Home | About | Geography | Culture | Climate | CommerceLanguage | HistoryLinks | Bibliography

CULTURE

Many of the people living around the Leyte Gulf are members of the Waray speaking group of people who live on Samar, Biliran, and North-Eastern Leyte. Warays today are predominantly Roman Catholic, many practicing with a blend of pre-Hispanic animistic elements. They are said to be the most culturally conservative of the Visayans. 

The pre-Hispanic belief system of Filipinos consisted of a pantheon of gods, spirits, creatures, and men that guarded the streams, fields, trees, mountains, forests, and houses. Bathala, who created earth and man, was superior to these other gods and spirits. Regular sacrifices and prayers were offered to placate these deities and spirits - some of which were benevolent, some malevolent. Wood and metal images represented ancestral spirits, and no distinction was made between the spirits and their physical symbol. Reward or punishment after death was dependent upon behavior in this life.

Anyone who had reputed power over the supernatural and natural was automatically elevated to a position of prominence. Every village had its share of shamans and priests who competitively plied their talents and carried on ritual curing. Many gained renown for their ability to develop anting-anting, a charm guaranteed to make a person invincible in the face of human enemies. Other sorcerers concocted love potions or produced amulets that made their owners invisible.

Source: Religion in the Philippines by Jack Miller

Filipino hospitality, friendship, strong family ties and respect for the elderly are renowned and this is no different among the Warays of Samar and North East Leyte.

Guests are plied with food and drink, and often, a place in the host’s own home. It may be generosity to a fault, but there is nothing more pleasing to Filipinos than knowing that their guest is never wanting for anything.

Filipinos have a strong sense of family. Three generations often come together. Aunts and uncles help raise and discipline the children as secondary parents. In turn, cousins grow up as informal siblings. The grandparents and elderly members of the family are the family’s source of history and stories and are taken care of until their last days. Taking the elder person’s right hand and bringing it to your forehead, is a great sign of respect. Similarly, calling them apoy (grandparent in waray) or lolo (grandfather in tagalog) and lola (grandmother in tagalog) denotes your recognition of their age and rank in the clan structure .

The importance of "keeping one’s face", meant as pride and self-esteem, is very important to Filipinos. Sensitive and delicate topics are often avoided to prevent misunderstandings, criticisms, or fights. "Losing face" is the worst thing that a Filipino can think of happening to him. Thus, the sense of hiya or being sensitive to the pride and self-esteem of others is a quality learned early on. Sociologists have come up with a term defining this quality — smooth interpersonal relationships or pakikisama. By trying to "get along," Filipinos adopt a group mindset, thinking and doing what everyone in the group decides. This is not indecision or passivity, but Filipinos do not care to be the odd one out.

Filipinos dislike upsetting anyone and that’s why they make it a point never to ruffle any feathers, whether directly or indirectly. If forced to give a negative answer, the Filipino will say something without explicitly saying "no." Pakiramdaman or the sensitivity afforded by one to another comes in. Simply, this is feeling each other out or, more concretely, sensing what is not said. This aids in completing the gaps or the omissions in the conversation because every Filipino knows that much of what is not said in any conversation is as weighty as words that are spoken.

Another Filipino trait is utang na loob or recognizing a personal indebtedness owed to the one who has bestowed favors. It’s quite simple: favors long past are never forgotten and are always remembered to be reciprocated with similar or greater kindness. Something like a gracious quid pro quo, but it is not a forced reciprocation. Because of hiya and smooth interpersonal relationships, returning the favor is almost an unspoken, unasked-for given.

Resilient and optimistic in the face of adversity, Filipinos are spontaneous and convivial in their celebration of life, best exemplified in festivals and fiestas.

Source: http://www.yehey.com/history/traits.asp#top

Fiesta

The annual barangay fiesta is celebrated with prayer, a parade for the patron saint, copious amounts of food, tuba drinking, dancing and music. The kuratsa - a courtship dance drama - which is also a way of raising funds to finance the fiesta highlights every occasion.

Santacruzan

The Santacruzan is a procession held in May commemmorating St. Helena's finding the "True Cross"; preceded by a nine-day Novena in honor of the Holy Cross. On the ninth day the Santacruzan is held. This again is an opportunity for eating, drinking, singing and dancing.

San Juan 

Celebration of John the Baptist 24 June. Go to the dagat (beach) and get wet both outside and in.