National Culture Consciousness Week

By Sharon Schweitzer


“Culture is one of the two or three most complicated words in the English language,” (Raymond Williams, 1976, pg. 87).  Culture does not consist of just one set description or definition. It is a concept that varies from one person to the next. Culture can be as broad as mental habits, moral values, or as specific as social customs, achievements, and even aesthetic preferences. 

This holiday was established by President Ferdinand Marcos under Proclamation No. 1148. It was created to encourage the people of the Philippines to embrace their culture and heritage. Part of this is appreciating their inherent strong traits such as resilience and respectfulness. In the Philippines, there is a very strong community spirit, and the people help one another easily. 

The Philippines, or The Republic of Philippines as it is officially called, is a country located in Southeast Asia. It is an archipelago country meaning that it is a country made up of the culmination of several islands, or in this case, 7,640 of them! It is also a multinational state filled with a wide variety of cultures and ethnicities. This ultimately leads to a culture-rich society that can be attributed to the geographical makeup of the country, neighboring countries, and also their mixed colonial history.

The Negritos are the earliest inhabitants of the Philippines, followed by the Austronesian peoples. Cultural groups were divided into factions governed by individual rulers. Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese explorer, placed the entire region under Spanish colonization for over 300 years. This is where the Spanish culture of the Filipino people can be traced back to. Under his rule, Spanish explorer Ruy López de Villalobos named two of the islands ‘Filipinas’ in 1542 after Philip II of Spain. The Philippine Revolution led to a new title ‘the Philippine Republic,’ and during the Commonwealth period, the official name became the Republic of the Philippines.

Social events tend to revolve around food, since Filipinos are extremely proud of their cuisine, which blends South Asian, Chinese, and Spanish influences.

This year’s theme “Pamanang Lokal: Binhi ng Kulturang Pilipino,” or translated means “Local Heritage: Seed of Filipino Culture.“ 

Additionally, here are some interesting cultural lessons from around the world.

  • In the Middle East, do not shake with your left hand.
  • In Ghana, if you invite, you pay.
  • In France, don’t bring wine to a party.
  • In Italy, don’t drink cappuccino after a meal.
  • In Venezuela, show up late.
  • In Germany, show up right on time.
  • In Japan, don’t fill your own glass.
  • In Arab cultures, do not show the sole of your shoe.
  • In Great Britain, don’t spit on the street.
  • In Japan, slurp your noodles.
  • In Russia, only shake hands once you have entered the room.
  • In Korea, receive a drink from an elder with both hands and turn your head away as you sip.
  • In West Africa, don’t give a “thumbs up”.
  • In the Far East, belch to compliment the chef.
  • In Greece, don’t show your palm, even when waving.
  • In Singapore, do not chew gum.


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Sharon Schweitzer JD, is a diversity and inclusion consultant, cross-cultural trainer, etiquette expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE Centre, she is an attorney and mediator. Sharon served as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business,  Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, won a coveted Kirkus Star, and was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books. She’s a winner of numerous awards, including the British Airways International Trade Award at the Greater Austin Business Awards.

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