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Running Head: LOSS OF CULTURE IN THE PHILIPPINES

Loss of Culture in the Philippines:


Analyzing the Effect of Westernization on Filipino Culture
Samantha Santiaguel
Global Studies and World Languages Academy
Tallwood High School

LOSS OF CULTURE IN THE PHILIPPINES


ABSTRACT
Westernization is one of the main reasons why there is a loss of culture in the Philippines.
The spread of the American culture and language have greatly affected the Filipino culture. The
overuse of the English language is the cause of the loss of a national language, resulting in the
blending of both English and Tagalog, causing the number of people fluent in the Filipino
language to decrease significantly. Not only is there a loss of a national language, but there is
also a significant loss of culture. Foreigners who travel to the Philippines have stated that it does
not feel like they are in a foreign country, as the Philippines is jam-packed with English
advertisements, television shows, radio stations, and stores. Along with the disadvantageous
aspects of westernization, there are many beneficial aspects too. Promoting the English language
creates a chance for the younger generation of Filipinos to find jobs, both abroad and in the
Philippines. With the use of English as the teaching medium in the education system, the
Philippines is a target country for students who are seeking to find a cheap university that teaches
in English. Through questionnaires completed by both local and foreign students, it was found
that many other cultures and not just the Philippines are being affected by westernization.
Additionally, it was found that many of the local students speak little to none of their cultures
language but still embrace their cultures heritage by celebrating customs and eating their
cultures food. Foreign students on the other hand speak their cultures language, but have an
advanced knowledge of the English language. It was found that the foreign students were greatly
influenced by western culture through social media, music, and food.

LOSS OF CULTURE IN THE PHILIPPINES


TABLE OF CONTENTS
Table of Contents

Introduction

Limitations

Methodology

Literature Review

Discussion

10

Effects of Westernization

10

Filipinos Response to Westernization

12

English versus Tagalog

13

Preserving the Filipino Culture

14

Conclusion

15

References

17

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Loss of Culture in the Philippines
Introduction
Worldwide, countries are being influenced by westernization. This is especially true with
the increase of globalization and the advancement of technology. People around the world are
able to communicate with one another with ease, be it by travel, or simply communicating
through social media sites in order to talk to a relative. Though the Philippines was colonized by
Japan and Spain, Filipinos have adopted more of the American culture such as speaking more
English than Tagalog, watching American shows and movies, and listening to American songs.
As generations pass, Americas influence is deepening and is shifting Filipino culture to more of
an American culture. Older generations of Filipinos are encouraging younger generations to
venture out into the world, and as a result, younger generations are starting to lose their culture
bit by bit.
The impact of westernization is obvious and can be identified easily just by standing on
the streets in the Philippines. Advertisements seen on store fronts and heard on either the radio or
T.V. are almost all in English (Holmquist & Cudmore, 2013). This is a serious problem within
the culture of the Philippines because at the rate culture is diminishing, sooner or later, there will
be little to nothing left of what the original descendants had. More and more traditions are being
lost or forgotten as generations pass. Cultural traditions are expressions of a groups worldview,
and function to strengthen a separate community. This is important because Filipino culture is so
unique compared to other Asian cultures. It would be a great loss if it were to be replaced with
another culture. By preserving the traditions of Filipino culture, it encourages groups of people to
create and share a collective identity. In doing so, it serves to shape an individual identity and
makes a certain individual unique from the rest of worlds population. Though there are many

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people that try to preserve Filipino culture, there is an even larger amount of people who have
forgotten their Filipino roots. While westernization is inevitable worldwide, in the Philippines,
westernization has made a huge impact on Filipino culture, affecting not only language, but also
the media, and education.
Limitations
The study of the loss of culture in the Philippines and westernization is highly relevant
because the influence of American culture is inevitable worldwide. Despite the prevalence of the
loss of culture, there are limitations involved in research.
Longitudinal effects.
Cultures change over a period of time, whether it be for the good or for the bad. The
research conducted is greatly limited to a time restraint of a semester and results cannot be fully
analyzed through merely a short period of time. The action being put forth from the research
consists of teaching the younger generation about their culture through a language class. The
duration of the action can only be five classes and once those classes end, one cannot be sure of
whether or not the students continue to study what they learned. Although actions are being taken
to slow down the process of westernization and the loss of culture, one cannot accurately
measure whether the action is actually bringing back or preserving a culture.
Measure used to collect the data.
Due to questionnaires being the primary source of collecting data, there are several
limitations that can result in inaccurate data. Depending on the amount of people who actually
take the questionnaire, percentages and data may be inaccurate due to a small questionnaire size.

