 Hyland Ave., San Jose, CA 95127
The Rev. Ruth Casipit-Paguio    E-Mail


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Filipino-American Culture

The early inhabitants of the “Philippine Islands” were Aetas, Malays and Indonesians. The Aetas were the natives, the Malays and Indonesias immigrated though land bridges and by wooden boats (Barangay). They had faith in Bathala (Supreme Deity); lived according to Sumakwel Code; had tribal “blood compacts”; and were working on a Federation of Madyaas. They traded with Chinese, had contact with India and saw the Mohammedans arrived in Mindanao.

On March 16, 1521 Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese captain employed by rival King of Spain, landed in Limasawa, Leyte and named the country “Las Islas Filipinas” in honor of King Felipe. Spanish colonization lasted for over three centuries inculcating the values of Catholic Christianity and Spanish hacienda. Spanish colonial abuses (forced labor, excessive taxes, land aggrandizement, etc.) led to intermittent revolts. Spanish reactions led to the martyrdom of priests Gomez, Burgoz and Zamora and of national heroes, Dr. Jose Rizal and Andres Bonifacio.

On June 12, 1898 a national Revolution led to the expulsion of the Spanish colonial government. General Emilio Aguinaldo proclaimed the first Philippine Republic which turned out to be short-lived. The Americans, claiming Spain ceded the Philippines under the Treaty of Paris, arrived in Philippines and occupied the country for the next 50 years. In 1941-1945, the Japanese invaded and occupied the Philippines and in July 4, 1946 the Americans “liberated” the country and granted the American style democratic government.

Culturally, the Filipinos are a mixture of East and West; a blend of native traditions and colonial accretions. Spaniards bequeathed the Christian church; Americans the public education and democracy. Among the unique cultural traits are: the compadre system (extended family relations), Bayanihan (community unity), and the Bahala Na attitude (leave life to God or to fate).
Filipino-American immigrants and naturalized U.S. citizens came in three waves: the farmers in early 1900’s; the U.S. Navy and War Brides in WW II; and the Professionals and Families in Post 1965 open immigration. Today, there are over three millions Filipinos in America, most of them living in California, Hawaii, New York, Illinois, Florida, Washington, Alaska, Nevada, etc.


  1. Asia is characterized by plurality and diversity of faiths, cultures and ideologies.
  2. Asia is the cradle of faiths and civilizations and home of renascent and living religions. Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity.
  3. Most of the countries in Asia have Western colonial experience, struggled to achieve self-identity and cultural integrity and are succeeding in nation-building
  4. Asian-Americans come to this country in common patterns of immigration, naturalization and family reunifications.
  5. Asian-Americans are proud of their cultural heritage even as they interact with other cultures in the context of modern America.
  6. Asian-Americans are struggling to find their place in the socio-political and economic spectrum of multicultural America.
  7. Asian-American Christians are expressing optimism that they will no longer be marginalized in the American Church.