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The information retrieved from the questionnaires only account for a tiny portion of the whole
population and of course, many people have answers that differ from others.
Geographical constraint.
Due to where data is being collected, research is not obtainable because one cannot
physically travel to the Philippines to collect and gather data. Research and data is only
obtainable in a small area in Virginia Beach, and questionnaires will need to be taken online and
not physically. One is not able to go to other countries in order to give out questionnaires for
students to fill out.
Methodology
The impact of westernization on cultures worldwide is best utilized with quantitative
data, due to the wide use of statistics and data being measured. In order to understand the loss of
culture common within our current generation, questionnaires were given out to local students at
Tidewater Community College Joint-use library, Tallwood High School, Larkspur Middle
School, and White Oaks Elementary School. Questionnaires were also posted online through
Google Forms and Surveymonkey for high school and middle school students in China and in
the Philippines.
With the intention of holding language lessons for local middle school students, an
internship was completed at the Philippines Cultural Center in Virginia Beach, for a total of five
classes, two hours each, in order to witness language classes already being taught by local
volunteers. The objective of the internship is to learn techniques and lessons used to incorporate
into the second part of the action, teaching and leading a language and culture class.

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The second part of the action required renting a meeting room at Tidewater Community
College Joint-Use Library for a mixed class of elementary and middle school students for two
hours on five Saturdays. During the classes, students learned basic knowledge in the Tagalog
language, the most widely spoken language in the Philippines. The language portion of the class
lasts for an hour, after the students take a short break of about ten minutes or so in order to
prepare for the second half of the class, which is the culture portion. During the culture portion
of the class, students learned about various cultural aspects such as food, art, music, and customs.
The main goal of the action is to initiate the desire to learn about ones background and
culture and to reignite a culture that may soon be lost. The target audience for the action are
students who are still in school, be it from an Elementary level to a University level, because
they are the future, they can make a big difference in their lives and have a chance to pass down
what they know and learn to their children and to the next generation. Bringing back a culture
would not be very effective through the current and older generation due to the fact that they
have already been influenced by westernization. There is no going back to how things were
before, just like the saying, You cant teach an old dog new tricks.
Literature review
According to World Startup Wiki, the Philippines is well known for its rich and diverse
culture. It is well known that the Filipino language sounds similar to Spanish, but what most
people do not know, is that there are fractions of other cultures combined in order to make up the
Filipino culture as a whole. Filipino culture derives and is similar to multiple other cultures in the
aspects of food, language, architecture, behaviors, government, and many others. The three main
countries that conquered the Philippines were Spain, the United States, and Japan. Having been
conquered by the Spanish for almost 400 years, Spanish culture is the most apparent through

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language and behaviors such as taking siestas and holding fiestas during holidays or religious
gatherings. If one were to listen in to a Filipino conversation, one is able to pick up some Spanish
sounding words like pero, mas, mesa, and many other words. Having traded with the
Chinese even before the Spaniards took over, Filipinos have acquired the same tastes in food as
the Chinese. Foods like pancit and siopao have derived from Chinese noodles and baozi. The
culture that has made the most influence on the Philippines though, is the American culture. The
American culture and language is clearly apparent in the government, education, and media.
Everywhere on the streets of the most populous cities, one can find famous American brands and
products such as Coca-Cola, McDonalds and many more. (World Startup Wiki, n.d.)
Graham Gulliver (2013) in Western Culture in the Philippines, further declares that the
American culture is the most evident in Filipino culture. He goes on to argue that one is able to
clearly witness the American culture by just standing on the streets. Packed Jeepneys that are
seen driving on the streets originated from American military jeeps left behind during the Second
World War. Instead of leaving the vehicles to rust, Filipinos decorated them to use for
themselves. Gulliver then contrasts his arguments stating that although the Philippines is greatly
influenced by westernization, it has become an ideal location for foreigners to set up business.
In English in the Philippines, by Doray Espinosa (1997), Americas influence spread
over the Philippines and made a huge impact on the culture way quicker than the Spanish did. It
took 50 years for the Americans while for the Spaniards it too 300. American culture has affected
Filipino culture not only through language, but also in media, art, and business and political
aspects. English is taught at a young age and even in schools. As soon as a child is born, the
parents have ways to teach the baby to do amusing things like opening and closing their hands or
fluttering their eyelashes. So when the child is old enough to attend school, they already have a

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basic knowledge of English. The Filipino educational system enforces English in their curricula
from an elementary level to the university level and because of the widespread use of English,
the language has become important to people who want to find employment outside of the
Philippines.
According to Thompson (2003) in Filipino English and Taglish, the Filipino
educational system had a dispute over what language to use in classes and in textbooks. In the
year 1973, President Ferdinand Marcos declared a law stating that English and Filipino were the
official languages of the Philippines. Due to this law, many Filipino activists argued that Filipino
should be the only official language. Though they argued this, it was fairly difficult to change as
English was already one of the major languages being used in not only the government, but also
in the educational system. English is mainly used in the teaching curriculum from an Elementary
level to a University level. With the question of whether or not to change the language in the
teaching curriculum to Filipino, the Government struggled to find a solution. In the end though,
the government failed to find enough Filipino books and qualified teachers who could
sufficiently teach in Filipino, but unfortunately could find little to none. Not only could they not
find the right teachers, the government simply could not afford to change their education system
from English to Filipino since they were on a low budget. The issue ended up being forgotten.
In order to support the information on the amount of English used in media in the
Philippines, statistics are used. According to Holmquist and Cudmore (2013) in English in
Japanese and Philippine Advertising: An Exploratory Comparison, almost 99% of
advertisements in the Philippines are in English. The statistics show that from the 30 Filipino
magazines they reviewed and analyzed, 1256 out of 1257 were in English (p. 5). Reasons for
Filipino businesses using English in their company name or product name is due to four reasons.

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One of them being that English is not a foreign language for the people in the Philippines. The
second reason is that some concepts are easier to promote in English than in Tagalog. Third, the
target audience for the advertisements are tourists, not the local shoppers. Lastly, English is used
to show where the company or product came from.
Discussion
Though westernization is inevitable worldwide, it is the most apparent in the Filipino
culture. The Philippines has been conquered by not just the Spanish, but also the Americans, and
though the Spanish have reigned control for more than 300 years, the Americans left more of an
impact and changed Filipino culture in only 50 years (Espinosa, 1997). The use of English has
become so widespread in the Philippines, that it is now one of the nations official languages
(Philippines Language Stats, n.d.). Although the spread of American culture has greatly altered
Filipino culture, Filipinos of the younger generation are welcoming it with open arms (Aranas,
n.d.). Consequently, many characteristics of the Filipino culture are being either forgotten or lost.
Effects of Westernization.
The use of the English language is apparent in almost all cultures and countries, but it is
the most apparent in the Philippines. If one were to even so much as stand on the streets, English
can be seen or heard everywhere (Gulliver, 2013). Aspects range from advertisements found on
storefronts, magazines, newspapers, companies, products, brands, and many more. In media,
English is found in social media, literary works, films, movies, radios, televisions. According to
Ezra Ferraz in Nkk2wa! Meet the social media tool thats fluent in Filipino and text-speak,
63% of the people who use social media use English in their posts and only 35% use Filipino or
Tagalog. According to the online questionnaires, eight of the fifteen students claim that they use
more English than Tagalog when using social media. Movies from the United States such as

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Twilight, Transformers, Avengers, and other famous movies and even not so famous ones are
frequently shown in movie theaters. As for newspapers, the Americans were the ones who
established the press system, and the first newspaper was issued in English in October 1898.
Though, newspapers were strictly censored by American military authorities and officials
(Pressreference, n.d.). Not only is English and the western culture apparent in media, but it is
also evident in the Government. The Philippines has acquired the American ideology and
philosophy that being free is important and the people have a say in government (Gulliver,
2013). Ever since the Philippines was under American rule, Filipinos have had a democratic form
of government, voting and electing a president and has the same three branches of government.
Due to trade with other countries before being conquered, the Philippines has picked up
certain food traits and incorporated what they learned into their own food. The Chinese,
specifically, influenced Filipino food, for example, pancit derived from Min Nan Chinese
noodles. Other foods that the Chinese influenced are siopao, siomai, and hopia (World Startup
Wiki, n.d.). It is not surprising to say that even the Americans have influenced the food in the
Philippines. Foods like hamburgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, and ice cream are found in the
Philippines, but with their own little twists. (Balinski, n.d.)
Areas in which the American culture have greatly affected Filipino culture are certainly
education and language, which are intertwined with each other. The medium language of
instruction in the Philippines is English and Tagalog, though it wasnt always like that (Clark,
2015). The Filipino education system was only taught in English from 1901 after the arrival of
about 540 U.S. teachers (Nordquist, n.d.). The teaching medium in the educational system was
not changed until 1972. Filipino activists argued that the Filipino language should be used as the
teaching medium instead of English, but the government had a difficult time finding eligible

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teachers who could teach in the language. Due to the government is low budget for education,
not only did they fail to find sufficient textbooks completely in the Filipino language, but they
seemed to just sweep the matter under the rug and avoided finding a solution to the problem
brought up by the concerned Filipinos. Beginning in the year 1957, students were required to
teach literacy skills in both English and Filipino (Thompson R. M., 2003). Though many lectures
and classes are still mainly taught in English. Many words are derived from the English
language, Spanish language, Malay language, and even Sanskrit language. Words like
Kamusta derived from the Spanish for how are you? Words like Nars comes from the
English word Nurse, and Sarap came from the Malay language Sedap, meaning delicious
(Thompson I. , 2015). With English being one of the official languages in the Philippines, the
country has become a target for students seeking cheap education in a not so foreign educational
system. Foreigners from across the world come to the Philippines in order to either learn English
or study in an English-speaking university because of the low cost of tuition (McGeown, 2012).
The use of the English language is deemed as important and essential for finding jobs abroad
(Espinosa, 1997).
Filipinos Response to Westernization.
Even with the loss of culture at hand, many Filipinos still welcome westernization with
open arms. Instead of decreasing the amount of English in the Philippines, locals are encouraging
and spreading the use of another language. It has become second nature for Filipino locals to use
English in their advertisements as it is a huge benefit for the economy. Filipinos are not ashamed
of copying another culture and think that if they copy the American culture, they can make it
even better than it already is (Aranas, n.d.). Even older generations are encouraging younger
generations to learn and get involved with the American culture to find better lives for

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themselves. The saying that One should never forget their cultures language, instead they
should spread it, has backlashed Filipinos. According to the online questionnaires taken by
Filipino students, many of them take a Tagalog class. The students know how to speak their own
language, but they choose to communicate in another language. All of the students answered that
they listen to music more in English than in Tagalog.
With the older generation advising the younger generation to go out into the foreign
world, they feel that English is essential for the benefit of their children and themselves. Working
abroad creates more opportunities for Filipinos to find jobs, so it is essential for them to have a
basic understanding and ability to speak in English. If one does not know how to speak at least a
common language where they are working, they are not able to communicate well with their
coworkers or employers. Due to the fact that Filipinos are very family oriented, in which the
younger generation must help care and provide for their parents and elders, as it is only
respectful because they raised them from a young age (World Startup Wiki, n.d.). Those who
were born in the Philippines rarely know or understand any Filipino, and only a small amount of
Filipinos understand a handful of words in Tagalog.
English versus Tagalog.
English is not known to be a foreign language to local Filipinos. Instead, they treat it as a
second language, for some, it is even their first language. At a young age, Filipino children are
taught basic English. When it came to teaching a young child how to open and close their little
hands, Filipinos used English instead of Filipino or Tagalog. Filipino parents also teach their
children to answer easy questions like, What color is the sky? and Wheres your nose, mouth,
cheek, etc.? So when the child moves on and enters Elementary school, they already have a
basic understanding of English. Even people who are of a lower economic status can pick up

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simple English from hearing the words or phrases from the television or radio. (Espinosa, 1997).
With English being used as the teaching medium in the education system, most students who
graduate from high school already know how to hold a steady conversation in English. All
around the country, Filipinos mix English and Tagalog together, and only about 55% of the
residents in the Philippines speak Tagalog fluently (Everyculture, n.d.). English is not only
important to those who want to work abroad, but it is also important to Filipinos because it is a
skill they can use in order to advance in a job or career in both respectability and marketability.
The language is easy to learn, no matter what the social or economic status.
Since the Philippines contains many tourists spots, merchants need to speak English.
When a noticeable tourist walks down the market streets, one can hear shouts of English words
or phrases being shot towards them as a way of advertising what products they have, and by
luring people to look, or buy their products. Most tourists feel as if they are not in a foreign
country when they travel to the Philippines due to how westernized everything is. One can find
famous American brands and products, such as Pepsi, Lays, Downy, Gap, and Old Navy. Most
Filipinos are prone to intentional hybridity, meaning they make up new words and new
traditions. An example of this is when people call toothpaste, Colgate, or Cutex, instead of nail
polish by first nature because thats just how they address it (Lee & Wong, 2003).
Preserving the Filipino Culture.
It is important to maintain and preserve a culture because a culture is an identity for a
society of closely grouped people. By maintaining and preserving a culture, people become more
closely knit with each other and create their own society. Culture gives people a connection to
certain social values, beliefs, religions, and customs (Cultivatingculture, n.d.). Many Filipinos
work abroad, away from home, and when they live in different countries, they tend to bond with

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other Filipinos who are of the same situation of them. Parents who were born in the Philippines
and have children in the United States tend to not pass down or teach their children about what
they know about their culture. They teach little to no Filipino to their children, so they end up not
knowing how to speak or understand the language (immigrationtalk, 2013). Second generation
children need to be informed of their culture in order to remember their roots and their heritage.
If the second generation were to do that, then they are able to continue, and pass down their
culture to the next generation (Constante, 2015).
In order to preserve ones culture, no matter which one it is, one must learn about their
own heritage. One can do this by simply sitting down with parents and asking about what their
culture is. Parents or even grandparents can teach their children or grandchildren how to speak
the language. The easiest way to learn the Filipino language is to simply turn on the television
and watch some Filipino shows. By doing that, one can pick up little phrases or words, and will
soon be able to put words together and build up sentences of their own. Parents should teach
their children about their backgrounds because it can promote a sense of pride of being a Filipino
(Constante, 2015). Going to a local cultural center can provide and build a community that seeks
to learn and preserve the culture, encouraging community participation (Bartle, 2013).
Conclusion
Westernization in the Philippines has greatly affected the Filipino culture in ways that can
completely wipe out the unique culture in only a matter of years. Due to the colonization of the
Philippines by the Americans, English and other aspects of the American culture have been
integrated into Filipino culture. Though the Filipino culture has a mix of other cultures
characteristics, like Min Nan Chinese, Malay, and of course, the Spanish. Out of all the other
cultures, the American culture has the greatest impact and influence on Filipino culture. English

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is apparent and can be seen everywhere on the streets in the Philippines. Filipinos do not think of
English as a foreign language, but think of it as a second language. For some, it is their first
language. Only a few people actually speak Tagalog fluently in the Philippines, the rest of the
population speak different dialects, English, or a mix of English and Tagalog, which is most
popularly known as Taglish.
Although the promoting of the English language and American culture could eventually
be the cause of a loss of culture, Filipinos still encourage and welcome it with open arms. Older
generations teach the younger generations little to nothing about the Filipino culture. Even the
education systems medium is based off of the English language. It is deemed essential for
Filipinos of the younger generation to venture off and learn more English due to the fact that it
opens up more job opportunities, both in the Philippines, and abroad. Many companies in the
Philippines are based off of American companies; their names, products, and advertisements are
almost all in English.
It is fine to have a little bit of westernization in ones culture, though in the Philippines,
western culture dominates Filipino culture. It is best to maintain and preserve ones own culture
in order to create a more closely knit society in which people become more connected with each
other, sharing the same beliefs, social values, and customs.

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